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San Antonio drag icon Erica Andrews dies
QSanAntonio, March 12, 2013

Multi-talented drag performer and beloved San Antonio icon Erica Andrews died on March 11 in Chicago from a lung infection. She was in her early 40's.

Andrews (née Eddie Salazar) was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and lived for years in San Antonio. She recently moved to Terre Haute, Indiana to live with her boyfriend.

Andrews' success encompassed not only the drag stage. Even though she is considered to have been "one of the most decorated queens on the pageant circuit," according to an article in the Houston Chronicle, her accomplishments included national television appearances, scripted plays and two motion pictures.

According to reports, Andrews moved to San Antonio in 1988 where she got her start performing during amateur nights at the Paper Moon, a now-defunct bar that was located on the Main Avenue Strip.

Andrews won the Paper Moon contest the first time she entered and every time thereafter. Under the guidance of her "drag mother" Tandy Andrews, the beautiful Erica Andrews evolved into a full-blown persona.

Andrews won string of pageant titles too numerous to mention including Miss Gay Texas USofA 1997, Miss Gay USofA 1999, Miss Texas Continental 2001, Miss Florida Continental 2004, Universal Show Queen 2004, Miss Continental 2004, Miss International Queen 2006 and Entertainer of the Year 2006.

"Erica Andrews is a character. She can get away with so much more than I could,” she once said during an appearance on the Tyra Banks Show. “It’s all make-believe. My motto is you conquer fear, and then you’ll conquer anything."

Erica Andrews as the fairy godmother in “Miss America: A Mexicanito Fairy’s Tale.” (Photos by Antonia Padilla)

Her other television credits include an appearance on the Maury Povich Show, where she also worked behind the scenes as a makeup artist, and she was the mentor to Roxxxy Andrews who competed on Ru Paul's Drag Race.

Andrews was cast in the controversial 2010 film, "Ticked Off Trannies with Knives," an exploitation film that follows a trio of transgender women who exact revenge on the men who brutally assault the women and leave them for dead.

Andrews also appeared in the 2006 feature-length UK documentary "Trantasia," that chronicles the experiences of the six contestants who vied for the title of the first-ever World's Most Beautiful Transsexual Pageant.

In 2009, Andrews starred in Jesus Alonzo's play, “Miss America: A Mexicanito Fairy’s Tale,” that was performed at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio. In the play, a nine-year-old boy, Chuy, dreams of becoming Miss America. Andrews portrayed Chuy's fairy godmother.

In writing about the play in the San Antonio Express-News, theater critic Deborah Martin said, "the show is as much about cultural identity as it is about sexuality. It’s frequently funny and goes to some unexpected places."

Andrews' popularity will never be questioned. Less than a day after her death a new Facebook page, RIP Erica Andrews, has thousands of followers and is filled with tributes and remembrances.

Edward Sanchez, owner of the Vanity Lounge in Houston, told the Chronicle, "Erica Andrews had the passions and desire to create a beautiful illusion of what she felt a woman should be: sexy, sultry and powerful. Her illusion transcended mere drag queens and heralded the dawning of a true female illusionist.”

A Candle Light Vigil and Remembrance Ceremony will be held at Crockett Park on March 28 from 7 to 9 p.m.

For Erica Andrews, as your spirit fills us
By Anel Flores, QSanAntonio.com, March 12, 2013

My mother wasn't talking to me and I felt like every passerby, even my own reflection in the mirror, was looking at my men's boots, black cap and men's button down shirt with disgust, hate and fear because I didn't fit into their feminine gender costumes, and most importantly, because I was open about being a girl who loved girls.

The following year, when I was 20 years old, I met Erica Andrews, who at the time was working at the Dillard's MAC counter and also performing at the Saint. I was a college student with very little cash, but offered to buy her lunch at the food court (which for me was a huge splurge). We talked closely during her one-hour lunch break about the discrimination she experienced daily and I shared my stories as well.

When I walked her back to work and watched her walk off to her spot behind the color-lined black counter, I saw the ugly faces the other women in the store gave her and even spotted one pointing at her while whispering to a customer. Her majesty and strength to walk through all of those bullets awed me, taught me that we must stand tall (even in tacones) if we are to survive and thrive in this world.

I honestly don't know how I graduated from college, nor paid any of my bills because I was at her shows, every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for several years after that, and still attended them up until late last year, gathering strength and confidence every time.

A few years ago, Jesus Alonzo produced a play titled “Miss America: A Mexicanito Fairy’s Tale,” that starred Ms. Erica, and I was called in to do a few things with the production back stage. During that time she and I were able to sit down again for a good long talk. I discovered in our remembering, during the time that she came into my life, my mother was absent and I didn't have a woman to look up to as I was growing from teenager to Mujer. Erica Andrews was the amazing Mexicana, Mujer, mami, I looked up to. I am grateful for to have been able to tell her that day she was my Mother-Mami role model.

When I enter a room, to this day, I still imagine you and the way you walked fearlessly through a line of fire for many of us. I put on my imaginary tacones, redden my lips and walk tall, confident that my truth will prevail against any hate. And, from one mami to another, gracias for being my mami and showing me how to be a good one to our daughters. Your memory will always live in my stories. I'll buy you lunch again one day, and I promise it will not be at the food court.

RIP Erica Andrews March 11, 2013

Anel Flores is a San Antonio writer and artist. She is the author of the novel, "Lady Empanada: A Lesbiana’s Story en Probaditas."

Female illusionist a star who paved way for others
San Antonio Express-News, March 14, 2013
A talented makeup artist, designer and female illusionist, Erica Andrews was regarded as a kind, open-hearted founder of the local transgender community. Andrews died Monday in Chicago from a lung infection.