By night, Orlando’s drag queens entertain the masses. By day, they lead the fight for LGBTQ rights 

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAVID LAWRENCE
  • Photo by David Lawrence

MISS SAMMY

It's easy to find Miss Sammy's house among the oak trees and Spanish moss of Mills 50 – it's the only one on the street with a huge banner above the door that says "DUMP TRUMP."

"You do phone calls and send emails to senators and representatives, but it just doesn't seem like anything is getting done," Miss Sammy says. "During the campaign, it was obvious he was totally incompetent for the job and none of us thought he could beat Hillary. That would be a cold day in hell, we thought. Nobody is hearing us, so I decided to express my opinion this way."

Sam "Miss Sammy" Singhaus says he received an anonymous letter from a neighbor shortly after putting the banner up.

"It said, 'Dear neighbor, your political reviews stink, just like your ass,'" Singhaus says. "Then he said, 'Well, if I had one, it would say in big letters, fuck you, faggots.'"

But that doesn't scare off Singhaus from expressing his views on equality for everyone. He's been vocal about being true to himself since he left his Orlando home as a teenager and went to New York to study dance. His talent led him to Broadway, where he starred in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982 and La Cage aux Folles in 1983 as the original Clo-Clo. Singhaus remembers gay was chic in New York – until the HIV/AIDS crisis, then known as "gay cancer," hit. The epidemic killed thousands and left lasting stigmas for HIV-positive people and the LGBTQ community.

"When AIDS hit, everybody changed their mind and gay had to be put back in the closet," he says. "I lost my twin brother [Daniel Singhaus], five guys in my show, my best friend. I'm one of the few guys that lived in New York City for all that and is still alive."

Singhaus came back to Orlando in 1987 and opened the Big Bang club in downtown, and later worked at the Firestone club and Pulse. One night at the Firestone, an entertainer threw an "artistic fit" and walked out, so the boss asked Singhaus if he knew how to do drag. Singhaus agreed to do it and Miss Sammy was born, a charming Midwestern housewife with witty quips, the beauty of Lucille Ball and the lungs of a Broadway star. The rest is history – Miss Sammy has been a staple in Orlando's drag scene for decades now and is a charming hostess at Hamburger Mary's for "Hambingo" on Tuesdays.

In an age of angst, Miss Sammy singing "Life Is a Cabaret" into your ear while rocking a floofy red polka-dot dress and pearls, cocktail in hand, is a welcome respite that never gets old.

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