At nearly 6 feet 6 inches tall, fans and friends notice when Daphne Ferraro enters a room and takes center stage. It isn’t just because of her height, however, even if she is affectionately referred to as the “Tallest Drag Queen in Captivity.” It’s also because of her heart.
“We have such an incredible community,” Ferraro says of her four years of entertaining as show director at Enigma St. Pete, the WAVE Award winner for Favorite Local Club/Bar and more. “I’ve found a home at Enigma. Every week when I’m getting ready I think about the people I’m going to see—and when I go home I think about how grateful I am for those people. They’re a part of me and I’m so glad to be a part of them. I’ve never felt so energized and excited by any other booking.”To which there have been many. Ferraro has been entertaining in drag for 20 years—snatching crowns in pageants like Miss Comedy Queen, Miss Large and Lovely, Miss Orlando and more—but notes that she’s experimented with the art form for even longer.
“I’ve done some form of drag since I was three or four,” Ferraro says. “I have pictures of me with my shirt tucked in, acting like a girl with towels on my head and dancing around. I was always doing some kind of a show.” That continued into high school, where Ferraro’s senior play was rewritten so that she could play the female lead.
A career in local theater and later at “the happiest place on earth” followed, where she donned “green-face drag” to open Disney World’s popular production “Fantasmic!” as Maleficent. “I was hired because of my height,” Ferraro recalls. “I started as Goofy and I left as Maleficent. They have a man play her because the costume and scepter are really heavy. They shoot you up on this lift, 40 feet in the air, wearing this giant costume and carrying this awkward scepter while flames are shooting up at your face.
“At the time it was such an honor. I beat out every homosexual that wanted to play her and was the gay that got to play Maleficent—but for $7 an hour I was risking my life,” she laughs. “Looking back you realize you’re willing to do some crazy things for what you love.”
Since then, Ferraro has risen to new (and safer) heights throughout Tampa Bay and specifically at Enigma. It’s there that the entertainer has welcomed crowds to “40 Years of Ferraro,” her birthday celebration and career roast, and multiple seasons of “Fresh Fridays,” weekly shows dedicated to cultivating new and local talent.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a figurehead or a leader in the community and just like that, it’s happening because of Enigma and the people there,” Ferraro says. “I want people to know how grateful I am for this opportunity and for their