Here are SFGN's "Best of 2015" winners in the people category in Broward County
Best Local LGBT Activist - Jaclyn St. James, Darran Mazaika (Tie)
The category for local LGBT activist is tied for the year, and with good reason. Both Jaclyn St. James and Darran Mazaika have both been recognized for their work striving for LGBT equality in the community.
In addition, both do not consider themselves activists. “I am just an ordinary everyday person who strives to help others that are less fortunate or need a helping hand,” Mazaika said. St. James agreed: “I never thought of myself as an activist until I looked up the true meaning and realize I guess I am. I never set out to do it, it just came naturally.”
Mazaika first started doing charity work in college by volunteering for the local police department as part of the Special Olympics Torch Run. “Ever since being part of that Torch Run and seeing how a simple act of kindness can mean so much to a person or an organization, charity work/activism has been a part of my life,” he explained. He is a criminal investigator for Wells Fargo Bank and organizations/charities he participates in are Out To Protect, Cops 4 Causes, the Miami AIDS Walk, the SMART Ride, and the National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment (NVEEE).
St. James works in hotel management and is a female impersonator. She is involved in the Human Rights Campaign and has assisted with fundraising campaigns for both homeless and LGBT seniors. “I was a big supporter for the Matthew Shepard Foundation and organizations to stop bullying in schools and worked to stop gay suicides,” she said.
Mazaika concluded with some words of wisdom. “The simplest act of kindness can change a person's life for the better without you ever knowing it,” he said. “It's not about how much money you raise or how much publicity you get; charity work/activism is about the impact you have on a person or society.” While St. James added, “It is very important to be an activist and fight for what you believe in, that’s what makes our country run. The people that came before us we owe all of [our] freedoms and liberty [to] and without them I think gays today would still be in hiding. So stand up and fight! It only takes one person to start.”
Best Barista - Brad from Stork’s Bakery & Coffee
2505 N.E. 15th Ave.
When you’re a barista, it is vital to master a variety of skills. A juggling act, baristas need to move fast with efficiency while keeping customers happy and ensure that all café operations are running smoothly. While this specialty occupation doesn’t get enough cred, Brad from Stork’s Bakery & Coffee is a shining example of possessing serious coffee-making and customer service friendly know-how.
He can steam a smooth and fluffy latte; remember his customers’ names, wants and needs, and how they like to have their beverages served. That’s why Brad wins SFGN’s barista of the year award.
Since 2011, he’s been at Stork’s and possesses a reputation of being dependable, reliable, and friendly. He takes time to truly connect with the customers, chatting with them about their lives. Be sure to stop by and say hello.
Stork’s is open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Best Bartender (Gal) – Lisa Radwan, Village Pub
Lisa Radwan loves what she does and readers of SFGN do too. Radwan was voted Best Female Bartender in Broward County.
Radwan, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., is a veteran of the gay bar scene, starting her career at George’s Alibi more than a decade ago after moving down from the north to escape the cold.
“It’s never dull,” she says of her time behind the bar. "I enjoy what I do and I love taking care of my customers."
Radwan can be found working happy hour at the Village Pub in Wilton Manors where she enjoys getting folks' night off to a good start.
“The after work crowd is fun to be around and we do a great job at the pub of creating that atmosphere,” Radwan said.
Radwan is married to her wife, Suzanne. The couple has been together for 15 years and live in Fort Lauderdale.
Best Male Bartender: Jason, Gym Sports Bar
Gym Sports Bar is a new hangout on the Drive, but Jason is an old pro at serving up good times.
In a signal of his people skills, readers of the SFGN voted Jason best male bartender this year. Jason has a friendly smile, warm personality and a build that certainly fits the jock profile of Gym Sports Bar.
“I take a few minutes to get to know my customers and try to get everyone talking,” he says when asked his bartending technique.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Jason has more than a decade of experience in the bartending and food service industry. He has worked in Provincetown, Mass., New York City and Fort Lauderdale.
“I’ve waited on Oprah, Lindsey Lohan and Beyonce,” he says, just to name a few.
At Gym Sports Bar (2287 Wilton Drive), Jason does his best to make the patrons feel welcome.
“People don’t come to a bar to sit by themselves and don’t say anything…I won’t let them,” he laughs.
Best Local Celebrity – Jaclyn St. James
Jaclyn St. James, originally named Shawn Hadden, leads a double life. By day, she is in hotel management and by night is a female impersonator.
“I started my female impersonation thing way back in grade school, running around my room pretending I was Olivia Newton-John,” St. James said. “I so wanted to be her, but as I got older I found out that being a woman wasn’t for me but that I also missed wearing heels and make up.”
It was spooky Halloween when St. James found her calling. However, she was hindered by stage fright. “So I chose to be a socialite and be amongst my peers in a persona that had always been inside me all along,” she explained.
And so it happened. In 2008 in a Wilton Manors’ Starbucks, Jaclyn was born. It was a tossup between Caress and Midge, but Jaclyn won as the “spelling was more contemporary than Jacqueline.” As for the last name, St. James, it was on a picture in the local Starbucks.
St. James is comprised of four people: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and St. James’s mom for her “undying love and support.” You can catch St. James on the Hunters dance floor Sunday nights.
Best Hairstylist – Clairisse Meneses, Hair by Francy, Joe Sansone, MoJo’s (Tie)
Clairisse Meneses started hairdressing more than 30 years ago. Before working at Hair by Francy, Meneses worked for Paul Mitchell Systems as an internal educator in both Central and South America. It was here that her inspiration grew into what she now uses today for her clients. “I love doing makeovers,” she said. “Color, cutting and styling is my ideal goal with every client.”
Meneses urges new customers to stop in for a consultation of no charge to look “younger, sexier, modern and glowing.” The hairdresser adds a tidbit about her favorite treatments. “Glossing and anti-frizzing treatments allow the hair to look fresh, healthy and shiny,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want that?” Indeed, who wouldn’t?
Hair by Francy is located at located at 3337 NE 32 St. in Fort Lauderdale.
Joe Sansone won SFGN’s award for Best Male Hairstyle. He works at Mojo’s, 2348 Wilton Drive.
“Joe's the man. Been coming here for 2 years and always get the same service. Shave and a cut,” one reviewer on Yelp said. “The man takes his time, is patient and comes from a long family line of NYC barbers. He takes his job seriously and is very professional. He always welcomes me with a smile and a hug and we catch up and I always feel at home here.”
Best Massage Therapist – Chris Tunkus
Chris Tunkus is used to being the best considering he’s the highest rated therapeutic massage therapist on MasseurFinder.com.
With only 3 years in the business Tunkus already has almost too many clients. He no longer does outcalls because he’s just too damn busy.
“I got into the business because I wanted to give the massage I always wanted to get,” he said.
What’s even better is Tunkus’ prices, at $65 he’s one of the lease expensive massage therapists around. It’s no shock that Tunkus takes home SFGN’s prize for Best Massage Therapist – when you combine quality with the right price you can’t go wrong.
His strong hands and strokes are sure to relieve your tension and put you at ease.
“Felt extremely comfortable from the moment Chris greeted me and immediately fell at ease. I have gotten many [massages] before, and at more expensive rates. This is by far the best massage I've ever had,” said one reviewer. Another commented, “I've had a lot of tension in my neck and back. Chris did an amazing job! It was the best [massage] I've ever had. Deep, without being painful. Chris has big [powerful] hands and really knows how to work out tight, tense muscles. The salon has a great atmosphere, very clean, very professional.”