By Slate Jennings
Velvet Lenore is a Florida girl, beginning her career up the coast in West Palm Beach, and she still calls the place home to this day. To be a drag sensation in the Orchid City is no small achievement, since this is the place that’s a hop, skip and a bridge away from the mansions and blue bloods of Worth Avenue, the Mara- Lago Club, and the Biltmore. Very posh and very conservative.
Velvet got her start through another local ingénue of sequined gowns and bouffant wigs—the lovely Melissa St. John, who plucked her off the dance floor and (suggested through some sort of drag ESP) that Velvet had a future in female impersonation. The Diva of Palm Beach, as St. John is known, backed up her prediction with dress, wig, jewelry and music for Velvet to transform into Janet Jackson for a night–a debut that found her “scared to death.” The fright was overcome quickly enough however in the form of tips that very first evening. “I must say I did make a lot of money—and in cash,” Velvet remembers.
It’s been 19 years last month since that debut and Velvet has never looked back. “Even though it was all purely accidental, I had been trained as a dancer and I just took to drag.
First, through contests—I won Miss Hollywood in 1999, and then I went on to win Miss Illusion. Eventually, I began to do shows”—the last five of those years as a member of the popular Lips team of regulars.
“My career got a real push when I met Marvin Nathan at a little restaurant club called 502 that Gene Conti owned in West Palm Beach. It was one of my first jobs, and Marvin joined the show. He was already established in drag and he took me under his wing, giving me tips about improving my act. I’ll always love Marvin for that.”
Velvet performs from Melbourne to Fort Lauderdale, traveling to find opportunities to entertain. That job has become more involved now that she’s expanded her act to include a group of dancers whose intensity is nothing short of aggressive and whose talents are exceptional.
“I’ve always loved to dance, and I have my own dance group now (R. Nielsen, Krya Kennaugh, and Danny G.). These are a group of dedicated kids who give up there own time to rehearse for the love of dance,” Velvet says, obviously proud of her “babies.”
“I’m known as the Production Queen and for being on time,” Velvet says. “So when I come in, it’s a complete package.” The music, the choreography, the costumes—look out. Experience Velvet Lenore at Lips (2021 E Oakland Park Blvd.) in performance every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and see drag at its best.