Local nightlife entertainer Matt Strother, who performs as Matthew Jay Kelly, won the title “Entertainer of the Year” in one of three categories last weekend as part of the annual competition held by the SLS Pride Foundation, Inc., in Louisville, Ky.
Kelly, who performs as a man, won the “Mr.” competition. He was one of nine vying for the title. Smitty Taylor won the F.I. (drag) title and Chase McGroin won the “KING” Entertainer of the Year title.
Kelly, who performed elaborate stage recreations inspired by the movies “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands,” says winning was a huge thrill.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” said the Alexandria, Va., resident, who qualified for the title by winning a regional pageant in Florida (D.C. doesn’t have a regional preliminary). “It still hasn’t fully set in.”
Kelly, 29, credits his drag mother Kristina Kelly, for much of his success. The two met at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets a few years ago and he now performs with her most Monday nights at Cobalt.
“She’s absolutely amazing,” he says. “She sat me down and said, ‘I really think you could do something like this.’ She’s been such an inspiration.”
Kelly works at Freddie’s Beach Bar and Secrets, where he won Washington Blade Best of Gay D.C. awards in 2011 and 2012.