Tumbling into a different dimension, the party zone, suspended in time and space, a parallel universe of insatiable desires and twisted pleasures. Lawless and unforgiving, the operating policy, oddly enough, succinctly defined by a three-year-old of our acquaintance, absorbed in a fit of psychotic whining: "I need it because I want it." Kids and drunken adults say the darndest things.

Yet another lost week or two, an onslaught of socializing, random encounters, and tangential news bites. A local black personality in one club or another, talking about her brush with fame and lust at the Raleigh, Robert DeNiro's assistants discreetly scouting her out for companion potential, "Bob" finally calling from a suite upstairs, wondering if she'd like to fly to Rio for the weekend. Traveling down to Coconut Grove for a strictly regional celebrity judging stint at Tu Tu Tango and up to Turnberry Isle for the SOS "Taste of the Nation" cuisine-world reception, benefiting the Daily Bread Food Bank and Camillus House. Lots of uptown vixens and assorted restaurant chefs A from Didier's to 411 to Janjo's and Chef Allen's A offering up selections of culinary relief, food being the only truly rewarding consolation at a certain point.

American Bistro opening on Ocean Drive, guest Joe Delaney of the wildly successful Cafe Iguana working on other Iguana outposts. Gary James hosting a party for the Dade Delegation at the Riviera Kitchen & Bar, having received an outstanding-citizenship resolution from the Florida House of Representatives. The Nell's-inspired Union Bar opening shortly next to BASH, jazz musician Arthur Barron turning the moribund Lasso Lounge into a place called Rose's Bar, Barron also playing Stephen Talkhouse this Thursday with Roberto Perera. Tommy Pooch coordinating two AIDS fundraisers at Le Loft A a Jubilaeum vodka event for the Community Alliance and a fashion show for the Cradle Project, featuring local club/restaurant owners as models A as well as a Sound Factory concert. Madonna, the local equivalent of the Loch Ness monster, in town for a month, spawning an ever-expanding series of insanely apocryphal sightings. Lisa Cox of "Girls in the Night" at a Forge party, searching for wayward madonnas, longing to escape the nightmare of heterosexuality: "Men love lesbians; I'd say that 40 percent of the Solid Gold dancers are gay. Our mixed parties are great, but the girls tend to be a bit more vigorous at the all-women parties. Well, horny might be a better word."

Susan Ainsworth's "Cabaret Night" debuting Wednesday at Van Dome, an evening of seemly entertainment conducted by the wonderfully buoyant singer/emcee Maryel Epps ("Give me your heart and soul, everybody"), a steady procession of singers doing renditions of everything from standards to neo-disco classics. The countdown to a frenzied weekend beginning with "Cabaret Le Coze" at Brasserie Le Coze in Coconut Grove, caterer Hugo Corrie reminiscing about a stint as personal chef to artist/big eater Julian Schnabel in Palm Beach, Israel Sands of Flowers & Flowers on target, as ever, quoting W.C. Fields: "Early to bed, early to rise, you never meet anybody interesting." On to Byblos for "Love Muscle," the muscle-maybe-even-love-questing out in force, scrambling for nude playing cards/drink tickets as keepsakes. Someone from London's Substation reveling in the sleaze possiblities of South Beach, the City of Sin: "It's easier here, but you can go pretty far astray in England as well."

Monti Rock III running amok in the City of Sin Friday night, searching for the redemption of notoriety, the whirlwind tour diligently documented by the WPBT/Channel 2 program New Florida. A long way from the Disco Tex/Peppermint Lounge days, but still working prescient early hits like "Love Is a Killer" and staying in the game. Monti actually turning down an interview request from Randi "Howard Stern in drag" Rhodes, appearing all-too-live at BASH and Le Loft this week, and generally managing to be everywhere at once, getting the always-a-pleasure champagne treatment at clubs. The traveling photo opportunity commencing at BANG, Monti retorting to a bewildered girl's query ("Are you somebody fabulous I'm supposed to know?") with a perfectly delivered line: "I used to be a legend." Hors d'oeuvres at Van Dome and then a prelude to glamour at BASH, Monti running through his repertoire, a table of satanic-looking French hipsters sucking on florescent jewelry, looking highly bemused.

A brief introduction ("I'm the crazy one who used to be on Carson, remember me?") and then it's a heartfelt rendition of "On Broadway," "Besame Mucho," and a reintrepreted "Someday My Prince Will Come": "And he'll come, and he'll come...." Disco Tex winding down to a series of bows and curious endearments ("Fuck you...thank you"), closing with a fervent embrace of the camera: "I love you, I need you." Not a bad act, actually, the friends of Monti A a pack of older North Miami types in bizarre glitterama outfits A chiming in at once: "He made a bee-yoo-tee-fool success out of failure with personality and class... Monti's a legend in his own mind... If bell bottoms can come back, Monti can do it, too." Throughout, the great man looking sharp and sober for television A resplendent in a black three-piece suit accented with a serpentine silk scarf, fourteen rings, and a rhinestone-infested Mickey Mouse pin A glowing in an unearthly way. A ruinous past of decadence and degradation in the palace of trash eerily transmorgifying his features, the path of excess somehow leading to a kind of transcendence. Some people really do wind up with the face they deserve.

A cruel, debasing, and hopefully undeserved fate looming up the following evening, desperately seeking Niki Taylor's face and the MTV "House of Style" crew. The quest ending at Chili Pepper, a club owner noting that he'd seen Niki the week before in a real-life moment, throwing up on an admirer. Another guy talking dreamily of a Canadian club, "The Betty Ford Clinic," renowned for using rolled-up dollar bills as drink tickets.

Shutting down the week with more nonfamily values, Sunday dinner at BANG, singer Allan Harris braving an unholy din. Nicky Narcis of ROAM, Gael Greene and David Keith turning up, Keith passing into stick-man history with Claudia Schiffer, the former Prince Albert of Monaco consort. The Rebar crew A Greg Brier, Nicole Bilu-Brier, Jimmy Franzo, and Alex Duff A celebrating a triumph, taking over the lease at Torpedo, looking ahead to finalizing the deal on Friday. More clubs, more floating parties, more vistas of possibility trailing off into the horizon. Someone pointing out that the rolling thunder of the local pop life is now beyond reckoning with: "The spirit has come to South Beach, the same kind of thing that once hit San Francisco and New York, and no one can control it any more. It's gotten too big. It'll move on somewhere else eventually, but for now it's here.

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Tom Austin