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Meet three Miamians pushing the boundaries of our drag scene

King Femme
Photograph: Karli Evans/@allseeingmedia

If you still have not had the chance to experience Miami’s local drag scene, well, sucks for you. You’re missing out on what’s probably the most exciting artistic movement this city has had in a long time.

Drag nights like Double Stubble at Gramps (every Thursday at 9pm) and Counter Corner at 1306 (every third Sunday) have hatched a crop of Miami drag performers who leave it all on stage night after night. The scene, through the hard work of locals like Queef Latina, has even grown strong enough to support its own festival, Wigwood. It’s a well-deserved and hard-earned boom.

But there are still plenty of people out there who put drag in a box and see it through limiting parameters. As Miami’s own King Femme puts it, there are still plenty of people who have “this idea that drag is limited and done best by gay, cis men.”

That’s just not the case. And in honor of the upcoming Miami Beach Pride week, we caught up with three local performers who are living proof.

Andro Gin

Photograph: Victoria Elizabeth Black

I know you’ve performed in different spots around the country. What makes Miami’s drag scene special?
Andro Gin: Miami has this come-as-you-are vibe that really allows people from all walks of life to perform all types of drag. I sometimes see in other cities the alternative performers fighting for basic respect and that’s just not something that happens here. We’re really receptive to whatever type of drag people wish to present.

What’s your favorite drag night in Miami?
Counter Corner. I’m probably biased since that’s where I got my start, but there’s something special about a single party that managed to create an entire new flourishing scene.

From start to finish, about how long does it take you to create some of your more intricate looks?
I draw out my mugs beforehand so sometimes the more intricate looks I’ve done are the ones I do the fastest since I don’t have to create as I go. A look from start to finish, can take anywhere between one hour and a half to three hours.

Funniest onstage mishap?
I was hosting alongside Stacy Layne Matthews Lethbridge Pride over in Alberta, Canada, and our USBs weren’t operating correctly and both of us had one more song to do. We then completely 100% improv’d “Take Me Or Leave Me” from RENT and it’s probably one of my favorite performance videos I have on my youtube. We turned a mishap into a kick-butt duet.

What’s going through your mind in the moments before you’re about to step on stage?
It’s back and forth between absolute panic and: “You’re that bitch you know you’re that bitch.”

Any advice to someone thinking of becoming a drag performer?
Learn to sew. Just do it. Drag costs a lot but it costs way less if you can work your way around a sewing machine.

Describe your drag aesthetic in three words.
Flamboyant cartoon villain.

How can people keep up with you and see you perform?
Even though Miami is my base of operations, I'm lucky enough to be constantly traveling so my social media is the best way to keep up with my schedule. Instagram (@androginking), Facebook, Twitter and my website, androginking.com.

King Femme

Photograph: Christopher Collins

How long have you been doing drag?
King Femme: It’s crazy to say, but this May will actually mark two years of drag for me.

What makes Miami’s drag scene special?
Miami’s drag scene is eclectic. Miami has a rich history of being a melting pot of nationalities and as someone who values and stems from a diverse background I hold our drag scene very close to my heart. I am beaming with pride on the occasions I am allowed to not only watch our performers bring themselves to the stage, but watch them celebrating their heritage as well.

Is there a misconception about drag that bothers you?
This idea that drag is limited and done best by “gay, cis men.” There is this unfortunate rumor that trans and AFAB (assigned female at birth) performers are “boring,” “won’t get booked” or be “taken seriously.” On the contrary, because I am often underestimated as an AFAB performer I push myself even harder to make sure every performance is perfect and captivating. I think in the long run my need to exceed people’s expectations has created some of my best concepts and I am almost thankful for the coincidental motivation.

What’s your favorite drag night in Miami?
Double Stubble hosted by DJ Hotpants, which is held every Thursday at Gramps and has been almost a second home for me. I love the diversity of performers being booked and the inclusivity of people coming from all walks of life.

Funniest wardrobe malfunction or onstage mishap?
So I can’t even begin to recall the amount of times my binding tape has popped and one or both nips have made a little Janet Jackson-style appearance. If I had to choose one truly unfortunate mishap it would certainly have to be the time my dick, mid-performance, decided to slip out of my pants and roll into the audience…

What’s going through your mind in the moments before you’re about to step on stage?
A mixture of sheer unadulterated panic and a delicious surge of adrenaline. When it comes to performing I am certainly a perfectionist and am the type to over-rehearse, over-prepare and slightly catastrophize. In order to conquer these feelings, I’ve recently started replaying performances in my head where I envisioned it going poorly, but was met with nothing more than applause.

Any advice to someone thinking of becoming a drag performer?
Do it! Just do it! Most importantly think of who your persona would be and focus on what you want the audience to, 1) see, 2) know and finally, 3) feel. Go onstage with an objective, even if that objective is just having fun.

Describe your drag aesthetic in three words.
Energetic. Empowering. Emotional.

Where can people see you perform during Miami Beach Pride week?
So I’m very, very excited for some of the events I am involved with during pride and you can find King Femme April 4 at Perez Art Museum Miami for the Pride edition of their free community night. On April 5 you can find me in two different locations in one night (wish me luck). First, at the ICA’s free community event and then at PLAY: Pajama Party presented by This Free Life at 1306.

Naan Stahp

Photograph: Karli Evans/@allseeingmedia

How long have you been doing drag?
Naan Stahp: Like ten minutes! Honestly, I just started a few months ago and still feel very green. I’m grateful we have a scene that is very supportive of new performers and artists.

What made you want to try it?
I’ve been very close friends with Karla Croqueta (AKA Josue Garcia, @karlacroqueta on Instagram) for a number years and been attending all kinds of drag-related events for a while. At some point I got the idea I’d like to try, but I found myself worrying about what other people would think. But as time went on, I found myself worrying a lot less about other people’s opinions and more about having fun!

What do you think makes Miami’s drag scene special?
I think the blend of cultural influences is a large part of what makes Miami unique—and definitely what makes our drag scene unique, especially in the last five or six years. Everybody brings a different piece of the world, a different influence, a different flavor to our table and that constant novelty is a big part of why Miami’s drag scene is so singular.

What’s your favorite drag night in Miami?
Without question, it’s Counter Corner. I admit that’s largely nostalgia—I won’t ever forget when CC was in its earliest incarnation. Trust me when I say I’ve done my fair share of partying, locally and internationally. Counter Corner is and will always be special to me, even though other nights like Gender Blender at Las Rosas and Double Stubble and Drag Mondays at Kill Your Idol are huge favorites of mine. I feel kind of like a parent—I shouldn’t have such an obvious bias for my favorite, but I do.

Where are your favorite places to shop for new looks around Miami?
I spend a lot of time looking for the right pieces, digging around at Flamingo Thrift by the Pound (on 29th St and 5th Ave) or at thrift/vintage boutiques like Dragonfly Thrift or Swish Boutique.

What’s going through your mind in the moments before you’re about to step on stage?
I can’t believe I’m actually doing this! As a novice, it’s often just about controlling my fears—that I’m going to look stupid or the audience is going to hate me or that I’m going to fall flat on my face. But as a friend and fellow performer once said to me, “If you aren’t terrified, what’s the point?”

Any advice to someone thinking of becoming a drag performer?
Allow yourself to be who you are in drag. At first I felt like I couldn’t be a drag king because I couldn’t become someone else—create another persona or identity. But I didn’t have to, and once I opened my eyes and realized all I had to do to get started was be myself.

Describe your drag aesthetic in three words.
Bollywood. Miami. Complex.

Where will you be during Miami Beach Pride?
You can find me at the Miami Beach Pride Parade, and join me at the free (with RSVP) after party Not Your Standard Pride at The Standard Miami Beach, partying with the many other established performers from Gender Blender, Counter Corner, Double Stubble and Kill Your Idol Drag Mondays. I will also be performing at Counter Corner on Sunday April 21—we love our community to grow and change, so I hope you'll join us as we celebrate Pride!

 

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