In the Miami tradition, business as usual. A club owner takes an extended hiatus from the business, another gets into a nasty scrap on Ocean Drive, and one truly evil creature/gay bar operator is apparently about to shut down. Alexis Ogurik set to take over The Institute from the current lease holders, the Turchin Brothers of Club Nu, having lease difficulties with the owners of the building, Ogurik trying to retain the right to open up stores along Drexel Avenue and eventually, after the vogue of the club passes, turning the whole thing into a mini-shopping mall. The team behind ownership of the building including, of all people, Billy Joel. A beautiful, Turchin-less club space -- the best of all possible worlds -- thwarted by circumstance.
On to the culture circuit, and somewhat tonier circumstances. A Concert Association of Florida/ATT presentation of Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov running through a dazzling array of dance styles. An idiot photographer in the front row undeterred by Baryshnikov's warning from the stage, pantomining a cameraman and wagging his finger in admonishment, a subtle gesture mistaken as just more clever choreography. The rightful dressing down and eviction by Concert Association President Judy Drucker at intermission a bit more direct ("What are you doing?") and artful enough, in a Miami Beach sort of way. Art Deco Weekend, developer Thomas Kramer parading down Ocean Drive in a vintage Mercury hot rod with cow horn door handles, riding with the standard gorgeous blonde unit. A crowd gathering, the mob no doubt hoping Mr. Noblesse Oblige might fling a stray bauble out the door. The Moon Over Miami ball on Espanola Way, entertainment provided by Sylvia Bennett and Jack Siegal's Noteworthy Orchestra, attitude from the assembled multitudes. Vernissage, the preview opening of the Art Miami '93 International Art Exposistion at the Miami Beach Convention Center, a Dade Community Foundation benefit for visual arts organizations hampered by Hurricane Andrew.
A reception for South Florida magazine at Brasserie Le Coze in Coconut Grove, to celebrate the new year and new editor Glenn Albin, whose tasty stylistic touches are now much in evidence. The South Beach crew out in force, mingling with the valid-jobs set, the demanding melange forcing Albin to bring into play his not inconsiderable social skills. Staying on for an appetizing and rather gossipy dinner afterward, furniture designer Michael Wolk and Nat Chediak of the Miami Film Festival dropping by the media table, the conversation touching on satanic divorces and other people's bad taste. Sort of an updated Algonquin Round Table, in desperate need of a rewrite. Trash talk mostly, although one of the guests found writers "kind of interesting and artistic." There's something to be said for not going out enough.
"Photoplay" opening at the Center for the Fine Arts, a collection of works extending the artistic parameters of photography, drawn from the Chase Manhattan Collection and curated by Lisa Phillips of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The show, traveling on to Mexico and South America, full of wonderful stuff: the mass media-inspired images of Richard Prince, early nonnauseating Cindy Sherman, a haunting self-portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe, afflicted by AIDS. The guests, by and large, afflicted by the social feeding frenzy of any art opening, occasionally interrupted by interludes of connoisseurship. A good crowd, encompassing writer Bonnie Clearwater, gallery owner Jason Rubell, and Gail Meadows of the Miami Herald. Ilene Kurtz, an art dealer who lives in both New York and Berlin, talking about nightlife in Berlin: decadent Cabaret-like drag shows, existential angst coffee houses in East Berlin bunkers, lots of intellectuals and artistic poses. A long way past the "dead club scene of New York and the Studio 54/disco revival tone in South Beach." On the corporate side, representatives from United Airlines, an exhibition supporter, and Eugene A. Berry and Hortensia Sampedro, from the newly opened Chase International Financial Center. Manuel E. Gonzalez, executive director of the Chase Manahattan Art Program, as fit for society as a shark is for killing, working the room in the nicest possible way.
The uptown ride continuing at this year's National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts gala at the Omni Hotel, "Unforgettable." Lots of caviar and champagne, the ballroom draped with acres of white chiffon, the artistically minded teenagers from "ARTS Week '93" parading by on stage and dancing up a storm. A summit gathering of the wealthy and civic-conscious, a real on-target group: Toby Ansin of the Miami City Ballet, benefactress Frosene Sonderling, sculptor John Henry. Art collector Nancy Magoon, just back from a family vacation in Nevis and St. Barts, talking about the limited shopping possibilities of the Caribbean. A socialite noting the difficulties of child-rearing, even with four in help. Another lady of our acquaintance, concerned with our lounge lizard pallor and look of hell-bent dissipation, earnestly recommending a few weeks in Aspen as a tonic for the system. Lin Arison, who now spends most of her time in Israel, happy to take a much-needed social break: "They don't have too many of these things over there. I can put my gowns away and just wear jeans."
Kramer's Hell passing into its own uptown/downtown/black-tie-to-jeans legend, another Miami Beach dream gone astray. For once the stuff that dreams are made of not quite enough to keep things going. An interesting run, though, ranging from the big deal opening to many weird nights, with body painting, Turnberry girls in Pocahontas/sex-kitten attire, Keith Hernandez of the Mets smoking and drinking at the bar: "I'm retired; I'm not really doing anything." Kramer shaping the landscape, becoming as inevitable and omnipotent as God, the sole aim of any developer. The biggest consumer of upper-end champagne in the world, hosting $17,000 dinners in Aspen, straining that wedded-bliss thing. Capturing the fancy of various social climbers, and actually spending real money on pleasure, unlike most millionaires. And as with all tales of ambition, leaving behind a wake of ill will. The Hell crowd moving on, taking the consolation of philosophy, as ex-creative director Norman Gosney put it: "When he didn't seat us at his private party in the tent, I said to myself, 'Right, fuck you.' But I'm building a hotel in Belize now, diving three times a day. I just don't give a shit anymore.