The last thing Juleisy and Karla want to be is your typical drag queens. Yes, they wear the wigs, the eight-inch heels, the false eye-lashes, and the tight clothes, but they never shave their beards. In fact, the beards are as indispensable to their show as the lashes.
"Our goal was never to be passable as women," says Gio Profera aka Juleisy and one half of the gender bender duo behind Hialeah's Finest. "Our goal was to have a voice as men, dressed as women."
Gio,along with his artistic partner, Josue Garcia, created Hialeah's Finest as a joke. One night, they decided to go out in drag without shaving their beards. And without intending to, they realized they looked like (bearded) chongas, the Miami equivalent of a West Coast chola.
Despite the stares that night, they knew they'd found their artistic calling. Three years later, they've been performing in clubs and private parties.
Gio is a Cuban-American child of the Miami Beach nightclub scene. From the age of 16, he'd sneak in to drag shows, fake ID in hand. Now 27, he makes a living styling dancers at some of Miami Beach's biggest nightclubs such as Mansion.
Josue, who works in the kitchen of a local restaurant, has always been Gio's partner in crime. They were both born and raised in Hialeah, a city in Miami-Dade County with the second highest concentration of Cuban exiles after Little Havana. They both still live in the houses they grew up in a few blocks away from each other.
Gio and Josue draw from Hialeah and its most infamous character, the chonga, as inspiration for their show.
A chonga is a Latin girl known as much for her style (hoop earrings, bangs, overly plucked eyebrows and dark lip liner) as for her tough exterior. Chongas were made famous outside of Miami by the 2007 "Chongalicious" YouTube video.
"There's more to those characters than the loudness and the hoop earings," says Gio. "There's a story behind those people that's untold, and who better than two guys from Hialeah who've lived it."
Ingrid Rojas is a Colombian multimedia producer based in Miami. She spends her days either shooting, producing or editing all kinds of video content.