Karaoke @ Lips

 

karaoke2
At Lips, a drag club, the performers work karaoke into their show. They do a number then get the audience to participate. L To R are; Siggy Sustiel, "Electra" (Bette Midler), and Rita Levy sing together on stage dury karaoke hour. Photo: Candace West.
 

Lips incorporates the karaoke portion of its entertainment into its Tuesday night drag show, and the customers are typically pulled into the performance one way or another. Shy patrons might want to pass on this spot.

“It's a party place” says Ivana Du, an impersonator of “Will and Grace” character Karen Walker, Ms. Bunny Swan from MADtv and Elizabeth Taylor. "So, if you want to come here, you've got to party.”

This showroom looks like a scene from a Las Vegas club, with disco balls and giant high heels made of crystal beads adorning the ceiling. And, oh yes, there are the drag queens - also the servers - with their lean physiques, loads of makeup and broad shoulders. The show's guest host, Electra, aka Jim, is a dead ringer for Bette Midler in a tight, shiny getup and curly wig. She works the crowd, cracking on nearly every customer seated. For the queens, no jokes are out of bounds, so the laughs often followed by dropped jaws and wide eyes.

The audience is a sea of gray or dyed hair, which manager Terry Cain calls atypical, saying it's usually a mixed crowd. Our interview is interrupted when Electra calls her other half to the stage. Turns out Cain, wearing a tie and slacks, and Electra are celebrating their 10-year anniversary. After giving Electra a kiss, Cain sings Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings in an impressive baritone.

 About 10 p.m., there's a break in the show and most of the seniors head home for bed, leaving a small young-to-middle-age crowd and a family. Electra says she has to cancel her plans to start a Depends conga line. A lady trio from Aventura - Siggy Sustiel, Rita Levy and Sima Cambert - are enjoying a girl's night out. Electra yanks them out of their seats and the women and queen dance around the flamboyant stage.

The restaurant has an appetizing, gourmet menu with dishes like blackened salmon, sesame ahi tuna and the chicken roulade for $18 - the most popular choice.

Lips; 1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park; 954-567-0987; on Tuesday, bar opens at 7 p.m., dinner starts at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8:45 p.m., karaoke starts at 9:30 p.m.

-- KYLE TEAL

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