Miami’s Counter Corner Party That Has Changed The Landscape Of The City’s Queer Nightlife Is Turning 5

Counter Corner, a monthly Miami drag party that has achieved legendary status in the queer nightlife scene, is celebrating its fifth year anniversary this Sunday.

Lady Paraiso with Chaplin Tyler, Jae Bucci and Chloe Martini

Five years ago, Miami was a very different place for Queers, there were no spaces for us. A friend and co-worker Kesiah and I decided to change that and approached Juleisy y Karla to help flesh out a space where everyone could feel comfortable in their own skin. The goal was to create a space for Queer people who might not have felt comfortable or welcome in Miami’s traditional gay scene,” says Sleeper, who is one of the founders of the party held at The Corner bar

Counter Corner has served as a platform for many talented performers who have since achieved a sort of celebrity status in the local queer community. Queef Latina, the organizer of Wigwood festival – a Miami equivalent to Bushwig – and the winner of Miami New Times Best Drag Performer of 2019, is one of them. She cites Counter Corner as the birthplace of her humble beginnings as a drag performer.

Karla Croqueta, the winner of Miami’s Ultimate Drag Queen 2019 and one of the party’s originators, still hosts the event and also acts as Sleeper’s only co-producer.

The Corner welcomed us with open arms and not only provided us with a venue but also the freedom to curate and express ourselves on our terms. In a time where a lot of us felt undesired or unwelcome, it was such a treasure to have found a place that embraced us. Five years later a lot has changed but our purpose remains the same. We work to not only create a safe space for everyone, but to provide a curated full range survey of Drag in Miami. We hold space for alternative forms of Drag and Performance. We want our guests to live and express themselves without prejudice. We are here for the locals,” Sleeper goes on about his party.

Karla Croqueta seeking refuge from the heat

Comrade Kunst enjoying a smoke before going on stage

When my cab first pulled up to The Corner bar, Lady Paraiso – one of the local drag performers – was about to jump onstage. She was HIM, while three local transgender women – Chaplin Tyler, Jae Bucci and Chloe Martini – were The Powerpuff Girls. In the middle of the performance Paraiso takes off lobster claws to reveal her ectrodactyly to the roaring crowd. At the end of the performance she takes out a confetti cannon and defeats the Powerpuffs with a sparkly blast. Being known for her conceptual showings, Lady Paraiso “spares no expense” when it comes to her numbers. Sitting on a sidewalk and posing for photos with the Powerpuffs behind her, Paraiso quips out several quotes from the cartoon, then follows it up with laughter: “I don’t want to stop, I practiced this for way too long!

Sleeper is right – I recognized many of the local talent either performing or simply hanging out that night. Persephone Von Lips was in boy drag, glued to the palm print-stained glass of the bar, during the performance of Miami drag king Julian the Buttler. Opulence With 6 Es was drinking what looked like a Manhattan on the curb. Juanita LaBanjee was in full drag, even though she wasn’t performing that night, while Kunst was smoking a cigarette before going on stage.

That vibe was the core energy of the night – nothing was too serious, just a bunch of friends hanging out at a corner bar, occasionally getting onstage and slaying the shit out of it.

Wishing Counter Corner many more years to come.

Alexey Kim