“They have Icees here!”
That’s my 11-year-old, getting excited about the familiar-looking machines spinning blue and green frozen mush behind the bar at Señor Frogs, the tourist watering hole that now occupies the Art Deco gem at Collins Avenue and Española Way that once housed Warsaw Ballroom and then Jerry’s Famous Deli.
Sorry, kid. These Icees are full of alcohol.
“Do they have to have alcohol?” she wonders.
Of course they do. We are at Señor Frog’s for Sunday Drag Brunch, a weekly show that serves up a parade of Miami drag divas cartwheeling between huge parties of screaming women celebrating divorces and birthdays and small tables of tourists looking for something wild to do on South Beach during daylight hours.
The Reyes family has come en masse for some pancakes with a side of bawdy entertainment. I could lie and tell you I wanted to use it as a chance to teach my children (ages 7 and 11) about gender fluidity or something. Really, I just couldn’t find a babysitter and wanted to see a drag show. But, yeah. I am teaching life lessons.
Señor Frog’s in Miami Beach probably looks a lot like Señor Frog’s at any one of their 14 locations. The statue of two beer-guzzling frogs in sombreros greets you at the door. There’s a game room with air hockey for patrons who are old enough to drink but not yet grown ups. A sweeping bar with those green Icee machines spinning behind it occupies most of the northern wall and “you’re on vacation, let’s get wasted!” signs decorate the ceilings (because you are reading them from your back, you drunken fool). My favorite: “Come and Chimi your Changa.”
On this Sunday, they have thrown up a black curtain across an entire wall of block glass windows, I assume to make the venue darker and more theatrical. The stage at the end of the room is painted in bright, tropical colors. The Señor Frog’s locations in New York and Las Vegas put on drag brunches as well. But Miami’s drag brunch has something special because Miami’s has Elaine Lancaster.
The character, created by actor James Davis, has shimmied, sashayed and lip synced to pop hits for the better part of three decades, converting herself into Miami’s unofficial spokesqueen. She hosts the weekly event at 1 p.m. every Sunday. This week’s lineup included Adora, Angie Ovahness, Athena Dion and Serenity Dupree.
It. Is. On.
Once seated in our booth, we get the type of waitress you’d expect from a Spring Break hub — a cute 20-something with short shorts who stops occasionally to twerk. She looked truly concerned when we only asked for water and O.J., like we were missing out on the experience by not getting the bottomless drinks deal for an additional $20 a person. (She is right.) She buzzed around the room with a bottle of blue liquor to pour into the mouths of brunchers.
“You’d better not drink that!” my daughter warned, when the waitress passed us our shots in a plastic cup. It looked like mouth wash.
The show started and Elaine began working the room — stalking past tables with her stunning green eyes, Southern beauty queen hair, puffy lips and charming lilt.
“It’s a day of worship!” she cries. “So I’m gonna pop down here and give you something to worship!”
A man from the neighboring table passed her a tip.
“Oh, this will pay for my sex change operation!” she joked.
My daughter giggled, then her eyes widen as Elaine approached our table for a spell.
“Hello, young man!” she cooed at my 7-year-old son, who immediately let out a squeal. Elaine clearly knows the “no kids, no animals” rule of showbiz and moves along.
The kids ordered the pancakes and the French toast, which is almost impossible to mess up. My husband opted for a plate of ribs that he licked clean, and I got the Huevos Rancheros. While I was finishing up my huevos, we got a visit from Adora, a longtime South Beach queen whose makeup is part Carmen Miranda, part Area 51 alien. She strides past the table in her evening gown, her lips drawn into a cartoonish sneer as she mimics Titus Turner’s “Bla Bla Bla, Cha Cha Cha.” My son ducks under the table.
My daughter, however, gets excited when Angie Ovahness does a roundoff halfway through Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.” In platforms.
“She’s a professional. Don’t ever try that,” I warned.
Just as my son started to get antsy, we noticed a woman making balloon animals. In a bar. Weird.
Then I see that she is shaping them into giant penises.
I asked her for two cats, gave her a giant tip and my son was entertained for another 10 minutes, which allowed me to witness the Twerk Off on the stage.
Drag Brunch had a little something for all of us.
If You Go
What: Drag Brunch at Señor Frog’s
When: 1 p.m. Sundays
Where: 1450 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Cost: Tickets $19.95, $39.95 with open bar, $69.95-$399 VIP.