When Peter Loftin wants to hear a certain dime-slot-eyed soul singer's music at his party, he doesn't have an iTunes-crazed crony burn him a mix CD. Nope, Loftin, who debuted his private Casa Casuarina Club on Ocean Drive this past Saturday, presented the singer herself barefoot Brit and Gap pitchwoman Joss Stone to a captive audience in the Casa's courtyard.
And though the significance of Stone's appearance was a bit lost on Miami Beach's electro-or-salsafied inveterate party scenesters, all agreed that 45 minutes of Stone's red-faced bellowing was preferable to even twenty seconds of played-out Daddy Yankee. That's just the kind of party it was: nothing to complain about and much to appreciate.
The nominal occasion for the Casa's "opening" it has been the site of numerous soirees over the past year was for Loftin to convince his stratosphere-scraping guests that a $46,000 membership fee would indeed secure not only exclusivity but also opportunities for subtle networking and not-so-subtle debauchery away from prying public eyes, and to do it all in the mansion where designer Gianni Versace was gunned down.
"But really, tonight's just about a good time," Loftin told The Bitch, gesturing to the crowd of about 500 with a stogy in one hand and a tumbler of bourbon in the other.
And thanks largely to the efforts of the A-Team of marketing magicians at Zakarin PR (Loftin wisely going with the smallish but effective Coral Gables-based firm), guests even the notoriously jaded yet party-shy Bitch did have a good time. Note to event planners for the rest of the season: It's a good thing to have tons of cheese, paella, risotto, and other alcohol-absorbing snacks dispensed freely, and it's a great thing to hand people glasses of champagne and Red Bull the moment they walk in the door.
"What did we do before Red Bull?" mused guest Jim Baxter, editor of Home Miami magazine. The dapper Baxter waxed further nostalgic, recalling the early days of the Versace mansion, when Baxter and his partner Bill Hahne would often wave to the designer as he read Italian magazines at the News Café.
The Bitch was happy to note the presence of a few left-field partiers, including a woman in full "Miss Jones County [Georgia] 1986" regalia and especially Gary Hall, Jr. , winner of ten Olympic medals for swimming.
Graciously accepting a compliment on his hipster-doofus vintage getup (black-and-white houndstooth pants, pink bowling shirt, khaki porkpie), Hall says he trains now in Islamorada and works full-time talking to folks about type 1 diabetes, an affliction he battles.
Rounding out the night with an afterparty at the ever-jumping Buck15, The Bitch was sad to learn that her closest competitor in the jumpily energetic party-mackin' world, Ocean Drive staff writer (and former New Times columnist) Humberto Guida, can no longer be contained by the Magic City: December will see the effervescent nightlife royalty-maker head to the place he belongs, Los Angeles, where he'll keep writing, keep hustling, and, no doubt, soon make the leap to the plasma TV screen nearest you.
Coyote Ugly The Bitch has always been mystified by the presence of Dutch clothier Oilily in the United States. This season, though, the company that caters to infants, children, and their primary-color-loving mums came out with an edgy collection featuring fabrics printed with lovingly detailed images of ... wolves.
Paul Lechlinski, Oilily's director of design, says, "We also have a client who is looking to wear the clothes in a alternative expressive way. The collection has become more sophisticated."
Flipping through a recent J.Crew catalog in search of the normal togs she sometimes deploys to fool the humans, The Bitch was subjected to a lack of sophistication when she noticed a familiar, and familial, looking tail attached to the "Puffer" vest: one belonging to a coyote. Apparently the fashion-backward designers for the Lynchburg, Virginia store have no problem sidestepping the protection laws of this land and importing fur from farms in Asian countries.
The agitated dog then visited the J.Crew store at the Aventura Mall, quickly sniffing out the rabbit fur-lined boots as soon as she entered the store stocked with the ready-for-fall-that-will-never-happen-in-Florida coats, sweaters, and scarves.
The manager, a ringer for Philip Seymour Hoffman named Graham Pelley, wandered over, and The Bitch asked, "Is this real fur?"
"Why, yes!" Pelley squealed. "It's rabbit. Isn't it soft?"
Um, yeah. Ugh!
The Bitch will continue wagging her tail up and down the aisles of her favorite discount store, Target, whose recent Sunday circular proudly displayed its Mossimo jackets on the cover with the tagline "Real Girls Wear Faux."
Blimey, Where's My Tar?
The Bitch overhears a lot of things, including this monologue from a waiflike English gal who has been in the news a lot lately for getting in trouble doing the single thing the pharmaceutically curious hound could ever share with a supermodel. The trouble-addicted beauty is apparently in town on the lowdown for Miami's, uh, fashion week.... With apologies to eurotrash:
"Yeah. So I'm at the Miami Fashion Week kick-off party at Funkshion, on Lincoln Road, in Miami Beach, and I'm feeling totally good because I've done lots of coke and I look cool with my new asymmetrical Stella Tennant hairstyle. So what if I lost all those stupid modeling contracts my boyfriend's a rock star, so fuck you, you suburban motherfuckers!
"Then Zac Posen and John Galliano show up, both dressed as Madagascan lemur-herders, which is so, like, Summer 2005, so I feel extra good about myself because I'm way more 'cutting-edge' than they are. We do a line of coke on the free mojito bar and everyone admires us hugely.
"Kimora Lee Simmons does this totally radical Baby Phat show at the old Paris Theatre and she's really amazing and talented and there are lots of hip-hop stars in the audience looking frightening and drinking Cristal so we all pretend we love the clothes in case they shoot us or something. The other models are all totally hotttttttt but no one OD's like that Gia girl from the HBO movie. The son of the mayor or someone like that does get a nosebleed, though, and it makes a huge stain on his 'vintage' NikNik shirt.
"Well. More coke, then dinner at this place Donatella Versace rents out sometimes, this mansion called Casa Casuarina. The décor is like, you know, Martha Stewart doing the set design for Aida or something.
"Party. Party, party, party. Some post-post-party gig at Mansion. The DJ dedicates 'Brass Monkey' to me and I'm like, whatever. We are fashion royalty in our Ash Rana wolf-tail stoles and Giuseppe Zanotti cashmere and baleen wrap dresses, which means we stand in this part of the club behind a rope where everyone can see us but not touch us. Wild. Some teenagers actually wonder who I am. Losers.
"I vomit then go home with the DJ. Yeah. Top-class night."
Old Tin Soldiers Never Die
Oh, to have been a student at the University of Miami when Tom Laughlin was a teacher there during the Seventies (he returned periodically as a guest lecturer through the Nineties). The notoriously brash writer, director, and star of the Billy Jack film series released this week in a boxed collector's set of DVDs has always expressed his political beliefs through his movies. To sit in a classroom and have Laughlin share his controversial views in person must have been amazing.
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"Usually a DVD collector's set is the ultimate collection, the end of the line," Laughlin tells The Bitch. This is just the beginning for us. In November, we are going to launch the most powerful, never-before-seen campaign of five separate national events, unlike anything in politics, social activism, or the film business. One of those things, the final one, is going to be the culmination of the new Billy Jack film, Billy Jack's Crusade, in which Billy Jack and [the character's wife] Jean are like Obi-wan Kenobi, and we pass down the mantle to a young Billy Jack and Jean after we form a third party. It's all about the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, and the corruption. We hate both parties, by the way," Laughlin adds with certitude.
Back in the day, in a time when, according to Laughlin, now 75 years old, "American Indians were box office poison," he followed his convictions and made gritty, action-packed films that found him though he is admittedly of the Caucasian persuasion playing a Native American. The Born Losers (1967) was Laughlin's first appearance as the countercultural icon Billy Jack. The ass-kicking patriot whose career began in such milquetoast Fifties fare as Gidget and Senior Prom earned a loyal following; the film became a cult classic and spawned a legion of sequels. Billy Jack (1971), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), and the seldom-screened Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977), all connected with fans who were sick of The Man keeping them down.
In the Nineties, Laughlin moved to a ranch in California where he could live in peaceful solitude with his wife/costar Dolores. Still, the fans who were affected by Laughlin's efforts remember Billy Jack.
"At Barbra Streisand's wedding a few years back, [John Travolta] came up to me. He turned to my wife Dolores and he said, 'You changed my life. You totally shaped in me everything that I wanted a woman to be. You were tough as nails but the kindest, most beautiful woman.' Tears started coming down his face. I turned and said to his wife, 'Should we go get a drink or something?'" Laughlin laughs. "That is the impact these films have had. The number of people whose lives have been permanently changed is incredible. I'm not exaggerating. Through the years, it's been millions of letters, e-mails, and faxes," he says.