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Robert Brown, Miss Central Pride Alabama, on Being a ‘Glamazon’

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Robert Brown a.k.a. Tiffany Carrington, 2024 Miss Central Pride Alabama. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

The third time was the charm for Robert Brown – this year’s Miss Central Pride Alabama.

“I’ve competed three times and my final time [this year competing for the title] I was successful on winning,” said Brown, also known as Tiffany Carrington, a popular Birmingham female impersonator.

Pride Month has been especially busy for Brown, who performed at the 46th Annual Pridefest hosted by Central Alabama Pride (CAP) this month in Linn Park. CAP is a nonprofit that organizes Pride Activities in Birmingham, AL and the surrounding areas.

Brown has entertained for 16 years and has more than 30 bookings year-round both in Alabama and other states. He said he was confident he would win this time around. “I’m a Glamazon. I love being beautiful. I love being pretty. I love having on the lashes and nails. The details of the beaded gowns.”

Part of Brown’s duties include travel, fundraisers and tours to attract more to support Pride events statewide.

“We just got through 10 days straight of community service work which was all the festival activities, and it takes over a year to plan. It’s a lot of work and if you’re not used to it, it can be [a lot].”

Through all the glitz and the glam that comes with being a female impersonator, Brown’s biggest inspiration is,” just knowing that I can bring entertainment to people who don’t get it. Some people in the community might now attend church. When we perform gospel numbers, that’s the one time that they are connect to a higher being or maybe they aren’t fortunate enough to go out and see Broadway so if I do something like [the play] Gypsy, they get a chance to see that.”

In going for the title, Brown, 37, said when he wanted to change a few things about the competition. “It was not perfect. Being an African American entertainer in the South, sometimes we don’t get the fair treatment. I wanted to show those that looked like me that came after me [know] that you can do this too. “

“ … They love us on stage. We can draw people out with our performances and a lot of times we use those avenues to promote safe sex and all-around sexual awareness like HIV and aids.”

“Vision”

Pride Month has been especially busy for Robert Brown, a.k.a. Tiffany Carrington, who performed at the 46th Annual Pridefest hosted by Central Alabama Pride (CAP) this month in Linn Park. (Provided)

Brown takes his role as a drag performer seriously and admires a number of entertainers. Those include Tamia; Toni Braxton; Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross, Dianne Warwick to name a few.

As for his most glamorous, he names “Lynn Whitfield; Marilyn Monroe, of course – one of the most glamorous and iconic women – Dorothy Dandridge, Diane Carroll I would consider as over glamorous.”

Brown said he sews many of his own creations. “A lot of pieces are pieces that I’ve already made. Some of them will come from different local stores, boutiques. With entertainment you can pull pieces from anywhere.

“You have to have a vision. It starts with what you’re going to be doing in the piece. If it’s an evening gown you may go to an expensive boutique. You may have it constructed – it just depends on what your money looks like. ”

A must for his wardrobe is “big jewelry and lashes,” he said. “We have ‘drag jewelry’ which is custom made. A lot of those pieces that they see are soldered pieces; we have a company that makes jewelry specifically for drag queens, out of this world pieces. Stuff that you don’t see every day.”

He gets most of his inspiration from watching older pageants from an archive of DVDs and CDs. “I’m a connoisseur of old pageants, I like to study, you can pick some different talents and looks you can revamp.”

Brown has been performing for nearly two decades but now faces opposition from some lawmakers who want to ban drag shows.

“Everyone has their own opinion on what is art,” he said. “In my interpretation it is a form of art … if this is not your type of art then don’t go to that particular museum. You have to seek out to see a drag show unless you click on your TV to see RuPaul’s Drag Race, but it is an art form. If you dislike something just don’t be around it. I don’t go see things I don’t like.”

The Energy

Robert Brown a.k.a. Tiffany Carrington, 2024 Miss Central Pride Alabama. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

As a Fairfield native, Brown graduated from Fairfield High Preparatory School in 2005.  “I played football, basketball, I was a normal kid. I was a part of several things,” said Brown.

He went on to attend Miles College where he studied music and currently works as a wedding and events planner at an area firm.

Fresh out of high school he started to attend the local night clubs.

After winning a contest at Quest in downtown Birmingham’s south side he’s been doing drag ever since.

“In 2005, it was very taboo to dress in women’s clothing I had to overcome when everyone started to find out that I was doing the Tiffany character. A lot of family members did not like it. I come from a very Christian background home. My father, it took him a few years for him to wrap his head around that this is what I was doing as well as the challenges of being homosexual.”

Not long after his debut as Tiffany he made his first attempt at Miss Central Alabama Pride. “I did it on a dare. One Halloween someone said to me, ‘you would make a pretty girl,’ and I kind of shunned it. My younger self at the time just didn’t believe that. I started to see the drag shows and gradually became more interested. “

“My first signs of CAP that I remember were the parades in Birmingham. It was a small thing when it started. It only went a block or so.  I [still] attend the parade every year. I like the events that they put out like skating with the kids. I like when they come out with their parents, and you get to see the support. It’s really a fun time. “

Asked the best part of his stage persona, Brown said “being able to transform from one entity to the next. When you take a plane-faced young man and you glam him up to something different I think the transformation for me is the most exciting part and the touring. I get a chance to meet so many different people. It’s the energy.”