Swelter 33

Sunday at Vizcaya, the main event undeniably beautiful -- a hopeful sea of white in the gardens created by Miami's first perennial bachelor -- but anticlimactic somehow. Sugar daddy yachts pulled up to the dock, a pianist playing "Send in the Clowns," volunteer make-up artists on hand for the drag queens, carrying trays of condoms like cigarette girls. The carnality-equals-death set prowling the bushes, leading lights like playwright Edward Albee lending tone to the ballroom, the chattering classes taking the high road: "I'm looking for somebody I lost -- of course, that's a life story." The Masque of the Red Death come to life in a Busby Berkeley castle, a defiant waltz of yearning before the precipice of the encroaching plague. Home to another futile stab at sleep without dreams, tooling down the Washington Avenue "White Light Project," a line of lasers and searchlights probing the endless void. An eerie primordial chill settling in over the city, the moon engulfed in a miraculous eclipse, the Earth, as ever, spinning between darkness and possibility.

The White Party, a deliverance into hope and glamour: (clockwise from top) Suzanne Bartsch and husband David Barton; the Devil of Desire; drag queens united in fun.

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