The itch commencing at a perfectly civilized dinner at Cafe Chauveron, the bastion of Bal Harbour. A new chef in place, but Chauveron rolls on, as consistent and solidly retro as Joe's Stone Crab. Huge unapologetic portions, souffles, waiters of the old school, and slices of uptown memories. The couple at the next table, facing the horror of dating in their sixties, talking about matchmaker/socialite Martha Mishcon. A nice time, but gradually, a thirst for excessive socializing festering like a fever.
Starting off on the right note with the first anniversary party of "Meet Me in Miami" at 411 restaurant, exactly the right mix of energy and visuals. Hostess Debbie Ohanian in a complicated ecological-themed outfit, the words "Air" and "Water" emblazoned across each breast. A very tall, black drag queen, lifting his skirt playfully like a demon seed problem child. Someone reporting that the people from The Strand are looking at the Island Club for a casual, non-Strand-like restaurant. A fashion show blending into an all-drag fashion revue, then a dramatic turn by a drag belting out a Spanish love song. An introduction to Alexis Ougrik, an older gentleman from Los Angeles who's taken over the Institute space: "We start New Year's Eve with Billy Idol and other celebrities. Every night we're going to do something different, special events. Look around you -- what people love is the party, not clubs. To have fun in a regular club is like having fun in jail."
From there, a slew of club/nonclub venues. Barbara Gillman opening her new gallery on Lincoln Road. The Nutcracker at Dade County Auditorium, presented by the Miami City Ballet. A grand opening for the newly renovated Lord Balfour Hotel. Girls in the Night celebrating their first-year anniversary at Kaos in South Miami. A "Chrome Hearts" trunk show by designer Richard Stark at the boutique Caron Cherry, in Coconut Grove and Bal Harbour, model Marissa Stone making a Harley-accented appearance at the Bal Harbour location. "Booze Hounds & Pickled Pussies," the new art show by Joey Seeman and Tomata du Plenty, at the Knotty Pine Bar & Gallery. The Kronos Quartet at Gusman, presented by the Miami Light Project, forever hip. One number, sounding remarkably like a Hitchcock movie soundtrack looped back on itself, accompanied by a campy voice-over track: "I hope this presentation will give you a better understanding of your FBI.... Under communism, mankind will be rolled back to barbarism."
Parties, capitalism, barbarism -- pretty much the same thing. Bang, on Washington Avenue, debuting with all due pageantry with a fundraiser for Friends of the Everglades, coordinated by Tereza Scharf. Jungle-inspired designs by Thierry Mugler and Stephen Sprouse, among others. The Sistine Chapel-meets-Soho decorative scheme -- velvet drapes, frescoes, gold-colored walls, hanging angel wings as a Christmas touch -- adding even more tone to the guest list. Paul Campbell and Claudia Rapisarda working the visual element. New York promoter Michael Jacobson doing a series of promotions for Newport cigarettes at various South Beach clubs and coproducing a Marky Mark underwear-themeconcert at Paragon, January 16. Moving on to a very crowded Van Dome for a "Holiday Extravaganza" with Irene Marie models, John Salley of the Miami Heat lurking about.
Armani A/X opening on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, promotional kites flying off the beach, 25 models on scooters cruising the terrain in Armani T-shirts. Very slick, the store itself understated, all earth tones and Milan-inspired lamps. The Raleigh hotel for an exceedingly pleasant Health Crisis Network benefit, themed around Kelly Klein and her lavish coffee-table book Pools, the proceeds going to AIDS research. Ingrid, Madonna's lifestyle accessory, in attendance, along with a core group of regulars, turning up at every event throughout the weekend. It might be easier if the gang just hired a bus and traveled en masse. Klein, looking as if she'd spent a fair amount of time lolling around pools, and fairly expert on the subject: "I've been doing these events all over. The most beautiful pool so far has been San Simeon; the oddest-shaped is probably this one here. But it's really pretty."
Hors d'oeuvres at the spectacular, very pretty home of artist Dana Hotchkiss, a reconverted apartment building worth killing for. The South Beach magazine Christmas party at the Cabana Club, Jamaican food and artistic types, a party befitting a publication that just keeps getting better and better -- unlike much of the district. Back to Bang for the official opening reception, then on to a birthday party and the office Christmas bash at the Missing Link restaurant/club in Key Biscayne. Mad dancing with Miss Fun and our favorite concept, unlimited liquor. A Scarf-sponsored party at West End, nee Pasta Bongo, the gay bar on Lincoln Road that is set to open shortly. Arriving past the bedtime of the A-guests. Third Rail, a new grown-up romper room look, huge modular seating pads, chiffon hanging from the ceiling, graffiti replaced with paintings of nudes. A new lineup of entertainments featuring hip-hop nights and the lesbos-in-prison comedy "Criminal Sorority." Bang still hopping at 3:00 a.m., the floor cleared for dancing, co-owner Cesare Bruni in an ecstatic sweat.
More insatiable clubbing, here and there, leading to an encounter with Tony Theodore of the upcoming Sinatra Bar, taking over the lobby of the Charles Hotel. Theodore working all the angles: "We've got 4000 square feet, dancing in the lobby, and then a patio outside, a cool-out zone, where you can escape all this craziness, decompress, and actually talk to your date." Desperately seeking fun on a Monday night -- always a bad idea -- and clinging to The Whiskey, the only place with an approximation of action. Another dawn-of-the-dead evening, the toll mounting steadily. A 5:00-a.m. person, at one place or another, actually asking if the 26-year-old woman in our own private movable feast was our daughter.
Attempting to cool out and wind down with a quiet dinner at Bang, seeking solace with very tasty modern ethnic food/islands-of-the-world cuisine. Feeling rather shabby about the quest for more parties, but brightening considerably after a conversation with Desmond Atholl, author of the new book At Your Service: Memoirs of a Majordomo. Atholl, currently at work on Steinberg in Private: Return to Greed, putting things in perspective, reporting that the social disease cuts across the board: "Gayfryd Steinberg was absolutely awful, horrible to everybody. Nothing was ever enough. She spent a million dollars on Saul's birthday party, which was just trashed by the press. For the PEN things, she'd paint all the author's books gold, trying to get them to match the decor. When the baby was coming along too slow, she actually had a cesarean, just so she could have a party on Labor Day. Can you imagine? With the very rich, and too many other people, everything in life revolves around the next party.