On a recent Wednesday, The Bitch checked out an event called the Lo McXimo de la Música concert series preview at Studio A. Why? Because she wanted to see Natalie and Nicole Albino, the teen identical twin sisters from Queens who sing under the name Nina Sky. In summer 2004 the Albinos put the Coolie Dance riddim on the pop charts with "Move Ya Body," and the duo's much-anticipated album drops in September.
The "concert series preview" ended up being a slickly packaged promo for a McDonald's-sponsored road show. Though the gimmick of the Mickey D's program is that it's all for the kids (three dollars from every ticket sale will go to help sponsor higher education for Hispanics), there was barely a Latin veneer on the event. Not one word of Spanish was uttered during the entire showcase. Singer Jeannie Ortega a Christina Aguilera wannabe meets Pink plus butt-shaking had a Nuyorican accent, and that was about it.
The Bitch chatted with Ruth Gamble, who is taking a break from Chicago's famed Second City comedy sketch group to go from Big Mac event to event in a Streamline motor home, interviewing vapid doofuses and urging audiences to "keep givin' it up for McDonald's." She seemed very stoked about the whole thing they must be paying her in gold. As the golden arches were projected onto the mesh that encloses the VIP area (making for an odd juxtaposition) and the strangely familiar hors d'oeuvres (fried chicken bits with a honey-mustard sauce) filled the air with the clinging aroma of fried grease, a claque of chicas gave it up for thin-voiced Luis Fonsi.
The Bitch, unhappy with the abundance of meat and a promotion that essentially made a Happy Meal out of Miami's dominant culture, decided to depart without seeing Nina Sky, but not before ordering for the first and only time in her life a Johnny Walker Black Label from a guy in a McDonald's visor.
Seeing Studio A go for such a low-rent stunt made The Bitch ponder some rumblings she'd recently heard about the place. The whisper campaign began when Pedro Mena, Miami's nascent live-music venue production manager, announced via a cryptic e-mail blast last week that he was returning to his hometown, the Big Apple.
Mena's abrupt departure the club just opened in March seemed to back a rumor already circulating that Studio A, the Eleventh Street live-music venue and a rarity in these parts was having financial trouble.
Mena whose experience includes founding Shout!, one of NYC's longest-running underground dance parties has struggled, he says, to lure touring acts such as the Stills and the Editors down from Orlando. Those bands and others did play Miami, but the effort proved expensive and difficult.
Georgie Seville, the club's self-proclaimed co-owner and ringleader, called Mena down around six months ago to get things running, but said there's no drama to his departure. "He is getting married in September in Spain," Seville said. "Apparently his old lady was giving him a hard time about being out for the marriage preparations."
Mena mentioned to The Bitch that "the investors" would be launching Studio B, Studio A's "sister club" in Brooklyn. Seville, however, said Mena would be taking time off and would have nothing to do with Studio B.
What about the persistent rumor that hip-hop collective Definitive Juxtaposition (Def Jux if you're nasty) has had some doings with Studio A? The wayward Mena was flummoxed by rumor control: "Def Jux? Are they from New York?" No one at the Studio liked the sound of it at all. The Bitch wondered how anyone in the music business, let alone from the New York indie scene, could lack awareness of the label whose artist roster includes Cannibal Ox, Mo Mega, Cool Calm Pete, and, um, Murs.
Hmmm. Just when it seemed it was time to throw in the underground hip-hop towel, Amaechi Uzoigwe, founder of World's Fair Management Group and co-owner of Def Jux, sent The Bitch a lightning bolt of an e-mail containing some amazingly good news: Another live-music venue is coming to town early next year. Uzoigwe, who will finance the operation, wrote, "Our spot is not a South Beach thing but very much a place for top-quality alternative and indie artists, a place for local acts as well, and hopefully a nice and new dimension to the musical landscape down there."
Uzoigwe wouldn't confirm or deny any prior Def Jux interest in Studio A, but maintains no one at the label has any investment or ownership of the club now.
Meanwhile Uzoigwe and his partners are still awaiting the green light from permit types in the City of Miami before they announce where the new club will be located, but they anticipate no problems. If problems arise, rioting will, of course, be in order.
The War on Tara
Life as a tabloid urchin is rough, and no one is immersed in the sea of bitter gossip as often as sometime South Floridian Tara Reid. Or so the bicoastal movie star and known party lover reminded The Bitch during cocktails at the Delano on a recent Tuesday. But Reid, who looked slammin' and rested in a black pareo and freshly trimmed white-blond bob, had something of her own to report. "I just got the news that I've booked a film opposite Robert DeNiro. [It was] the first part I've had to audition for in years," Reid enthused. "I had really been wanting this film."
Reid, who has been working hard to improve her credibility since the cancellation of her reality series Taradise this past winter, just wrapped another movie starring Sharon Stone. And she didn't deny that a new flame a wealthy, older Latin lover will increase her visits to Miami Beach.
The Bitch isn't worried that Reid will become too goody-goody, though: The tiny terror put away a fair share of very dirty martinis at the Delano's Rose Bar.
Deeply committed to remaining out of the sun, The Bitch showed little sartorial interest in the 2006 edition of the Sunglass Hut and Lycra-sponsored Miami Swim Shows, which took place July 15 to 18 at the Raleigh Hotel on Collins Avenue; nonetheless she was intrigued by the jostling over seating arrangements at the various tented catwalks. South Beach scenesters were generally given front-row preference over department store buyers and national media. "When In Style magazine is here to shoot Amir Slama's line [Rosa Cha] and the execs from Neiman Marcus want to check out Julian Chang, you don't put them in the third row and seat the owner of Mynt up front," savvy publicist Brian Long summed up of the weekend scene in the tents.
The Bitch was impressed by the stuff from the house of ANK, designed by normal-size Mirla Sabino and modeled by very attractive but realistically proportioned chicas, and by timelessly demure yet bondage-y tankinis by design icon Norma Kamali, who was scheduled to appear at Tuesday's showcase but bailed at the last second on account of "missing her plane from New York." Right.
So here's what you really want to know about this weekend's Madonna shows at the American Airlines Arena: The Mod Donna looked amazing, performing for more than two hours each night sans air conditioning in a black riding costume and high, high heels, complete with whip. The concerts really themed spectacles in the manner of Cirque du Soleil were astounding, except for the 45-minute lecture about starving kids or domestic violence or something.
Nope, Madge, gangs don't wear track suits and rumble à la Bad or West Side Story these days. According to the show's simplistic iconography, the main hassle for women oppressed by the Taliban is the inability to perform belly dances, as evinced by a burqa-clad whirling dervish who whipped off her costume just in time to shimmy in some sequined harem pants.
But when Madonna stuck to the equestrian motif inspired by her fall from a thoroughbred in 2005, the concert worked in an incandescent manner motivated much less by trends and fads than a quarter-century of Material Girl mythology.
Fortunately Madonna's most recent album, Confessions on a Dance Floor from which she drew most of her material is well suited to bombastic, beat-heavy interpretation. And despite a few lulls and annoying Juilliard dancers trying to look street, the girl still has it. I mean, come on, it's Madonna!
Not Paging Colin Farrell Most of the movie stars and other celebs who were supposed to show for the kick-off event auguring a week of Miami Vice premiere mania were mostly no-shows at Monday night's purported cast-and-soundtrack-listening party at Quattro, which was also celebrating its launch at 1014 Lincoln Rd. But the event, also a benefit for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was a boisterously fun time, the relaxed vibe no doubt enhanced by a distinct lack of Jamie Foxx subjecting the crowd to yet another boorish impersonation of Ray Charles.
Legendary Nicola Siervo, Quattro's owner, weaved through the narrow, Art Deco-motif dining room, handing out Bellinis and snacks, and Thomas Kramer set an example for some of the medical professionals cowering by the bar about how to properly circulate.
Pretty soon the docs were mixing with local hipsters. Mark S. Soloway, M.D. and host of the benefit for CURED, the Center for Urologic Research, Education, and Diseases (and winner of the Gold Cystoscope award by the American Urological Association; hey, you don't hear that very often on the Beach party circuit!) took a turn at playing popserazzi, aiming his digital SLR at guests and chivalrously beaming, "It's such an honor for [Miami Vice director] Michael Mann to affiliate with this event."
Ken the Bastard is the bass player for Fort Lauderdale hard rrrrrock band Nonpoint, whose cover of "In the Air Tonight" is on the film's soundtrack. The tall, Teutonic, ponytailed musician was overwhelmed by the sudden flux of fame after years of toiling in relative obscurity on the South Florida nightclub circuit. "I mean, it's crazy in a good way," he intoned. "But it's been really, really busy. It's hard to take in sometimes, but we're happy."
By about 10:00 p.m., Quattro, which can probably seat 100 comfortably, was jammed with about 300 satisfied snackers munching on octopus terrine and gnocchi with pesto (and downing gallons of champagne cocktails). No movie stars, Hiltons, or Estefans, but local nightlights Leemor Rhodes, Cathy Oved, Vanessa Menkes, and Lyndsey Cooper chatted merrily at the bar ... and then a real celebrity wandered in: Richie Rich and the Heatherette crew. "Oh, you know me," Rich twinkled. "I'm supposed to be in Las Vegas or New York or someplace myself, but here I am!"
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.