Here are SFGN's "Best of 2015" winners in the people category in Broward County.
Best Drag Queen/Local Celebrity
Daisy Deadpetals is no shrinking violet. This queen works hard for the money! Any given Sunday, you can find her in West Palm Beach at Camelot for Fabulous Sundaze early in the day then later at night featured in the “Life’s a Drag” show at the Voodoo Lounge in Fort Lauderdale.
Every Tuesday she’s at the Palace on South Beach for ‘Turn’t Up Tuesdays.” The rest of the week she’s on her grind working around South Florida at venues like Lips, Boardwalk, Rumors and the Village Pub, always while wearing the highest of heels.
Daisy Deadpetals, née Ken Calabria, has been doing her thing for more than 20 years, becoming a legend and keeping her originality in a sea of drag queens. Daisy’s specialty is her spirited routines where she lip syncs to songs, sound bites and snippets from celebrities and movies. The performances run the gamut from racy to raunchy and are always entertaining.
Oscar Wilde said a flower blossoms for its own joy. But it’s clear to anyone who’s ever seen one of her shows, Daisy Deadpetals blossoms for the joy of her audience.
Can a CEO be an activist?
Readers of the SFGN think so. Robert Boo, Chief Executive Officer for the Pride Center at Equality Park, is this year’s winner in the best activist category.
“I’m shocked,” Boo said. “I’m also pleased and honored.”
Boo returned to lead the Pride Center in 2012 and today oversees a staff of 38 employees and more than 250 volunteers. The Center has seen steady growth under Boo’s leadership. This summer plans were announced to build affordable housing units on campus for LGBT seniors.
Boo grew up in rural Indiana and graduated from Purdue University. This is his second stint at the Pride Center, previously serving as Director of Development from 2006-2010. During that time, Boo launched a capital campaign, which led to the purchase of today’s campus.
He admits his activism isn’t a loud and in-your-face style.
“I’m not the guy standing on the street with a sign yelling,” he said. “I’m more effective gaining consensus and agreement and convincing others we all need to be better.”
The 56-year-old Boo lives in Fort Lauderdale and is an avid cyclist and runner.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
It was not the easiest election cycle for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The South Florida Congresswoman survived a tough primary battle to keep her House seat, all the while managing a long and heated Presidential nominating process for the Democratic Party.
Through it all, Wasserman Schultz continued to advocate and take action on behalf of the LGBT community. Readers of SFGN recognized her impact in Washington and voted Wasserman Schultz "Best Politician" in 2016.
“I’m so honored by this award from the South Florida Gay News and its readers!,” said Wasserman Schultz. “I’ve been a proud defender of the LGBT community during my time in Congress, from forcefully advocating for marriage equality, to fighting to end the FDA’s outdated and discriminatory ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. While we have made a lot of progress, we know our work to make America a truly equal place for all people, regardless of their orientation, is far from complete. I’ll never stop fighting for our LGBT brothers and sisters, and I’m so humbled by this award.”
A graduate of the University of Florida, Wasserman Schultz, 50, lives in Weston with her husband Steve and their three children.
815 NE 13th St.
Fun and personable, Jose Lima, is the kind of guy who carefully listens to his clients and exceeds their expectations. He’s fast, he’s furious, and he cuts superbly well, paying special attention to all the little details that others might miss. His personalized approach to working with customers begins with a little small talk. “Hey, how are you doing?” “Where are you from?”
Getting to know his customers better allows him to give them personalized treatment so that when they leave the barbershop, not only do they have a great cut, they walk out feeling great as though they just made a new friend. It’s this personal touch that wins people over and makes them keep coming back for more.
While many in the community may know Jose from Dick’s Service Station, he’s recently moved to Buck&Beard in Fort Lauderdale inside Warsaw Coffee.
Whether you want a shaved fade or a new look entirely, go see Jose. He’ll take care of you.
Best Local DJ
DJ Richie Rich
DJ Richie Rich AKA Ricardo Torres is known to specialize in mixing up playlists that will get your feet tapping, booty moving, and hips shaking. He’s a true party starter and a beloved fixture on the local nightlife scene thanks to his spinning talent and enthusiasm for dance parties.
He’s known to play awesome 1970s disco hits, pop tunes, Latin beats, and nostalgic 1980s hits. He also includes house music in his mixes, sounds of tribal and soulful electro beats. The New York native has spun at Boom in Wilton Manors and is currently a resident DJ/VJ at Hunters Fort Lauderdale, located at 2232 Wilton Drive. If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop by his booth and say hello. He's known to be one friendly guy.
Best Bartender Male
Aaron Adams, Hunters
Aaron Adams describes the Hunters experience this way:
“It’s an unexpected explosion of energy and excitement,” said Adams, dressed in a tank top that accentuates his muscular torso.
Adams is a big part of the Hunters appeal -- voted best male bartender by readers of the SFGN.
“I personally think Aaron is the sexiest bartender here,” said Natasha Ribas, his colleague behind the bar. “He is a really big team player. He knows what he’s doing, he’s personable and he’s just delicious.”
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Adams served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was stationed in San Diego, working on aircraft carriers as an aviation electrical technician.
Arriving in South Florida seven years ago, Adams got his start in bartending at the Casablanca Café on Fort Lauderdale Beach. At Hunters, the 34-year-old hunk can be found downstairs at the video bar working happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays and the wildly popular Sunday night dance sessions.
Away from the nightclub, Adams manages Coral Reef Guesthouse, 2609 N.E. 13th Court, Fort Lauderdale and his own Airbnb guest cottage. For hobbies, he enjoys playing the guitar, singing and working out.
Best Bartender Female
Natasha Ribas, Hunters
Being a female bartender in a male dominated area can be challenging.
“I love it,” says Natasha Ribas. “I never want to work in a straight bar again. I’ve always grown up around boys. That’s just sort of my personality where I want to make the dirty jokes and go to strip clubs and just be raunchy and it’s totally acceptable here. There’s 30 other boys I work with here and I love them all. I’m like everyone’s little sister.”
Ribas, 26, is the lone female bartender at Hunter’s Nightclub where she can be found in the middle of the downstairs video bar on weekend nights.
A native of Boston, Ribas grew up in the restaurant and bar industry. At Hunter’s she has crafted her own specialty cocktail menu and serves a delightful Parisian Orchid.
“There’s definitely two types of bartending,” Ribas says. “There’s one where you pop a drink in front of someone and walk away and there’s one where you interact with someone. For me the most important thing is making sure the customer has exactly what they want to drink in front of them and it is important to talk to them because some people are afraid to get out of their comfort zone.”
For nearly two decades, Jennifer McClain has entertained South Florida audiences with her pizzazz and campy humor. The blonde darling performs on the first and third Sundays of every month at the ever popular Alibi’s. She has performed in Key West, New York and on cruise ships throughout her thriving musical career. During her performances, she is known to sass things up on stage with her silly banter, energetic pop anthems, and dramatic Broadway show tunes. A graduate in musical theater from the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory in Ohio, she knew at an early age that she was destined for the stage. In 1997, she started performing in South Florida and quickly became a fixture on the gay scene.
Her 2010 scripted cabaret show “Lady Swigs the Booze,” debuted at the world renowned Stonewall Inn in New York City.
This is the second year McClain takes home the top prize for Best Artist/Musician.
Best Massage Therapist
Massage By Tito
Who doesn’t love a massage? Or to be touched by a strong man? Well meet Tito.
“I have a passion for what I do,” he said. “Some people just take a course and look for the quickest way to become a massage therapist – just to make a quick buck. If you don’t have a passion you’re not going to be that good.”
And Tito is good. With over 700 clients he’s been around the block.
What he believes separates him from the others is his deep tissue massage and the way he combines and incorporates different techniques into the experience like Thai massage. He also takes time to work over your stomach.
“Nobody does a stomach massage,” he noted.
And with reasonable prices at $80 for one hour or $100 for 90 minutes you can’t go wrong.
Josh Bernal, Java Boys
2230 Wilton Dr.
Java Boys barista Josh Bernal is a bit like a bartender. People want more than coffee, they want conversation. Sometimes, he says, they want someone to talk about their lives with – the good and the bad.
A barista at Java Boys for six years, Bernal said he doesn’t know why he was voted Best Barista, but he did hazard a guess. “I’ve been here for a while and I’m always in a good mood but I don’t really know. Being a listener, I guess.”
He says he tries to keep the conversation to work, but many of his regular customers usually go beyond in what they want to talk about. “Somehow, I end up talking to people about a little bit of everything.”
It’s that rapport with the customers that makes Bernal such a great barista and employee, says Java Boys owner Steve Rose. Bernal always tries to make it a “pleasant experience” for the customers.
“He’s great with people. He’s outgoing. He always tries to recommend new things to people. And if there’s a problem with something, he always tries to solve the problem. He never confronts customers. And he’s basically a good guy.”