Studio was literally made for karaoke. While you can order a $10 vodka and tonic like you would anywhere on the Beach, people come here to sing their hearts out, not necessarily for the booze. The crowds consists of many pre-and-post-club hoppers who are already fairly stocked up on liquid courage and ready to take a shot at any of the 55,000 song titles and 100 instruments available. Sure, the place is a little dingy and the VIP room, advertised with a tacky neon light, is a little creepy, but the characters in this joint make it a must-see.
Owner Louie Rosenthal wears sunglasses at night and looks like he was plucked straight from a heist movie in which he plays the villainous casino owner. The former talent agent from New York City is big, friendly and interesting to say the least, with large gold rings on his fingers, a half buttoned shirt Elvis would wear, and a heavy gold chain that rests on his chest. Along the walls are photos of Louie posing with celebrities like Wilmer Valderrama (who reportedly frequents the Studio), Julio Iglesias, Kenny Rogers, and Jerry Seinfeld. A signed photo of Jay Leno reads, "Yo Lou, thanks!''
"This is like the best karaoke I've ever seen,'' customer Jesse Rosen says. "It's hard to choose. You just kind of have to go like this,'' he closes his eyes and points to a random song title in one of the notebooks. The geriatric DJ, with a great sense of humor and a Mr. Roger's sweater, presses a button after a certain performance that gives the auditory illusion of a large crowd whistling and clapping. A bachelorette party walks in looking for trouble. The ladies submit a request to sing "Fame" without writing down anyone's name.
"Don't worry ladies,'' the DJ says. "When I was your age, I didn't give my name at hotels either.''
Studio at the Shelborne Beach Resort; 1801 Collins Ave. (downstairs), Miami Beach; 305-531-1271; 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly.
-- KYLE TEAL
Jessica Bostwick plays the guitar while Karen McCarthy sings karaoke at Studio inside the Shelbourne Hotel in Miami Beach. Studio features 55,000 for karaoke as well as various instruments for participants to play along with. Photo: Nissa Benjamin.