By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
After using Miami as its bitch for one long, hellish week in August, MTV is throwing another infernal show, the MTV Latin America Video Music Awards, at the Jackie Gleason Theater on October 21. Guess where I won't be on Thursday night?
No disrespect, MTV, but I'm sick of all these award shows. This year alone has seen the American Dance Music Awards, the International Dance Music Awards, the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop Conference Awards, the Film Life Movie Awards, the BMI Urban Awards, and the MTV Video Music Awards, just to name a few.
Then there are this past weekend's Source Awards. Have you ever heard of a more dysfunctional ceremony? Every year, The Sourcemagazine's resident rapper and so-called co-owner, Benzino, nominates himself in a category: This year, it was "Video of the Year" for "Untouchables," the no-hit single by his latest comeback project, Untouchables. Then he tries to start some bullshit controversy. (He issued a press release calling Russell Simmons "a pansy.") Worst of all is the actual awards show, which seems to go on forever as handlers dash around, trying to coerce rappers to trot out on stage and pick up their meaningless trophies.
Each of these confabs serves as a mere pretext for an interminable string of "pre-parties" and "after-parties" hosted by garden-variety South Beach nightclubs. Here, A-list, B-list, and no-list celebrities are waited on hand and foot by sycophants; suck down free bottles of Grey Goose and Cristal; play and laugh inside a secured area behind a velvet rope and a meathead bodyguard, beyond the reach of any real human beings; and get their faces lovingly photographed by Seth Browarnik, Manny Hernandez, and other celebrity-friendly snappers for a coterie of "lifestyle" magazines.
No wonder our world-renowned, locally despised nightlife draws so many dubious affairs to our fair city. In fact, my most memorable moment during this year's MTV Video Music Awards wasn't hearing an uninformed, nonvoting audience drown the Kerry and Bush daughters out with boos. It was seeing half of that power-drunk audience make its way for the exits at 10:00 p.m. sharp -- even though the ceremony still had an hour or so to go -- and head to all the after-parties.
So, in the spirit of all the wack-ass award shows I've had to write about in these pages, I would like to give out a few wack-ass awards myself to my favorite SoBe hotspots.
Most cramped space: Jazid. Yes, Jazid is one of the few places to hear actual live music on the Beach, and I am forever grateful for that. But have you ever tried to watch the Spam Allstars or Suenalo Sound System play there? Usually, so many people get crammed into its downstairs area that you have to dance just to avoid getting knocked around by people walking past you.
Most bubbleheaded establishment: Pearl Champagne Lounge. When I made one of my infrequent, undercover forays to the Beach, I got stuck in this place for ten minutes. I mean, the DJ was spinning Everlast's "What It's Like!" The only thing worse than hearing this hoary K-TEL chestnut at an actual nightclub -- I'm sorry, I mean lounge -- is watching all the beautiful, willowy, pencil-thin ladies in the room soulfully bob their heads along as if it was the jam of the year.
Best empty room: Privilege. Outside of the Winter Music Conference earlier this year, I don't think I've ever been to Privilege and actually seen more than twenty or thirty people standing around, listening to nail-hard techno, and trying to get as drunk as possible so they can actually dance to the shit.
Dumbest name for a theme party: Rapbar. Recently, Rokbar sent out an e-mail announcing a new hip-hop oriented night on Tuesdays called Rapbar. What the fuck is "Rapbar?"
Most unmemorable venue: Delano Hotel. Every time I go to a party at one of the hotels on Collins Avenue, I always forget where I have gone by the following day. (And no, it's not because I'm an alcoholic.) So I just say I went to the Delano Hotel.
Best crowd manufacturers: Mynt. The intrepid doormen at this lush establishment like to keep its non-VIP clientele waiting outside for several minutes until they clump against its velvet rope like moths to an electric bug zapper. Finally, they let their customers in -- usually two at a time, if at all -- to a large, sparsely populated room. Meanwhile, people continue to wait outside, suckered into thinking that Mynt is the most happening club in the world.
Most amazing, fabulous, wonderful nightclub ever: Mansion and Opium Garden (tie). Yeah, I know that I had beef with the Opium Group after getting dissed at the OutKast post-VMA bash ("Mansion," September 2). But then they took me out to dinner and apologized for what happened. Then, Mansion hosted one of the best live music shows of the year when The Roots performed there last September 29. So now I love them.