Sure, RuPaul’s Drag Race introduced drag culture to the masses, but Miami’s drag scene has been revving its own engine for years, serving up iconic performances and dusted lewks along the way. Meet three of the Magic City’s hottest queens who are bringing the heat both onstage and off.
Tiffany Fantasia | Henry Williams
Tiffany Fantasia has been on the Miami drag scene for 20 years. But don’t call her an icon—at least not yet. “I have more to show the world before they call me that,” she says. (For the record: She’s cool with “phenom,” “diva,” or “star.”)
Her star shines brightly these days at the Palace in South Beach. But it was at a club called Twist that she started drag “as a means of survival” when she was a student at Miami Dade College.
“I had plans to be a singer,” she says. “I was going on auditions, but nothing was popping.”
That’s when a friend asked Henry to participate in a group drag performance. He put on “a bad Party City wig” and his “mom’s old bra stuffed with teddy bear filler,” and left the club with $10 in tips. “I remember that being so important. As a broke college kid, $10 meant a lot. I could pay for my gas for a week with that.”
From there, drag became a job—yielding more cash than Tiffany remembers making at Burdine’s department store. Eventually that meant real wigs, fancier costumes, and better makeup—although back then there were no contouring tutorials to watch on TikTok. “I’d go to a dressing room early and hope a girl was doing her makeup so I could catch what products she was using and how to apply them,” she confesses.
Six years ago, Tiffany quit retail to concentrate on drag full-time. It’s a form of self-expression that she says is uniquely empowering. “When you put those heels and that makeup on, it’s like you have this body of armor around you. You can be who you want and scream it to the top of the mountains. Nobody’s gonna question you.”
Out of drag, Henry does get questioned. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, he sees himself as a “gentle giant.” But, that’s not what Henry says the world sees. “They see me as dangerous or angry off the bat. Like a threat. Your typical Black male stereotype.”
The Blackness doesn’t go away in the form of Tiffany. But the female persona and appearance (now assisted by a professionally crafted bodysuit and waist cincher, among other accoutrement) “soften the blow,” Henry explains. “There isn’t that fear with Tiffany. Instead, there’s respect.”
Juicy Love Dion | Dariel Rodriguez
Juicy Love Dion has been dancing all her life. “Since I was 5 years old, I was doing shows for my family,” she recalls. “My mother and my aunts loved it.” For Juicy’s father, however, there was a caveat: dance, but dance like a boy. “Behind closed doors,” she says, “I was dancing very feminine.” Eventually, Juicy’s mother embraced it; her father did not.
When an older teammate on the same high school dance squad in Hialeah started performing as drag queen Morphine Love Dion, Juicy recalls reaching out to ask if she could come watch. The rest, she says, is history. “It was just like, ‘There’s this whole other world out here where everyone’s just free,’” she recalls. I was like, ‘Where did this come from? And why am I not doing it?’”
Morphine became Juicy’s drag mother—an established drag performer who takes a prospective queen under her wing. By drag lineage, Juicy also scored Athena Dion as her drag grandmother, adding “Love Dion” to her stage name. “A lot of people who start drag don’t have that,” she admits. “I came up in this with a really strong support system.”
Four years later, Juicy is known as “Miami’s Afro-Cuban dancing doll,” performing primarily at R House—the spot where she got her big break on a day when a downpour flooded the building. The regular show couldn’t go on, but Juicy volunteered to dance. “I was like, I’m gonna get this job. Press play.” She was hired on the spot.
And who is Juicy? “My wild side, just free and outgoing,” she says. “I’m that person when I’m not in drag too, but the look is all different.”
It’s a look that takes between 30 minutes to an hour and a half to achieve—from wig to shaving, from makeup to lashes, from costume to shoes. She eschews padding (except for a bra) and prefers to snatch her waist with layers of duct tape instead of a corset. And don’t forget the “tuck,” which completes the illusion of a womanly shape down below. “Have you heard about Cuban men?” Juicy teases. “Well, I have to wear two pocket panties pulled very, very tight.”
Being Juicy “is like a superpower,” she says. “Everything is so elevated. No one can tell me anything. No one can touch me. My body is my tool. I can finally control it the way I want to.”
Athena Dion | Stavros Stavrakis
Athena’s mainstay in Miami is at Wynwood’s R House, but during the summer you can find her performing in Mykonos, Greece, which she calls “the Miami Beach of Europe.” Regardless of location, onstage is right where she’s always wanted to be. As a kid, her Greek family encouraged that spirit.
“They’d have me put my grandma’s dresses and makeup on. It was all innocent.” But then, a shift: “I forget at what age, but at some point it became: ‘Stavros, you’re not supposed to do that.’ I realized quickly that this was going to be a problem.”
Later, his first romantic relationship was with a drag queen. “I wasn’t doing drag,” Athena explains. “I was just a gay kid going to the clubs. I was behind the scenes, in the dressing rooms, and I just fell in love.”
It wasn’t long before “Athena’s girlhood phase,” as she calls it, was born. She scored her first drag job as a door greeter at a club in Fort Lauderdale in 2011. She was also attending Florida International University, living at home, and leading a double life—with her drag gear hidden in a bag under her bed. The secret was concealed … until it wasn’t.
“I came home one day, and my bag was out from under my bed,” she recalls. Athena had to get honest with her mother. “I was like, ‘I got a job where I’ll be dressed up in women’s clothes. I want the opportunity to do this; it’s going to build my career.’”
Soon after, she landed her first onstage gig. She was so nervous that she took a shot from her parents’ liquor cabinet while getting ready. “I physically started shaking while I was doing my makeup,” she recalls.
But 12 years later, there’s no more shaking. “I started off as this kid getting out his childhood fantasies and trying to just exist,” she explains. “But now it’s become my career, my full-time passion.”
It’s a passion she nurtures as drag mother to an ever-growing family in Athena’s House of Dion. “I never thought I had anything to offer because I always thought I was still learning myself. But there are people who actually look up to me. That little girl version of Athena—who really didn’t have that from anyone—finally came up and has this huge drag family, this great spot in Miami, and this amazing legacy to leave.”