Miami's most fabulous queens are busy ruling South Beach from their undisputed drag kingdom, the Palace. This iconic drag bar/restaurant/stage show is about to celebrate a quarter-century of bringing teased hair, fake tatas, and gravity-defying nips and tucks to Ocean Drive.
The 25th-anniversary celebration kicks off the evening of Thursday, February 28, with '80s and '90s drag madness, a visit from the mayor, old-school tunes, and all sorts of gay merriment. Ahead of the gender-bending bonanza, we spoke to long-term headliner Tiffany Fantasia on wig throwing, big tippers, and crazy queens.
Short Order: How have things changed in the past ten years?
Tiffany Fantasia: Well for one we have more drag shows than ever. We used to be Friday, Saturday and Sunday and now we're almost seven days a week with drag shows. The environment used to be more carefree where we could do whatever we wanted, go out into the street. There were no worries about crowd control. South Beach was a different time back then, Ocean Drive wasn't governed as it is now and so the drag queens used to be able to go crazy. Now we're more restricted. Also the food has changed, the quality of the place has changed - definitely it's gotten much better.
Our audience is like 40 percent locals, 60 percent tourists and as far as the tourists they always come back to see us. As far as locals, that's changed a bit because South Beach has changed. A lot of the gays moved away to Miami and into Fort Lauderdale so you know South Beach is very transient. That has changed a bit but the core audience is always there.
What are your most memorable moments?
There was one time, it was my first hundred dollar tip. This guy in an Escalade, he was with his friends. I was hosting and he wanted to take a picture of me from the street and I was feeling really bitchy that day. I refused to take the picture unless he had a tip and so I just turned around and they got my back. "You do not get my face till I see some money!" So they pulled the car to the side and started waving a $100 bill. I got on a chair and said, "How do you want it?" I gave him every pose in the book!
Once I was doing the Jennifer Hudson dance version of, And I Am Telling You at a T-Dance. Traditionally I throw my wig off, and I thought I threw it up in the air but apparently I threw it back and it went into a car. And the lady in the car took the wig and was waving it outside the car and kept driving with it and never returned with my wig and I had no clue that this happened. No clue that it ever happened!
Another time, I used to pull Patti LaBelle and kick my shoes off. One time it went flying on top of a car! Thank goodness the car didn't get damaged and neither did my shoe.
What are the plans for the celebration?
This year we have a few of the old girls who used to perform coming back to do a number, Amy Rivers and I believe there's a few others, not exactly sure of the lineup. We're also doing songs from certain times over the past 25 years. I'm doing songs from 1998, 1993 and 2003 and other people are doing songs from past years. We're just celebrating the past basically throughout the night. There'll be hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and just having a grand diva time like we always have!
For those who haven't been to the Palace, how would you describe the experience?
A fun environment. It's very carefree, very fun, no worries. Leave your problems at the door when you come to The Palace because you're going to have fun, you're going to forget your troubles. No matter how bad they are you're going to forget you even had those problems. We're going to entertain you and make you laugh.
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Listen to the gospel of Ms. Fantasia. There are few things more entertaining than an afternoon or evening on the sidewalk outside The Palace. And who knows, you might score a rogue wig in the deal.
The official 25th Anniversary Celebration kicks off Thursday, February 28, at 7 p.m. House divas Noel Leon, Tiffany Fantasia, Missy Meyakie LePaige, TP Lords and special guest FernanD'cute will be on hand, and The Palace will be honored by the City of Miami Beach and special guests Mayor Matti Bower and Commissioner Michael Gongora.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.