The real life funnies, Miami assuming the dimensions of a comic strip, spiced up and dumbed down for the tropical market. Love & Rockets parodying drag queens and warring promoters, a postabsurdist hypersexual Zippy with Bill Griffith's intellectual ruminations studiously censored out, the Incredible Hulk as a particularly delectable go-go boy. Our own cartoon personality an odd cross between Homer Simpson and Oscar Wilde, Homey miraculously metamorphosizing every night into the Classic Comics version of Dorian Gray. The Lord Henry Wotton character an especially clever hermaphroditic beast, a multifaceted gem of evil drawn from all the creatures of the night, leading the ever-gullible modern Candide into a series of Satanic adventures. A Jekyll and Hyde existence taking a toll, one incarnation intruding upon another to ruinous consequence, the whole easy-to-read story ending on an uplifting moral note, as is customary with the cheaper forms of entertainment.

Feeling soiled and cheap after a rigorous evening, slumped over the desk in a terminal slough of Irish despond, sifting through truly Simpsonian correspondence, a long way from Oscar's witty little epistles to dear Bosie. An invitation to write for LottoWorld, an offer to drink free at Champions Restaurant & Sports Bar in Kendall, a chain letter of no consequence. A postcard from the club Climax in South Miami, touting events on the order of "Real Men Wear Skirts" and a Planet Lesbos "Ladies Night Out" party. A media-alert fax detailing the Saturday-night, Brazilian-theme "Amazon Club" at 12.03, "deep within the jungle of Miami Beach." An announcement of a depressing watershed moment, the twenty-year reunion of our graduating class at Coral Gables High, our old school chums celebrating the rite of passage at the Biltmore Hotel. Time does fly by, even when you're not having fun.

Two missives about funarama Fort Lauderdale, both correspondents finding the land of Beach Blanket Bingo pretty much as disgusting as Miami. An ex-Kitchen Club kitten, semirejoicing in the delightful lack of artifice among her new colleagues, still finding scant solace in the north: "Yes, Squeeze is just as fetid and obnoxious as any club on Miami Beach, but you don't hear things like, 'Her jacket is wicked cool, but I just don't get the meaning of it.' People in Lauderdale tend to come as they really are, while Beach people dress up so you can't tell who or what they are." Another inveterate clubgoer directing his ire against The Edge, apparently fairly unhip as well:

"Waiting to get in is like being at Disney World. A bad dream.... Ticky-tacky, peroxide, TCBY eating, Y-100, shop-at-Broward Mall, office/clerical, BCC drop-out, 1.7 abortions, stripper wanna-be's with dorky, will-dance-to-anything, boat shoes with no socks, latent homosexual, nice college-boy types who also can't dress for shit and generally do not know how to act.... At the wee hour of 1:35 a.m. I start thinking of Miami Beach, which drinks/parties-on till 5:00 a.m., though the sty of arrest-promotion hungry cops waiting to be thrown unsuspecting scraps from security are missing.... Before leaving I muster the balls to ask the forbidden. 'How do I get a VIP card?'"

Resolving to put off a planned trip to Fort Liquordale indefinitely, happily uncovering a few pieces of fan mail, the readers having a misinformed -- albeit deeply gratifying -- concept of our public life. One writer creating a fantastical roman à clef, the fabulously jaded hero shivering with ecstasy in a terminally decadent club, eager to wallow in the evening's dissipations. The reality somewhat less romantic, a swarm of regulars/living cartoons solely interested in propagandizing their own fabulousness, Mr. Dolce Vita invariably longing for the serene pleasures of ice cream and Mary Tyler Moore reruns. Another fervent fan, "but not a teeny bopper or a breeder," sending a well-written, wonderfully encouraging letter, the "prevalent theme" being: "How do I get to go partying with you?"

Although the word "partying" doesn't usually leap to mind during the standard trolling through fetid, programmed clubs, our companions on the night beat tend to be either useful or entertaining, or better yet, teeny boppers. Like anyone else, we depend upon the kindness of strangers, hoping to find that special person eager to serve as a skycap for our emotional baggage. If only we traveled under the umbrella of attitude that protects other busy little Beach personalities, the retinue of personal assistants, celebrity stalkers, bodyguards, and lifestyle adjuncts. Illusion and truth, public personas and private horrors. In the end, the mysteries of the world, as Wilde once noted, are all in the visible, the surfaces of life.

Moonstruck, primed for diversion, out into the night. The first annual "Festival Jazz Miami" -- produced by James Horowitz, Spectator Management Group, and the City of Miami Beach -- adding a much-needed cultural sheen to the weekend, Nestor Torres, Hubert Laws, Mongo Santamaria, and the New World Symphony's "New Virtuosi" String Quartet kicking things off Friday at the Jackie Gleason Theatre. Bang debuting "Flamenco Night" on Thursday, yet another Capponi/James production with the trademark thematic elements: potted palms, pictures of roses and Spanish singers projected on the walls, hanging bouquets of flowers, a flamenco duo and eclectic recorded music, "Sympathy for the Devil" to the theme song from The Jeffersons. Dinner as club theater, everyone talking about cartoon celebrity Mickey Rourke's most recent lost weekend, hustling models and doing a deny on his Carre Otis tattoo, ripping film out of paparazzi cameras. The Velvet crew -- Greg and Nicole Bilu-Brier, Jimmy Franzo -- promising major weirdness at the club, opening August 12. Greg Brier rhapsodizing about the work of art director Jeff Vaughn, formerly with Area and USA: "It's such a great space, with all kinds of nooks and crannies, evolving with different artist installations. The Velvet Lounge will be a combination of a Sixties Hugh Hefner bachelor pad and an old James Bond movie, huge lava lamps and velvet furniture. It's not going to be a gay club, or a straight club -- it's a human club."

More humans of the club kind out in force at Les Bains's "Big Bad Wolf," jumping around to great music, lost in the floating street carnival of Miami. The celeb quotient aptly fulfilled with actress Amy Irving, the former wife of director Steven Spielberg, in town for a little recreation. Irving out on a quiet spree, taken with a young lad, fleeing the crush of domesticity and ordinary life. The evening drawing to a close with the perfectly fun Irving

hopping into a convertible, confronting a camera, and posing the impossible existential question that haunts us all in the cartoon universe: "You won't steal my soul, will you?

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Tom Austin