Swelter

Self-love, self-loathing, it's all pretty much the same thing in clubs. Paragon, the seven smoky circles of hell at three a.m., and it's like a Homo High production of West Side

A gaggle of fey boys stand behind a backdrop of a tenement window, watching a long-haired muscleman lounging in bed, lost in his own, no-doubt spectacular private parts. Warsaw, and some man/woman/hybrid creation is spinning on a revolving mushroom above the bar, thrusting her hips in the air, hands between her legs. A certifiably male go-go dancer, mired in some inner Bruce Weber vision, is openly fondling himself. The gay bar art form, rigid and narrowly defined as haiku - drag queens, dancers, poses of abandonment - but still, a remarkable number of permutations are possible within the confines of the discipline.

Once again, the drag queen emcee is doing something provocative and faintly interesting with the microphone, and then there's Andrew Delaplaine of Wire, posing impossible questions. "How can you do this, night after degrading night? There must be some weird kink in your personality that allows you to stand here and witness this stuff without being fazed by it all." Good question. Is it what Verlaine called the "angelic excitation to be found in filth, command, debasement"? Or is it because we're brain-damaged and don't know any better? Anyway, one of those remarks that kind of gets you thinking: there do seem to be a lot of kinks and degradations lately.

Like the ska concert at Washington Square, scooters lined up out front, a third-rate Quadrophenia scene. Two skinheads get in a fight over something or another; the bouncers quickly break it up. One of the punks, feeling disgusted and degraded, hauls off and puts his fist through a plate glass window. Blood everywhere as he passes out, and it's, well, just another night on the town. A slightly chubby hipster girl cheerfully acknowledging the debasement involved in Van Dome letting in her slimmer friend for free, while she was forced to shell out ten dollars. Not nice. Butter Club, and it's like taking a trip to another town, without the time, expense, or tedium. The young, the lame, the fazed out. Hombre, and the videos over the bar (now featuring movies and MTV-style videos) just aren't as disgusting as they used to be. Luke's, and things are just too lewd. And Lee Schrager, of Torpedo, arrested on insurance fraud charges last Friday morning.

It's getting harder and harder to find real disgustingness, let alone the angelic variety, and so the devotee must settle for the merely offensive. Two weeks of going out every night, a couple of rueful dawns on the beach thrown in, and it's a parade of assaults in Road Warrior land. Surrounded by the feckless, while simultaneously feeling like the only person on South Beach without a life or an apartment building/hotel, i.e. Gloria Estefan, Ian Schrager, Gianni Versace and company, a series of protective homosexuals vying for closest-personal-friend-Have-you-seen-the-house? status. The gay bar owner, straight, sniffing around where he ought not to be. The gay-bar owner, gay, who insists on scamming various AIDS and non-AIDS related charities, despite lots of incriminating hard evidence and public opinion - admittedly, not an exacting standard to adhere to on Miami Beach.

In the non-disgustarama category, celebrity sightings on Ocean Drive. Isabella Rossellini, stupendously beautiful, even when walking around the Park Central Hotel in curlers. Richard "Mr. Glamour" Pollmann of Irene Marie, reporting a rash of fabulousness at The Booking Table: Mickey, Gloria, Gianni, the guys from Led Zeppelin - some of whom, curiously enough, are very dead and probably not up to power lunching. In between all that glam-fabness, Pollmann is also crazy busy with "Insanity II," the sequel to his very popular one-nighter. "Son of Insanity" debuts Thursday night at Paragon, April 16, Pollmann promising all the usual downtown/uptown frolics.

Other entertainments of a less deranged nature. The opening of the gym the Gridiron Club on Alton Road, last Saturday night. Major drug-free fun at Studio 23 Discotheque and Nightclub, just off Collins Avenue and 23rd Street. Great Latin music, with ardent studs in Quiana shirts milling around a warm-up area before facing all the madly salsa-ing backfields-in-motion on the dance floor. Purple neon and red fringe around the bar. Owner Hector Alarcon perfectly nice and we didn't, happily enough, know a soul there. And upcoming, Suzanne Bartsch and her Easter parade, Friday night, April 17, at Warsaw. A reception on Thursday, April 16, at the Fairmont Garden Restaurant, sponsored in part by the Miami Design Preservation League. An April 30 benefit performance for the Ring Theatre, "An Evening with Jerry Herman: Rainbow and Stars" to be followed by a dinner at The Grand Bay Hotel. A Miami Arts Asylum installation and performance on Lincoln Road, April 27, featuring the work of Damian Rojo and Susan Karrie Braun, among others.

A flurry of guest speakers this month at The Foundlings Club, also on Lincoln Road: Miami author Pat Booth, exposing a "hidden world...where innocence is swallowed as easily as a cocktail"; Dr. Harvey Veith, executive director of Camillus House; and Grace Glueck, art critic for the New York Times. New clubs opening up, always a welcome concept for the vaporhead contingent. Kaos, a new gay club debuting the first week of May, in the old 5500-square-foot Manhattan club space in South Miami. Spokesman Joel Stedman, formerly of Splash and The Copa, working it: "We've redone the whole space; George Tamsitt did the interiors. There's a new sound and light system. We're going to have live acts, local DJs, and several benefits are on the agenda." Club One at the Miracle Center in Coral Gables, opening May 1 and flogging those theme parties: Latin night, live salsa night, a Dance USA party.

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