LGBT nonprofits stand behind lesbian Catholic school teacher fired for same-sex wedding

Groups denounce Archdiocese, seek to eliminate religious exemption from Human Rights ordinance

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

LGBT nonprofits such as SAVE and Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida are urging the Archdiocese of Miami and Florida lawmakers to reverse its “un-Christian policy of intolerance and hate” after a lesbian Catholic school teacher was fired from her job last week for marrying her partner, who is also a woman.

First-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi was terminated from Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School after school officials learned she had married her longtime girlfriend, Natasha Hass, Feb. 3. Florida remains one of the few states where employers can still fire someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Instagram post Jocelyn Morffi shared with her family, friends and followers.

Morffi revealed the news in a public Instagram post, saying she “married the love of my life and unfortunately I was terminated from my job as a result.”

“In their eyes I’m not the right kind of Catholic for my choice in partner,” Morffi said. “However, I will continue with #teachhope and will inform you of the new location for the February 25th outing very soon. Also thank you for the outpour of love and support.”

Morffi was recognized in The Miami Herald in 2015 for a program she started at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School called #teachHope70x7, which encouraged children to feed the homeless and spread hope in the community. The “70×7″ references a bible passage about forgiveness.

Parents at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School learned of their children’s teacher’s firing from a letter the school issued last Thursday.

“Today a difficult and necessary decision has been made regarding Ms. Jocelyn Morffi, our first-grade teacher. She is no longer teaching at our school,” the letter read. “Please know that your child(children)’s education is of the utmost concern for us and throughout the next days and weeks your child’s daily school routine will not be disrupted as Ms. Morffi’s replacement will be selected very soon.”

A group of upset parents showed up to the school the day after receiving the letter, voicing their disagreement with the school’s decision to dismiss Morffi. Some even threatened to pull their children out of the school.

Natasha Hass and Jocelyn Morffi

Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE, said Morffi approached him and his LGBT rights group for assistance.

“I think it’s shocking that this continues to happen in South Florida,” Lima told The Miami Herald. “Religious exemptions are a means to discriminate. It’s important to continue educating the community that this kind of stuff happens in this day and age. But it’s even more important to pass comprehensive statewide protections.”

Herb Sosa, director of Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida, says religious exemption is “an unjust, discriminatory and outdated law that [we] strongly call for its elimination — now.”

“The firing of a liked and celebrated teacher for living her truth of love and marital union once again highlights the need for protection of all Floridians from discrimination,” Sosa said. “Her marriage is legal in our state and should be seen as a beacon of all things good and honest, not a threat or reason for losing her job.”

Mary Ross Agosta, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Miami, told Politico Florida that Morffi was fired for violating her contract. She said Catholic school employees have to sign a contract pledging they will follow church policy, which includes a prohibition on same-sex marriage.

“When a teacher is in a Catholic school and signs a contract it is expected the policies, procedures, teachings, and traditions of the Catholic Church will be respected and honored,” Agosta said. “This is a Catholic school. Parents send their children to a Catholic school because of the church’s teaching, the discipline and the spirituality. This was a well-liked teacher for seven years. But when a contract is broken, it leaves the employer with no other choice.”

Miami’s current archbishop, Thomas Wenski, has a long history of anti-gay comments. When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Wenski released a statement comparing the ruling to the 1857 Dred Scott case, which stated that black people could be legally owned as property in the United States.

Sosa says it’s time for the Archdiocese of Miami to “reverse its policy of intolerance and hate – two qualities that are anything but Christian, in teaching or practice.”

“It is time for the Archdiocese to really learn and put into practice what being a true Christian is,” Sosa said. “There is nothing immoral, conflicting or shameful in Ms. Morffi’s commitment to her partner and her students, and both are equally as strong and unquestionable.”

Jocelyn Morffi married longtime partner Natasha Hass Feb. 3.

Javier Estevez, who is running for State Representative in District 105, said Morffi’s firing is “discrimination, plain and simple, and is unacceptable.”

“This proves the fact that private schools aren’t as tolerant as they make themselves out to be, which makes the Florida Legislature’s new proposals to protect bullied LGBTQ students a failure even before being put into action,” Estevez said.

When the Human Rights Ordinance, the law that protects all people from discrimination, was passed in 1998, it included a a religious exemption regarding sexual orientation for LGBTQ people.

“Plain and simple, the case of this fired teacher points to the need for us as a community to go back to that ordinance and eliminate the exemption,” said Damian Pardo, head organizer of the Gay8 Festival, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 18, in Little Havana and includes various programming for lesbian women. “What happened was discrimination cloaked in ‘the rule of law’ — a law the Catholic Church could not have defended against any other minority group. We have our marching orders to go back and repeal the exemption.”

Despite protests from parents, LGBT nonprofits and other supporters, openly gay State Rep. David Richardson — a Miami Beach Democrat running for Congress, who is the top fundraiser in the primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District where Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School is located — said Morffi’s dismissal is likely legal.

“It’s 2018, but you may be surprised to learn that you can be fired from your employment not just because of gay marriage but also because you’re gay,” Richardson told Politico Florida. He said Morffi’s firing highlights a need for federal legislation and the passage of FL HB347 (18R), which would ban Florida hotel owners and employers from discriminating against people due to their sexual orientation or gender. Richardson says the Republican-led legislature in Tallahassee has rejected the bill for years.

Last Thursday at the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s “State of Our Community” business luncheon, Richardson via Skype said in Tallahassee there’s a focus on LGBT related bills, including efforts to get a gay marriage ban out of statute and to separate an anti-discrimination bill regarding housing and employment protections for LGBT individuals. Richardson proposes to have one bill on housing protections and another on employment that is LGBT inclusive, but he says that “isn’t going anywhere” with the Republican leadership in Tallahassee.

“The bill regarding anti-discrimination against the LGBT community that has been filed for the last 10 years or so is not moving. It’s not being heard,” Richardson said. “I also can’t get anyone here in the Republican leadership to hear the bill to get the gay marriage ban out of statute, even though there’s a law in the books that says every year we clean up the statutes and delete the ones that are no longer applicable.”

Natasha Hass and Jocelyn Morffi

Morffi’s attorney, Erica Canas, told NBC 6 she and her client are considering legal action against Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School and the Archdiocese of Miami.

“Jocelyn is humbled by all the love and support she has received from family, friends, the students’ parents and the public. She feels that the manner of her firing was unfair, not only to her, but to her students as well,” Canas said.

Pardo said the Archdiocese’s decision to terminate Morffi because of her sexual orientation is “legalized discrimination based on their own homophobia.”

“And the people who paid the ultimate price are the children in that classroom who lost an amazing teacher and don’t understand why,” Pardo said.

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Pride Fort Lauderdale thrills and entertains for a second year in a row

Photos by Jose Cassola / JoCa Communications

LGBT festival drew thousands of attendees, celebrity headliners and DJs and prominent transgender activists

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

Pride Fort Lauderdale drew thousands of attendees over the weekend looking to show their “pride” in many ways. The Broward LGBT festival, now in its second year, was expected to break an attendance record of 60,000 people over last year’s 40,000. On Sunday, the last day of the three-day spectacle, festival goers were treated to performances by Spanish-American actress, comedian and flamenco guitarist Charo (famous for her guest appearances on the 70s and 80s TV show, “The Love Boat”) and Grammy award winner Estelle, known for her hits “American Boy” featuring Kanye West and “One Love” featuring David Guetta.

Photo courtesy of DJ Deanne

Miik Martorell, president of Pride Fort Lauderdale, said he was pleased with the turnout and is honored to be a part of the Pride legacy.

“It’s truly my honor and pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful event,” Martorell said. “We really could not do any of this without support from the community.“

Running in conjunction with Pride Fort Lauderdale was the inaugural South Florida Trans Pride, which offered transgenders vendors and resources; a separate bar with proceeds benefiting the trans community; and meet-and-greet opportunities with trans celebrities and activists. Among them were “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumna Carmen Carrera, guitarist Jaimie Wilson, author and actress Rajee Rajindra Narinesingh and trans model and singer Laith Ashley, who performed his singles “Can’t Wait” and “Before You Go.”

Charo took to the Pride stage twice as one of the promised headliners for “The Love Pride” themed event. Earlier in the day, she surprised the crowd with a rehearsal of sorts, where she performed two versions of her song, “Fantastico” — one on guitar, the other a techno remix. She later came back in the evening for the official performance.

“The song is very, very flamenco. It’s very sensual. It’s very cuchi cuchi,” Charo told the audience.

Charo surprised Pride goers Sunday with an impromptu rehearsal (above) before the official performance later in the evening (below). (Photos by Jose Cassola / JoCa Communications).

Throughout the day, DJs Deanne, Tracy Young, Power Infiniti, Guy DeGiacinto and Oscar G revved up the crowd from the main stage and the beach as hot, go-go boys danced in their underwear.

Deanne says her experience spinning at Pride Fort Lauderdale was “incredible.”

“I’m so thankful for being able to share my music with so many beautiful people,” Deanne said. “I wanted to hold true to the ‘Love Pride’ theme and bring nothing but love and fun to my set. I hope that I accomplished that.”

Above, DJ Tracy Young greets the crowd. (Photo by Jose Cassola / JoCa Communications). Below, DJ Deanne takes a selfie at Pride Fort Lauderdale. (Photo courtesy of DJ Deanne).

Estelle closed out the event Sunday evening, performing on the main stage. Weeks prior to the festival, the singer provided Pride organizers a strong statement in support of the LGBT community.

“It’s an honor to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community as we share this beautiful human experience with Pride,” Estelle said.

Grammy award winner Estelle closed out Pride Fort Lauderdale Sunday evening with a performance.

South Beach comic and drag icon Pussila — dressed in Japanese geisha attire —manned the VIP tent, introducing guests to Hiro Sake, one of the alcoholic sponsors of Pride Fort Lauderdale.

And there was plenty of alcohol flowing. Bartenders from Southern Nights Fort Lauderdale poured drinks for the VIP listers while outside on the beach in tented areas, paid cocktails were served by some of the more popular bars and gentlemen’s clubs of the Broward scene. Among them were Hunters Nightclub, LeBoy, Boardwalk and The Pub, which hosted the official Pride after-party at its venue in Wilton Manors with music, food and drink specials all night long.

South Beach comic and drag icon Pussila — dressed in Japanese geisha attire —manned the VIP tent, introducing guests to Hiro Sake, one of the alcoholic sponsors of Pride Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Jose Cassola / JoCa Communications).

Tents and booths ran the gamut from adult entertainment (Guilty Pleasures, Amor Boutiques) to law enforcement and law firms (Wilton Manors Police Department, Southern Legal Counsel) to upcoming parties, events and conferences (Gay8 Festival, Miami Beach Gay Pride, Celebrity Cruises, Gay Days Orlando, TransCon) and LGBT nonprofits providing resources (SAVE, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida, TransSocial, SunServe, Pride Center, Latinos Salud, AIDS Health Foundation).

“Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida could not have been prouder to be present at Pride Fort Lauderdale, meeting and greeting our Broward friends and family, especially as part of the TransPride section of the festival,” director Herb Sosa said.

Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida director Herb Sosa at Pride Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Joval Valdivia).

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ queens coming to South Florida

“Haters Roast: The Shady Tour” kicks off Friday, Feb. 16 at The Fillmore Miami Beach

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

Start your engines! Get ready for a night of reads, stingers and zingers only a queen from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” can dish out. Some of the show’s top divas are starring in Murray & Peter’s second annual “Haters Roast: The Shady Tour,” which kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, 1700 Washington Ave.

Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon, who participated in last year’s “Roast,” says the line-up of queens is amazing and it will be a sold-out event.

Monsoon joins Ginger Minj (season 7, All-Stars season 2), Trixie Mattel (season 7, All-Stars season 3), Latrice Royale (season 4, All-Stars season 1), Trinity Taylor (season 9), Thorgy Thor (season 8, All-Stars season 3), Derrick Barry (season 8) and Eureka O’Hara (season 9) in the Miami leg of the tour, which travels to 22 cities and runs through April 9, ending in San Francisco, California.

“I’m so excited to join once more the cast of the ‘Haters Roast: The Shady Tour,’ 2018 edition,” Monsoon said. “Basically it’s a show where me and a bunch of my ‘Drag Race’ sisters get on stage, get a few drinks in us and then tear each other apart, reading each other for filth…It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of comedy packed into a short, short space. You’re gonna get a lot of jokes thrown at you — zingers, stingers, jabs and barbs…all in one place.”

Monsoon adds her favorite thing about doing this show is tearing the other queens to shreds.

“Nothing brings us closer together like tearing each other apart,” Monsoon laughs. “I feel like I’m even better friends with all of these girls now that they’ve all called me a fat alcoholic.“

Thor agrees.

“Murray and Peter…they put me on every single date,” Thor said. “So I’m there and I’m going to make fun of my sisters in a very fun way because it’s always fun to make fun of your sisters. There’s some new queens joining and last year, it sold out. So get your tickets now.”

“Haters Roast: The Shady Tour” is hosted by Minj, who warns “you’re gonna want to get your tickets immediately.”

“You do not want to miss all the shade we’re about to throw, all the tea we’re about to spill and all the shenanigans that we’re about to get up to,” Minj said. “See you there.”

Tickets are $39 to $54. Super Fan packages, including a meet and greet with all the queens before the show, are still available at $154. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.DragFans.com, http://www.Ticketmaster.com or http://www.LiveNation.com.

‘Back and stronger than ever,’ Palace celebrates 30 years on Ocean Drive

“Jersey Shore’s” Jenni “JWOWW” Farley pictured at a recent brunch with Fantasia Royale Gaga. (Photo by Dale Stine).

The Pearl Ball Celebration to take place Feb. 16-18 with special guest DJs, live performances by the Palace divas and complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

It’s been two whole months since Palace reopened at its new location at 1052 Ocean Drive, and if you ask owner Thomas Donall how business has been, he’ll tell you “we are back and stronger then ever.”

Known for providing drag shows that spill onto the sidewalk and into Ocean Drive traffic, the iconic drag bar celebrates 30 years in South Beach with an over-the-top anniversary bash Friday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 18, featuring special guest DJs, live performances by the Palace divas and complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Donall promises a good time for all.

“Palace Bar is for everyone,” Donall said. “We represent all communities — gay, straight, bi, trans, seniors, black, white, Asian, hispanic — to come together and celebrate life.”

Missy Meyakie LePaige with a senior patron at Palace. (Photo by Dale Stine).

When Palace closed its old iconic location at 1200 Ocean Drive in July 2017, the intent was always to reopen as soon as possible on another spot on Ocean Drive. It took four months, but Donall made good on his promise, reopening in November at its current home on the same block as The Clevelander. At least twice the size of the old locale, the new Palace has plenty of room for the drag queens to perform a split, death drop, rolling cannonball and cartwheels — and each of those have already been flawlessly executed by some of the resident divas, including Noel Leon, Elishaly D’Witshes, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige and Angie Ovahness.

This past weekend, D’Witshes — the Puerto Rican drag queen known for performing outrageous stunts — did it again, jumping off the top of a double decker bus and landing in a perfect split, wowing the brunch crowd and passerby. A video captured by Palace staff generated more than 22,000 views on Facebook.

“That’s how we do it at the Palace,” said manager Lucas Almeida, who took the video.

Elishaly D’Witshes is a Puerto Rican drag queen known for performing outrageous stunts. (Photo by Dale Stine).

The new Palace, much like the old, has never had trouble attracting celebrities. In recent weeks, Bravo’s Andy Cohen — of “Watch What Happens Live” fame and a self-proclaimed Palace fan — was seen a handful of times dining and hanging with the queens, including his favorite Tiffany Fantasia. And two weekends ago, the cast of “Jersey Shore” — including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “JWOWW” Farley and Deena Nicole Cortese — had Sunday brunch at the Palace while a camera crew filmed their antics with Fantasia Royale Gaga and Miss Meyakie LePaige for the upcoming reunion show, “Jersey Show: Family Vacation.”

Above, Andy Cohen of “Watch What Happens Live” pictured with Noel Leon, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige and Tiffany Fantasia. Below, the cast of Jersey Shore pictured with Missy Meyakie LePaige, Noel Leon, Fantasia Royale Gaga and Palace owner Thomas Donall. (Photos by Dale Stine).

The latest celebrity sightings couldn’t have better timing as the iconic drag bar prepares to mark its 30th anniversary with The Pearl Ball Celebration.

On Friday, Feb. 16, the celebration begins at 6 p.m., hosted by Tiffany Fantasia, with music mixes by DJ Josh Riptide and open bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres through 7 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Disco Brunch is hosted by Missy Meyakie LePaige from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; then at 6 p.m., Tiffany Fantasia hosts “Drags Gone Wild: Three Decades of Madness.” The weekend-long festivities close on Sunday with “Brunchic: Divas Edition,” hosted by TP Lords, from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and the Pearl T-dance at 5 p.m., hosted by Missy Meyakie LePaige with music by DJ Scott Sheppard.

Donall says the goal at Palace is to “allow you to let your hair down for a few hours, have a good laugh with friends, enjoy your buzz while having brunch or dinner and be entertained by the No. 1 drag performers in South Beach.”

“We guarantee that you’ll leave feeling satisfied,” he said.

For more information, visit http://palacesouthbeach.com/.

Palace owner Thomas Donall says the 30-year-old bar at its new location on 1052 Ocean Drive is “back and stronger then ever.” (Photo by Dale Stine).

‘Mister Act’ comes to the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale

Drag show parody of ‘Sister Act,’ the musical, stars Latrice Royale, Willam and Miami queens

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

“Mister Act,” the drag show parody of the 1990 film, “Sister Act,” starring Whoopi Goldberg, will be performed for one night only Friday, Feb. 2 at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale.

Produced by Latrice Royale Inc. and Peaches Christ Productions, the show marks its South Florida debut with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni Latrice Royale and Willam as the lead stars, along with Peaches Christ, Heklina and a slew of Miami drag queens in the supporting cast.

“We planned this about a year ago, probably, looking at the calendar and deciding to try to bring this show to Fort Lauderdale,” said Christ, aka Joshua Grannell, who is perhaps best known as the host of his cult movie send-up, San Francisco’s Midnight Mass. “And the only way to do it really is to work with all this amazing local talent. Heklina, Willam and I come from out of town but the rest of the cast is local, pretty much. Florida local. One is from Jacksonville. They’re not all from Fort Lauderdale but from the region.”

Christ is a filmmaker and screens movies in San Francisco with drag shows. “I’ve been doing that for a long time,” Christ said. “Actually, 1998 is when we started so this is my 20th anniversary of creating these shows.”

Even though Christ created the drag parody of the film, “Sister Act,” ironically enough, he admits he’s never actually watched the original musical. As writer and director of the show, he partnered with Royale and Willam to bring it to a mainstream audience.

“We performed it in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, and Latrice had said ‘I’d love to do it in Fort Lauderdale someday because that’s my hometown and kind of show them this other side of me,’” Christ said. “They’ve never seen her act in a play before.”

In “Mister Act,” Royale stars as a struggling Reno, Nevada drag performer who accidentally witnesses the murderous side of her showgirl “sister,” LeWanda Balenciaga, played by Tiffany Fantasia. Fantasia says the parody has been “tweaked up a little bit” from the original film.

“I am…let’s just say, I’m not the best person. I’m a mean person in the play,” Fantasia said. “When [producers] were putting everything together, they were like ‘oh Tiffany, you’re perfect for this role.’ So I was like ‘hell yeah, get me in it.’ So I jumped right in.”

Much like in the original movie, Royale’s main character is forced to re-enter the closet and hide in a convent, fleeing to Fort Lauderdale to impersonate a nun at a church in the urban ghetto of Wilton Manors. There, she meets the choir of nuns, including Sister Willam, who has a hidden talent for singing and tucking but just needs it to be brought out…her voice, that is. Reverend Mother Christ encourages Royale to direct the failing church choir, much to the dismay of the grumpy choir director, Sister Heklina.

“Instead of teaching the choir to sing because we suck so bad, she actually teaches us to lip synch,” Christ said. “It’s still very much a parody. It’s a drag show. And we all kind of get to be ourselves to some degree while playing other characters.”

The choir members are played by some of Miami’s drag talent, including reigning Miss Florida F.I. Kalah Mendoza, reigning Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride Joanna James, Elishaly D’Witshes and Tayanna Love. Also in the cast are Rose Boca Jaya and current reigning Mr. and Miss Pride South Florida, Judas Elliot and Delores T. Van-Cartier, who is actually really named after the title character from the original film.

“I’m one of the nuns, but for me, it’s a little special because my name actually came from ‘Sister Act,’” Van-Cartier said. “The whole thing is almost like a tribute to me. Just the perk and playing off the name and what the show is actually about, it’s a lot of fun. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Added Elliot: “I’m really excited to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I actually have four roles. I am a guido. I get to be a leather daddy. I am the lieutenant, and I’m also the very flamboyant bishop. So I get to be quite versatile, if you will.”

Above, the cast of “Mister Act” at a dress rehearsal Feb. 1 at the MUSE Center of the Arts. Below, Henry Williams, aka Tiffany Fantasia, Judas Elliot and Delores T. Van-Cartier. (Photos by Carina Mask / South Florida Gay News).

Bringing “Mister Act” to South Florida happened by chance. Christ and her friend, Heklina, a drag queen and entrepreneur who founded San Francisco’s TrannyShack, do an annual cruise, called Queens Overboard. This year’s cruise runs from Feb. 4-11 and departs out of Fort Lauderdale, going to Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Last year, Christ and Heklina did the cruise with Royale and fiancée Christopher Hamblin, who both live in Fort Lauderdale.

“When we realized we were going to be here to do the cruise, we checked to see if Willam was available. If the dates all worked out, we could all be together in Fort Lauderdale at the same time, which sounds a lot easier than it is, usually,” Christ said.

Christ and Royale met a few years ago after she appeared in season four of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” When Royale came off the show, Christ had a screening scheduled for the documentary movie, “Paris is Burning.”

“I asked her if she wanted to come and be a part of a ball that we threw in the theater with real ball folks,” Christ said. “Latrice had been a part of ball culture and had judged things before. So she came and did a performance and actually helped me co-host this whole ball we threw in the Castro Movie Theatre; and then we screened the documentary. For me, I was like ‘that was amazing, I love Latrice.’”

The two did a few other projects together, including working at the San Francisco Symphony, where Christ was producing an event.

“But I really wanted to do a show for Latrice, and it was actually Willam who suggested we do a parody of ‘Sister Act’ with Latrice,” Christ said. “I was like, ‘that’s brilliant.’”

Willam had previously starred in a Peaches Christ production of “Clueless: Get a Clue,” a parody of the 90s Alicia Silverstone film, playing the title role of Cher. For “Mister Act,” he said he wanted to play against type and “be the little white nun” — an acting stretch because “I get to be naive and innocent and sweet.” Coming to Fort Lauderdale is a treat for Willam, who visits Florida (Boca Raton, Orlando, Cocoa Beach) at least three or four times a year.

Christ promises there’s a “big Willam moment in the show, so Willam fans won’t be disappointed.”

Tickets for “Mister Act” are available at https://www.browardcenter.org/events/detail/mister-act. Use ticket code “MRACT” to save 15 percent.

Cast of ‘Jersey Shore’ films at Palace ahead of bar’s 30th anniversary bash

The Pearl Ball Celebration to take place Friday, Feb. 16

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

It’s been two whole months since Palace reopened at its new location at 1052 Ocean Drive — inches away from The Clevelander — and if you ask owner Thomas Donall how business has been, he’ll tell you better than ever.

Above, Missy Meyakie LePaige mingles with Jersey Shore’s Deena Nicole Cortese at the Sunday drag brunch Jan. 28. Below, Palace owner Thomas Donall poses with Deena Nicole Cortese and Jenni “JWOWW” Farley. (Photos by Dale Stine).

At least twice the size of the old 1200 Ocean Drive locale, the new Palace has plenty of room for the drag queens to perform a split, death drop, rolling cannonball and cartwheels — and each of those have already been flawlessly executed by some of the resident divas, including Noel Leon, Elishaly D’Witshes, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige and Angie Ovahness.

Andy Cohen pictured with Noel Leon, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige and Tiffany Fantasia. (Photos courtesy of the Palace divas).

The new Palace, much like the old, has never had trouble attracting celebrities. In recent weeks, Bravo’s Andy Cohen — of “Watch What Happens Live” fame and a self-proclaimed Palace fan — was seen a handful of times dining and hanging with the queens, including his favorite Tiffany Fantasia. And just this weekend, the cast of “Jersey Shore” — including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “JWOWW” Farley and Deena Nicole Cortese — had Sunday brunch at the Palace while a camera crew filmed their antics with Fantasia Royale Gaga and Miss Meyakie LePaige for the upcoming reunion show, “Jersey Show: Family Vacation.”

“Jersey Shore’s” Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWOWW” Farley pictured with Fantasia Royale Gaga and Noel Leon. (Photos courtesy of the Palace divas).

The latest celebrity sightings couldn’t having better timing as the iconic drag bar prepares to mark its 30th anniversary with The Pearl Ball Celebration on Friday, Feb. 16. The anniversary bash will feature a special guest DJ, live performances by the Palace divas and complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Stay tuned to South Florida Gay Nightlife in association with Miami Gay News for more information about Palace’s 30th anniversary as it becomes available.

City of Drag

Miami has become quite the destination for Sunday brunches incorporating drag shows

By Jose Cassola

jocacommunications@outlook.com

A couple of months ago, I proposed this story idea to a friend in the South Florida drag scene: “How about I do a feature on the different Sunday brunches that include drag entertainers…and I call it, ‘Battle of the Drag Brunches?’” Her response: “Uh-uh. That makes it seem like we’re in competition with each other, when that isn’t the case. We’re all about unity.” I asked another highly respected member of the drag community, just to get her feedback. She agreed: “There is no battle. We all support each other.”

Well, far be it from me to anger reigning Miss Ultimate Miami drag queen Athena Dion or a former Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride, Tiffany Fantasia — each who are hostesses of their own Sunday drag brunches at R House Wynwood and Señor Frog’s, respectively. Add Molto and the one that started it all, Palace, into the mix, and you have a variety of options to drink two hours worth of unlimited mimosas with your breakfast (or lunch) and a side of drag. Without further ado, check out this roundup of Sunday drag brunches in Miami.

R House Wynwood, 2727 NW Second Ave., Wynwood; two seatings, noon-4 p.m. every Sunday.

Hostess with the mostest Athena Dion runs this show at R House with a rotating cast of queens every Sunday. Originally offered once a month, the drag brunches at this Wynwood venue became a weekly staple in the summer of 2017. Enjoy beats by DJ Jody McDonald and mimosas and other cocktails served by hunky bartender Lubor Zuzin, among others. Brunch packages start at $40. Voted by The Miami New Times the No. 1 Drag Brunch in town and “Miami’s Ultimate Summer Party,” R House was also the winner of the 2017 Pink Flamingo Awards for Best Fine Dining Restaurant, as well as Best Chef Rocco Carulli. If it’s your birthday, get ready for Dion to put the spotlight on you and ask you to twerk for your life to get a free drink. For reservations, call 305-576-0201 or visit http://www.rhousewynwood.com/.

Señor Frog’s, 1450 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; seatings, noon every Sunday.

Presented by Brandon L. Voss of Voss Events and longtime promoter Edison Farrow, this drag brunch had controversial, Donald Trump-loving Elaine Lancaster at the helm until just a couple of months ago. Now, the show is hosted by Tiffany Fantasia with drag legend Adora and a rotating cast of queens. Showtime starts at 1 p.m. Booked in advance: $19.95 for brunch and show; $39.95 for brunch, show and open bar. Day of: $25 for brunch and show; $20 for open bar; or $45 for brunch, show and open bar. Reservations recommended by calling 212-481-6203 or visit http://www.VossEvents.com.

Molto Pizza + Booze, 1237 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; seatings, 12:30-4 p.m. every Sunday.

Open since September 2017, Molto is the new kid on the block, offering a Kiki Brunch every Sunday with bottomless mimosas and drag shows by resident queens Noel Leon and Tlo Ivy, among others. At $29.99, brunch includes an entree with your choice of unlimited sangria, mimosas or well cocktails. When your meal is over, keep the drinks flowing for the Much T-dance with music and non-stop drag entertainment all night long. Shirtless guests receive one complimentary drink. Rest of the week: Half-off / Service Industry Night Mondays offer 2-for-1 domestic beers and well drinks all night long and drag shows hosted by Tlo Ivy starting at 8 p.m.; Tuesday Much offers pop-up drag shows with $3 selected beers and $6 rum cocktails all night; Wine Wednesdays include half-off wine all night long, plus “Much Woman: Dinner and a Show” at 8 p.m. featuring drag shows hosted by Noel Leon; Alley Much on Thursdays is a Latin night offering $3 Long Islands and $3 Fireball shots with guest DJs spinning today’s top hits and drag shows hosted by Noel Leon; Freaky Fridays offer $6 drink specials, more guest DJs and more drag shows; and on Saturdays, enjoy Afternoon Tea with a different drag hostess every week, $15 pitchers of beer or sangria and happy hour prices on all appetizers with DJ SKOT spinning all your favorite hits live and non-stop drag entertainment. For more information, visit https://www.moltosouthbeach.com/.

Palace Bar, 1052 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; two seatings, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. every Sunday.

When Palace closed its old iconic location at 1200 Ocean Drive in July 2017, the intent was always to reopen as soon as possible on another spot on Ocean Drive. It took four months, but Palace owner Thomas Donall made good on his promise, reopening in November at its current home on the same block as The Clevelander. Known for providing drag shows that spill onto the sidewalk and into Ocean Drive traffic, the new venue hasn’t given the queens a chance to stop traffic yet, as Palace awaits to secure a Miami Beach city permit allowing street shows. But there’s still plenty of sidewalk action and more room inside than ever before for performances and T-dance fun. Sunday Brunchic is hosted by a different drag entertainer every week and a rotating cast of queens performing, so it always looks fresh and never feels like the same old show. Rest of the week: Weeknight shows run from 6-10 p.m. and have a different drag hostess nightly. Missy Meyakie LePaige hosts “Mondays are a Drag” with half-priced burgers and beer; Athena Dion hosts Tacos and Tequila Tuesdays with half-off tacos and tequila specials; Tiffany Fantasia hosts Champagne with the Stars on Wednesdays with half-priced bottles of Veuve and Moët champagne; LePaige resumes hostess duties for Throwback Thursdays; and TP Lords hosts Friday Drag Madness. The week concludes with the Saturday International Brunch — two seatings at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. — and Palace T-dance. Stay tuned for news on Palace’s 30th anniversary bash, the Pearl Ball Celebration, coming Feb. 16. For more information, visit http://palacesouthbeach.com/.