Goddessphere, the strip club-themed art installation that was shut down by the city of Miami Beach, only to reopen in a different venue, was peak Art Basel madness. Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio are now and have always been peak Miami. So just imagine the scene when Gloria and her family stopped by Goddessphere last weekend.
"We didn't know she was going to be there," performer Dorian Electra told New Times. "I was on stage performing, and then it was like, Oh my god, that's Gloria Estefan!"
Gloria, Emilio, and their daughter Emily all reportedly turned up for the relocated show at a venue at Eighth Street and Collins, next to the Whitelaw Hotel, on Saturday night. According to Electra, Gloria had gone to high school with the mom of Goddessphere performer Mood Killer, who clued her into the event. Afterwards, the family mingled with the cast.
"She said to [Mood Killer] that she really loved the event," Electra recalls. "It was the biggest compliment ever."
And Miami music royalty making a public appearance at a strip club-themed event wasn't even the craziest part of the Goddessphere saga. The highly anticipated show, a sequel to last year's well-received Motelscape installation by spearheading artist Marina Fini, was originally scheduled to take over the penthouse at the Shore Club, until the city of Miami Beach shut it down for potential violations of city code, which prohibit "adult entertainment" in the zone that includes the Shore Club.
Goddessphere moved its production to the empty storefront on Collins — Electra guesses it was formerly a vape shop — for a one-night engagement.
But after the Saturday gig was up, Electra said, the performers weren't ready to quit. "We had all these talented musical performance artists, and no place to go," she recalls. So the group began searching for other opportunities to perform.
That's when Fee Lion, another Goddessphere performer, figured that if the city thought their show was too sexual for a general audience, perhaps they'd bring it to a real strip club.
"I walked into Club Madonna for a site visit and the strip club was surprisingly down," Fee Lion recalls. So the performing crew took over the South Beach club for the night — much to the surprise of the patrons and ownership.
"Here I am, singing about the history of the clitoris, or the history of the vibrator — songs that say you cannot depend on a man. And I'm singing this to these men," Electra recalls, laughing. "I remember thinking, This is kind of aggressive in this context. This is kind of hardcore!"
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Though Club Madonna management was initially welcoming to Goddessphere, Fee Lion says, the performance wasn't exactly what the club manager thought he was signing up for.
"After our performances that night, the manager pulled me into his office, dumbfounded," she recalls. "'Why....are you here?" and "There was nothing nude about it..." and "There was no stripping!!" he recounted, to which I could only respond 'Exactly.'"
So Goddessphere never was able to exist comfortably in Miami Beach. "We started the weekend getting in trouble for being too sexual and ended it getting in trouble for not being sexual enough!" Mood Killer says.
"It's the double standard, that virgin/whore dichotomy," Electra adds. "It has to be one or the other. Women are always held to an impossible standard."