Miami in February, an ideal circumstance, the best of all possible worlds. The Tenth Miami Film Festival kicking off with a winter-themed gala, replete with the standard celebrity firepower. Club One opening in the short-lived Ocean Club space on Fifth Street, with fire-eaters, S&M dance routines, and the usual festivites: Club Nu with a Latin edge. The Cabaret debuting in Fort Lauderdale, another venue for the "art form of female impersonation." A cocktail reception at Neiman Marcus in Bal Harbour, a salute to the upcoming Miami City Ballet "Jewels" gala. PLUS Models South opening on Miami Beach, adding a touch of diversity to the local model population. Executive director Sabrina Crews heading up the local office, working the size-ten-and-over gestalt: "PLUS is the Nineties. The new Guess girl is full-figured, and now she's doing the cover of Cosmo. A lot of girls are moving down for the season, and I'm finding new girls every week down here. People want new looks; clients come in and tell me they're over the same old look."

Interview magazine and various looks coming to town, from Timothy Leary to Ian Schrager hosting a series of parties A The Strand, Byblos A in honor of their current Florida-theme issue. Missing out on all the action, a horrible circumstance, especially the Interview soirees, a perfect opportunity to stand around and point to our own contribution in the issue. A glamarama weekend, with our own glamour-seeking presence stuck in a very cold New York for the weekend, setting up a meeting at Calvin Klein for a certain Japanese businessman. Easy money, a rare and thoroughly enticing concept. The world of business proving to be less taxing than writing and infinitely more profitable, but still vaguely unrewarding. When you're interested in fabulousness rather than money, everyday priorities tend to fall out of synch.

The weekend neatly divided between sober uptown encounters, fueled by all that wondrous Japanese money, and sordid trolling through the netherworld of downtown. The premiäre of "Strictly Ballroom," with a party afterward at the Copacabana. A cocktail party/buffet dinner on Central Park West, a prelude to the Museum of New York's annual "Winter Ball." A tasty apartment created by Allison Spears, sister of Arquitectonica's Laurinda Spears, with an attractive crowd of young go-getters, the new generation of museum socials. Dinner at Le Bernardin, the sister restaurant to Brasserie Le Coze in Coconut Grove, a power-dripping place with a Four Seasons-style decor, a level of service and cuisine that makes the power of money seem eminently desirable. One delicacy after another, each one better than the next: sauteed sea scallops with foie gras and truffles, monkfish on a bed of leeks, Chinese-spiced black bass. Our client, happily enough, captivated by the splendor of it all. Back out on the street, and it's a quintessential New York experience. A normal-looking executive type turning out to be a certifiable loony, walking up to our party with a weird diatribe: "Boom to the Japanese. You people are just going to explode." On to Tatou, the client loving the supper club/girl-land aesthetic, the room heating up as the evening progresses. A pleasant dinner in opulent surroundings, all velvet drapes and smoked glass, a jazz combo adding even more tone to the proceedings. The jazz going down, and dance music coming up, the floor cleared of tables, and it's horny-land, the young professional set in abandonment, cruising the restaurant and the upstairs Night-in-Casbah lounge. Attorneys, girls with Working Girl hair, hired stuff, and every other conceivable variety of single, mingling feverishly: "I don't go down to the Seaport any more .... That's the worst pick-up line I ever heard."

More sex of indeterminate orientation in New York's clubland, the local populace lacking the across-the-board beauteousness of the South Beach model world, given to nasty attitudinizing and lust-driven high jinks. USA, the hot new venue in town, another ornament in Peter Gatien's empire, encompassing Limelight, Palladium, The Building, and The Tunnel. A truly brilliant space, patterned after a Times Square sex emporium: a line of real peep-show booths along one wall ("Yo, I want to see people doing it with animals ...."), Oriental erotica, porn magazine covers, his and her mannequins wearing leather regalia, encased in glass. The main room accented with a tube slide, the upstairs rooms done up in a kind of sex-prison motif. New York, the club big time.

Down to Webster Hall, formerly the Ritz, another mega-club with interesting elements: drag queen doormen at a largely straight club, a coffee bar with fresh fruit and incense, dancers mounting the bars in go-go cages suspended from the ceiling. A far-gone queen in the VIP room, all blond hair and cheesiness, holding aloft a sign inscribed with his/her/its higher calling: "I love giving blowjobs." Everyone acting out in the post-AIDS mode of Manhattan, junior high school dry humping replacing actual sex. Limelight, a sloppy zoo on a weekend night, the former church pulsating away, a decor including sarcophagi with evil little faces submerged in water. Professionalism coming to the forefront with our flight into the gay portion of the club, the doorman noting, "You can't just write about that straight mess on the other side."

The next night, frantic social calls paying off with an invitation to a birthday party at Astor's Bar. Hosts Richard Johnson of the Daily News and hotelier Andre Balazs drawing a truly remarkable assortment of people: Sandra Bernhard; Robert De Niro; Eddie Hayes, the lawyer immortalized in Bonfire of the Vanities; Brian McNally of the Royalton; and someone billed as an "unindicted co-conspirator." Michael Musto of the Village Voice, pulling out a clipping from the Star about his own recent birthday party, featuring celebrity guest Gary Coleman: "Look at this headline about him: 'No career and no mate.' Just like my life." An absolutely perfect party, taking the sting out of all the missed social opportunities in Miami, highlighted by an affectionate hug and meeting-of-the-minds encounter with party boy/journalist Anthony Haden-Guest, even more socially relentless than we are.

Closing down another full evening by accompanying someone to the nightmarish lower West Side, sex and drug central. Our guide to Sin City buying pot at a well-publicized hotel owned by drug lords, a truly New Jack City experience. Waiting in a seedy lobby, the presence of many big black people enforcing a certain tone of civility before being buzzed up to the inner sanctum, different drugs sold in each room. Up to 26th Street, a cold wind whipping off the river, the whole block one big whorehouse. Preppy boys in suits loading up vans with hookers, a car with two guys from New Jersey, getting simultaneous and intensely energetic blowjobs. The buildings covered with graffiti, the writings of the apolcalyse, with one strange ode to the new Armageddon capturing the moment exactly: "Hail disaster, for I am twisted. Let it come down.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Austin