Here are SFGN's "Best of 2015" winners in the entertainment category in Broward County
Best Local DJ – Herbie James
He’s completely unstoppable. And South Florida can’t get enough of him. With his own unique style of music, affectionately known as “Herbicidal,” he mixes soulful house music, progressive and tribal, into a sound that people come from all over to hear. Herbie James takes the top spot again.
Why should we be surprised? He’s been consistently a local favorite for years! James’ first residency was at the famous Marlin Beach Hotel in 1991, where he played 12-hour sets Thursday through Sunday. “At the time, the hotel had installed an incredible Renkus-Heinz sound system,” James recalls. “I have some really fun stories of those days.”
Since then, James has grown into a local icon, playing sets for many local and national venues. That status is reinforced every year, winning accolades since the old days of the “Sleazy Awards,” (a long gone but not forgotten in-the-biz charity event,) to our very own “Best Of,” and just about every survey in between.
Herbie’s current DJ Residence is at RamRod bar, 1508 NE 4th Ave., Friday nights starting at 10 p.m. But keep a look out for him, he also plays special events and guest appearances throughout the year.
Best Karaoke DJ - 2 Guys On A Mic
Fridays 7 p.m. & Sundays 9 p.m.
3073 NE 6th Ave.
Wednesdays 9 p.m.
2283 Wilton Dr.
When it came down to finding the best karaoke in town, DJ’s Ricky and Andy, a.k.a. “2 Guys on a Mic” got the most votes, versus an actual place. (They won last year for Karaoke Fridays at The Stable, which is now closed.) They’re quite well known in Broward, as they have hosted many karaoke nights and events all around town over the years, and still do.
Their computerized karaoke system has a catalog of over 100,000 songs, so you're bound to find something to sing, no matter how obscure you think it might be. And because it's computerized, there are no little slips of paper or song numbers. The system can keep track of your singing history, and is easy to use.
Fridays at 7 p.m. are probably the most unique karaoke experiences in town, since it’s outside under the stars on Scandals Saloon’s patio, and is themed as “Bearaoke.” It’s a wide-open space, plenty of seating, and lots of friendly people. Also at Scandals Saloon, after the tea dance on Sundays, karaoke starts at 9 p.m. on the dance floor.
They also host a session at Village Pub on Wednesdays starting at 9 p.m., where they utilize the great stage lighting system to make you feel like a star.
If you're into karaoke, or just want to try it for the first time, you might want to try these very unique and fun experiences. As Andy will always tell you, “It's not a competition,” so don't be shy, give it a try!
Best Drag Queen - Misty Eyez & Daisy Deadpetals (Tie)
When it comes to Drag Queens, Misty Eyez is royalty. Misty Eyez has emceed at such prestigious events including the Fort Lauderdale Gay Pride Parade and Stone Wall Street Festival every year since 2005 and also at the Wicked Manors Block Party since its inception in 2007. She has also attracted new fans with online persona on YouTube with her “ASK MISTY” Advice - where she answers viewers questions and “Misty Minute” Tutorials - where she gives away Drag Secrets.
SFGN voters named her Best Drag Queen for the three years running. This year, she’s tied with Daisy Deadpetals. But there’s no shade or bitchiness about sharing the title this year.
“Being recognized by the community I love and call home is an honor and privilege,” Misty Eyez said. “Daisy is my sister. What better person to share this distinction with than someone I love and admire.”
Daisy Deadpetals is also a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the most popular and entertaining queens on the scene. She also keeps very busy. She recently performed at the 2015 Pride Fort Lauderdale. She continues to perform at the region’s longest-running drag show Life’s a Drag.
Both Misty Eyez and Daisy Deadpetals are among the favorite performers at Lips, which SFGN readers voted 2015 Best Drag Show.
Best Drag Show – Lips
1421 Oakland Park Blvd.
It’s a Saturday night just before 6 p.m. and Lips is about to open. Outside there are a few cars in the parking lot – ladies preparing to start their night of partying. They are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and older. They are of every color and stripe. But they have one thing in common. They came to Lips to have a great time and they won’t be disappointed.
“They are here for birthdays and bachelorette parties. No matter what, everyone is always celebrating something and we’re the best place to do it,” Sean Engler of Lips said.
The performers at Lips know how to keep their patrons entertained and coming back for more. They have the highest heels, wildest wigs and lashes for days. The best drag acts in Fort Lauderdale perform six nights a week and Sunday brunch. Shows include Gospel Brunch, Dragalicious Show, Bitchy Bingo, Diva’s Glitz and Glamour Review. On Saturdays, Misty Eyez and Daisy Deadpetals, who tied as your choices for Best Drag Queen both perform.
Shows are recommended for guest 16 years old and up, drinks are served to those 21 and over.
Best Live Theatre – Empire Stage & Island City Stage
1140 N. Flagler Drive
EmpireStage.com and IslandCityStage.org
While there’s plenty of large performing arts centers for one to go to, it’s Empire Stage and Island City Stage that have the hearts of theater lovers. Empire Stage was purchased six years ago from the Soul Theatre by David R. Gordon and other producing partners, and ever since, it’s been pumping out productions in conjunction with Island City Stage, which rents the property and produces its own works part of the year.
“I feel like I’ve been jettisoned into the Westside Theatre,” Gordon says, describing the black box theatre and the ones he’s performed in up in the Big Apple.
Over the past four seasons Island City Stage, the LGBT-centric company has staked out a solid place in South Florida theater community. The company, led by artistic director Andy Rogow, swept the 2014 Carbonell Awards with a profound production of Dan Clancy's "The Tinekeepers." The play, about the relationship of two German concentration camp prisoners--one Jewish, one gay--was revived the following fall in Boca Raton.
But rather than rest on its laurels, the company followed that success with a critically-acclaimed season featuring not one, but three regional or world premieres. The highlight of the season was the heart-wrenching premiere of Michael McKeever's "Daniel's Husband," perfectly timed with the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality decision.
This season, Island City Stage is offering more edgy, thought-provoking plays that LGBT audiences flock to, so get your tickets now.
Best Movie Theater – Gateway Theater
1820 E. Sunrise Blvd.
The Classic Gateway Theater is a fan-favorite among cinema snobs, pop culture enthusiasts and SFGN readers, as it’s the fifth consecutive year it has won Best Movie Theater.
The Gateway is one of the prime movie theaters within Fort Lauderdale where guests can watch independent and foreign films that aren’t as accessible as their mainstream theater chain counterparts. Even so, the Gateway does premiere occasional Hollywood blockbuster films based on critical acclaim and popularity.
It is also well-known for its midnight screenings of the cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” every year for Halloween.
Most recently, the Gateway theater hosted the 7th edition of the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (MiFo) LGBT Film Festival by renting a single theater room from Oct. 9-18 so attendees could watch LGBT documentaries, spotlight films and narrative features.
Best Artist/Musician - Jennifer McClain - Tony & Gloria (Tie)
Jennifer McClain has rocked and swoon South Florida audiences for nearly two decades. She came onto the South Florida entertainment scene in the late ‘90s, having performed cabaret shows and karaoke nights almost five nights a week. At her lively performances, Jennifer Tonight, audiences can expect McClain to dish out fun banter and belt out humorous Broadway tunes and slow, sweet sultry numbers as well as popular anthems with sappy lyrics. A graduate from the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music, in Ohio, McClain knew at an early age that she was destined for the stage.
Her 2010 scripted cabaret show called “Lady Swigs the Booze,” debuted at the world famous Stonewall Inn in New York City, and has since catapulted her performing arts career to high levels where she continues to perform in the Big Apple. When she’s not entertaining in NYC, you can find her in Wilton Manors at venues such as Georgie’s Alibi.
Tony & Gloria
Musical duo Tony and Gloria are true party starters. This duo knows how to entertain a crowd with their renditions of fusing Jazz and Standards interlaced with contemporary influential sounds.
Tony performs as the lead guitarist and rounds out the act’s sound while adding the rhythm and bass touches. Gloria, a fierce vocalist, takes her numerous influences and belts it out into a sound that is unique and mesmerizing.
The duo has landed big time gigs at clubs such as New York’s Joe's Pier 52, a renowned Broadway nightclub, and as far away as spots in St. Marten, France, and, of course in funky town Key West. Perhaps the most politically correct performance of this duet’s career was when they took to the lawn at the White House
While these show stoppers are all the buzz on the Islands, they don't have a Facebook page. But would-be fans can catch them in the act on Wednesdays and Sundays. See them Wednesdays, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Alibi’s in Wilton Manors. Call 954-565-2526.
Also see them on Sundays, 7 to 11 p.m. at Tropics Piano Bar & Restaurant, 2000 Wilton Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-537-6000.
Best LGBT Event of the Year - Wicked Manors
“It’s like gay Mardi Gras meets Halloween.” That’s how Hollywood resident Minnie Perez describes Wicked Manors, Wilton Manors’ annual Halloween street festival. “My advice is go.”
Every year Perez goes to Wicked Manors, she expects “lots of fun and lots of drag.” And this year didn’t disappoint. With traditional costume contests, plenty of bars and the less traditional “South Florida’s Fiercest Drag Queens” contest, Wicked Manors has something for all tastes. Cash prizes are available for winners of the costume contests. But expect some company. Estimates of attendance are between 20,000 and 30,000. All packed into a closed-off Wilton Drive.
“This year’s theme was Once Upon A Drive. Fairy tales both good and bad and whatever you’re feeling for that night,” said Roger Roa, director of development for Pride Center, the organization, which has run the event for the past three years. And it wouldn’t be a Pride Center Wicked Manors without the Flash Mob performing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
And all the fun benefits the programs and services provided by Pride Center, the organization running Wicked Manors.