By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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Alcohol dulls pain, but not persistent ennui. And so it was no surprise to find The Bitch idling in Gatsbyesque moodiness, champagne in hand, at the edge of the Antoni family mansion's dock during this past Saturday's closing party for the Miami Book Fair International.
Fortunately the sulky saluki was snapped from her reverie when an elbow encased in an elegant satin glove connected with her ribs. It was a broad salute from one of The Bitch's favorite towering personages, Elaine Lancaster. Over the past few years, Lancaster has become a sort of South Beach Babe Paley, an A-list doyenne and fashion plate who uses her considerable influence and wit for the greater good.
When asked how she managed to claw her way up and out of the South Beach drag-queen heap to become the instantly recognizable society fixture she is, Lancaster gives the canine hotdoghouse flower the following lecture: "You've got to be strong. You've got to be determined. And you've got to also watch out for your own ass. Because, honey, the sweeter you are, the meaner you can be. People have got to be able to be just as mean and vicious as they are sweet and good, because it's called survival ... because people will try their damndest to tear you down and to pull you into the gutter where they are, if you allow it. You've got to have a vision of who you are. I'm not saying that I'm some Mother Teresa. Far from it! I always say I'm as nice as you let me be.
"You get in my way, and you fuck with me, I'll fuck with you back, and I assure you that I'll come out on top.I'm not saying, like, I'll beat you up or anything like that, but I'm just saying I know where I'm going," the female impersonator concludes. (When she isn't dolled up as Elaine, the drag diva is better known as handsome man-about-town James Davis.)
The platinum-haired Lancaster carries herself with the swagger of a character from Dynasty, so it's perfectly appropriate that she has acquired the pricey couture of Barbara Davis, the widow of recently deceased oil tycoon Marvin Davis, upon whose life the divinely catty Eighties soap was based. Currently grieving in solitude at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Mrs. Davis donated her high-end clothing to a Los Angeles-based AIDS resources charity called Out of the Closet. Lancaster picks up the tale: "I called them up, and it was the day that they were going to disperse the collection to various stores, and I said don't you dare. They said I couldn't pick and choose items I had to buy the whole entire lot. So I bought it all. I told them there's no way that this is going to fall into the hands of people who will wear these as Halloween costumes! These are serious clothes, and they need to be respected. I bought all of the evening gowns, all the cocktail dresses. Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Chanel ... a lot of them still have the price tags on them, so she never even wore them at all. Lots of them were made exclusively for her and have her name sewn in gowns by Arnold Scaasi, and Nolan Miller, who was a big designer for the show Dynasty."
According to the divalicious scene-stealer, these dresses would have looked picture-perfect on Alexis Carrington. "Some of these outfits look like absolute confections, like something from a bakery. They're so over-the-top and just perfect for my character. I love it, love, love, love it," Lancaster squeals. One question had The Bitch stumped: How could the clothing of a respectably petite society maven possibly fit a six-foot two-inch drag queen?
"Well, her weight fluctuated, so some things don't zip all the way up, and some are a bit big. So the ones that don't fit, I'll have the tops cut off and just have a big ball skirt made out of the bottom. Esteban Cortezar, the adorable little child prodigy fashion designer whose collection has been shown at New York Fashion Week, is helping me out," she explains.
Ah. And does this clothing allow the leggy Lancaster to show off her lengthy assets?
"Like Diana Vreeland said, a woman should always wear clothes tight enough to show she's a woman but loose enough to show she's a lady. You don't have to be obvious to be sexy," Lancaster advises.
Lancaster estimates the clothing collection to be worth more than $350,000, but those who would worry about Elaine's aching wallet shouldn't.
"A lady doesn't discuss prices," she demurely purrs. "I was very fortunate. Not to mention the fact that female impersonation is my primary source of income, so it all comes back around."
And here's one more reason The Bitch so adores Lady Elaine: The few items Elaine refused were trimmed in fur, which the glamorous vixen eschews. "My friend works for PETA, and he showed me how they skin those animals. It's like, no way, honey! I do eat meat, and I don't try to tell people what they should and shouldn't do with their lives, but I'm not going to advocate wearing fur," she explains.
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