It was an evening of laughter, music, and fancy footwork as the cream of local celebrities descended upon The Manor Restaurant and Complex in Wilton Manors on Monday, May 21, for the return of “Dancing with the South Florida Stars (DWTSFS),” a gala to benefit the not-for-profit Brian Neal Fitness and Health Foundation, which provides persons living with HIV/AIDS and other challenging conditions expenses-paid fitness programs and healthy lifestyle regimens, supervised by licensed and trained professionals.
A “Who’s Who” of the best and brightest of local business and community leaders teamed up with the most glamorous local entertainers to rehearse their dance routines—and, in some cases, production numbers—for six weeks at the dance and aerobics studio at Island City Health and Fitness in Wilton Manors.
The contestant couples included Corrie Boyd of the Sunshine Cathedral and teammate Nicole T. Philips, musician Richard Cortez and Noel Leon, Dr. Ferdinand Cabrera of the Genesis Health Institute and lifeand- dance-partner Dimitri Bakoulis, Island City Eyewear’s Dr. Alan Shaffer and local favorite Jennifer McClain, Mona’s barman Billy Rowan and Velvet Lenore, photographer Michael Murphy and drag host Nicolete from Lips Sunday Brunch, LGBT publishing magnate Alan Beck and dance partner Déjà Devonier, and the Boardwalk ménage a danse of Tiffany Ariagus, Krystal K, and Robby J.
The winning couple for “DWTSFS:
Season Two” was The Manor’s own Gary Santis and his partner, 2001 Miss Gay USofA Erika Norell, who performed their routine to the 1978 hit “Last Dance,” in a visually spectacular tribute to the late Donna Summer.
The “DWTSFS: S2” judges included international recording star and dance diva Pepper MaShay, whose music was featured prominently on Showtime’s “Queer as Folk,” internationally-acclaimed female impersonator Marvin Nathan (“Full-sized Cher/Cousin Ira” from the CBS-TV hit “The Nanny”), and longtime local favorite, Misty Eyez. The tag-team hosts for the event were drag sensation and Florida Continental Elite champion Diva, and former Mr. Continental Philip Alexander.
Special live performances included the “Dreamgirls” ensemble of Nicole T. Philips, Déjà Devonier, and Velvet Lenore, as well as Pepper MaShay, co-host Alexander, singing-andplaying duo Darryl Marksberry and Cary Spiegel, and others. The event was attended by 300 guests and, at press time, had raised at least $6,000 for the Brian Neal Fitness and Health Foundation. Brian Neal, the founder of the Foundation that bears his name, was moved to strong emotions as he thanked performers, guests, and contributors for their hard work, participation, and continuing support.
“You are helping a great many people change their lives,” a grateful Neal declaimed, eyes misting. His life partner, Bobby Blair, CEO of Multimedia Platforms Worldwide and Publisher of Guy Magazine and the Florida Agenda newspaper, offered praise for Neal’s dedication, and his commitment to helping others, and added, jokingly, “He [Neal] is getting better at this. There will be no more tears for Season Three.”
The not-for-profit Brian Neal Fitness and Health Foundation assists financially-challenged persons living with HIV/AIDS and other lifealtering conditions, through free gym memberships, group workout sessions, and ongoing lifestyle education classes covering all facets of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle: diet, exercise, physical and emotional well-being, positive life choices, along with coaching and mentoring from licensed and trained professionals.