Shelley Novak's 21st-Annual Drag Queen Awards: "It Really Threatens to Be a Great Show"

Shelley Novak's annual Drag Queen Awards are turning 21, and you know what that means. It's going to be a shit-show like you've never seen.

"I've got Juliesy y Karla cohosting, along with my usual cast of regulars," Novak said. "It really threatens to be a great show."

The veritable institution returns with a vengeance to the Score stage free of charge, complete with two-hour red carpet introduction and a first-ever in-memorium montage. The Oscars can eat its heart out, because even with all those nice dresses and famous faces, the Academy has nothing on all this glitter.

"I was never a pretty drag queen," Novak remembered of her early beginning. "I just figured everyone loves an award show, everyone loves the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys. Why not do the Shelleys?"

Now, 21 years later, the event remains a highlight of the year, and why not? There's nothing else like it.

"I get a bunch of dollar store Barbies and I spray paint them gold," she said. "I nominate every drag queen on the scene, and we just have this really great party. Everybody performs. You'd be hard pressed to find a homosexual out there who hasn't done their imaginary Academy Award speech in their bedroom mirror as a child."

This year is a big one. Not only is the 21-mark a milestone, but it's Novak's first year back after beating cancer. She said she's out to remind motherfuckers that she's still alive, and with Juliesy y Karla cohosting, expect the energy level to be out of this world.

"I went to their Valentine's Day Variety Show," Novak said of Hialeah's Finest. "I was like, these guys are great. They're just so outrageous and so hip and in without even knowing what they're doing."

But the Shelley's aren't about just one or two drag queens, it's about the whole community. With more than 10 awards and more than 20 performances scheduled, you can count out any dull moments. Some of these people are traveling across the world just to be a part of it.

"We plan on opening with 'Twerking in the Rain ... Everything from that to the Real Housewives of Elaine Lancaster, and hopefully Latrice Royale, who is getting off a place from Scotland," she said. "I'm celebrating life more than anything, and we're going to have a good time and a laugh."

Admission is free, and Novak thanks Score for opening their doors on an off night, adding that she hopes they stand to make a little money.

"Drink specials are bring your money you cheap bastards," she joked. "You notoriously cheap homosexuals."

She also made sure to mention special thanks to the DJ, Alex Infinity, who's gone "above and beyond" creating special graphics of each nominee to flash on the screen, as well as the Pennyback Boys, without whom the event would not be possible. Of course, Novak thanks the city of Miami Beach, and in the way of giving back, they'll be honoring anyone and everyone who passed this past year and touched the drag community of South Florida - not that they're going to let it damper the mood.

"There's just so much to be thankful for," Novak said. "Miami Beach might be going through a lot right now, but I think with all the sadness that's going on, Miami Beach needs a good, hearty belly laugh and a big comforting bear hug, and I'm just the broad to do it."

The 21st-Annual Shelley Novak Drag Queen Awards. Monday, March 10, at Score, 1437 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is free, and doors open at 10 p.m. Call 305-535-1111 or visit

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.