Goodbye Hello

We barely had time to scream our tits off. We bitched when we heard that the Cactus Bar and Grill, Miami's longest-running gay bar and home to Biscayne Boulevard rough trade, was closing. We lamented the passing of glam and grift, once hallmarks of the gay underworld and fodder for gay lore from Tom of Finland posters to the Village People. We moaned about the unbearable vanilla-ness of contemporary queer culture and the neutering of glammy queendom in exchange for legal marriage, adoption, and normalness. The closing of the Cactus seemed the perfect outlet for our frustrations.

Now it seems the joint will reopen under new management. But we drama queens are still screaming. The new owners are milking the free publicity.

Should we cheer? Is this some sort of victory? Are they not just prolonging their macabre dance on the Cactus's inevitable grave? Just as Club Space staged a headline-grabbing closing and reopening, this event presents a new low in manipulation.

But will it pay off? Will the heightened attention of a Miami Herald front-page story be enough to counter the Cactus's bleak weeknights, which fostered a group of frumpy Scotch-drinking regulars who showed up to stuff dollar bills into the thongs of bored-looking go-go boys?

The bar used to be packed with beefcake on its Thursday members night and Wednesday slut dancer shows. But the times are different now. A new condo complex stands where Cactus denizens once parked their cars. The vacant lot made for a walk on the wild side where many a sleazy encounter took place.

The A-list muscle queens quit the Cactus long ago. All the pretty boys go to Club Jade on Fridays and to roving martini parties. Stalwart South Beach continues to reign. But those of us who prefer the divey side at least have a place to drink, albeit temporarily. The Cactus reopens at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at 2041 Biscayne Blvd. Call 305-438-0662. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

City Strife


NOW 24/7

Bouncing along a downtown Miami avenue in your car, you could have sworn you were piloting a Mars Rover on that planet's surface. The homeless guys gathered on the east and west strips of sidewalk were the sole giveaway that you were on Earth. "Have these streets ever been paved?" you barked in exasperation. Uh, no, probably not -- until now. In early February the City of Miami kicked off its first-ever Capital Improvements Plan, tapping funding sources and setting aside more than $560 million to work on important issues such as public safety, recreation and culture, government services, and roadway enhancements. Flacks say the plan will "reconstruct, resurface, or repair every deficient roadway, sidewalk, and curb within the city." Hmm, at 55 miles of road, 13 miles of sidewalk, and who knows how much curb, there's just one catch: Paving Miami's Future, as they've christened it, will take about 12 years. The moment it's complete, it'll be time to start all over again! Call the Paving Miami's Future Hotline (305-416-1002) -- no, we're not kidding, a hotline -- to find out about resurfacing locations and construction dates near you. -- By Nina Korman

Poem Town

Gables godfather waxes lyrical again

WED 3/3

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Coral Gables, the City Beautiful, or verse about the town's creation? You can ponder this weighty question and test the oratory skills and raw nerve of your local pols as they recite poems penned by the revered city father tonight. The occasion is the reprinting in an ambitious retro format of Song of the Wind on a Southern Shore, George Merrick's collection of poems originally published in 1920. When Coral Gables commissioners join their city manager David L. Brown in reading pieces from the book, watch them trump the power brokers of all neighboring municipalities with a classy nod to high culture and local tradition. The Gables creation myth gets read at 8:00 p.m. at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. The words, the vision, and the dessert are free; the book is not. Call 305-460-5095. -- By Victor Cruz

Inner City Uplift

FRI 2/27

Queen Goddess is a healer. In her Happy 2 B Nappy Boutique, Queen dispenses African culture and treats dreadlocks. With a home-brewed concoction of herbs, aloe, and oils she'll transform just about anybody's hair into a headdress worthy of royalty. "If your hair is busted I can fix it," Queen boasts. She also is a healer in the economic sense. Her shop is one of dozens along the NW 7th Avenue corridor that are breathing new life into Liberty City. Tonight the stores and restaurants stay open for Soul On 7th, a monthly walk through the heart of Liberty City. Artists and musicians will be exhibiting works and performing along the boulevard. You can check out a poetry slam and fashion show at Rasool's Italian Suits and Shoes. Dance to drums at Timbuktu Marketplace. But stop by Queen Goddess's, where you can get an African organic facial and massage. The walk begins at 6:00 p.m. at NW 64th Street and 7th Avenue. Admission is free. Call 305-642-1271. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez

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Victor Cruz
Nina Korman
Contact: Nina Korman
Juan Carlos Rodriguez