Swelter

Sex, money, drink, and drugs, the heady high-octane mix that fuels the combustion of nightlife. A potent combination not applied, thankfully enough, in equal doses throughout the universe. Sex in short supply during an agitated weekend in London, although alcohol and a somewhat tonier class of society in abundance. An all-too-brief reprieve from Miami, the new Sodom.

London, particularly Soho, all agog with the success of the Keith Waterhouse play, Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, a tribute to notorious drunk and "Low Life" columnist Jeffrey Bernard. The chic thing being to drink where Jeffrey drinks and occasionally passes out, imbibing the spirit of the great man. In tow with two saintly and throughly plugged-in hosts, Ken Thomson of Channel Four and author/critic Charles Osborne (Giving it Away remains the best possible memoir title), trolling through a series of high and low Jeffreyesque haunts. Off to the landmark pub Crown & Bull, recognized as having one of London's nastiest innkeepers ("No, actually, I don't much care if you lost a pound in the phone machine...") and then on to a concert at Australia House, Indian food, and apres cocktails at the private Colony Club in Soho. The Colony, a tiny art-filled dive frequented by royals and such renowned artists/drinkers as Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, and Jeffrey himself, made even more atmospheric by proprietor Ian Blond, a classic old queen with a huge W.C. Fields nose. The perfect host, Blond's snarkiness encompassing American counter-jumpers ("You fucking shiny-headed cunt; who the fuck brought you in here?") and Saint Jeffrey himself: "Oh, for Christ's sakes -- he's just a boring old sod."

The next night, another mad social-climbing frenzy. Drinks at Groucho's, a trendy new private club, full of seething-with-ambition actors, comedians, and executives from the creative industries. Lots of young emerging money, ripe for Caryl Churchill's social commentaries, a beautiful lounge and restaurant of a less formal nature than older clubs like Garrick's. Groucho's known for being Jeffrey's favorite haunt for afternoon napping, the standards-are-standards distinction of having once turned away Nicholas Cage, and now, the ignominy of actually letting us in. Blond turning up again, drinking deeply from the cup of life and a bottle of vodka, nectar of the gods: "I hate this fucking place and all these four-eyed advertising bastards.... Why do you insist on letting that silly hair fall all over your face?... Love is the most wondrous experience: I've been in love twice, first a man and then a woman.... Are you two lovers?" Jeffrey Bernard's Boswell, Keith Waterhouse, conceding that every halfway colorful lush now wants to be immortalized, and hopefully, enriched by art: "Quite a few of them do want to be written about actually."

Dinner at The Roof Gardens, a one-and-a-half-acre restaurant/club/meeting facility, complete with palm trees and flamingos, set atop the old Biba department store building -- the former stomping grounds of designer Barbara Hulanicki, now with the Marlin hotel and other projects. A sister establishment to The Roof Gardens restaurant in Palm Beach, with rather tasty food, Regine's-like qualities, and a dance floor seething with approach/avoidance gonad action. On to Zeebrabar, an elegant little dance club, full of amazingly on-target fashion types, from designer John Galliano on down. Perfectly fun, but the lack of sexual friction eerily unsettling. A trip to Heaven, the landmark gay disco, and then a private party, regaling the polite with slightly exaggerated tales of a land where the denizens actually have sex in clubs, saving all the trouble and awkwardness of taking victims home. One hip attractive woman, inhaling our limited American energy, finally exploding with agitation at the caliber of the British gene pool: "English men are awful. It takes months before they even bring up sex, and then they dither about it forever. The women are just as repressed. Old married couples use stupid euphemisms like, `Some squiggins tonight, my little piggy?' You simply can't get fucked in this country."

Back in Miami, sex and degeneracy in abundance, remaining unflinching in the face of the horror, the unrepentant beyond repression, the maw of narcissism. Susan Ainsworth, at one place or another, noting that the options are narrowing considerably: "I was just in New York for the weekend, going to all the places you'd usually think would be fun. There's no sex there either, just violence. So it's either this or Barcelona." Spain, a tad out of reach, plunging into the local whirl.

STARS opening on Collins Avenue, with a celebrity auction/benefit for Miami's Children's Cancer Caring Center, attracting a beyond-mixed crowd: Caring Center cofounder Lee Klein, developer Tony Goldman, Rusty Atlas of Riteway Realty, well-dressed yups homing in on another upscale club/restaurant with unlimited bathroom cologne and rewarding relationship possibilities. The usual gaggle of South Beach regulars, including the forever-caustic comedienne Monique Marvez, one of the evening's featured entertainments. A very slick decor, featuring the work of Ross Powers and Charles Treister, with etched Art Deco-style glass, overstuffed chairs, a constellation-theme interior scheme, and a high-tech Xylo Turbine Video System -- a local premiere. Forty-eight monitors around the dance floor, deconstructive television for the post-MTV age, imagery circling around like speed-crazed squirrels, channel-flipping taken to the limits. Marvez, as usual, not overwhelmed by the available American men: "Oh please, this is a bunch of grown-up Doogie Howsers and guys that are three drinks away from being bisexual. The crowd tonight is tighter than a frog's ass in flight."

Other clubs, other crowds. Tuesday night, and it's the "Martini Club" at Barocco Beach, a little Cole Porter, a lot of martinis, hostess and radio personality Tara Solomon in fine form. Buddy Emerman, the father of owner Danny Emerman, holding court, dining with a gentleman in the enviable position of housesitting for Edward Albee: "He could have cared less about that Key Biscayne nudity thing." Part-time resident Egon von Furstenberg in attendance, kind of an Erroll Flynn-gone-to-seed look, prompting one former acquaintance to remark: "God, he used to be the handsomest thing." Cassis, packed to the rafters, boutique owner Betsey Johnson in a civic mood: "We looked for a store space here five years ago, but it wasn't happening then. Now there's so much energy." "Bootleggers Social Club" at The Spot, a joint effort by Garrick Edwards and Sebastien V, featuring soulful music -- a welcome trend -- and the standard fun brigade. The debut of "Funkin Mondays," again at The Spot, host Geo Darder presiding over a real relaxed dinner party, everyone making Play-doh sculptures. A special birthday treat coming with three Swedish blondes frolicking around for a photo op, a memory that may one day sustain us through the looming specter of prostate problems and crowbar-assisted erections.

Sex-rattled, awash in the sorrows of gin, stumbling down Washington Avenue. An old club invitation "Slave to the Persistance of Lust" blowing across the sidewalk. Out of nowhere, a one-legged homeless philosopher, expounding on the secret of life: "Always remember one thing: Love is free. But sex costs.

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