By Craig Davis, Craigslegztravels.com
It would be a reach to call it a religious experience. There was gospel music, though, much rejoicing and a shouted hallelujah or two.
Lips Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale won’t be mistaken for a church, but the Dragalicious Gospel Brunch proved to be spiritually uplifting and surprisingly moving. Bottomless champagne and bloody Mary’s and a mighty fine omelet (there were a variety of intriguing choices) all contributed to an extraordinary Sunday schooling.
Holy water indeed!
I was wary about attending my first drag queen show, particularly upon learning I’d be the only man at our table. Was aware the queens and divas delight in making a guy blush.
But being a lover of travel means embracing adventure. It’s not about distance, it’s about venturing out of one’s comfort zone. That can be achieved anywhere, even 30 minutes from home.
Lips was a short trip into a very foreign realm, and it proved to be a sheer delight.
Mother Nicolette and the Sisters of Sequins made it clear that the only rule was that fun ruled. Our waitress sneered when my wife asked for coffee.
“Coffee? You want coffee when there’s all this alcohol?”
She returned with an open bottle of champagne in one hand and a pitcher of Bloody Mary in the other.
No need for coffee to keep eyes wide open at this show. The entertainers made sure of that, keeping the energy and laughs flowing.
It was a delectable bit risqué without being raunchy. It was Sunday morning, after all.
“If you’re straight, get a lesbian in your life. You never know when you’re going to need your oil changed,” was among the homespun advice offered by Nicolette, the lovely MC and featured performer.
Lips is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Fort Lauderdale. It has sister clubs in New York City, Atlanta and San Diego, with another coming soon to Chicago.
You don’t last a decade without a formula that works, and Lips has it down. The show is captivating, the food excellent and price reasonable ($21.95 included the show, meal and all you wanted to drink).
For anyone who hasn’t been to a drag show, it’s a trip, and this one lived up to the reputation as an over-the-top spectacle.
The charismatic Nicolette kept the acts flowing and set the standard of give and take. The quips come rapid-fire and you had to pay attention.
“I’ve got to hurry and get this next lady out here or her mustache is going to grow in,” She said in making one drawn-out introduction.
It was easy to connect with the entertainers. While performing, they spent more time cavorting through the dining area than on the stage as they spread cheer from table to table and collected dollar bills of appreciation.
I was relieved to avoid being singled out. Teasing that was meted out was of the catty, hit-and-run variety.
Such as that which Nicolette directed at a birthday boy, who identified himself as a former figure skater, and his partner.
“Guess we know who’s the bottom in this relationship. How long have you been together?” Nicolette said with Paul Lynde inflection.
“Five years,” came the reply.
“And they said it would never last. …”
Such was the light-hearted tone for most of the show. The poignant moment came in the finale when Nicolette sat at a make-up table and, to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” made a stunning transformation back into the man behind the mirage.
It was fascinating, and a visceral emotion, quite unexpected, swept through the audience.
PT Barnum, the circus master, built the enduring success of Ringling Bros. around the concept of “Leave them wanting more.”
As the man behind Nicolette pulled on jeans, t-shirt and backwards cap and left the stage to resounding applause, I was surprised by the realization that, I wanted more.
Lips offers an array of options to keep its fans returning, including Glitz and Glamour dinner shows on weekend nights, Dinner with the Divas celebrity impersonators on Thursdays and Sundays, and the X-rated Taboo Show late on Saturdays.
Or perhaps it will be Bitchy Bingo on a Wednesday night next time.
The lesson was that once you’ve seen your first drag show, it’s difficult to resist coming back for more.
Where: Lips is at 1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Visit Fladragshow.com or call 954-567-0987.