Like a lot of things these days, it all started on a group chat.
Karla Croqueta, the beloved Miami drag queen whose flamboyant, bearded looks and energetic performances have earned her jobs all around the city—not to mention the title of the Ultimate Miami Drag Queen 2019—began seeing her gigs disappear one by one.
“We were kind of on edge because we’ve never canceled a Counter Corner before,” says Josue Garcia (Croqueta out of drag), who helps organize the influential, all-inclusive monthly queer party going strong in Downtown for nearly six years.
With innumerable Miami events and businesses shutting down in the wake of coronavirus, including Miami Beach Pride, carrying on with Sunday’s scheduled party at the Corner became unfeasible. “The owner of the bar called and we were all in agreement that it’s important to practice social distancing and help protect the community,” Garcia says.
Amid a flurry of concerned back-and-forth messaging with friends over how to cope with the loss of the party, Garcia declared a solution: “We need to go live.” The group chat response was swift and enthusiastic.
“It was kind of a joke,” Garcia says. “But everyone said, ‘Perfect. Let’s go live at 9pm.’”
A few hours later, the hashtag #DigitalDragShow was born, and with it the first-ever live-streamed Counter Corner. With the assistance of partners Sleeper Speaks and Jonnyonthego, Croqueta launched the Instagram Live stream from home this past Sunday night, serving up fierce performances from local queens Stephanie Cockroach, Petty Boop, Victor Vendetta, Tara Seams, Cherub Borne and Mami Issues plus impromptu guest performances from MTHR TRSA of New York City and Bebe Deluxx from Jacksonville.
In all, more than 350 people tuned in and interacted at the first virtual party, with viewers swapping out IRL snaps and dollar bills with digital tips transferred to performers via apps like Venmo and Cashapp.
“Because we’re not at a bar, we don’t get paid a booking fee,” says Garcia. “But we have this opportunity to work from home. I personally collected over $100. Other people made $80 to $100 for a five-minute show they did in their living room.”
The lighthearted, communal and flexible nature of Counter Corner’s first digital drag show added up to an encouraging success. Croqueta was able to change into 17 different drag looks over the course of the night—“We don’t usually have that ability.” Plus, queens from other cities are already jumping on board and more collaborations are in the works. “There’s a huge group of big-ass drag queens, like Dragula and more well-known ones, putting together a digital drag show this Friday.”
Although there are challenges (for instance, a couple of the performances’ music was cut out from the first live stream due to copyright issues), the shows will go on if Garcia has any part in it. Follow @countercorner and @karlacroqueta for upcoming performances and the latest updates.
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Thanks to all who joined in our first ever DIGITAL COUNTER CORNER show !! This was the first show opening the night by @karlacroqueta inspired by #covid_19 🙊🧼👋 wash your hands and stay home and stay safe ! We have more digital shows coming up this week!! Who would you like to see Perform??
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