The 23rd-Annual Shelley Novak Awards Honor Miami's Drag Community — Bearded, Beautiful, and All

Most people would kill to host a show that lasts 23 years. Foulmouthed South Beach drag babe Shelley Novak, on the other hand, ain't most people.

“I'm excited to be doing it, but like any homosexual, when something gets around 23, 24, we start to lose interest in it,” Novak says. “I really wanted to bang my show when it was 18, I'll tell ya that.”

The Shelley Novak Awards are her way to shed light on those who make Miami a colorful, vibrant, unique, sexually ambiguous, deliciously tacky hot spot. Like any great activist, she does it for the kids. “They go out, they work, and, most of the time, they just do it for exposure. They're not even getting paid, so I like to give them a stage where they can get up, have the spotlight on them, maybe say something or give a speech. A lot of times these kids were bullied, and now the spotlight is on them, and they're a star for an evening.

“Maybe that's what I was put on this Earth to do,” she continues, “give people a platform to shine – and also bang kids half my age.”

This year is all about the kids half her age (and because it's not polite to ask a woman her age, we won't). She went out of her way to nominate every hard-working queen of the next generation — there are a lot of them — and in Novak's eyes, there's a serious movement that needs to be honored.
“I think without even realizing it, Juleisy y Karla have started a little bit of a revolution,” she says. “In a strange way, everything has come around again. Things that were popular in 1973 are all of a sudden popular again. They're just slamming glitter onto their beards and going out. I think it's exciting. It keeps it fresh.”

In honor of these new bearded, brazen beauties, Novak has created a new category: Most Ratchet.
Other categories include Best MC, Best Costume, Best Hair, and Best New Artist. All of the nominees for Best New Artist are set to perform, so expect showstopping songs from Queef Latina, House of Pss, House of Kunt, Whiteandpopular, and others, as well as some breathtaking getups on everyone in the room.

Novak attributes the imaginative outfits to the influence of RuPaul's Drag Race. “A lot of these kids probably could not be the high-school cheerleader they wanted to be, so now they just go out to the club world and become club kids," she says. "And the costumes have taken on this whole otherworldly thing, thanks to people like Kelly Raspbery, T. P. Lords, and, of course, Wild Child.”
Special members of the community will be honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the Heroine of the Year Award will go to Elaine Lancaster.

“Elaine pulled a tourist from a burning car when she as in Mykonos on a work vacation,” Novak says. “A lot of people don't know, but there was a house fire at the villa she was staying in, and she and Any Bell of Erasure, I believe, had to climb out a window to safety… If there was one more fire, I would have had to call bullshit.”

The Shelley Novak Awards return to Score, the show's home for nearly a decade, with tons more performances, surprises, insanity, and dirty hilarity than ever before. Doors open at 10 p.m., and the show begins at midnight. Novak advises big drinkers to call ahead and reserve a table with bottle service, and she asks that everyone time their drugs correctly.

“I was asked recently to describe the night in three words, and I said 'unscripted drag rodeo,'” she says. “It's going to be a good show.”

The 23rd-Annual Shelley Novak Awards
Monday, February 29, at Score Nightclub, 1437 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Doors open at 10 p.m., and the show starts at midnight.