"This is the best place on Earth!... I don't see myself ever leaving."
Between sips of a cold Corona, the Australian comedian Pam Ann soaks in the activity of Ocean Drive in the summertime from Palace Bar’s open-air patio. She's just arrived back in her adopted home of Miami Beach and is greeted and treated like a celebrity by the drag bar's staff, even when she's dressed in plainclothes as her day-to-day self, Caroline Reid.
That she’s so loved by Miami’s LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who knows her: She’s been a longtime ally of the community at large since before she launched her comedy career with the Pam Ann character more than two decades ago.
The comedian says she's always found herself surrounded by queer and trans people and even helped a childhood friend transition as they entered adulthood together. “We were drawn to each other," Ann says of her friends in the LGBTQ+ community, "and they’ve always supported me, taught me, and educated me.” Given the campiness of her Pam Ann character, it’s no surprise the queer community has taken to her and that she now counts drag performers (including superstars such as Bianca Del Rio and Sherry Vine) among some of her closest friends. “I’m very grateful to the LGBTQ+ community,” she says. “They’re my family and my life.”
Now, comfortably back in her personal paradise in Miami Beach, she’s ready to take off on her new tour, Pam Ann Returns, which will stop at the Flamingo Theater Bar in Brickell Friday, September 20.
This is the first time Pam Ann will return to Miami on a North American tour since the Aussie moved to South Beach more than two years ago. “Miami is extra-special this time because I live here now,” she says. “There’s so much more knowledge that I now have that I didn’t have before.”
The premise of Pam Ann Returns centers on last year’s Mary Poppins Returns. Unlike Disney’s squeaky-clean family film, however, Ann's show delivers her brand of “observational and improvised” humor, usually laden with four-letter words.
Her shows typically include edited clips of Ann superimposed into notable films, and the Pam Ann Returns show is no different. “All the material will be new, but the structure is similar to past shows in that it’s movie, comedy, movie, audience participation, movie.” Audience participation is a key element of any Pam Ann show, especially when it comes to her joke delivery. “I’m really looking forward to the Miami show because I tailor my shows to everywhere I go,” she says. “I always have the best time here, and now that I live here, forget about it!”
Despite her status as an Australian expat in a city whose residents highly value pride in their 305 roots, Ann has received official recognition for her presence in the South Beach scene: Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora recently awarded her with a certificate for her work with the city's international community.
“It’s so nice to be acknowledged by Miami Beach, where I live,” she smiles. “I think it’s the universe also saying, ‘You’re right where you should be.’ I sincerely love this place.”
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One gig that has recently given her great satisfaction is DJ'ing at various spots around town. As “someone who’s been known to go to Twist at 2 in the morning,” Ann loves to party, even if she’s the one in the DJ booth. “It’s different from comedy, but it’s similar in a way because I’m freestyling on the decks, so it feels like exactly where I should be.”
Asked if she has any big dreams she hasn’t accomplished yet, Ann says she’s beyond satisfied with everything her foulmouthed flight-attendant character has brought her. “Pam has opened so many doors and given me a world of friends that normally I probably would have never met,” she muses. “She’s a gift already, and I’m grateful for right now, so everything else from here on is a bonus.”
As she prepares for landing at the Flamingo Theater Bar next Friday, Pam Ann is taking a moment to bask in everything that surrounds her — physically, professionally, romantically, and personally. “I’ve made really solid friends here more than anywhere else in the world,” she smiles, gesturing toward the palm fronds of Lummus Park flowing in the wind. “I'm not going anywhere."