By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
The lame parade, out every night with the lost boys, and nothing, nothing ever happens. One long steady stream of "hot-and-willing-to-submit-to-any-sexual-degradation-destiny-deems-necessary" theme parties. Tapped, over, the capacity for simple pleasures leeched right out. And then, a collection of shining moments, and it's all brand-new again.
Blues night at The Whiskey, the Joey Gilmore band wailing away: "I thought you were a virgin, nice and clean, so I brought the Vaseline.... Baby, it's sixteen inches long...." And then, miraculously, Jimmy Page sitting in on guitar, sliding into "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" A beatific grin on his face, complete, beautiful, total harmony with his instrument. The solo, fingers flying, and nothing else matters as time stops and the club is transformed. Real life, as it will, pressing in. The janitor mopping the floor in front of the stage during Page's solo. Various idiots crowding out front and dancing, as if it were just another night. Champagne in a private room afterward, Page oozing marijuana and joy, accompanied by a high-maintenance blonde. The nicest possible professional. A moment or two of hand-shaking and out the door, kindly leaving the champagne behind for lesser mortals. Great evening all around.
Another splendid time with the utterly magnificent Celia Cruz, setting a new standard in the pleasant-professional category. A dinner a few days before the Warsaw concert at La Casona restaurant on Calle Ocho, just down the road from the improbably named Ohio Bar. Celia at a head table with the Latin press, wearing gold lame and framed by a huge gilt mirror, singing with the restaurant's strolling band after dessert. Owner Felipe Valls making a nice speech, and later on, talking about turning the Warehouse club space on Eighth Street into the new Mambo Club.
A preconcert party later in the week at the home of Clark Reynolds and Dennis Leyra. Attractive, really very personable people all over the place. Joe Mesa, moving beyond the simple hairstylist category. Much talk about Miss Cruz never playing a gay bar before, Natalie Fernandez-Roque also speculating about her age, generally conceded to be anywhere between 74 and 80. Reynolds wondering about South Beach "turning into the new Ibiza for rich Europeans who want to spend a weekend with pretty people." Also telling a funny story about drinking in a Provincetown lesbian bar, feeling less than welcome, and then hearing an announcement over the public address system: "All right everybody, the weenie roast is about to begin." Really, a civilized, feel-like-a-human-being party.
The concert packed with all manner of human beings: every Cuban homosexual in the known universe, dancers in samba costumes ("See the exquisite one? No, not him, the exquisite one. He does a routine with his brother that is absolutely amazing"), and a contingent of the civilized in the much-besieged VIP section. Novelist Carlos Fuentes, in town for the weekend: "Oh, I like this very much." Photographer Barry Lewis, shooting a piece on South Beach for the London Sunday Times. Mad dancing as Celia walks on at 1:30 a.m. donning an impossibly absurd wig of blond ringlets and bellowing her trademark cry of "Azucar!", and then it's two solid hours of wonderful music and poise. Graciously passing the ultimate test, an impertinent showbiz-bedazzled drag queen crashing the performance and dancing on-stage. Making all the right patter: Just back from a big AIDS fund raiser in Los Angeles, willing to come out any time for the cause, everybody is such fun tonight. You'd think she's played gay bars all her life.
After the show, more suddenly unendurable thump-thump-shake-your-body music and drag queen/drug dealers, a gradual return to ordinary life. Another field trip to Coconut Grove. Cajun martinis and oysters at Big City Fish, raucous and fun. The Substance of Fire at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, ambitious, serious, with resonant lines like "the liberation of banality." A perfectly luxe dinner at the Grand Bay Hotel, the party of Schenk-types at the next table somewhat bewildered by the recent riots, posing questions: "Is it the heat?" The streets full of healthy sex beasts, an endless barrage of invective lobbed out by rough-looking banjee girls: "What the fuck are you looking at? Am I embarrassing you, man?"
Other theme parties, other conversations. A bikini contest at Penrod's, an old drunk trying to enter his pig and finally throwing the thing in the pool, where it promptly shat itself. The SciFi Subterranean Soiree last Friday, a benefit for the first Miami Science Fiction Film Festival. The Miami City Ballet fund raiser, "Jewels," on the same night, the dancing accompanied by some major raffle action. Debbie Harry appearing at Paragon May 29. Bobby Guilmartin's new Sunday "Tea Dance" beginning May 24 at the Royal Palm Hotel. The Miami Light Project's presentation of the Jazz Passengers at the Colony Theater last Wednesday, irony-clogged jokes, soft-shoe numbers, intensely modern "BAM-like" jazz. Afterward, a benefit dinner at the Foundlings Club and a smaller board members party at the home of Tim Warmath of the University of Miami. Intelligent, tasteful people, much talk about Miami Light's upcoming benefit film premiere of Spalding Gray's Monster in a Box, to be chaired by publicist Charlie Cinnamon.
On to the birthday party for event coordinator Norma Jean Abraham and Norman Bedford of Egoiste at the "Pleasure Dome," the Monday-only party at The Spot. Kitty Meow as Marilyn Monroe. Hetero-sex dancers in black leather, a novel touch, pushing around huge wicker balls. Erinn Cosby talking about low-rent behavior and tabloid notoriety: "I'm sitting on a beach in Greece and hearing about this story on my life in the National Enquirer, so I've been going on TV - Phil Donahue, Entertainment Tonight - just to tell my side of it."
My side of it coming up a lot at La Cage Risquee, the pumped-up version of the regular La Cage show. A tableau with Marilyn Monroe taking pills and making the final call to Peter Lawford. Hostess Electra/Joan Rivers in fine form, messing with the South Beach regulars: "No holds barred tonight, even in Tara's crotch. Isn't she like Mr. Rogers in drag? This bitch is so goody-goody her nipples have happy faces on them.... Monique, how long has your friend worked for UPS? Maybe we should get out the Vanessa Williams videos and have a party. You want to munch carpet? If you can find it, you can have it.... Bruce, face it, you play pool in Hombre, you're queer. Remember, all's fair in love, war, and comedy." Another great evening, the deep satisfaction that comes from escaping ridicule and wallowing in the battering of nice people. Something akin to bliss. And then home to bed, to a sleep without dreams.