When former New Times staff writer Natalie O'Neill wanted to get the inside scoop on the gay glory days of South Beach she turned to drag queen-extraordinaire Shelley Novak. The self-described "Barney Rubble in a dress" took her to an Office Depot that once was a notorious gay nightclub and then promptly was escorted out for causing a scene. So it's no surprise she no longer feels welcome in South Beach and, according to The Sun Post, is heading to hills of Hollywood. What does it say about present South Beach when a drag legend can't even catch a break anymore?
"It's really difficult to make a living being a drag queen these days. In fact, it's difficult to come up with the energy to even be a drag queen these days," Novak tells Sun Post (which, by the way, has apparently rebounded some since its near death a few years ago).
Novak, who's real name is Tommy Strangie, once entertained the likes of Gianni Versace and Madonna, and threw up on Ricky Martin's shoes, but things and South Beach change.
"I won't walk alone in drag anymore," she told O'Neill last year. "You can't go out at night without some thug yelling, 'Show me your pussy!'"
Novak and friends gathered last night for a roast and farewell party, and she's heading out to Los Angeles where she plans to live near a dog park, try stand up comedy, and finish her memoir tentatively titled I'll Shave Tomorrow.&
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Though, the long-running Shelley Novak Awards, something like the drag Oscars of South Florida but with naked Barbies as statuettes, will continue.
South Beach, which sometimes nowadays resembles something of a corporate amusement park for straight folks with money (or want to pretend they do), may not be the drag queen hot spot it once was. But Elain Lancaster is about to go mainstream on Real Housewives of Miami, and girls like Daisy Deadpetals, Chyna, and a handful of others can still carve out a living in club land.