Vacation time, a brief reprieve from these deranged metropolitan diaries A in truth, we don't even know what the hell they're all about A inspiring a curious strain of holiday anomie, the workaday world suddenly robbed of meaning, authenticity, and dramatic interest. Without the small deaths of deadlines, the daily docudrama taking on an eerie hollowness, pointless beyond measure A sort of like Pauly Shore doing Last Year at Marienbad as a Disney farce. And so it's two weeks of a nutty busman's holiday: whining, moping, frittering away time on the phone, going to parties from sheer force of habit. Nescafe society and its technicians never really rest.

Accordingly, finding ourself at Starfish one celebrity-clogged, drag-infested evening, owner Debbie Ohanian mobilizing for director Mike Nichols, along with two Two Much stars, Daryl Hannah and Melanie Griffith, Mrs. Don Johnson being the ex-wife of Ohanian's companion, homeboy actor Steven Bauer. The six-degrees-of-separation quotient escalating with the arrival of Nichols A responsible for Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, and other classics A the director surprised by the appearance of his Working Girl, everyone embracing in movieland style, a true Hollywood moment. Nichols down from New York City to scout locations for Birds of a Feather, a remake of La cage aux folles, and taking in a catered carnival of cross-dressing; his former comedy partner, Elaine May, writing the script. Along with wife Diane Sawyer, Nichols serving as an iconographic emblem of the Upper East Side intelligentsia, bearing out the adage, "The higher up you go, the nicer people are." Well, superficially at least, but then, what else matters?

An interesting project, ripe for the city that drag built, Nichols riding the new growth industry A a Wigstock documentary, the upcoming To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar A the quaintness of La cage somewhat out of favor in bold new gay life, but no doubt commercially viable: "We're going to be shooting exteriors down here in April, going for the look of modern St. Tropez. The interior stuff will be out in L.A. For the two main characters, we've got Nathan Lane playing the drag star, Robin Williams as his husband. The original was a good French movie. This is going to be even better, a good American movie. It's really interesting down here now; I'm looking forward to doing a little research tonight."

In honor of the occasion, Adora and Damian Dee-Vine doing a family show, Miami's version of dinner theater moving along in an abandoned tropical fashion, a small Caribbean nation running amok. Nichols anchoring one table with his people, Griffith and Hannah occupying a booth in the back. Hannah, whom we'd met the week before, getting dinner off to a grand start, instantly welcoming us by name, blissfully unconscious of our evil paraprofession. A social reporter's dream come true, akin to, say, having Liz Taylor gush about how she's always wanted to meet you, too. Glorified for a moment, rambling a tad with Griffith, launching into a detailed anecdote of how we'd almost met last summer in the ultrafabulous crush of the Hamptons. Understandably enough, Griffith looking slightly pained, as if the monologue might be inducing early retirement to a home for the bewildered.

In tune with the show, everyone dining family style, smacking of our own useful struggles with dinner as warfare. Hannah eating black bean soup and several desserts, scooping out the remains with her fingers, an aristocratic gal ("This is only my second night out") after our own heart: nice background, talented, a romantic continuum spanning John Kennedy, Jr., Jackson Browne, and other A-list pals. An agreeable sort actually, Hannah watching the flying fork of the hearty Steven Bauer A in fighting shape, just back from shooting The Wild Side in Los Angeles with Christopher Walken A and commenting drily, "I guess your taste buds are manly, too."

More family affairs that same evening, Jason Binn, our brother in black-sheep journalism, rising above all the bad blood A in the end, boldface rules A and inviting some 40 models, the very rich, and assorted human bibelots for a surprise birthday party aboard Miss Turnberry, the enormous offspring of the legendary Monkey Business. The figurehead of Brickell Avenue, Ugo Colombo, a cultivated sort who flies in the face of all the developer cliches, celebrating his 34th birthday in fitting opulence. The new Love Boat a precise physics equation involving the alchemy of money and beauty, brimming with mutual interests and exploitation opportunities. Binn going into the when-you-write-about-this-as-I-know-you-will number, effecting introductions with the billionaire boys club: former Heat player Rony Seikaly and co-host Jeff Soffer, the son of Aventura/Turnberry pioneer Don Soffer. All the names blurring, eventually meeting a noted plastic surgeon-local club regular A hyped as the "third largest purchaser of silicone in the entire country" A the brain clearing for August Busch of the brewery family: "The only downside of the family business is having to live in St. Louis; it gets to be a very small town. Miami is the place to play."

On to other frolics and social permutations, a shark driven by instinct on the migratory patterns of the hunt. Glitz fixes at the Grand Prix of Miami, the eclectic worshipers of horsepower roaming about VIP-ville: Ted Danson, Lee Majors, and the great Paul Newman, the icon of cool staying the course and beating the game. Books & Books for an amazing spectacle, an enormous cast lining up on Lincoln Road to witness Greg Louganis signing countless copies of Breaking the Surface, co-authored with Eric Marcus A Louganis remaining gracious amid the recent tidal wave of hype. The attitudefest of the annual International Jeanswear & Sportwear Show, unfortunately not returning next year, trade on shmate alley having dropped off considerably.

Not a bad swan song, however, the Paper magazine affair at Groove Jet setting a stylistic standard. The bible of downtown culture scattered around the club, the cover adorned with former erotomania star-legit actress-emerging pop diva Traci Lords, goof legend Jerry Lewis destined for cover-boy status in a future issue. Editor David Hershkovits presiding over a convocation of hipster visuals, New York meets Miami. Mother Kibble in tow with a midget drag queen, flashy in fishnet stockings and a red slit skirt, perched on the bar like a cocktail tray. For sartorial sex theater, some witty creature wearing a stuffed mechanical poodle strapped on his crotch like a dildo, the toy puppy gurgling away. Another fashion victimizer adorned with a plastic Fifties-style hairdo helmet, porn priestess Robin Byrd A escorted by promoter-AIDS activist Robert Levy A going for the I-still-got-it-baby mode, designer Pat Fields in splendid form. Staying on forever, picking up tidbits, S.O.B.'s, the world-music bastion of New York, cranking up a Miami outpost in the old Van Dome space on March 30 with Celia Cruz. Another night, another opening.

Satiated, tapped out, forced to spend an entire week under house arrest, struck by an utter lack of the inner resources necessary for quiet time. Back on the beat this past Saturday night, traveling with a wandering gentile from Palm Beach, fleeing "dinosaurs with hats," the regal crones of polite society. More eternal rotation, Two Much actors and celebrity drag at Starfish, the unbelievably sweet Danny Aiello greeted from the stage by Mother Kibble, paying homage to his cross-dressing stint in Pràt-…-porter: "I want that Chanel suit, Danny." Perverse as ever, Mother Kibble the Krazy Glue that binds us all A going seriously retro, emigrating to San Francisco the following day. Aiello commenting on Kibble's well "of shyness and deep sensitivity, at the heart of all the outrageousness." A vastly more localized star taking credit for inspiring Mother's big adventure: "I told him to get out of town before he gets really fucked up and over A this place is killing him." For a brief, stupendously unsettling moment, we thought she might be talking about us. Overexposure does, indeed, have certain perils.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Austin