Back to the Future at the Clevelander

Patrons at the revamped SoBe hot spot sound just like the old party animals.

Keith Richards and the Clevelander (1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach) have a thing or two in common. Both were conceived during the Great Depression (1943 and 1938, respectively). Both are iconic. And both come fully equipped with a horny, flea-ridden — and possibly rabid — party-animal reputation.

If Keith isn't the best personification of the Cleve, which reopened April 30 to reclaim its title as South Beach's mecca of mid-priced mayhem, it's Bret Michaels. Think of it. The Clevelander and Michaels both rose to popularity in the '80s. Both have a knack for alluring a particular brand of busty, booze-pounded bimbos. Also, if Michaels's inability to blink is any indication, both have recently had a lot of work done.

After two years and $38 million in renovations, the Art Deco-style hotel was recently unveiled as a revamped destination-o-debauchery that'll attract Brets and batty Brits like white T-shirts draw water.

Wardell Brown


1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach;

There's a free rumrunner at check-in (and it's delicious); the hotel's first stab at a nightclub, called 1020 Music Boxx; and a rooftop pool with a waterfall. Because lunacy has long been essential at this bar, beds are now bolted to the floor and sinks can handle the weight of a 220-pound man. Balcony rails are higher than city code requires so that no one is tempted to jump into the historic beachfront pool.

This place is made for a party. The lobby's sports bar has been moved to a new wing with five $359-a-night "Rock Star" suites that come with something called a "Rock-Star Rider" that allows guests to make a celebrity's list of demands. Just like Keith, you can order up a line of ol' pa's ashes to snort. Or your inner Bret can insist that all shots of tequila be presented to you on an ex-stripper's crotch.

Sara, a model-thin 28-year-old with a flat-ironed shag, knows what it is to party like a rock star. "Last time I went out," she says as a DJ plays Deee-Lite's "Groove Is in the Heart," "I was wearing these boots at Buck 15." She shows off some cute spiked ankle-huggers.

"I was feeling pretty happy, so I jumped up on a table and started dancing. Next thing I knew, I was on the floor, face down, and my ankle was completely twisted. Totally embarrassed, I told my friends I was going downstairs to use the bathroom, but in actuality, I wobbled to my car and fled. Halfway home, I started feeling nauseous. I didn't want to get a DUI, so I decided to puke all over my steering wheel and dashboard while driving, instead of pulling over. When I got home, I passed out in my car. The next morning, I woke up to the smell of Red Bull mixed with stomach fluids, a thousand missed calls, and a blue swollen ankle."

That's about as sexy as Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee's shared case of hepatitis C.

Next comes Juan — a ripped 31-year-old in tight jeans and a shirt that appears to be the love child of a Bedazzler and an Affliction design. He has fond memories of the Cleve's infamous pool, which for years was known for hosting a multitude of bikini contests as well as an assortment of sexually transmitted diseases (thank God for chlorine). "I remember swimming around in that pool, brushing girls' asses and pretending that I wasn't trying to cop a feel when I really was," he says, flashing a smile only veneers could create. "Once a hot tourist actually called me out for it, but in a flirty way. She liked it."

She invited him up to her room and, after a romp, gave him a few lines of coke and "three green pyramid rolls," Juan claims. "I took them all at once. Time flew after that, and all I can remember was blacking out and waking up naked, on my back, on the floor. Then I blacked out again."

Suddenly he was surrounded by nude old people who began to chant as an equally drugged-up Mia Farrow made sweet love to Satan. No, he didn't really say that.

"When I woke back up, I remember seeing a star above me, bursting. Then I blacked out again. When I woke up for the third time, I remember shooting my arm up into the air and yelling, 'Carmen Electra!' I felt like I was possessed. I don't know why I did that."

Gee, I don't know either. Perhaps he really was possessed — maybe by Dave Navarro, Dennis Rodman, or a vodou doctor. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a nearly lethal dosage of MDMA.

Dr. Marcus, an anesthesiologist in his mid-30s, isn't the kind of guy you would expect to have a party-like-a-rock-star tale. Wearing a white V-neck tee, long cargo shorts, and flip-flops, though, he's quick to throw out names of celebrities such as the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes; he claims to have worked with her in his uncle's Philadelphia clothing store before TLC blew up.

She made him a thong out of corduroy, he says. "I knew her when I was 14, so I never partied with her. But once, I was in Las Vegas, where I saw a football player I used to play with back at U Penn. I can't say his name because he's famous and plays for the Steelers now — but he was standing outside a club with his girlfriend. He seemed preoccupied, so I didn't say hi, but I wanted to get into the club, so I decided to tag along behind and pretend like I was with them. I made it all the way into VIP, where Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige were all eating dinner.

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