Victoria Michaels moved to South Florida in 2000 when she realized there were more opportunities for transgender performers here, than her native Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“I’ve been performing since 1992,” Michaels said proudly, who is no stranger to not only performing but also entering – and winning – pageants. “I won Miss Pennsylvania America in 1995, then Miss Pennsylvania USA in 1999, both in New Hope,” the gay village of Pennsylvania. In 2008 she won the Miss Florida Female Impersonation crown for 2009.
Knowing the camera and Ms. Michaels get along well, and has a coveted collection of costumes we asked if she would be interested in doing a photoshoot for our second issue of SFGN’s magazine. We sent her some images of Marlene Dietrich, who often twisted gender and glamour in her own life, to use as inspiration. Rather than be offended by the suggestion she fell in love with the beauty and chic wardrobe of the legendary actress.
“Gay people are such a magnet for old Hollywood,” she said laughingly during the photo shoot. “I’ve invested almost my entire life and money in costumes! Everything in my costume closet has that look, the beading, the feathers, the jewelry. I just love that Marlene could also look glamorous in her top hat and tuxedo. She was such a classy lady!”
Michaels is very classy herself, not only does she perform and emcee at the Boardwalk and enter pageants but has a new role as a columnist with SFGN, discussing issues of gender and LGBT-rights in Florida.
Her performances include everything from show tunes, to Lady Gaga – who Michaels’ says is easy to do because she’s practically a drag performer. Her decade-long career in South Florida all began when local performer Electra gave Michaels’ her first job.
“After she met me she adopted me as her daughter,” she said fondly. “We performed at Madame’s in Sunny Isles to a mostly straight crowd. I thought I knew it all until I came to South Florida where I have met so many wonderful performers. It’s the cream of the crop down here, it really is.”
Her answer, when as asked about any differences performing in front of a straight-crowd, as compared to a gay crowd, was surprising.
“They’re just not exposed,” she says. “They are often blown away by me, someone who is transgender. The gay community critiques performers and contestants. For gay people you have to be on point, you can’t have anything out of place. Especially at pageants where you put yourself on a stage to be critiqued by your peers, where you must be sown into a gown because they don’t want to see any zippers down the back. Straight people are more fun and laid back to perform for.”
Clearly, Michaels and other transgender or drag performers, capture the hearts of straight people while they are on stage. Hopefully, their exposure will capture their minds too.
Catch Victoria on Wednesday nights at the BoardwalkBar.com from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.