Here are SFGN's "Best of 2018" winners in the People category in Broward County.
“Wow! To say I'm flattered to be chosen as the best artist/musician again would be an understatement, especially considering all the incredible talent in our community,” Jennifer McClain said.
This is the fourth consecutive year McClain has received the most votes for Best Artist/Musician.
When asked who her greatest inspiration is, McClain said, “it's every performer grinding away show after show, giving all they have to keep their art alive.”
McClain has been an emcee at the NYC Pride Parade, and stood with Gilbert Baker, who is known for being credited with creating the first rainbow flag.
She has also hosted and performed at a myriad of benefits and fundraisers for charitable organizations, including Broadway Cares, Poverello, and Kids in Distress.
“I was even lucky enough to perform for a Presidential Candidate right here in Wilton Manors in 2016, I think we all know who that was,” McClain joked.
When asked what she may want all her fans to know, McClain said, “I'm grateful for their loyalty and friendship. And because of all of that, I'll be celebrating my 10 year Anniversary at Georgie's Alibi this December.”
SFGN will see you there!
Joshua Bernal @ Java Boys
2230 Wilton Drive
There are many South Florida options for residents and visitors to get fully caffeinated – even if you leave out all the corporate spots.
And even among all the local coffee shops the competition is high. The quality of the product is hugely important, of course, but it takes more than great food and drink to set a café apart from the rest.
That’s where great ownership comes in and where customer service makes the difference. Joshua Bernal’s customers at Java Boys say he knows how to treat them right and make them leave happy.
Bernal has now won “Best Barista” for four consecutive years – no small feat in the hyper-personality-driven Wilton Drive corridor.
Bernal has worked at the popular spot, which opened in 2002, for seven years now, and he often says he’s not sure why he keeps being voted for the honor. Customers are sure: they consistently comment that Bernal always does more than the minimum – he makes sure their visit exceeds expectations.
“Josh took care of my order [and] made it perfect,” said a former customer of Bernal’s. And customers say one of Bernal’s virtues is making them feel comfortable – not something you get at every coffee shop.
Greg N. @ Hunter’s
2232 Wilton Drive
Greg N. has won Best Bartender. He’s been bartending for 8 years with the last 2.5 being at Hunters in Wilton Manors.
“I like bartending ecause I'm an active guy, it gives me the ability to move around and be social,” he said. “Work does not feel like work when you love what you do.”
One of his more popular drinks includes the Blackberry Basil Lemonade.
“I try to incorporate herbs and seasonal fresh fruits,” he said.
“Greg never meets a stranger. He greets everyone he meets with the biggest, brightest smile and instantly wins them over,” said Bruce Howe, general manager of Hunters. “His professionalism and dedication to his craft makes him one of the very best in the business. We are grateful to have him as part of our team and the Hunters family.”
Co-owner, Mark Hunter, agrees:
“Greg has many attributes. One being he is constantly smiling. Another being he will give table service from behind the bar. I think that makes him stand out above and beyond most bartenders.”
Greg regularly works Monday through Friday 3 p.m. until 8 p.m.
“Stop by and say hi,” he said.
Best Bartender (Gal)
Rumors Bar & Grill
2426 Wilton Drive
This is the second year in a row Kelly Campbell has won for Best Bartender.
“The people of Wilton Manors and Rumors Bar & Grill have been extremely good to me. I cannot thank them enough,” she said. “I have been working on the drive for close to fifteen years and I truly appreciate this honor.”
When asked if she had any rituals to prepare for a night at Rumors, Campbell said, “Being sober now for over two years nothing preps me more for a shift better than a long bike ride or a hard workout.” Although she jokes, “There used to be other alternatives.”
It’s Campbell’s personable style - and her interest in biking for the better - that make her such an easy choice to root for.
Campbell has supported The Smart Ride, a 165-mile bike ride fundraising for HIV awareness, for over three years. “The Smart Ride is very near and dear to my heart… knowing people who live with HIV and friends who I've lost... I'm a huge advocate for such causes.”
Best Local DJ
DJ Josh Atom
@djjoshuaatom (twitter and Instagram)
Josh Atom has won in the Best Local DJ category for two consecutive years. Atom has worked as a DJ since 2001 throughout Florida, Arizona, and New York, as well as Las Vegas.
Atom describes his style of music as a “very open format. I like to keep it upbeat, usually pop songs with a dance remix, blending the songs together sometimes with a theme.” That theme may be a featured artist, similar subject, or an era.
Besides playing music, Atom works the visuals. He plays videos that match his music. He also features “festive outfits, projectors, extra lights, fog machines, bubbles, [and] confetti bombs.”
Atom plays artists that support the community. He said, “We're all a big family and should support each other.”
People can experience Atom’s music at Rumors Bar & Grill (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) and Southern Nights (Tuesday and Thursday).
Buck & Beard
815 NE 13th St.
Google reviews about Buck and Beard refer to it as the best barber shop in Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors. Only open for business for a couple of years, barber Jose Lima is credited with giving the best flat top. Lima specializes in haircuts and beards - cutting, trimming, and coloring.
But providing excellent grooming services is only one part of the reason Lima is so popular.
“When I’m cutting hair, my clients talk to me,” Lima said. “We have great conversations. They tell me their life stories, and I share my story with them. I keep track of how they’re doing and how their families are doing and I think that’s part of the reason people enjoy coming to see me.”
Lima is flattered by the recognition. “It feels awesome,” he said. “It’s very heartwarming to be recognized for doing something good for people.”
Best Massage Therapist
Massage By Tito
2201 Wilton Dr.
Massage By Tito has won for “Best Massage Therapist” for the third consecutive year with our readers.
We asked Tito himself what he attributes his continued recognition to from the local community.
“Having massaged close to 700 clients I can say they mostly come back for my specialty ‘deep tissue massage,’” Tito said.
His motto is “Sleep Eat Dance Massage.. Repeat.”
The seasoned massage therapist recommends “modalities like ‘cupping,’ a great session to get rid of toxins and heal the body quickly.”
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which the therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. It is requested for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, and relaxation, as well as for a type of deep-tissue massage.
The three-time winner told SFGN, “I have enjoyed the opportunity to offer the ‘Best Massage’ in Broward county for 2016-2017-2018.”
And with reasonable prices at $80 for one hour, or $100 for 90 minutes, you can’t go wrong with a Tito massage.
Best Politician & Activist
Dean Trantalis captured the City of Fort Lauderdale mayorship in March, knocking off a longtime police chief to lead the popular South Florida resort city.
The 65-year-old attorney campaigned on improving the quality of life for Fort Lauderdale residents.
“All the elements came together,” Trantalis said of his victory.
The Trantalis campaign was aided in large part by strong support from younger voters, many casting ballots for the first time.
“I’m trying to be a role model and encourage them to participate in the equal rights movement and politics in general,” Trantalis said. “It is very important for the vitality of our community.”
“I see a lot of young people getting involved and it’s exciting because we need to mentor the next generation in this effort,” he added.
Trantalis said he spoke to several youth groups during his campaign and “tapped into” the Dolphin Democratic Club for key support.
“Eventually you start building momentum and you find all kinds of people wanting to be part of the success of the campaign,” Trantalis said. “It was a good start for a lot of people.”
South Florida Gay News readers voted Trantalis best activist and best politician in the annual awards issue. Trantalis said there is a difference.
“The people who are politicians are the ones who are holding public office and the ones who are activists are the ones trying to influence those in public office,” Trantalis said.
Trantalis, a Greek-American, was born in Norwich, Connecticut. He received a Juris Doctorate from Stetson University in 1979 and notes his work crafting Broward County's Equal Rights Amendment in the 1990s as a signature achievement.
Activists, Trantalis said, are typically devoted to specific causes.
In his activism days, Trantalis co-authored the city’s gay and lesbian inclusive domestic partnership law in 1999. Nearly 20 years later he was elected Mayor of Fort Lauderdale.
(Photo Credit: Justin Carter)
Drag Queen and Best Local Celebrity
The only way Daisy Deadpetals could top last year’s three-peat as Best Drag Queen is to win it again this year, along with taking the top honor as Best Local Celebrity, her second consecutive win in that category.
“Winning both awards really means the world to me,” said Miss Deadpetals. “I do my best to put a smile on people’s faces, especially now with every crazy thing that’s going on in the world. To have that hard work and dedication recognized, honestly means a lot.”
This year’s double win is likely a result of all of the appearances and performances that Deadpetals puts in. While most of us work Monday through Friday, Miss Thang’s work week spans Wednesday to Sunday.
On Hump Day, Daisy is at Boardwalk hosting the new meat contest at 12.
Thursdays, she hosts, C.U. Next Thursday at the Pub with two special guests before playing Snatch Game with audience members.
On Fridays, she’s at Rumors for two shows at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. with special guests.
Lips is the place to be on Saturdays, where Daisy hosts the two dinner shows at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday she hosts the Tea Dance at Alibi from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. At 11:30 p.m. she hosts Divalicious.
While that schedule would be more than enough for just about anyone else, Daisy now has a day job. She’s the copywriter at Helix Studios and their sister sites 8teenboy and Spank This. She writes the spicy scene descriptions under the scenes on the site.