This is a revised version of an article that originally ran Sept. 18, 2014. It has been updated with information about the 2015 Pink Flamingo Awards.
“Awareness is always important. I like to support LGBT businesses. I like to know what’s out there because that’s where I like to spend my money,” says ANT, a longtime, long-out standup comedian. “Personally, if it was me, I would like to be voted hottest stripper. But I’m a furniture stripper. I just leave that part out. Sandblasting is hard work.”
Among the Pink Flamingo award categories: favorite drag queen, fund-raising event and local hero. Benefiting the LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach, the awards will be presented at Jungle Island.
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“I produced a video for the event,” ANT says. “Nothing fancy about it, gets the message across. The one thing that people on the Internet hate are things that are overly produced. And that works in our favor.”
ANT (real name Anthony Steven Kalloniatis) grew up in New Hampshire, “the whitest state in the nation.”
“Our foreign exchange students were from Detroit in high school. That’s a true story,” he says. “I knew I wanted to get out of that Podunk town. I don’t want to say Podunk town. The whole state is a Podunk town.”
ANT became a flight attendant and that’s when he started performing for live audiences.
“I was something special on the ground and in the air,” he says. “I had Dolly Parton on a flight one time and I made a big to-do and I begged and I begged and I begged. I did some stand-up and jokes to coax her. She got up and sang 9 to 5 on the PA system for me. That’s the kind of flight attendant I was. I was funny in the air. We’re on an airplane in the middle of the ocean and people would stop and say, ‘Do you have a deck of cards?’ I was like, ‘Sweetie, this is a 747, not a 7-11.’
“It was all off the cuff. I didn’t have an act. Some would say I still don’t. Kidding!”
For about 20 years, ANT has acted in shows like Unhappily Ever After and appeared as himself on countless talk and reality shows.
“Stand-up is my first love,” he says. “I feel most alive when it’s me, a microphone, my words and an audience.”
If you go
▪ What: Third annual Pink Flamingo Awards hosted by ANT
▪ When: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24
▪ Where: Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami
▪ Cost: $75 per person
▪ Tickets and information: http://www.pinkflamingoawards.com