In 1997, a young drag queen walked into a Versace Memorial Day weekend party at the legendary South Beach Warsaw club. The general manager spotted her, asked who she was, and hired her on the spot.
Today that drag queen, known as the fabulous Elaine Lancaster, has been honored with her own day by three South Beach mayors, appeared on national television, and performs her song-and-dance routines for audiences around the world. The Warsaw was not so blessed. The club eventually closed and years later was turned into a Señor Frog's.
This Sunday, things will come full circle when Lancaster triumphantly returns to Collins Avenue as the host of Señor Frog's new Drag Brunch.
The event is a spinoff of the restaurant chain's successful brunch in New York City. And you know it's going to be good because it's produced by Brandon Voss, the man behind Logo TV's official Ru Paul's Drag Race events.
“[At first] I thought it was kind of off-brand ... but we gave it a shot,” Voss says of the New York original. “They have this really great stage set up there. It turns out everyone loves it. People are just being stupid and wearing balloon hats and getting drunk and watching this drag show. It's been this huge hit.”
Voss is already in town rehearsing with the showgirls and making sure everything meets his high standards. He grew up in Miami, so the weight of bringing the show to the old Warsaw address is not lost on the producer.
“I hope to bring a little bit of the excitement back to South Beach — especially the gay scene, since it has all really migrated to Fort Lauderdale,” he says. “I think the show is an incredible deal. For $39, you're getting a show, four hours of full open bar, and brunch. That is unheard of on Miami Beach.”
It's clear this is no ordinary drag show with one-off lip syncing. But rather, it is an all-out, interactive dining experience with a high production value. The four-hour show will feature choreographed numbers and group performances by some of South Florida's highest-graded dames.
“I handpicked every one of these girls. I consider this to be the A-team,” Lancaster says. “These are the entertainers you can't normally see at a brunch event because they're usually doing corporate events the evening before. But they've all agreed to come onboard with me. I'm so excited to have them all, because they are outstanding in their own right.”
Joining Lancaster are local stunners Adora, Angie Ovahness, and TP Lords. For a one-time-only appearance in honor of the inaugural brunch, NYC Drag Brunch regular and Miami-born Ebonee Excell will be a part of Sunday's show.
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According to Lancaster, fans can request songs by certain performers for a minimum donation of $20 — though the queens will always accept larger bills.
“Bring your Hamiltons, your Jacksons, and your Benjamin Franklins,” Lancaster says. “We're creating an environment for people to come and have fun. Everything Brandon [Voss] is involved with is successful, and everything that I've been involved with is successful, so I'm happy. It's a great team.”
Señor Frog's Drag Brunch
Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at Señor Frog's Miami Beach. The $39.95 cost includes the show, a meal, and unlimited cocktails. Visit vossevents.com.