By Michael E. Miller
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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.
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."
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."
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.