Swelter 16

From there we chatted about Oprah's living-well-is-the-best-revenge move -- inviting her former Baltimore co-host on her national glitter pageant -- and the Jenny Jones controversy, death by homo truths: "The media played it their way. Those guys were hanging out together after the show." The early days, Bey hawking juicers on an infomercial, applying for Miami newscaster jobs, and climbing out of the regional gutter in New York: "We didn't have any $10,000 to pay the tabloid flavor of the month, the newest Jessica Hahn or whatever, so we just started doing wild stuff." And then aesthetic issues and standard operating procedures: "Usually the producers work these people up for a couple of hours beforehand. They come out all primed to break down, and there's Sally with a box of tissues. And then you have all the fakes. I've always tried to make my show different, an organic kind of party, where everyone joins in, with the spirit and energy of Sabado Gigante."

Pure as the driven slush, Bey, like us, also an exile of the lower middle classes, and versed in the dicey matter of the American caste system: "I'm uncomfortable with the term 'white trash.' Prince Charles talks about wanting to be his girlfriend's Tampax, and that's okay, because he's royal. Marla Maples openly calls Donald Trump a great lay, and no one minds -- they're both rich. The media had to use euphemisms for the tape Gennifer Flowers made of her phone conversations with Bill Clinton, where she calls him the best cunt-lapper she ever had. No problem there, either -- he's the president. So what's the difference between them and what people call white trash?"

None really, although to be fair Charles and Bill aren't likely to do the show or voluntarily eviscerate themselves for the public. A natural segue, celebrity metaphysics to Miami Beach, as Bey rhapsodized about a jaunt to Les Bains: "It was so insane. There were all these girls, everything from strippers to models, hanging on some plastic surgeon. And then right in the middle of a scene out of Hieronymus Bosch, this guy was quoting Eliot's 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.'"By 1:00 a.m. we had descended into a Vulcan mind link with Bey, talking about women, money, and the art of straddling cultures, all the important subjects. Yet again struck by the dichotomies of darkness, the curious separation between oftentimes unsavory professions -- nightlife journalism, ringmasters of the television -- circus and their cheery practitioners, seemingly untouched by the churning of America's underbelly, more engaging than regular folk.

The reverie interrupted by a mob roar over some song, everyone waving napkins like demented Red Brigade youth, a commercial break of immediate insanity. Bey, who tends to have unusual fans, instantly attracted a personable party boy, gone with liquor: "Richard, you are a beautiful and magnificent man. I'd like you to come nude jet skiing with me. If you come to my house, it will be an experience you'll never forget." Another only-at-the-Forge moment, number-one fan apparently completely heterosexual, rife with a brilliance best defined by a fellow regular: "He's got no clue, no pancreas, and he's had more splits than you can shake a stick at." Wonderful weirdness, smack-dab in the belly of the Miami beast. As with the shimmerings of the divine, there are moments when real life can be almost as good as show business.

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