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Wiry Seth Browarnik, an enormous camera slung over his shoulder, runs up to Sasson. "I told an old lady you were a rapper," he grins, teasing him about his beard. "She said, 'Oh, I think I saw him on TV.' I said, 'Yeah, but watch out, he's the biggest Ecstasy dealer.'"
"Oh, that's just what I need," Sasson cries. "Don't let Shareef [Malnik, the Forge's owner] hear you say that."
This is Perry Sasson's life now, ever since he decided to give up being the party boy he was for years and become devout. People mess with him all the time to test whether he's serious about the change. It's one reason he likes the beard; it's a physical barrier between himself and his old life. It reminds him who he wants to be.
"This has been the best change of my life," he insists constantly to anyone who will listen. "I've seen it all." As he says this, a blonde bends backward over the banquette on which he's sitting. She asks for the candle on the table to light her cigarette. "I wouldn't even touch it," Sasson says as the girl rights herself and gyrates in the corner with a dreadlocked man. "I really didn't think I could not smoke pot. Or even kiss girls. I get up early and pray three times a day. I study three or four hours a day. I told a rabbi: 'Listen, I don't give a shit. I'll drop this whole business tomorrow if you tell me to.' He looks at me and says, 'You think it's this easy? No. Show your friends what it's all about. Make an example of yourself in that world.'"
He tries. For instance, he's turned his party-promoting skills to a cause he considers worthy -- promoting a Kabbalah workshop in Aventura. Avi Shitrit, who teaches the workshop, gives Sasson credit for increasing enrollment from an average of 60 students to almost 300. Not bad for a lecture spoken in Hebrew. "We've got people coming from Boca Raton, Plantation, Hialeah, everywhere," Shitrit declares. "We love him." Sasson does this one for free, a way of giving back. He donates ten percent of his take to charity. "People say I'm crazy to give away my money. I say it isn't my money. It's God's money. Ten percent, you're a minority contributor. Twenty percent, you're God's business partner."
Back at B.E.D., he takes a break from the constant schmoozing to sit on one of the bed platforms. "I hate being fake, but I hate being an asshole too," he says. The photographer whose drugged-out pictures he was complaining about earlier sits down next to him to make peace. He wears jeans, a white T-shirt, a sun visor, and a wristband, plus a big honking camera around his neck. He is, alas, clearly on something. "All these people on the Beach turn into fucking butterballs," Sasson says after conversing with him. Two girls dancing provocatively in the middle of the bed start playing with each other and teasing Sasson.
He ignores them for a moment, turning philosophical. "I could go home with a different girl every night," he says. "I could have this, or I can have God. Which is more important? These people here (he points vaguely at the Romans cavorting on the beds) would sell their mothers for five dollars."
Then suddenly he falls to the bed and allows a girl in a black dress to dance-grind over him. The bleary-eyed photographer has the presence of mind to snap a few shots, thereby transforming a random act into party mythology. "I'm not being good," Sasson's muffled voice acknowledges from a crumpled heap. "God's gonna complain." He gets up.
Later Sasson will get the following text-message query from Browarnik: "What up, rabbi prudism?"
Looks like the rabbi of nightlife will need to have another little conversation with God tomorrow.