By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
An hour and a false alarm later — just an ordinary joe in a leather Mexican wrestling mask, not the Unicorn King — I decided to head for a bar located inside a hot, red-lit lounge off to the side of the main area. During a 45-minute wait for a $9 Stoli Vanilla and Diet Coke (gratuity included), I had plenty of time to think. Then worry.
Being that I had absolutely no idea what the Unicorn King looked like, how would I know it was he when I finally found him?
"You just know" said Berto, who stood next to me at the bar. He wore a pink shirt, Aviator sunglasses, and fluffy elfin ankle boots. "He's pretty out there, even more than most kids who hang out here," Berto said as he dug through his mullet to scratch his head. "He's harmless, though; he keeps to himself. Although I did see him get into a fight a few weeks back. They kicked him out of here."
Then, right on cue and at exactly 2:45 a.m., I noticed a glimmering figure in the crowd.
He wore a Beavis and Butthead T-shirt and bedazzled boots. On his head was a sequined snowcap that read, "Geek," and around his neck was a long white lei with 30 to 40 eyeglass frames knotted into the plastic.
"Are you the Unicorn King?" I asked.
"I don't know," he said, smiling and blushing. "Are you the Unicorn King?"
"No, my name is Elyse."
"I'm Hermine," he said, and then abruptly turned and headed for the main dance room in the back of the club. On his way, he transformed groups of otherwise standoffish females into giggling schoolgirls by yanking a frame from his lei and placing it crookedly on the bridge of each pretty girl's nose.
One spunky, petite brunette named Paulina busted out a camera and demanded her pals take a picture of her with her new glasses and Hermine.
"Do you know him?" I asked.
"No," she said as she pondered which pictures would end up on MySpace. "But he told me to tell you that he's not the Unicorn King."
Then Paulina asked if I knew whether he was single. "He's kind of cute, right?"
Inside the main dance room — a long, narrow space crammed with a stage, bar, and DJ booth — Hermine jumped around with a large man who flamboyantly danced with a silk fan. He held a cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and his long, thin blond hair, which had been secured in a ponytail, was now flipping about, sprinkling sweat on patrons.
As The Clash's "London's Calling" played, Hermine trotted toward a dude wearing a T-shirt adorned with the British flag. Every time the word London sounded in the song, Hermine stopped and pointed to the Union Jack on the guy's shirt. He then took the confused man by the wrist and tried to spin in circles with him.
I cut in.
"Unicorn King, " I began.
"Hermine," he said. "Unicorn King is old; I'm Hermine now."
"Hermine, where are you from?"
"Where are you going?" he asked.
I was standing still. "Where have you been?"
Besides Miami, Hermine said, he'd been only to Tucson, Arizona, his hometown. As he handed me his last flimsy plastic frame, he told me he stole it from an old lady, especially for me. How sweet. But we had just met.
"Yes, but I knew you were coming," he said, twisting his lei around his neck, face, and head.
He described how he spends his days — sleeping mostly, except when he counterfeits cash at Kinko's. He added there are "no beautiful women in Miami, just sexy women."
I looked down and found him fondling his junk. Unicorn indeed!
Nevertheless, when he asked me to dance, I (sigh) reluctantly took his hand and we tangoed to Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." "All you need to know about me," he whispered in my ear, "is that I'm a product of PopLife."
It was 5 a.m. There was no pop or life left. He walked me to the main outdoor area, and as we said our goodbyes, he asked for my number. He wanted to take me on a date.
"Sure," I said, and he offered me his knee. As I began to write my digits, I noticed his hand swaying back and forth behind my head, pantomiming a lewd, fellatious act.
A bunch of hipsters chuckled. Though I should have been embarrassed, it was difficult to ignore the new and odd sense of warmth flowing through the icy White Room. Guys playfully slapped Hermine on the back while girls swapped their newly obtained eyeglass frames.
Perhaps the booze ignited this social spark. Or it could have been my naiveté. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the Unicorn King.