Peace in the world seems lost as mounting tensions abroad hint that we are on the brink of war. Airports, subways, nuclear plants, hotels, the Versace store on Washington Avenue, and nearly every other public institution in between received new attention after the federal government upgraded the terror alert color to "orange" on February 7. The newly heightened "orange alert" appeared to some in clubland as a Florida citrus threat, but that is another story altogether. We have accepted that it is unfair practice to expect club denizens to keep up with commentary from the likes of Wolf Blitzer and Chris Matthews. In our adult sandbox, it is Belkys Nerey and WSVN-TV's Deco Drive and "The Buzz," not MSNBC and CNN, that command our attention in the Southern land of la-la.
Still, with terrorist threats whirling above, the Miami party fun wagon determinedly forges ahead toward new frontiers at warp speeds, impervious to criticism and rumors predicting its downfall, unscathed by lower-class matters of war, starvation, and epidemic. Decadence pilots this vessel, stopping only to take in oh-so-titillating celebrity sightings. All the while, Clubbed keeps pace with the herd of hip sheep, comforted by the belief that a fall from grace won't be from any great moral summit. Glamour, not politics, rules.
The latest concoction of glamour in a flask comes by way of promoter José Ortiz's Thursday-night big to-do at Pure Lounge. Ortiz's new one-nighter, called "Kiss the DJ," is hosted by none other than the "original gal pal" Ingrid Casares. Ortiz effuses that "Kiss the DJ" will feature "celebrity guest DJs." "Celebrity," of course, being used in the most Miami sense of the word -- just about anyone who has ever been photographed in a nightclub. This particular evening finds us in the full-on throes of "advice diva" Tara Solomon's DJ debut. Funkmaster Flex is said to have been anxiously pacing the hallways of New York radio station Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) for fear of replacement (a rumor that Clubbed was unable to confirm at press time). Meanwhile Ortiz works the press like a seasoned public relations vet, vying to land Solomon's girlish grin on the cover of Newsweek and replace the images of party poopers Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld.
"Do you have your camera?" he asks. "Tara is wearing headphones!" The announcement is delivered with an excitement only rivaled by that for Neil Armstrong's first giant leap for mankind. Solomon strikes her best pose while standing behind the decks smiling for the star flashers. Bulbs snap and cameras click. Clubbed manages to take a flick or two for the momentous occasion. But this is only the beginning of the ego humpfest.
The impromptu press junket eagerly waits for some fabulous moment to sprout up. All eyes seem to be on Lady Bunny, the founder, producer, and mistress of ceremonies for Wigstock, New York City's Labor Day dragfest. Lady Bunny's larger-than-life persona is barely contained inside the four walls of the swank soiree. Bunny swings about the lounge with a crop-duster's precision, spraying attitude throughout.
SunPost nightlife columnist James "Cubby" shares with Clubbed his most recent blessed encounter with her, in which Lady Bunny was introduced to Nayib Estefan; upon Estefan's insistence that they had previously met, she simply replied, "Have I sucked him off before?" Clubbed takes the cue to suck and swallow one last glass of Merlot and resurface the following night for Ocean Drive magazine's ten-year anniversary party at the Eden Roc Resort.
The anniversary celebration also serves as a ten-year reunion for everyone who was, is, and plans on being a player in South Florida's social scene. The regular attendees are all aglow. Shareef Malnik of the Forge; Roman Jones of Opium Garden; Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland; former Catholic youth minister, former Irene Marie model scout, and current self-proclaimed elder statesman of the local scene G. Jack Donahue; celebrated gender illusionist Elaine Lancaster; owner of Mynt, and co-owner of Metro Kitchen and Bar at the Astor Hotel, Nicola Siervo; and Grammy-nominated Latin local boy made good Jorge Moreno all make the rounds. And certainly no social event would be complete without Rudolf Pieper, whose current claim as Miami viceroy is based on being "that guy with the ridiculously colorful pants" and "a party fixture whose presence reassures everybody else that they are at the right party at the right time." God bless him.
With an estimated 4000 gathered there is a stockpile of trendy locals, gorgeous models, and fashionistas along with the wealthy men who feed on the beautiful young things. Robert Ziehm, founder of Brandt's Break Mondays musical showcase, notices that there aren't many celebrities on hand to ogle over. But who needs celebrities with such a healthy dose of Miami schmooze to substitute?
As the beautiful swans of the evening awkwardly clink about in their tighter-than-skin gowns and stilettos you can hardly help but wonder what the Iraqi women on the other side of the world are doing on what may be the eve of Allied assault. Ah, but yes, back to more pressing issues like overstuffed breasts and the orgy scene playing out in the larger-than-the-Gulf-Of-Oman pool. Osama bin Laden would be nauseated by the spectacle of flesh and we would have it no other way. There are also the powdered noses. The overflowing alcohol from the open bars. More lamb and couscous than you can shake an AK-47 assault rifle at.
The evening's sounds are provided by DJ Tracy Young, who launches into a musical score of disco and house for the whole overdone event. No threat of Tara Solomon on the ones-and-twos tonight for Young. Madonna's "Holiday" is aurally reincarnated, the only thing remotely connected to "M" that surfaces in these nether regions nowadays.
A group of Ocean Drive magazine well-wishers gathers in a tent to take bong hits from an apple, a scene that conjures up images of CNN's coverage of the Gulf War. Tents. The desert. Desert Storm. Get it?
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Just then NBC 6 News anchor Willard Shepard, Gulf War fighter pilot, walks by. The fact that Shepard is a major in the United States Air Force Reserve is noted by a group of inebriated guests. The party goes on.
The models in attendance begin to display an obligation to some form of protest not quite understood by Clubbed. "I live in Greece now," one of the buff boys is overheard stating. "Europe is nothing like America -- you all live in a police state!" Poignant words from a person whose career revolves around walking up and down a runway in tighty-whitey Calvin Klein briefs.
"Can you believe the amount of people that are here?" asks one reveler. "One Afghani with a cold could wipe out the entire social scene in Miami right now!" A fact that Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge no doubt considered when making the decision to go "orange." But perhaps it is unfair of us to underestimate the consciousness of the unconscious.
Around 10:00 p.m. a voice is heard from the direction of the elevated stage that borders the beach. Some indistinguishable announcements are made and the crowd erupts into applause. Shortly after, an amazing fireworks display begins. With bombs bursting in air and colorful explosions lighting the night sky you almost expect to see former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw hiding under a table near the sushi line. Lady Bunny, still in town for a quick weekend stint through Miami's "it" circuit, quips, "The fireworks are better than Afghanistan." And the machine keeps on moving.