The incomparable Tiny Valdez, the hardest-working man in show business, at the organ in The Hamlet bar and all's well with the world. Tiny, a 300-pound lounge singer and former Gayety Burlesque Theatre go-go dancer, closing out the set with a signature number. "Now I play for jeuw Orgasmo....I hope everyboddie donn get wet....Orgasmo, te quiero orgasmo..." Although his avowed artistic influences include the exquisitely sensitive legends Edith Piaf and La Lupe, Tiny cannot resist a big finish of obscene climactic gasping. Everyone in the packed, intensely atmospheric place breaks into insane applause; the room reeks of camp. Tiny turns to his fellow artists from the "Night Train 2" group show, overflowing with joy: "Thank you, Tomata Du Plenty and everyboddie, for bringing me to this beautiful place."
My sentiments exactly. It really is a beautiful place, even with all the usual nightmares. Designer George Tamsitt, the nicest guy in the world, assaulted on Espanola Way by a gang out wilding on a busy Saturday night. Talk of gay-bashing becoming even more of a problem on South Beach. A ("Just Say No!...homoPower rules! OK!") protest against the appearance of Republican nightmare George Bush at the Miami Beach Convention Center. On a personal nightmare level, enduring a local rite of passage, the car stolen. Not a big deal on South Beach, where the populace remains in a perpetual state of Tinkerbell-ness, unable to drive or work. Late nights, the near total collapse of the infrastructure, the path of excess leading straight to the palace of nausea. A gentle reader, masseur Mike Sherman, kindly writing in and offering to "help keep some kind of balance on the roller coaster you're bombing along on...or take the edge off any (even grain alcohol) hangover." The roller coaster lately plowing through many pitched assaults from downtown legends, under the mistaken impression that the new and ugly Walter Winchell is intent on heralding their every bowel movement/scam/theme party in the world of fabulosity.
The little things get to you after a while, but then there's always the nightly parade of cheap thrills. The gossipy gentleman, ardently obeying the dictates of the late Alice Longworth Roosevelt ("If you can't think of anything nice to say, please do sit by me"), working the breaking filth beat. Lots to report. Erinn Cosby, lost in tabloid land with Mike Tyson. Madonna buying the Brickell Avenue estate of Burdines President Jim Gray, paying a reported $4.8 million. The same house was used by the Material Girl as one of the locations for the shooting of her new easy-reading-lots-of-big-pictures-with-hypo-sexual-nude-frolics coffee-table book.
Gianni Versace at Paragon, beckoning to a go-go dancer, wearing the wings of a fallen angel. The young god ignores him like an impertinent little scamp, mistaking the great man for just another aging lecher, and then Versace points to himself and slowly mouths the one magical word that will open any hustler's heart: "Versace." The low-key Thierry Mugler, staying quietly at The Century last weekend. One of the few visiting celebrities of late who didn't demand a constant barrage of theme parties, drugs, and blow jobs as homage.
Mickey Rourke, punched out at Osteria del Teatro by a bouncer from The Spot. Mickey shooting his former girlfriend Carr Otis in the arm and, some months later, crashing Vogue magazine's 100th anniversary party. The A-guest then reportedly hit Otis's date, threw a moody Actors Studio tantrum, and wound up a perfect evening with a rebuke ("You're supposed to be a bad boy on screen, not life,") from Robert DeNiro. Lee Schrager of Torpedo, facing insurance fraud charges in criminal court, entering a plea of not guilty at an arraignment last Friday. Schrager's attorney, Jeffrey S. Weiner, expecting the matter to be "resolved very shortly."
The non-filth beat pretty active as well. The great Celia Cruz, appearing at Warsaw May 9. The very strange Di Lido hotel as the new epicenter of nightlife, above and beyond "Karaoke Royale," everyone's favorite: "La Cage Espanol," opening May 15; "La Cage Risque," getting under way May 7. "Summerland," the new Gary James/Michael Capponi co-production, debuting last Saturday night at the hotel. South Beat, sold, closed for the summer, or lost somewhere in club limbo. Baja Beach Club opening another party-hearty outpost of mindless fun in Fort Lauderdale. The Lasso Lounge, the country-and-western theme funnery, opening May 6.
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Third Rail Company, a club styled after a New York subway, opening May 16 in the old Hipodrome space on Lincoln Road. The club, according to co-partner Parnell Delcham (formerly with the exceptionally short-lived Hipodrome) will offer a little bit of everything: "Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valente from Jackie 60 in New York are working on the opening. After that, we'd like them to come down and do something once a month. Joe Delaney is doing a sound installation night. We've got a Soul Kitchen thing, soul music and chicken wings. Lisa Cox from `Women in the Night' will do Sundays, Jon Jon Bubblegum and Kitty Meow are taking care of Tuesdays."
Club One in Coral Gables, owned by David Giles of Woody's and Who's in the Grove fame, up and running. Huge space in the Miracle Center, the former Heartthrob's, with black walls, pool tables, heart-shape red vinyl seats. A solo sax player in a Miles mode, back to the audience, a house dancer twisting around him like Salome. In a corner of the V.I.P. room, the incomparable Norma Jean Abraham, Flora Giles, Sarah Turchin, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Page living on Star Island, making a record at Criteria with David Coverdale, the lead singer from Whitesnake, looking forward to touring in the fall. A perfectly pleasant person: "I've been over here a lot this year, working. The album should be finished in June, and then I can get back to England for the cool weather."
A Miami Arts Asylum second anniversary party at the Espanola Way Arts Center: socialite Ilene Luby with a young companion, architect Bernard Zyscovich, who is now working on the Portofino project in South Pointe, affable artist Christopher Estridge, whose show at the World Gallery opens May 7. No gangs. The last Avenue A party of the season at Penrod's, Gary James embodying the big question, the whole Miami-as-beautiful-place-or-horrifying-nightmare issue. Not happy with former partner Mickey Rourke, who was quoted in USA Today saying that he'd like to sandblast their friendship tattoo off James's arm. Not real crazy about former E.S.P. partner Lee Schrager either.
A thoughtful moment, then James, as usual, bouncing back: "All these people coming down here now, talking about the Beach. They don't know anything about this city. But I don't get bogged down in all that negative stuff. I'm about Miami, I'm about positive.