These people have the honor of earning SFGN's Best of Broward's People of 2020, chosen by our readers.

 Best Artist & Volunteer - Claudia Castillo

Claudiaartist

Photo via Facebook.

Claudia Castillo has won Best Artist categories for the second year in a row. 

She was born and received her education in Bogota, Colombia at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.  

Castillo’s art is heavily influenced by nature; she loves velvety and rich earth tones but also creates abstract and whimsical, flowing water scenes.   

In the summer of 2017, Castillo opened her Art studio at 2215 Wilton Drive.   

“The opening of my studio was a life-long dream for me especially here in the community that has appreciated my work and given me such great opportunity,” she said. 

Castillo was also voted as Best Volunteer. 

“I am passionate about giving back to the community because I am grateful for the blessings that I have been given throughout my life,” she said.  

Her studio also hosts children’s exhibits for Wilton Manors Elementary school, she’s currently working on Former Justin Flippen’s Annual Kids Manatee Decorating contest that works in conjunction with the City of Wilton Manors.  She was also recently appointed to the Board for the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce.   

Runners-Up: Niki Lopez of What’s your Elephant, The Circle, 1310 Gallery, and Artists for Black Lives Matter for Best Artist.  Lopez is a champion when it comes to marrying creativity, activism and the arts. 

— CM

Best Bartender - Shane C.  

The Pub  

2283 Wilton Dr. 

Wilton Manors 

ThePubWM.com

shaneC

Photo via Facebook.

Shane C. Brings home the prize for Best Bartender.

Shane moved to the area eight years ago to open up The Village Pub (now The Pub).

“I love what I do and I love my extended family at The Pub and in Wilton,” he said.

As for his big win he’s humble, “I don’t think there was a best of anything this year. It’s just been people, organizations, businesses trying to survive. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people. All these people deserve an award in my eyes.”

He’s faced quite a lot of adversity this year, but isn’t letting that hold him back.

“It’s just made me a stronger and more determined person. The love and support that I got from this community – I feel blessed,” he said.

As for his bartending he describes his style as “honest,” “direct” and “a bit goofy.”

“I care a lot about my customers and want them to feel safe and enjoy their experience. People come to the bar to forget their problems and have a good time,” he said. “If I can make someone laugh, I feel I did my job. I use to come to work every day and give everyone a hug. Hopefully one day we will be able to do that again.”

Runner-Up: Frank at DrYnk

– JEP

Best Bartender - Brooke F. (Alibi and DrYnk) 

Bartender

Photo via Facebook.

The last time we checked on Brooke F., South Florida’s Best Bartender, she was working happy hours at the Alibi’s patio bar. Then COVID-19 happened, and Brooke’s life changed.

Two months ago Brooke started working at DrYnk Bar on Wilton Drive, as assistant manager.

“I have lost numerous friends to the [COVID-19]. I have been absent in my family's lives due to not wanting to expose them, and endured financial hardship,” Brooke said. “But throughout these challenging times, it's imperative to remind ourselves that we are all in this together and always try your best to be a good human being.”

According to Brooke, “there is no comparison” between working at DrYnk and working at the Alibi. “DrYnk Bar and Alibi are entirely different dynamics. DrYnk Bar is a craft cocktail environment, while Alibi is a nightclub/restaurant, in which both serve their purpose within the Wilton Manors community. However, I will say that my DrYnk Bar family has embraced me with arms wide open and has made me feel nothing but love and appreciation.”

Though the Alibi and DrYnk are different, both clubs serve mostly gay men.

“I never found it challenging to work at the Alibi due to my gender. I am fortunate to have a wonderful group of bar regulars that I can still call my friends. Of course, there were times when I would get the occasional rude or sexist comment. I never let it get to me because hundreds of positive occurrences overshadowed the negative ones over the years.”

Runner-Up: Kristy at Infinity Lounge

– JM 

Local Celebrity - Daisy Deadpetals 

 celebrity

Photo via Facebook.

Daisy Deadpetals is synonymous with South Florida drag and best known for her fierce looks, mad DJ skills, sharp wit, and show-stopping dance moves.

While life has slowed down in 2020, Daisy isn’t feeling down.

“I’m pushing through — there’s not a lot going on, but I’m making it work,” she said. “Thank God 2020 is almost over!”

When she’s not entertaining audiences at Lips and Manor, Daisy still works as a writer at Helix Studios. Next month, you can catch Miss Daisy hosting an event at Hunter’s too.

I’m pushing forward, hoping to get back to normal sooner rather than later,” she said.

Her upbeat attitude is part of the reason Daisy is so successful and universally well-loved. Being recognized as Best Local Celebrity, for the third time, really means a lot to her.

“I’m a humble small-town Christian woman,” she quipped. “It means that people recognize that I’m doing good work, and that’s a blessing.”

If you’re not following Daisy Deadpetals on IG (@daisy_deadpetals) you’re missing a good time.

Runner-Up: Jennifer McClain  

- DR

Best Chef - Josie Smith-Malave 

Bubbles & Pearls 

2037 Wilton Dr. 

Wilton Manors 

BubblesnPearls.com 

 ChefMayor 5 19 2020

Photo via Facebook.

For the second time in a row, Josie Smith-Malave has won the Best Chef.

Smith-Malave is the owner of Bubbles & Pearls in Wilton Manors, and is also known for her appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef series. Her restaurant serves a variety of meat, seafood, and salad. She also ran for mayor this year.

A press release says she will “bring the community together, propel the city forward, represent diversity, offer a fresh perspective, and create tangible results.”

Runner-Up: Konstantin Z. at The Pub

– KS

Best Local DJ - Herbie James 

DjHerbieJames.Blogspot.com 

 herbie

Photo via Facebook.

Herbie James makes a comeback for Best DJ, previously winning in 2015 and 2014.

His unique style of music is known as “Herbicidal,” a mixture of soulful house music, progressive and tribal.

James first came to Broward in 1991 and stayed at the Marlin Beach Hotel, where he played 12-hour sets and built his way up to playing sets for local and national venues. He also podcasts weekly from clubs and venues around South Florida and the world.

His recognition won him “Sleazy” and “Best Of” awards. He is also known for deejaying at the RamRod bar.

Runner-Up: Pup Rockit

 – KS

Best Massage Therapist - Robert Nocifora

 massage

Photo via Facebook.

It’s the second year in a row that Robert Nocifora has won this category. It’s not surprising when you consider the Florida native has more than 20 years of experience.

As a massage therapist, Nocifora weaves together many modalities to help bring relaxation and relief to his clients.

What’s also clear is that Nocifora loves his profession.

“I pick up on people’s energy. I can tell when my clients are going through things,” he said. “We connect in a good way”

In 2020, many of us can use the self-care and stress relief that can only be achieved during a massage. But, because it’s 2020, there are concerns about safety. Nocifora said it’s possible to have both. “I wear a mask, and so do my clients,” he said. “It’s been safe. Knock on wood.”

Whether at the Grand Resort and Spa or with his private clients, Nocifora promises an unforgettable experience. To find out more about booking an appointment, follow him on Facebook at Facebook.com/roberto.nocifora.

Runner-Up: Christian Perez at Island City Massage

– DR

Best Local Actor & Best Local Musician - Jennifer McClain 

 jennifer

Photo via Facebook.

The award for Best Local Musician goes to Jennifer McClain, a South Florida icon in the LGBT community who’s been performing locally for over 20 years. She also won the award for Best Local Actor.  
 
“It's incredibly humbling to be chosen by your readers,” she said. “There are so many talented performers in our community that are equally deserving of these honors.”

Like many entertainers McClain had to reinvent herself during the pandemic. She had to perform from her closet via Facebook Live to pay bills with online tips from viewers in the aftermath.

“I've been very lucky throughout this pandemic to have switched to mostly virtual performances,” she said. “It has surprisingly been a pretty smooth transition for me. Even though I'm alone in my room, the comments keep me connected with my audience.”

Before the shutdowns the flamboyant cabaret singer maintained a busy schedule belting out show tunes, pop standards and gay anthems at bars along Wilton Drive and beyond. Her favorite singers come from Broadway and include Linda Eder, Barbra Streisand, and Bette Midler.

Her top three most requested songs are“Defying Gravity" from Wicked, “Seasons of Love” from RENT, and Lily Allen's “Fuck You.” 
 
In July, she had the opportunity to return to the stage with a new one-woman show, “This is Me,” at Wilton Theater Factory.

“It was a way for me to start performing for an audience as well as stretch my creativity during the pandemic,” she said.

In the past, McClain has appeared on CNN performing in Key West for New Year’s Eve, and she’s also performed in New York City, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and on the High Seas.

Currently you can catch her at Tropics Grille "in the fishbowl " on Wednesdays from 6:30-9 p.m. and live on her Facebook page Saturdays starting at 7 p.m. 
 
McClain also took runner-up for Best Local Celebrity and Best Straight Ally.  
 
“Being nominated for Best Straight Ally amongst all the high profile nominees was a really great feeling, and just being nominated for Best Local Celebrity is a win in my book,” she said.

Runners-Up: Ronnie Larsen for Best Local Actor. Antonio Edwards for Best Musician.  

- KS

Best New LGBT Activist - Alfredo Olvera 

 alfredo

Photo via Facebook.

This realtor breathed new life into a historic gay political group.

“What a fantastic outcome,” Alfredo Olvera said in a telephone call with SFGN following November’s general election.

Broward County delivered big for Joe Biden to the tune of almost 65 percent of the vote. Olvera, president of the Dolphin Democrats, organized many events for candidates.

A Latin man from Ecuador, Olvera said diversifying the Dolphins was a major strategy to improve outreach to the LGBT community. He said he was pleased with the organization’s turnaround.

“When I took over there was no ground game and we were falling behind,” Olvera said. “When I joined I was saying to the board, ‘you have a membership problem.’”

In 2018, Olvera began recruiting new members in search of younger activists to re-energize the Dolphins. The rebuilding process is hard work, he said.

“Endorsing mayors, hosting fundraisers, politics is not easy,” Olvera said. “It takes a long time to do anything. I started learning and created a plan in 2019 to be impactful and to have a voice in the community.”

Getting the Dolphins’ endorsement nowadays involves a challenging survey.

“We endorsed a large number of candidates and were extremely successful in educating voters,” said Olvera, referencing high view numbers on Facebook. “We really made an impact.”

Runner-Up: Chef Josie Smith-Malave

– JMD

Best Activists Helping the LGBT Community During the Pandemic - Howard Andrew & Dawn Holloway  

 pandemic

Photo by Carina Mask.

Best Activists Helping the LGBT Community During the Pandemic goes to Howard Andrew and Dawn Holloway.

When the shutdowns forced so many businesses to furlough their employees Andrew and Holloway stepped in to help feed those local service industry workers who suddenly had no income.

“We collectively feel it was an honor to help our community as much as we did,” Andrew said. “It was an idea that started small and grew. I wish could have kept it going on longer.”

Holloway, the owner of Pink Sub, and Andrew, the owner of FabScout Entertainment, worked together, along with a team of volunteers and sponsors, for weeks preparing and providing meals to those in need. They gave out more than 1,900 meals in total.

Holloway said it couldn’t have been done without generous sponsors.

“It was really an honor to have people step up to provide the funds in order for us to make the food to distribute. It was amazing how sponsors were never an issue,” Holloway said. “We have to thank Bruce Howe and Mark Hunter for allowing us to use their property in front of Hunter’s."

Holloway wanted to make sure to recognize the volunteers as well including Moni love, John Michael Gordon, Skip Vanderlinde, Victor Lords, Kevin Clevenger, Joel Slotnick, Sue Martino, Lori Tanner, Layman Rupe, Matt Colunga, Chris Smith, S. Curtis and Bill Huelsman.

Runner-Up: Chris Caputo

– KS

Best Local Politician - Dean Trantalis 

Mayor of Fort Lauderdale  

 dean

Photo via Facebook.

For the third time in a row, Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor Dean Trantalis has won Best Local Politician.  

This could be because Trantalis, 67, has helped navigate the city through the pandemic, and receives strong support from the LGBT community. 

Trantalis has also been practicing law in Broward County since 1982 and has been an LGBT rights activist for decades. He was instrumental in leading the charge for a county-wide LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance and domestic partnership ordinance in the 1990s.  

Runner-Up: Julie Carson 

– KS

Best Realtor – Jimmy Cunningham 

RE/MAX Experience in Wilton Manors 

 realestate

Photo via Facebook.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Jimmy Cunningham of RE/MAX Experience in Wilton Manors has won best in real estate again. He’s a dominant force in the category – winning in previous years, including 2019.

Cunningham said 2020 has been a challenging year that no one will forget anytime soon. But he said challenges also bring opportunities, if people will adapt to change.

“I see the future as extremely positive with new government changes, low-interest rates, strong demand to live in South Florida and the hopes of vaccines and immunity,” he said.

Cunningham stays connected by supporting the Pride Center, Equality Florida, Island City Stage, Latinos Salud, Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida, Lambda Legal and the Pet Project.

“I am grateful to do business with the city I love and the community I call home,” he said.

Runner-Up: Mike Trottier of Dettman Realty Group

– DS

Best Server - Charlie D. 

Georgie's Alibi Monkey Bar 

2266 Wilton Dr. 

Wilton Manors

AlibiWiltonManors.com

 server 

Photo by Stephen Lang

 

For the second time in as many years, the Alibi’s Charlie D. was voted the Best Server.  

Like others in the service industry, Charlie was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Alibi closed for two and a half months,” Charlie said. “I was not employed.”  

Even so, “the pandemic made me appreciate all the hugs and conversations I have with friends and co-workers.”  

Once it reopened, the Alibi recovered from the lockdown, and Charlie was part of that recovery.  

“All our loyal guests returned, even some new ones who appreciate the Alibi-Monkey Bar.”  

As modest as he is talented, Charlie acknowledges those who helped him through the crisis. “I want to thank Johnny Park, the Alibi’s owner, who made us hot meals on a weekly basis for two months; Toni Taha of Wilton Manors Entertainment Group; Pastor Jamie of Holy Angels Church; and Johnny Goodnight, Dio and Pamela from our Wilton Manors Community.” 

Runner-Up: Chris H. at The Pub 

– JM

Best Straight Ally - Debbie Wasserman Schultz 

U.S. Congresswoman

debbie

Photo via Facebook.

As U.S. Congresswoman to Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a powerful and steadfast LGBT ally.

Sworn in as Florida’s first Jewish Congresswoman in 2005, Wasserman-Schultz represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties and her family resides in Weston.

She is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. In June, Wasserman Schultz acknowledged there is still more work to be done within the community.

“People in power also need to realize that, despite their foundational contributions to the movement, LGBTQ people of color continue to face a compound risk of violence. I will always be ready to fight by their side when they are being confronted with injustice, oppression, bigotry or hatred,” Wasserman Schultz said in her 2020 Pride Month statement.

“She’s always committed to speaking up on behalf of the LGBTQ community,” said Michael Rajner, a gay activist who has worked with Wasserman Schultz on a variety of issues. “While she might not necessarily be the introducing sponsor of legislative efforts, Debbie has played such a big role in whipping votes to make sure our community is supported in Congress. There’s a lot more that she does behind the scenes that people know.”

Runner-Up: Jennifer McClain

– JMD

Best Hair Stylist - Darren at Dick’s Service Station 

3528 NE 12th Ave. 

 Oakland Park 

Dicks954.com 

 stylist

Photo via Facebook.

Darren Thompson has nabbed bragging rights for the second consecutive year.

He’s been cutting hair since 1996; has lived in South Florida since 2002, and has been at Dick’s since it opened in 2016.

“I think it’s really because we focus back into the community,” Thompson said.

It’s never been an empty gesture for Dick’s.

A cornerstone of the shop from the get-go was paying-it-forward.

It started with a big bowl of pennies. If you got a $14.99 cut and paid with a $20 bill, you could get $5.01 back or put the penny in the bowl for a featured charity.

SunServe got $200 worth one time. Dick’s doubled it to $400. Then AIDS Healthcare Foundation doubled that ($800).

It’s been that kind of run for the Heaven Cent program. And it’s personal to Thompson.

“When we were building the shop my gay brother died of cancer,” he said. “I told him I’d do my best in life.”

Heaven Cent and Dick’s clinched it.

Runner-Up: Afonso Bras of Buck & Beard

– DS

Best Trans Advocate - Misty Eyez

 misty

Photo via Facebook.

Misty Eyez is getting down to business. At SunServe, she’s the Director of Women’s Services, Transgender Services and Training Services at SunServe.

These days she’s working harder than ever during the pandemic.

“Clients need help more than ever,” she said. “And we are just virtually helping people as far as the transgender community. COVID-19 just impacted and doubled All the needs that we currently had.”

She’s also laser-focused on continuing her education. Several years ago, Oral Roberts University kicked Misty out for being LGBT. Now, she’s fulfilling her dream to complete her college degree. Three nights a week, Misty attends classes as she finishes her degree in management supervision with an emphasis on leadership and human resource management. Once that’s done, she plans to obtain an MBA.

For Misty, hitting the books means taking a hiatus from performing at Lips. Not entertaining crowds also gives her more time to serve as mentor to two mentees. Between work and classes, Misty also maintains a personal life. She and her husband are working on plans to expand their family.

Runner-Up: Tatiana Williams

– DR

Best Local TV Personality - Craig Stevens 

WSVN Anchor 

 craig

Photo via Facebook.

Anchoring the nightly news in these times is quite the challenge.

“Hour by hour this election contest has really been something else,” said WSVN anchor Craig Stevens, a few days after election day.

Stevens, 51, has covered an array of remarkable events, notably the 1995 bombing of a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla. -- the largest act of homegrown terrorism.

He was on hand in Havana, Cuba as the Obama administration raised Old Glory for the first time since 1961 and has reported on Papal visits, the Versace murder and the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

He’s had fun too – leading Pride parades, AIDS walks and hosting fundraisers for the Harvey Milk Foundation and Pride Center. 

“I think I’m pretty outgoing, extroverted, but there is a reserve at a certain point, chalk that up to my New England upbringing,” Stevens said.

Steve Rothaus, a South Florida journalist who has covered the LGBT scene for decades, described Stevens’ personality as warm, sweet, smart and authentic on-air and off. 

“A wonderful journalist,” Rothaus said. “He makes us proud night after night.”

Runner-Up: Betty Davis 

– JMD

South Florida's Best Drag Queens of 2020

South Florida's Best Local LGBT Activists of 2020


To view more winners, visit SFGN's Best of 2020 Winners page.


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