With a name pulled from two characters in a Jackie Collins novel, you can bet Miami's most famous drag diva Miss Elaine Lancaster knows drama, relationships, and relationships filled with drama. So who better to ask for Valentine's Day advice? Arguably the most authentic Miami housewife of all gets real about our dating scene, what her single lady friends do wrong, and above all, what it takes for a couple to make it. While Elaine protests, "I'm good at giving advice, I'm not good at taking it," you know she's actually got a pretty good head on those glam padded shoulders -- after all, how else could she hold up all that glorious hair, or have the restraint not to "enter anything that I can't give 100 percent to, it's just not fair to anybody?"
Check out Elaine's Valentine's Day observations on dating below, then look for her as the Official Emcee for Miami Beach's Gay Pride Festival in April, jetting off to Europe to DJ for the CEO of a major fashion house, and doing something super great and so secret we just can't know about it yet: "I would love to blow my own horn, but I've been chastised," she laughs, joking that instead you can find her on "any darkened corner on Biscayne Boulevard after 2 a.m." We know better, of course, but Elaine knows best:
Everyone says Miami's a terrible place to date. What's your take on the scene?
My straight girlfriends say the same thing and my gay friends say the same thing. Since we make most of our money off of tourism, I think there's an endless crop of one-night stands or once-weekly romances, but I'm a romantic at heart.
So even being deep in the social scene and no doubt seeing many different relationships work and not work, you still believe in true love?
Oh, absolutely I do.
What's the key to dating well?
You have to be a partnership, you have to work at it. Relationships just don't "happen" in our busy lives while we're trying to keep things afloat. You just can't not give attention to a relationship, it's like a plant: it's just gonna wilt and whither away. You have to nourish it, fertilize it and give it tender loving care. You have to disengage, turn off cell phones and computers and try to give to that person.
What's a great romantic date for a couple on Valentines Day?
I'm so corny, I'd rather just cook for my man and stay home and have a night in. I have Christmas in my heart year-round, you know? I don't set aside one night a year to be romantic or do something special for someone. I want to give flowers when I want to give flowers, I want to cook for him or bathe him in attention all the time.
What's the worst advice you've heard anyone give?
Be yourself [laughs]. Dates are like job interviews. You have to want it, you have to be ready for it. So many people think they're ready, and they always say, 'I can't find the right guy!' Well, maybe you're not the right girl or the right guy at this moment in time so you're not drawing them into your life! Once you're ready, it will present itself. As the saying goes, 'When the student's ready the teacher will appear.' Same thing with a lover. When you're ready, you're going to send out energy and a force field that cannot be controlled or stopped and they're going to be drawn to you like a magnet.
You're like a romance Confucius!
I just know from personal experience how things work. I always equate energy and love and good fortune to the ocean: you can stand at the seashore and watch the ocean go out like 10 percent, but it comes crashing back like 90 percent. If you give a little, you're going to get a lot. So many people are lazy and they just say, "Well, I'm beautiful and I'm this," and so what? You've got to be more than just attractive from the outside, you've got to be so many other things.
Speaking of being attractive on the outside, what's a drag queen's number one tip for looking good on a date?
Authenticity is so attractive. Just try to be real, don't try to pretend you're something you're not -- because if the relationship does go somewhere, how can you keep that up? Just be who you are. We are all fully equipped with our own insecurities and shortcomings, don't be afraid to let people see the crap. That's where people go wrong. It's like having a resume that is too impeccable and people say, 'Oh, this is a little suspicious!' And then people start doing the research and all of a sudden, 'Well, you know, your last boyfriend had a restraining order against you! You didn't warn me about that!'
Oh, we've all been there. Have you ever found out something horrifying about someone you were dating from online research?
I had a hedge fund guy that I dated in New York for a while and I found he was not doing things ethically. I guess he was one of a million. And of course at the time I was reaping all the benefits -- fabulous dinners, etc. But money has not ever been a motivator for me.
What are you attracted to?
Attention. The spotlight. I don't need to get that from a partner, but I need a partner not to get upset about it and not feel intimidated by it. I don't spend two hours in front of the makeup mirror to go unnoticed. And if you feel insecure about the attention I may garnish from other people or another man then you need to understand this may not be the relationship for you.
What are your favorite make-out spots in Miami?
The back seat of my car! I love South Pointe park, it's fabulous. I love going there in the daytime -- Smith and Wollensky there on Government Cut, watching the cruise ships go out on the weekend is so romantic to me. But I find romance and happiness in such simple things. I want to be at home wherever I am with whoever I'm with. I don't need things to make me complete.
What advice do you find yourself giving your single lady friends most often?
Don't expect something you're not willing to give. I hear, 'I want him to do this for me! I want him to do this for me!' That is so shallow and sickening. Is he just going to be a sugar daddy for you? Is that all you're wanting, somebody to buy you stuff and take you to nice dinners? That's disgusting.
If you're looking for marriage material, show him that he can't live without you. Show him how much you make his life better. You're supposed to be in a relationship with somebody that makes your life better, not as a drama queen or someone who demands, 'I've got to have these Louboutin shoes, and you're going to buy them for me!' If the man has lots of money, fine. But if you want to be treated like a piece of property then act like a piece of property. If you need to have things to be in a relationship and then they started treating you like property, what did you expect?
Friends of mine have nice bodies and they walk around with their shirts off everywhere or with tank tops even when it's not appropriate, and they complain about being a piece of meat. That's how they're presenting themselves to the world! That's why I always try to present Elaine Lancaster as a lady, because I want to be treated with respect.