Former Miss Continental Erica Andrews has died, according to friends and colleagues. She passed away March 11 after a lung-related illness.
Andrews was the 2004 Miss Continental titleholder. She had moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Terre Haute, Ind., just under a year ago to be with her significant other.
Friends posted loving tributes to Andrews on Facebook.
Andrews was recently a promoter with the franchise Miss Texas Continental (with Javier Castillo). She had been on The Tyra Banks Show as well as The Maury Povich Show several times. She also periodically did makeup for the Povich show, a position she got when on her second appearance she refused to be made up by his people.
"It must have made an impression," Andrews said when she was interviewed for the book Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria, by Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen (2011). "Since then, he'll fly me in specially to do the girls' makeup."
Andrews was featured in the 2006 Showtime documentary Trantasia and had a juicy role as Emma Grashun in the 2010 revenge-horror-exploitation opus Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives. She was lovingly referred to as "the most beautiful drag queen in captivity."
Renowned for her unique routines, Andrews' well-known performances include her Mommie Dearest boardroom—Shirley Bassey mix to "I (Who Have Nothing)" for the 2006 National Entertainer of the Year pageant. Her many titles include Universal Show Queen (2004), Miss Gay USofA (1999) and, of course, Miss Continental 2004.
Andrews remembered first meeting Flint "through a dear friend of mine, Raphael Velasco, who ran a club [The Saint] and was a pageant sponsor in San Antonio. They were very good friends. Jim was also very good friends with my drag mother, Tandi Andrews [Miss Continental 1986], who used to emcee Miss Continental before she passed away. Jim used to come down, and we would all go to the Tip Top Diner and sit and have a wonderful meal and share stories.
"I remember first working at the Baton in 1996 to cover while a Baton girl came to Texas. I was young and very nervous, and in Texas we do our two numbers and call it a night. At the Baton it was two numbers plus production numbers, and there were three shows a night. So it was a good learning experience for me. It was also playing to a different audience, a broader one. There were bachelorette parties and bridal showers. It was very new.
"I first competed in Miss Continental in 1999, and then again in 2001, and finally I won in 2004. By that time both my mentors, Raphael and Tandi, had passed away. I was sort of their offspring, their drag daughter. Tandi taught me so much about doing things the right wayabout changing your look, about never being seen before a performance, since it detracts from the effect.
"When I finally won in 2004, I won by myself with no dancers. I couldn't afford them. Raphael had been my biggest sponsor and paid for so much of everything. He passed away in 2003, so I was on a budget. I tried to save what money I could, but I was also a provider for my mother in Mexico. The night I won, I told Jim, 'Tandi and Raphael are watching from above,' and gave him a big hug."
Longtime pageant judge Denis Sabol recalled Andrews for the Flint book. "One of my favorite Continental memories was when Erica Andrews came out in her swimwear. She had a Native American/Cher sort of feel to it, yet it was very revealing and very classic. When she did her turn and walked, I just went 'wow!'" Sabol said.
Continental judge David Hudspeth recalled his favorite Erica Andrews moment. "A few years before she'd won, Erica Andrews was in the finals and, in the Q-and-A portion, Jim asked her a question about a current issue in Little League baseball, and she was completely stumped," he said. "She ended up answering the question as though it was 'Why should you be Miss Continental?' Well, a couple years later she was back, and Jim asked her the final question, and this time it was a question about Continental, and she looked at him and said, 'I've been watching CNN for two years, and this is what you ask me?'"