Dripping wet, GAMI's shock of hot pink hair is swinging wildly to the beat. As she looks out at the crowd she's commanding with every track in her devilish, bone-shaking set, the ecstasy of what she's witnessing is apparent. The colorful cast of people across the spectrum of gender, sexuality, and race that've deep in the heart of Miami's Wynwood district to dance their asses off are there because of her and the party, a QTPOC-centric event called Swetboxx hosted by Red Bull Music, is nothing short of revolutionary.
For far too long, the city has catered their vibrant LGBTQ scene to a heavily gay crowd. It's not isolated to the Floridian city of excessive neon and Miami Vice pornstars mustaches, of course. Nightlight in cities from coast to coast have always been gay-centric and left queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people at the door. But for GAMI, the Miami born and raised T-girl, this kind of homosexual nonsense she's witnessed growing up in the city is ready for retirement.
She's organized parties for the QTPOC community in Miami for years with her collective Internet Friends and hosted artists from around the world out-of-pocket, letting them crash on her couch before their sets. It was only natural then that the DJ and curator of Miami's QTPOC nightlife scene teamed with Red Bull Music to throw a 12-hour warehouse rave stuffed full the kinds of diversity missing from the mainstream gay scene.
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For one night only in early October, Miami's drag superstars Queef Latina and Miss Toto took on hosting duties as local queens that included King Femme, Persephone Von Lips, Jupiter Velvet, Mthr Trsa, and Andro Gin brought their best to a stage in the back of the warehouse among towering stacks of TVs playing vintage VHS tapes. On the main stage, a globe-spanning group of DJ that included Discwoman, Papi Juice, Ariel Zetina, NAR brought international flavor to the night, while New York rapper Quay Dash took to the stage for a fiery performance that included a raucous singalong to the SOPHIE-produced track "Queen Of This Shit," which closed out Versace at Milan Fashion Week last month.
By the sweaty end of the night, as the blistering sun rose over Miami once again, it was clear that GAMI had earned her crown as the queen of the nightlife scene. We caught up with the curator and artist to talk about how being the Miami mama bringing diversity to the city's nightlife, why she started Internet Friends, and Madonna's 1995 MTV pajama party.
OUT: How'd Swetboxx come together?
GAMI: I was getting very subtle hints in February about doing an all-queer event with all these collectives coming together. Initially, Red Bull was basing it off of another show that was "queer" but it was mostly just gay men. It was The Carry Nation and Horsemeat Disco and all of these other collectives. I respect them and they're great but that's mostly catered to one particular section of the LGBTQ spectrum.
I was like, hold on we're not doing this. I primarily wanted to do this show to give opportunities to people who don't get them in Miami. I don't want to give opportunities to people who already have so many.
Yeah, Horsemeat Disco doesn't need help right now.
Yes! So I said, let's do something that is very Latin and very queer. Keeping a balance between trans people and gender non-conforming people and people of color. A nice, healthy balance was very crucial. We wanted to do some drag shows too because Miami is so influenced by drag. We collaborated with Queef Latina and Miss Toto who are spearheading the queer scene. So many girls are getting inspired with their looks and pulling stunts and I'm really proud of them. Some of them are my drag children, too. I have drag children and DJ children that I've helped out -- we've helped out each other.
You're just the Miami mama.
Yeah I'm a Miami mother. When you're in a queer community, you have to exchange a lot of things. It's not just currency. It's lending looks and helping with mixes and then they can come perform at my party. As a trans girl in Miami, my resources are limited. I have yet to have a residency at a bar. Red Bull asked who I wanted involved and I wanted to make sure that anyone I had involved was from the same generation that I am because a lot of people here are very old school.[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BommrmkF1eQ/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_medium=loading expand=1 site_id=25879314]
It was time for a fresh perspective. It's great to see a huge corporation like Red Bull put so much money into the underground queer scene in Miami.
I think corporations see the rainbow flag and think it's just gays. There are a lot of trans artists and artists of color that are struggling to get bookings. No tea no shade but it's reality. It's the reality that I live in. That my community lives in. I like Red Bull because they don't call it "sponsoring," they call it "support."
That's what it should be.
Yeah and someone was asking me about how I felt about Red Bull using queer nightlife for a party. I was like, I can't say no. Am I going to say no to my dreams? There are some people in my community that are "radically queer" and they were angry. I understand what you're saying but do you want me to prevent their friends from getting money? Where would you rather Red Bull put this money? Would you rather it go to Horsemeat Disco or have it go to people who don't usually get these opportunities?
Also, when will be the next time people like Papi Juice or Quay Dash will come here? I tried booking Quay Dash last year for Art Basel out of pocket. I've done so many things out of pocket that I shouldn't have to do.
Tell me about your collective, Internet Friends. How did that start?
I used to throw events independently out of pocket with one of my friends. They were very supportive and wanted to create this image based around me throwing these parties, but I felt very guilty. We all worked so hard on them so why was I the only one getting credit? Also, Miami has a lack of queer collectives so I created internetfriends.us. It's inspired by other collectives in other cities. I was like, why do other cities have this and we don't? It was necessary.
We started booking over fifteen queer and trans artists. They all stayed at my house and that's how it all came about. The name, of course, comes from meeting them online. Sliding into those DMs and next thing you know they're in Miami and they're my best friends. I have close relationships with most of the artists I booked.
It's funny because so many of my friends I've made through the internet -- from Tumblr years ago and now Instagram. It's so normal now to have close friends you've met on the internet.
It's so normal and it's also the only way for some communities to meet. It's become our new beeper. You see who they are and you're interested and conversate and then you meet. But it's also such a great tool to have. Internet Friends is inspired by our new methods of communication. I really love that. It's also very inspired by video games.
Our parties aren't called Internet Friends and that's been an argument that I've had my friend. He's like, "The brand! The brand!" Think about this. A monthly party that is called the same thing with the same aesthetic and the same flyer doesn't last very long because people get bored. Just like how they get bored of playing the same video game. Our parties are centered around creating a world for each one. It inspires people to create looks for the themes. I want to immerse people in different worlds.
There's one party we have that's been going on for two years called Lucid. It's based on Madonna's 1995 pajama party on MTV. It's thrown on the same date as that. We have a bed, we come in pajamas. The whole vibe.
Before I go, you were born and raised in Miami. How has the community grown over time?
It's very male-dominated so growth happened but the focus is mostly on drag. The music side of it has been left behind. It has a lot of growing to do and there aren't many collectives. I just started another one called Club Koi, which is a brand of internetfriends.us. It's an Asian diaspora party that's being run by one of the Asian queens here. We need to create more collectives. I want there to be more parties. I don't see it as competition. I see it as progress. We need it. Everyone needs to feel represented.