Swelter

The regular crowd shuffling in, hawking the dreams of the evening hours: the ultimate conceptual one-nighter, the outfit that will fix your life, the model of the moment. Four One One at the Hotel Harrison on Washington Avenue opening hyperofficially, the usual players working the room with the fervor of the real estate salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross. The room frenetic with the proto-glamorous, another incestuous fire sale of hype and hustle, descending on the free food and drink with a greedy chill. A new standard set by several stunning six-foot-three models, some sort of new hybrid genetic strain, totally eclipsing the usual six-footers. One tall, outrageously dressed Susanne Bartsch-like woman, Gerlinda Kostiss, turning out to be, in fact, "The Susanne Bartsch of London." Kostiss, a Swiss woman who stages eccentric drag celebrations/one-nighters in London, eerily like her close friend Susanne. Full of bubbly enthusiasm and non-conditional affection, now doing a line of club clothes with Ty Bassett (whose last partner in fashion was ex-wife Susanne Bartsch, coincidentally enough), and delighting in this small, lovely world: "Darling, I've only been here a week, but I love it already."

A chain of encounters with more localized celebrities -- Teddy Gunter of Non Stop Prop Shop and Rona Siegal of the modeling agency Next Management Company -- leading up to an introduction with someone who, in turn, introduced someone else, who actually knew a gentleman named Jack Dux: "I was the first American to win a big karate championship series in China. My life was the inspiration for Bloodsport, the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie -- Van Damme based his character on me." For once, left with absolutely nothing to say.

Plenty of chatter elsewhere, though. Down to the Grove for an evening of techno dancing at The Zoo, on the site of the old Grove Cinema. A non-processed club, black walls with cartoonlike drawings, stripped down for action. Our companion remarking that she'd seen The Last Temptation of Christ in the very same space several years beforehand: "There sure have been a lot of temptations since then." A cultural interlude with the Critical Art Ensemble presentation of "Spasms" at The Alliance for Media Arts on Lincoln Road, a multimedia event dealing with the human form and virtual reality. Video projections of an amazing techno-woman/transsexual and assorted monologues, one clothed performer fondling herself in various provocative areas, keeping up an interesting running commentary: "The tongue, all blind desire...the nipples, twin polarities...the vagina, questing belches...the ass..." Great stuff.

From there, sliding on to other cultural/charitable/artistic matters. The Community Alliance Against AIDS deciding against a big Liz Taylor/Sophia Loren-style splash, opting to do a fund raiser around the Lipton tournament in March, with Arthur Ashe and celebrity tennis matches. Health Crisis Network staging an "In the Belly of the Beast" Halloween benefit at the Cameo, October 29. This year's White Party, "Le Bal Masque," moving from a badly damaged Vizcaya to the Biltmore Hotel, set for November 29. A new South Beach committee putting together an AIDS care facility called The Life Center, tying in with the entertainment industry AIDS organization Lifebeat during White Party week and raising seed money. A program similar to Gay Ski Week in Aspen, with benefits at various venues. Madonna in town, staying in apartment 1209 at South Pointe Towers, dining at The Strand, checking to see if any copies of Sex had reached Beach News. The uplifting capped off with a quite good Area Stage Company production of Terrance McNally's The Lisbon Traviata, touching on love, death, and opera: "Oh, God, the glory of Callas's voice....All great beauties are finally alone."

"Bohemia" at Warsaw, and none of the beauties traveling alone. A splendid fashion show by Myra Gonzalez of the boutique Findings, now open on Washington Avenue. Lily Zanardi of Stilnovo promoting her UM AIDS Research center benefit, involving a raffle of the fashions from "Another Night to Remember," debuting this past Sunday at Warsaw. Gerlinda Kostiss, already a social inevitability, turning up with Bassett and Kenny Scharf. An ugly crush at the door, charming conversations along the order of, "His money is fucking green and just as good as anybody else's." The question of would-it-all-exist-if-there-was nothing-to-sell coming up once or twice. Co-promoter Michael Capponi in a Jim Morrison mode, dancing and philosophizing amid the ceaseless whirl: "Everything is so commercial now. It can be a great party, but if you don't have models, everybody complains."

The caravan moving on to Bulldogs, the new leather bar occupying the former rococo restaurant/gallery Paco Pazzo, both owned by Jerry Gubitosi. Leather boy bartenders, a leather accoutrement stand for those spur-of-the-moment purchases. The place shrouded in sympathetic darkness, the dress code embracing everything from jeans to harnesses, a couple of patrons proving that, as with spandex, leather is not for everyone. Over to the Monday night debut of the "Groove Assembly" at Stephen Talkhouse, a refreshing change from the usual low haunts. Summer-of-love decor, disc jockey Carlos Menendez into a nice soulful groove, a long way from the usual deranged dance music that tends to induce a state somewhere between psychosis and homicidal lust. Co-owner Peter Honerkamp explaining the concept of eclectic music and atmospheres for all kinds of people, with such acts as Warren Zevon, Buster Poindexter, the gay singing group The Flirtations, lesbian folk singer Holly Near, Los Lobos, and The Suits, featuring beleaguered developer Jay Weiss and possibly, actress-wife Kathleen Turner.

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