Churchill’s must be special if people are willing to overlook the grossest bathrooms in Miami for a night of live music. Sure there are other live music venues with pristine toilets but their shows aren’t as fun. Everyone who’s been there knows that this underground carnival of unbridled creativity has the most disgusting bathrooms. Why does it have to be that at Miami’s punk palace where freedom of self-expression reigns, the prince of piss also overflows his cup?
One Monday night in 2017 at the Theatre de Underground, an open mic where anyone is welcome to showcase their talent, a handsome burlesque performer and comedian named Rio Dios Mio was the ringleader. Rio engaged the audience with a cool, comedic routine as the eager musicians, poets, and other performers, who came early to get a spot on the list, prepared. His slapstick old-school style made the venue feel like an old-timey speakeasy. Rio was one of the founding members of the Theatre de Underground along with Kristin McCorckell, Oscar Fuentes, Laif Gilbertson. During Rio’s high school days, they all used to hang out in the back patio. One day Dave Daniels, the original owner suggested they all stop messing around back there and create a show. So, they didt. It started with Shakespeare in the Park style shows, very popular in the late 90s.
Indoors, the Monday Night Jazz Jam, which has been going on for over 20 years, a true feat for anything in Miami, added to the cool, nostalgic, feel. In the midst of his routine, he said: “If you have to use the bathroom, I apologize in advance.” Laughter spread through the air like an infectious disease.
A female comedian and I were chatting, waiting for our turns to perform. She tells me: “I have to use the bathroom. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you here.” While I’m sure we can all agree there are worse things that can happen to you in a bar than using the restroom, at Churchills…I’d say it’s in the top 10.
A few days later at the Wallflower Gallery’s 20th Anniversary Party, which I was covering as a journalist for a local arts blog, I was waiting in line for the bathroom when a young blonde guy started chatting me up. I was a bit nervous about having to go into the bathroom because you never know how bad it’s going to be. Will there be vomit all over the seat, pee on the floor, or a nauseating stench? Then, Sofia Luna, a glamorous and voluptuous burlesque performer, who happens to be Rio’s lady, rushed past us to the bathroom. The blonde guy said “hey hey,” to ask her to wait her turn in line, but I shook my head and told him: “No. No. She’s a performer.” She bowed at us, gave us a quirky smile, grabbed the tail of her long, flowing pink satin gown in her hand, and rushed right in. I thought well, if she can do it in a fancy dress, so can I.
Featured Image Contributed by Yma Tejeda