By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The pop culture world, completely superficial and curiously irresisitible, a movement rolling over all moral, intellectual, and spirtual concerns. Dangerous, offensive, and debilitating as a drug addiction, but still strangely compelling.
Sinatra Bar opening in a frenzy of fashion and celebrity, with an Elite Models party and Donald Trump, former Eighties golden boy, making a rare appearance on South Beach. A natural progression for The Donald, what with the available model pool and short-order Euro-glamour hype of the district, a decidely more sympathetic environment than the slightly snottier Palm Beach. That whole model/Art of the Deal synergy deepening with virtually all-girl parties at Mar-A-Lago, Trump arranging to have busloads of models brought up to the house from South Beach. Oh, the greedy chill of it all.
Trump arriving at the Sinatra Bar preopening party, an intense gathering at BANG restaurant, with all the pageantry of an affable dictator, surrounded by the Tinkerbell-like lights of televison cameras, heading straight to the New York press flown in for the occasion: George Rush and Joanna Molloy of the New York Post, Richard Johnson of the New York Daily News, and assorted other pertinent members of the Fourth Estate. The great man paunchier, greyer, scarier, and poorer than our last encounter at a Gourmet Gala benefit, when he walked the earth as a nouveau riche god, but still pitching. Trump relishing yet another upside triumph, a Middle Eastern prince building a $90 million home next to Mar-A-Lago, hanging with an entourage including Jason Binn of Ocean Drive magazine and a nineteen-year- old stunner, April Keyes ("No, Donald and I didn't meet five minutes ago. Well, maybe six. We're not dating; just friends"). More models in see-through dresses flocking around -- apparently the beauty brigade hasn't been keeping up on Richie Rich's declining fortunes -- Trump shouting across the room to Molloy at one point: "See, Joanna, it never ends."
At the press table a never-ending barrage of trade talk ("I got it from a good source: Luke Perry and Liza Minelli are an item. But you can't use it ") and attitudinizing, someone taking in Marky Mark's popland colleagues from the New Kids on the Block and noting, "I'm sorry, but I'm too fabulous too care." The traveling party moving on to Sinatra Bar itself, the place truly popping, Felicia and the Hotheads wailing away: "The world is trash, baby." The New Kids turning up again, along with Grace Jones, Mark Baker of Metro C.C., and fashion photographer Patrick Demarchiller. Trump, posing with girls like Santa Claus entertaining starry-eyed kids at a shopping mall ("Well, you're famous now") and making our acquaintance: "Of course, I've heard the name." A heady invitation to Mar-A-Lago, a Manhattan hipster type hyping away ("I hear nothing happens in this town without you"), and then the usual reality check: "I'll fly you down for the party." Trump leaving with four or five models in a limo, the press exit not quite as grand, despite co-owner Tony Theodore's heart-warming comment to the doorman: "Always remember, there are no rules for these guys." Grub Street has its consolations, although it's not a business for the unduly sensitive.
Moving on to Paragon, ruleless and rudderless, for the opening of "John Blair Saturdays", accompanied by New York promoter High Voltage. All of us lurking in the upstairs VIP room, the Mile High Club, eerily insulated from the frenzy of the poppers-and-pecs ghetto down below. Blair, of New York's The Roxy, looking pleased by all the underwear boys: "It's like New Year's Eve every night down here. These guys really know how to party." Warsaw, Marky Mark weekend, coy boy ecumenically cock and cunt teasing, gays on Friday and straights on Saturday, resting on the Lord's day. Three girls fighting in front of the stage at the mostly straight "Bohemia" party, the crowd on Friday primed to be unhappy, Marky having irked patrons at New York's the Saint and USA by refusing to indulge in his artistic trademark of undressing. Mark and the Funky Bunch diligently rapping before an urban street scene backdrop anyway, the crowd muttering darkly, betrayed by their favorite straight boy: "It's sad that he can't take his shirt off in a gay club. I mean, all these queens paid fifteen dollars each to see him . Oh God, I don't give a shirt any more." The supense building to critical mass, Marky finally taking off his top -- exposing those renowned three nipples -- but refusing, like any good rapper manque/stripper, to go any further: "Yo, I don't want to get this place busted." This in a club where Lady Henesy Brown once mounted a beer bottle. The whole thing -- Marky, the crowd, the controversey -- insane, ridiculous, nonfun.
More entertaining encounters with other celebrities, other wastelands. Amanda Plummer walking down Ocean Drive, Claude Montana making an unsettling artistic statement at the Century, local personality Nicky Narcis, the Party Boy from Hell, gainfully employed again at Les Bains. Former teen star Debbie Gibson, whose sister Michelle owns the Daisy Tarsi boutique in Coral Gables, celebrating her Body Mind Soul album and new sexed-up image at Stephen Talkhouse. Gibson, wearing a very adult black jumpsuit, perky and pleasant: "This is as far it goes; it's pretty G-rated compared to Madonna. But then I hear she fantasizes about being a housewife." Another wayward girl, Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher, also coming under X- rated scrutiny. "My sister Denise was in the same class as her at Merrick High. She was really weird, always carrying a beeper and walking out of class. Merrick is famous for bratty kids, but she went really far astray. But you know, good comes out of tragedy, like a TV movie or a hit song."
Hit girl and drag legend RuPaul at Van Dome, Marky Mark at Warsaw: it's a mixed-up crazy world. RuPaul, seven feet or so with all that hair, heels, and attitude, turning in a stellar performance, bringing aspiring supermodels up on stage for the ride: "Experience the illness that is RuPaul. Sashey Shante, you better work, girl . Men are the most beautiful women in the world . The power of love can change everything. It's going to be a gay white house of love. Now, you know Clinton and Gore are lovers: face it, honey, it's true . Can you give me a big hand please?"
Afterward RuPaul and her legs -- the most splendid limbs imaginable -- lounging backstage, recounting the whole working girl saga. Growing up in Atlanta, defying a Ku Klux Klan rally in full drag, migrating to New York with Larry Tee, La Homa Van Zandt, and Lady Bunny, traveling with "high heels and a dream." The early incarnations, RuPaul and the U-Hauls, hits like "Starr Booty" and the current Tommy Boy hit single "Supermodel." A new album on the way, drag as the new political manifesto: "Drag is for everybody. It's loud, shiny and bright, just perfect for children. It's not a sexual fetish -- well, sometimes it is -- but a celebration, a movement in society, a global thing. It's a look, from the ghetto to the White House, like Barbara Bush. And everybody in the pop life, everybody, is a drag queen.