Oz Gets Started in the Northland
January 6, 2011
by Paul Proffett
For those who might want a change from the “downtown to Midtown” mix of bars and nightspots and those who live north of the river, an LGBT nightspot that opened late this summer may be worth checking out.
Conveniently located off Interstate 35 and Antioch Road, Oz is a mid-sized club with a dance floor and stage that hosts the Saturday night drag show Sinsations. Co-hosted by performers Kyla Breeze and Regina La-Rae, the revue formerly played at Sidekicks in Midtown.
Set in a variety show format, with drag queen and drag king numbers as well as live singers and audience-participation bits, the show breezes along easily, helped by Kyla and Regina’s snarky on-mike banter.
“The last two shows, it’s just been us,” Regina says when asked about her involvement in the revue. “But we used to have our show at Sidekicks. We hosted together there for a whole year.”
Kyla, a.k.a. Anthony Highfill, who burns through his lip-synch numbers with a bouncy energy and with dance moves learned from early gymnastics training, started performing as a joke after being dared by Flo back in Flo’s Missie B days.
“During high school I competed in debate and forensics and also was in the theater department,” Highfill says when asked about his quick wit and ability to make snappy comebacks.
A few live singers are usually included in the show, adding dimension to the Sinsations performing mix. Singer Kalvin Pugh, who performed recently, has a dusky, earthy voice that he used to his advantage in two mellow rhythm-and-blues numbers.
One aspect of the entertainment mix that does not succeed as well as others, though, were some of the performances by “drag kings” (women performing as males). They’re a clever and crowd-pleasing addition to the night, but with the exception of the soulful Déjà Vu, the kings’ numbers did not offer the excitement or production value of the rest of the lineup.
For now, the bar is open four nights a week -- Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. David Rodriguez, owner and manager, says that, “Once we got the show [Sinsations">, it’s picked up pretty good.”
Rodriguez, who has several years of experience as a bartender and restaurant owner, says, “We needed a gay club in the Northland after Wetherbee’s closed. There was nothing here for the gay community to do.”
Rodriguez sounds as if he has bigger plans for Oz, which he opened with a silent investor.
“Within the next six months, we’ll be open every day because the kitchen will be open,” he says. “It will be lunch, dinner, as well as late night shows Monday through Sunday, every day. … I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. I just want to be successful at what we do.”
Oz is located at 2510 N.E. Vivion Road, near I-35 and Antioch Road in the Northland. Call the club at 816-453-4931 for more information.