It's a small town, pal. A small ugly town. Full of rats. Area troublemakers. Unprovoked attacks. Misinterpreted declarations. Fabulous writers profiling fabulous club owners/boyfriends. Nebulous celebrity investors. Wire cover boy Abe Hirschfeld actually portrayed as a viable human being, let alone a viable political candidate. A politician in tune with Gay South Beach. A candidate we found ourselves being photographed with at Le Loft, deep in hetero territory. Politics, journalism, the struggle to be fabulous on an overwrought sandbar - the netherworld sure does make strange bedfellows.
We were thinking about all this in the most above-world circumstance imaginable, the annual Miami City Ballet fund raiser at Joe's Stone Crab. No tourists. No waiting in line or riots when big tippers breeze through (we once saw the yearning masses actually throw food at the maitre d') and violate the American way of decency and fair play. Luckily a tableful of the eminently fun was on hand: publicist Charles Cinnamon, who will be hosting a November 12 opening-night party at the Butter Club for Peter Pan; photographer Iran "It's Faaabulous" Issa-Khan; society decorator Ton "Mr. Fun" Luyk. Everyone made an effort to be personable ("You look like I feel.... Darling, she's the Cuban Grace Kelly.... I'm lonely but not alone...."), and there were also pleasant encounters with the new era of money, a far cry from the Eighties I'm-rich-you-little-shit-and-don't-you-ever-forget-it style of noblesse oblige: "God knows I've never voted for anybody who won, although you would think that I, more than anybody, would be a Republican."
Really very nice. Not offensive at all. And we're sort of a connoisseur of upper-end offensiveness. Such as the black-tie party where a socialite acquaintance imitated the sexual antics of her best friend by repeatedly plunging a candlestick toward her private regions. The jewelry-laden man at another pissy dinner who dismissed the miraculous sudden appearance of the late Isaac Bashevis Singer with the comment: "I am not acquainted with persons of that caliber...nor do I care to be." The girls night at Mezzanotte attended by a friend of ours, where the filthy rich hostess passed out vibrators and insisted everyone immediately try them out, as a kind of intermezzo between courses. Naturally she didn't pick up the check. An episode that straddles the fun/nonfun offensive line.
In clubland that fun/nonfun issue just keeps coming up as well. The specter of Honest Abe Hirschfeld, Miami Beach's own Harvey Milk, distributing campaign T-shirts at Torpedo. Co-owner Lee Schrager being hired by Hirschfeld as a public relations liaison to the gay vote. A not-so-gentle reader, Bruce Braxton of the Junkyard, calling with the news that the much beloved mascot/theme rat at Hellfire was, in fact, pregnant rather than just tired, and has now had twelve little rat babies. Three of which she ate. Apparently rats, like club people, devour their own.
But then there's Halloween week coming up, the holiday that Fran Lebowitz once deemed "too good for children." A Dade Action PAC benefit at the Warsaw, October 25. The second annual Torpedo "Blockout" street party on October 26 (co-hosted by Tara Solomon and drag star Tiffany Arieagus), Collins Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, a benefit for the Alliance Film/Video Project. Fantasy Fest in Key West. A tres intime cocktail party for 50 A-list types at the Butter Club on Halloween night. Parties at Egoiste. And an event that should be truly bizarre: the Motorcyle Rights Rally Run Kickoff Party, November 2 at the Junkyard, the crowning point of the Thunder on the Beach motorcycle convention.
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Bikers. Drag Queens. An actual South Beach A-list. It's all so postmodern, so new Club Nu, so Morocco/Zubar, nightlife chewed up, reinterpreted, paying homage to the past while simultaneously forging ahead toward a new aesthetic. On opening weekend, the symbols, the semiotic landscape of the old Club Nu were all there in place. Apres concert parties for Rod Stewart, who unfortunately never showed up (getting old, the wife's pregnant, you know the story). The glowing neon Club Nu sign, covered up by a canvas screen emblazoned with "Morocco." Odd celebrity sightings ("Did you see Vanilla Ice's dad?") and encounters with people you've seen before. John and Tom Turchin working hard. Tom's wife, the very nice Sarah Turchin, who along with partner Angela Rodriguez, has formed a rock promotions/event coordination company. Concert promoter Phil Rodriguez, of the huge "Rock in Rio" mega-concert, working on an upcoming Pet Shop Boys concert in Rio. Diane Siquier, who assured us just a few short weeks ago that the Turchins had sold the Nu lease to an "unnamed celebrity and his investment group" and would no longer be involved in the club.
A lot has been changed - the place feels cleaner, lighter, emptier - but there were familiar touches here and there. The huge wicker rendering of a naked female has been moved to the Zubar portion of the club, classical music is now piped into the same baroque-looking lounge, and there's still $180-a-pop Cristal for the high rollers. The partially screened stairway, where we once, with mounting nausea and disbelief, watched two people having sex (it's hard to remember the last time we had sex at home, let alone in a club) is also still there.
And you still encounter the most, well, fabulous, people at Nu/Morocco. Like ultimate flash creature Suzi Stettner, all rhinestones, cleavage, girdle pants, and chaps, a Miami Madonna, traveling in a flying wedge of glamour with hair stylist Donald Nistico, fashion designer Howard Markowitz, and a woman named Madeline Hattenbach, who earnestly reported on the evening: "The Rod Stewart concert was fabulous. There were a lot of costume changes. It was very entertaining."
After a rundown of the club ("Did you see all that draped fabric in the entranceway? That's called tenting. I did the same thing in my dining room, although I'm sure it cost a little more"), Suzi, a model/actress/screenwriter/ ex-Los Angeles resident, explained how she had paid her dues and had come to have the heart, the shoulder pads, the big hair of the warrior woman: "You know Private Benjamin? That was a story about Miami. I had this big famous wedding at the Fontainebleau, with the smoke machines and everything, and then the groom walked out. So I picked myself up, went to L.A., and sold the story in one day. No, I didn't actually join the army. The point was that anything, anything was better than living in Miami.