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Aaron is a boyishly handsome and topless twentysomething in tight white silver-fringed pants, suspenders, body glitter, and an extravagantly feathered Spartan helmet. "Zeus was a slut," he says while standing in one of the swirly, manicured gardens of Vizcaya (3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami). "But he was still a leader."
Wielding a pink glowstick, he summons six other identically dressed ancient (but fabulous) warriors. "If I were to choose my very own modern-day Zeus, though, I'd have to pick Barack Obama."
The rest of the men agree.
But Obama, like so many Californians, Floridians, and Arizonans, believes marriage is for men and women, not gay people. Witness the recent votes in these states that essentially banned same-sex marriage.
"Personally, the whole thing makes me feel like a second-class citizen," Aaron says. "But it's made our community a lot stronger."
"It's funny," says another member of the pretty platoon, who boasts a Hasselhoff torso bush. "As Americans, we did something revolutionary by electing a black man as president. But in the very same election, a vast majority of voters found it necessary to change their state's constitutions and take rights away from one group of people."
Aaron and the boys are here for White Party, a gaytacular gala thrown by Care Resource, one of South Florida's most prominent HIV/AIDS service organizations. Conceived by Frank Wagner in 1985, the core bash of this weekend-long fundraising extravaganza has always been held at Miami's historic bayfront estate. A white ensemble is a must, for purity, and this year's theme is Greek Gods and Goddesses.
They're all here: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, skanky river nymphs, and Elaine Lancaster. The Magic City's god(dess) of cross-dressing is wearing a long sequined skirt and a sparkling headpiece that looks like a snowflake. This faux-lady, who rubs elbows with the likes of Pamela Anderson and Dennis Rodman, is paid to appear at events like this that are glamorous and, well, flossy, flossy. Though the six-foot-two imaginary love child of Lana Turner and Burt Lancaster is beloved by locals and celebrities alike, she still suffers a fair share of discrimination.
"On my way home from going out, I always stop at the Taco Bell off the Julia Tuttle Causeway," Ms. Lancaster says in a feminine Southern twang, gruffed up by an Adam's apple. "And every time I go, a group of guys gather around the take-out window and laugh at me. The last time I went, I couldn't take it anymore, so I snapped, 'Laugh all you want, because when I get home, I'm washing all of this off. But when you go home, you'll still be employed by Taco Bell.'"
Outside on the east limestone terrace, Celine Dion's butchery of "I Drove All Night" blasts over a dance floor packed with hard bodies licked by a profusion of J.Lo-approved (think her "Waiting for Tonight" video, circa 1999) neon-green lasers. Standing near the bar, resplendent in a long, flowing toga and gladiator sandals, is Aphrodite — also called Anne.
The 36-year-old is a native of Key Largo (and the island of Lesbos) who says the holy book is the heart of discrimination. "The kind of people I truly abhor are those who hide behind the Bible as their excuse for hate and discrimination. Sure, homosexuality is condemned, but the Bible also clearly says that polygamy, slavery, sex with slaves, marriage of preteen girls, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices. My favorite verse, though, is one that says a father has a duty to take his daughter's virginity ... to introduce her to womanhood, so to speak."
Sounds like that part might have been originally penned by Zeus himself (soon after he — disguised as a giant, rape-happy swan — knocked up Helen of Troy's mom) and then passed down through the generations.
"And there's another part," Anne adds, "that says that if a man has sex with his wife during her period, both shall be executed."
That sort of dalliance is a sin that a skinny, belly-button-pierced man named Godiva ("because I'm pure chocolate") needn't worry about. He is standing in a lit shell cave that sits at the mouth of a staircase leading to an elevated patio. Clad in fuzzy boots, short shorts, angel wings, and a feathered face mask, he strategically poses while awaiting photographers. Every 30 seconds, he switches positions — from jazz hands framing his well-moisturized face to a flirty Minnie Mouse knee bend — all for the benefit of people who stroll by and decide to capture his blatant silliness on film.
After 10 minutes, a potbellied doctor dressed in lightweight linen approaches and snaps a pic. I ask his name. "I'd like to go by McDreamy, but I eat way too many Big Macs."
"Unfortunately, money is my god," McDreamy responds. "I've done some pretty nasty things in the ER, all in the name of cold, hard cash."