You can call it a local equivalent to the Oscars. There will be goddesses working the red carpet and glamorous gowns, but be on the lookout for the freaky styley. Shelley Novak, Miami's hairy-chested drag wonder, is honoring the best of the local cross-dressing culture. Will Pussy-la win for best costumes, with her mutant ninja alien queen outfits, over the white heat of Golden Blonde? Will Champagne Bordeaux beat out Daisy Deadpetals for most glamorous? Look for more than 30 of the fiercest queens to compete in at least 6 categories. Novak keeps things sizzling through the night. The awards begin at midnight sharp at crobar's Back Door Bamby, 1445 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is $20. Call 305-672-8084. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Bootylicious dance lessons from a beauty queen
Once upon a time Betsy P. Cardwell of the Dance Esaias dance troupe ran the hip-hop classes at the outfit's Little Havana studio. Cardwell is a powerhouse of dance instruction, so who could replace her? How about Miami's latest arrival: former Miss Alabama 1993 Kalyn Chapman? The pageant winner and soul sister, who went on to place in the top 10 in the 1994 Miss America contest, will teach the finer points of street dance staples like popping and locking, while her Southern roots will mean a funk and R&B-rich soundtrack as you and/or your kids cop the moves. The electroboogaloo-jigifications occur at 6:30 p.m. at 1155 SW 6th St. Instruction costs $12 per class or $100 for 10 classes. For reservations and information call 305-560-1150. -- By Victor Cruz
In the Black
Jesse Jackson did it once and now Al Sharpton is too. We speak of vying for the Democratic nomination for president. Certainly progress for black men in America, but a long time coming. Don't read black history in boring books, though. Enjoy it via monologues, song, and dance set to a tribal and hip-hop beat when M Ensemble Company opens Eric L. Wilson's play Strands at 8:00 p.m. at M Ensemble Actors Studio (12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami). Tickets cost $25 this evening; $20 other shows. The production runs through Sunday, February 29. Call 305-895-8955. -- By Nina Korman
Sky High Times
Spend happy hours with heavenly bodies
Opportunity and Spirit, the twin Mars rovers, are out there somewhere taking pictures and getting lost. You? You're stuck here on Earth alone, doing nothing much on a Friday night. Your Fridays could be positively celestial on a monthly basis if you spent them at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave.). Its brand-new event called Fabulous First Fridays offers lectures, workshops, star presentations, and musically driven laser shows for lonely singles and bored families. On the agenda from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.: a chat about this month's prominent stars and planets and how to locate them in the night sky; a seminar on how to assemble and use a stargazer finder, which you'll be given free; a planetarium show dubbed "Once Upon a Time"; and lasers dancing to tunes by the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Just imagine if you became an astronaut: You'd probably be spending Friday night barfing in the zero-gravity simulator. Admission ranges from $6 for kids to $10 for adults and includes the all-important laser glasses. Call 305-646-4248. -- By Nina Korman
The Zion King
It's been more than 20 years since Bob Marley took a one-way ride to Zion, yet he's still been the top-selling reggae artist every year since. The dreadlocked messenger of peace and one-love is known the world over, even in Miami, where we celebrate his birthday with the Bob Marley Caribbean Festival. Now in its 11th year, the all-day affair features music from his sons Stephen, Damien "Jr. Gong," and Julian, as well as India.Arie, Steel Pulse (left), Culture, and Johnny Dread. Bring 4 cans of food (for the homeless) and $28 for the 3:00 p.m. start time at Bayfront Park, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd. Call 305-740-7344 for details. -- By John Anderson
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Maps make their mark in history
Where the heck am I? It's a pretty deep question. Although Global Positioning Systems have made our vehicles virtual navigators, they can never ease the existential dilemma of being profoundly lost in the world. Need proof? Just watch MTV's Rich Girls, where Tommy Hilfiger's daughter's buddy can't find her way to Nantucket using her Beemer's GPS. Better yet, read Moby Dick. Either way, there is nothing better for our disorientation than a map. And map lovers will get more directions than they can handle at the 11th Annual Miami International Map Fair, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Admission costs $10; to participate in workshops costs $75. Call 305-375-1492. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez