Summertime in Miami, hot and pitiless as the Gobi Desert, an opportunity to relax, kick back, slowly sink into a terminal slough of despond. The right crowd, even in the beyond-the-pale doldrums, still making news. A rumor about the separation of philanthropists Sanford and Helene Ziff leading to extensive telephone tag with Dr. Ziff, a family source ultimately confirming the tip. Social legend Marylou Whitney, known for outlandish behavior such as dancing on dinner tables, leaving Palm Beach A too boring, full of the wrong people lately A and taking a house next season on Miami Beach, close to her stable of horses at Hialeah Race Course and the diversions of trash-glamville.

The downtown world continuing apace, heedless and immediate. Comeback legend Boy George turning up at Union Bar & Grill, jailbaitress Drew Barrymore A the ideal too fast to live, too young to die girl A dining at the Raleigh. The high-spirited Jennifer Rubell, in conjunction with partner Matthew Lee, opening a restaurant in her parents' office building on Lincoln Road, featuring cuisine inspired by the "kind of food I eat at home." The Sushi Rock Cafe and the clothing store Animal Farm opening on Collins Avenue; "Sanctuary" moving to Club Nu. "Family Feud" night at Aqua, a jury of our peers delivering a harsh verdict: ninth most outable Beach closet case and third most generally unpopular person, right behind Jacques and Pascal. Always nice to have the love and respect of fellow overexposed social afflictions.

Popularity, as it will, spiraling and waning with the flow of fortune, the rake's progress all happenstance and fate. "Drag Night" at Barrio, the gals tucking tips under their wigs and spilling out into the street for dramatic show-stopping routines, everyone drawn to the women-who-have-suffered. "Looking Inward" at the Center for the Fine Arts, a mixed-gestalt performance piece coordinated by Tigertail Productions and Empty-B, a theater/film group organized by Julio Gomez, Marilyn Gottlieb-Roberts, and Charles Recher. The alternative set taking in an Agnes Martin exhibition, Recher's video installation A a live projection of a Martin painting A and a quartet of Samuel Beckett plays. The playlets intense, bleak, and indecipherable, sort of like punk rock. Come and Go, three actresses working alienation territory to great effect. That Time, a particularly pared-down work, an actor lathering himself with white paint, the narrator intoning: "The lips to sign of man or beast."

Back to the Beach and the press of entertainments, the floating theme park for man and beast alike. Cafe Noir, the new interpersonal dinner theater at the Marseilles Hotel, turning out to be a lot like clubs: the cast of characters demanding both attention and interaction, lobbing repartee into the void ("Nothing can make up for the raw deal that life hands some of us") and confronting an oftentimes clueless audience. As with clubs, the audience also forced to make a leap of imagination, in this case to a Casablanca-ish murder mystery set in a tropical cafe. The hip factor, as usual, varying widely: Nanci Ross and Louis Aguirre of "Cool People, Hot Places" actually following the plot; socialite Phoebe Morse looking a little bothered, personal engagement not being a WASP kind of thing; Ray Schnitzer of the 11th Street Diner mistaking an actor for just another belligerent asshole and almost coming to blows.

Real life as film noir emerging yet again later that same night at a reggae concert, our new Caribbean-themed actress acquaintances from Cafe Noir setting the male gene pool on edge. A couple of living-too-large types piling out of a white stretch limo, holding their nuts and loping along ominously, zeroing in on the rather attractive ladies. The suitors remaining ardent in the face of stone-cold rebuke ("What the hell's wrong with you, girl?") and being thoroughly disagreeable. Their passions, no doubt, further inflamed by the irritating spectacle of an unprepossessing white man, intently scanning Wire for references to his good name, doing a deny on the entire scene. The situation escalating, both homeboys suddenly planting themselves in front of our enervated carcass, and it's an all-too-real Spike Lee scenario, inadvertently thrust into the pain of interracial love. Attitude and denial triumphing once again, however, the horny duo eventually drifting off in disgust, reduced to dancing with each other.

The weekend, happily enough, bringing even more love and laughs. A procession of jokesters at the new comedy club 1060 Laughs in the Adrian Hotel, emcee Shawn Striegel commenting on the porcine nature of men and Japanese/American relations: "They think we're fat, lazy, stupid. That's all true, but they don't have to be such dicks about it." Comic Brian Judd talking about the "raging sexual tension" of the district, one big "Club Fuck Me." The lust connection, in fact, out in full force at the opening of "WOW Bar II" in the old Byblos space, hosted by promoter Caroline Clone. A truly jumping world of women, topless fire-eaters, and club girls blissfully removed from the heterosexual fray, the nightmare of human contact popping up here and there, regardless: "You've looked at that blond bitch enough, understand?"

The evening picking up with Lisa Cox of "Girls in the Night," lesbo-a-go-go central, effecting introductions with a series of post-Sister George lesbians, the sisters of Sappho uniformly perky and pleasant, firmly shaking hands in a hear-me-roar way. One of the many Solid Gold dancers in attendance estimating that 80 percent of her colleagues are gay or bisexual, a rather cruel irony given the clientele, the sexual netherlands making victims of us all in the end: "The business really debases you; after a couple of years, all those bachelor parties and grabby guys, I found myself drifting into bisexuality. And it's something women in general seem to be getting into, more and more." Freed, for once, from the burden of desire, staying on till 3:00 a.m. and winding down with Sandy Sachs and Robin Gans of Los Angeles's "Girl Bar," the renowned traveling one-nighter. The girls brimming with gossip from Hollywood: Ingrid, Madonna, and the strangely subdued Sandra Bernhard making appearances at their parties; Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson, Dinah Shore, Fabio, and Cindy Crawford falling under suspicion, one big clash of the closet titans.

Sachs captivated by the "dare-to-be-bare, free-and-frivolous" tone of the Beach, a far cry from the formerly degenerate California: "God, it's so repressive now; the whole state needs an enema. There's so many decency and zoning restrictions A we could never get away with stuff like this. South Beach is like New Orleans, people drinking on the streets, running wild till all hours. But trouble is going to come; there's no way this can go on.

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Tom Austin