We had pretty high expectations walking into the annual Wicked Manors block party this past weekend. Let's face it, gay Halloween parties are far superior to traditional, nonqueer ones. It's just a fact. It's like science.
The costumes are more ornate, the parties are over-the-top, and the vibe is just completely different. Everyone walks around Wilton Manors admiring other costumes, chatting with people they might normally not even approach. While there's still your typical drunken holiday debauchery, it's not as "in your face" as in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It's relaxed yet fabulous.
This year's "Freak Show" theme was taken very seriously by attendees, with nightmare-inducing clowns aplenty. When we first arrived, we spotted two men in drag dressed as conjoined twin sisters. They were terrifying, and we loved them.
We saw roughly ten Twisty the Clown costumes, a nod to the new season of American Horror Story. Sadly, there were no Jessica Langes in sight.
Like any Halloween party, though, there was bound to be overly sexualized versions of iconic characters we've come to love. Yes, there was a "sexy" Batman. And Superman. And Phantom of the Opera (our favorite). But who cares? If women parade around in "sexy" nurse costumes, men should too. We're sure the women wouldn't complain.
Another trend among those in costume was old-fashioned prison attire. We don't know why this was a thing, but it really was. When we asked a group (of eight) why they were wearing them, a fairly inebriated jailbird shrugged and said, "It was the only group costume we could find at the costume store." Practical and fashionable.
Considering the neighborhood is predominantly gay, one might assume that the crowd would be the same. But just as the event expands each year, so does the demographic. We noticed a sizable influx of heterosexual partygoers, but what really stood out were all of the children.
Everywhere, there were gaybies. Behind every drag queen was a family of four. It was both endearing and awkward, considering it is a block party with a lot of alcohol. We applaud the parents for teaching their children about diversity and equality, but we aren't sold on the idea of it taking place at a raging block party.
The greatest asset to the annual celebration was its individual parties. Each bar housed a different group of people, crammed wall-to-wall. At Hunters, the Freak Show theme was center stage, literally, with a fire-eating male dancer. Wearing skull makeup, he wowed the crowd as he danced and swallowed flames. Up on the second story, a gray-haired woman wearing Mickey Mouse ears looked down at the performance, dancing and smiling.
"I just got back from Disney," our new friend Judy told us. "I'm having a blast!" We really just wanted to party with Judy all night, but we knew there was much more to see.
While Hunters hosted the main theme of the Freak Show, Bill's Filling Station debuted an all-drag production of Hocus Pocus, which featured top-of-the-line costumes and a dangerously close replica of their one-eyed book. (Read "boOoOoook," in your best Bette Midler voice.) The Sanderson sisters never looked so good.
In addition to the individual parties, there was a giant stage at the center of the block party. It was predominantly occupied by MC and local drag queen Misty Eyez, but she received some assistance from local radio station 97.3 FM. The onstage banter was cooky and hilarious and really helped pull the event together.
The beautiful diversity of our town is what makes Wicked Manors so appealing year after year. Everyone comes out to this one night of celebrations to see or be seen, and luckily, they meet little to no judgment. It's a peek into the melting pot of cultures and lifestyles that is the tricounty area, but mostly, it's just one more reason to love South Florida.
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