MasterMind 2016 Finalist: Performance Artists Juleisy and Karla Are More Than Hialeah's Finest
Photo by Monica McGivern
This year's three MasterMind Award winners — chosen from a group of ten finalists — will be announced this Thursday, February 18, at Artopia, New Times' annual soirée celebrating Miami culture, at the Coral Gables Museum. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.
The only thing that distinguishes Giovanni Profera and Josue Garcia, sitting in an intimate café in Wynwood, from the rest of the hipster crowd is that their laughter sounds the loudest.
Usually, they stand out a lot more.
The two friends met at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School when they lived down the street from each other. Years later, they started turning heads as two over-the-top and hairy drag queens dishing out some major Cuban slang. Their brazen, hilarious sendup of chonga girls resonated with everyone who grew up eating pastelitos with their abuela. The depiction was spot-on: too much makeup, hoop earrings, acrylic nails, and a huge dose of attitude.
“We started this because we were both broke,” says Garcia in his finest Hialeah accent. Garcia plays Karla Klara to Profera's tall and slender Juleisy Inbed.
“I always loved dressing up, and [once a year on] Halloween wasn’t doing it,” says Profera. So one night: they planned to go out, but since they were short on beer money, he suggested crashing ladies’ night at Sunset Tavern.
Garcia fashioned a poncho and a Tina Turner wig — but he wasn’t ready to shave his beard. “We got dressed up that first night and looked like two total chongas,” says Profera, tilting his head back in laughter.
The pals can’t seem to agree which outing was their first as professional performers. Singing Destiny’s Child and wearing pink outfits performing at club Sugar? Or maybe it was hosting a party at Stache in Miami Beach.
“No, that wasn’t it,” Profera says.
“Say my name / Say my name,” Garcia argues. “Yes — we sang ‘Say My Name’ at Azucar!”
“No, no, but what was the first party we hosted? At Stache?”
“Yes, Stache! That place lasted a whole hot minute,” says Garcia, remembering that the two never even got paid for their Made in Dade party back in 2012. “Wherever you are, you still owe me money, thank you!” says Garcia.
“Get ’em, Karla!” says Juleisy encouragingly.
After a short-lived web series helped them gain notoriety in the city, the duo has gone from not getting paid to being booked all month long (though they both still hold day jobs — Profera in the food industry and Garcia as a stylist). Monday night, Profera hosts Juleisy’s Total Split Show at Basement; every Tuesday night, the two host Juleisy and Karla’s American Woman at Sweet Liberty; and every third Sunday, it’s the grand gay party Counter Corner at the Corner Bar. They often collaborate with other local personalities like Otto von Schirach and Pepe Billete in sketch-comedy videos.
“When we started, there wasn’t much of an art scene,” Profera says. “Wynwood was the kind of place where your car would get broken into. And now, we’re really starting a movement within the gay community because we’re giving gay artists an opportunity to express themselves.”
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