Miami Beach drag queen Shelley Novak says she got slugged over a cell phone

South Beach's legendary queen of drag, Shelley Novak, is normally full of sassy one-liners and puns about penis size. But she has a straight face when explaining, "It was like Friday the 13th. He came running up my stairs, chasing after me with wild, crazy eyes."

She's reliving the moment before she called police to report an alleged assault last week. Her contention: A gay man named Zachary Cerre hit her face and smashed his fist though the window of her apartment on West Avenue.

Cerre has not been charged with a crime. He swears the man in a wig is making it all up. "She's a washed-up old queen who just wants attention," he says. "Everything she told cops is a lie."

In the late '90s, Shelley Novak — whose real name is Tommy Strangie — was a South Beach celebrity. She shared VIP rooms with Madonna and once threw up on Ricky Martin's shoes. Most of that boozy glamour came to a halt after Gianni Versace was shot dead outside his Ocean Drive mansion in 1997.

This past October 6, Shelley went to an animal rights fundraiser at Halo Lounge on Michigan Avenue. She had a few drinks and posed for some photos. One of the shots was with friend and fellow drag queen Adora, who wears enough makeup for a small family of clowns. Afterward, she walked a few blocks home.

Then her phone rang. Adora was looking for her digital camera. Shelley checked the pocket of her fur coat and realized she had accidentally taken it home. She invited her pal to come get it.

Zachary Cerre came too. He had also been at the club and was missing an expensive cell phone. He believed Shelley had snatched it, so he banged on her door and demanded she hand it over.

Shelley went outside in her underwear, high heels, and a hair net, and the two began screaming at each other in the street. Customers leaving the nearby Quarterdeck Restaurant stopped to watch the weirdness. Cerre claims Shelley called him the N-word and shattered her own window by slamming the door. She claims he left her with a swollen and bloody face.

Miami Beach Police didn't respond to Riptide's requests to view the incident report. But an officer familiar with the case, who did not want to be named, summed it up like this: "There was a circular break in her window. It was consistent with a fist or an object."

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Natalie O'Neill
Contact: Natalie O'Neill