Swelter 8

Lately the surreal dementia of the world has come to resemble thoroughly ill-conceived porno, past all common sense, dramatic plausibility, and redeeming social values. Something on the order of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude rethought as a comeback vehicle for filth farmer-talk show hostess Jenny Jones. Throw in some juicy perversions and lynchings, a few guest shots by all the floating horrors of the international dreamscape, and you've got true entertainment: Say, Jenny and Urkle in the graveyard of fallen idols, summoning the spirits of Mr. Ed, Joseph Stalin, Oscar Wilde, and Salome for truth-or-dare orgies. A fantastical plot perhaps, but not far enough removed from the current state of wanton reality, One Hundred Years of Publictude Live.

Supermacho Keanu Reeves, beset by all the rumors linking him to David Geffen, doing an I'm-not-gay interview for Out magazine: One's too rich, one's too good-looking, and the issue of who's top and who's bottom may never properly be established. Cindy Crawford getting saucy on the Tonight Show, studiously not mentioning an Esquire article in progress on her breakup with Richard Gere, but making much gutter-driven banter over Shaquille O'Neal's admittedly enormous shoes. Fumihiro Joyu, the sort-of-cute spokesman for the nerve-gas-happy Aum Shinrikyo cult, becoming a teen idol in Japan. In England, Esther Rantzen, of the polite BBC program Esther, longs for the I'll-screw-anything candor of American talk show guests: Joey Buttafuoco, your second act of life is calling. Heidi Fleiss starts dropping names of clients, as her father A a pediatrician, for God's sakes A pleads guilty to laundering her ill-gotten booty. In preparation for Striptease perhaps, Demi Moore being a tad casual in the leg-crossing department on the Mike & Matty show, offering a brief glimpse of a billion-dollar beaver.

Maybe it's us, but the deservedly anonymous seem to be embracing the lawlessness of the fame game, a definite breaking lifestyle trend afoot toward utter shamelessness. Accordingly, studiously skipping an array of temptation-ridden events, in the interest of sanity, sobriety, and a definite overexposure problem. A birthday party for fashion designer Gerry Kelly, models Eha, Donna Preudhomme, and Debra Strand on hand as the requisite party favors of beauty. Glam Slam, the Haircolor U.S.A. convention and the Great Expectations Design Team banding together for a salute to hairdos on Saturday night, featuring a delirious S&M leather-and-lace scenario. The Glam Slam hype machine also being stoked by the former Prince, celebrating another symbiotic birthday with a concert, his feyness no slouch on the pickup rounds. At the Strand, he once took home a woman in twelve minutes flat as a kind of after-dinner mint, then materialized at a club later on looking for more action. Master or slave, saint or sinner, everybody loves a winner.

Our own week not exactly crowded with incident, triumph, or romantic action for that matter, but curiously enjoyable. A dinner party in the bowels of South Miami, one of our more noble friends, a sweetheart who teaches among the disenfranchised bringing tales of ghetto youth A the slang phrase "I gave him some neck" now being employed to describe oral copulation of the Deep Throat variety. Back to the golden isle, taking in the Loading Zone off Alton Road, an un-air-conditioned and very underground warehouse-style leather bar, straight out of New York's meatpacking district. Wandering into a nonfunctioning freezer set up as a carnal voodoo lounge, hot but fuck-free, management working on an upcoming VIP party after our own heart: the chosen few of the "ten-inch club." If nothing else, massive equipment might make a handy conversation piece, ripe for esophagus jobs and cheap popularity.

Sucked back into the commercial vortex of Lincoln Road the following day, a homeless woman with the imperiousness of an ex-model gliding by a fashion shoot. Matters of real estate, the heart's true passion, coming up with super-realtors Esther Percal and Nelson Gonzalez, responsible for an array of sexy deals: the homes of Cher, Anne Rice, Ingrid Sischy, Bob Gottlieb, Rosie O'Donnell, Rony Seikaly, assorted European nobility, and the vampires of money. The duo, along with associates Mauricio De Almeida and Norbert Machado, leaving Wimbish-Riteway Realtors and opening up their own firm at the Sterling building, Gerard International Realty, a homage to the late realtor Gerard Llorens. Percal, as ever, all cellular glamour, ready to wire up the town.

On to a soft-sell debut for the beautifully done Lure, owners Paolo Domeneghetti, Lyle Chariff, and Saul Cimbler putting together a Carl Myers fish-themed decor, with an indigenous cypress ceiling, fish-shaped chairs, fishing rod lamps, and such. The ambiance resolutely restful, unlike most Beach establishments, given to inflicting house music on their patrons, chef Scott Howard doling out sushi and nicely balanced new-dawn cuisine: black-tea-smoked duck breast, wok'd whole yellowtail. All the local restaurateurs and club owners turning up, real estate tidbits drifting in. Greg Brier, of Groove Jet, co-opening a club in Boston and possibly doing a satellite operation in the Velvet-gone-parking-lot space. Risk looking to be reborn in the old Dune space. All in all, a nice time in a viable outpost of taste. At this stage of the game, we'd rather have a good meal in pleasant surroundings A maybe even a perfectly realized ten-inch ham sandwich A than the more plebeian strains of sex. But aside from disses, dissension, and protocol grievances, what would we all talk about in the nightlife industry without the rutting itch?

Saturday night, taking a turboglide run on the conversational high road, Cathy Booth, the Miami bureau chief for Time magazine, hosting a splendid going-away party for photojournalist Anne Day, of the Washington Post, and Spencer Reiss, who formerly headed the local Newsweek bureau. The couple leaving Grub Street behind for the cold fray of commerce, the new horizon of Marin County, Cyber-California, Reiss taking the lifestyle trend beat to the bank. In conjunction with partner Rick Smolan, Reiss setting up a multimedia publishing company called Against All Odds, the operation working on a interesting array of CD/ROM projects. A joint effort with the MIT Media Lab, A Day in the Life of Cyberspace, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the cutting-edge lab. Passage to Vietnam and another upcoming CD/ROM work, Alice to Ocean, based on the college girl cult novel Tracks, the coming-of-age memoir of Robyn Davidson, who rode a camel across Australia to escape madness. A vehicle with true legs, the movie rights to Davidson's book having been bought by Julia Roberts. With funding by Paul Allen of the Microsoft fortune, the company also doing a synergistic book, CD/ROM, television special, and Internet project about sixteen-year-olds, one of our more absorbing anthropological interests.

For the occasion, an intelligent mix of reporters and businesspeople on hand, a warming reprieve from the daily grind of cubicle angst. Over mojitos and an appetizing buffet, our colleagues sympathetically feeding the great maw of newsprint with pertinent sex bites. Booth talking about an A-guest at one of her previous parties, Al Goldstein, former Fort Lauderdale mayoral candidate and founder of the Screw magazine empire, showing up with a young bimbette: perhaps the same girl he once derided ("Fuck you, you thief and whore") on his cable-TV pornucopia fest. Day reminiscing about the Eighties a-go-go era, walking into Bill Blass's office one day and uncovering a chain-smoking Nancy Kissinger, naked save for pantyhose, awaiting her couture fix. Not a pretty picture.

On to one low dive or another, ugly beyond measure, a fellow student of darkness brimming with tales of the English underbelly, an after-hours club called Trade housed in a nonventilated sub-basement. The combination of intense post-techno music, advanced synthetic drugs, poppers, and general exhaustion resulting in constant casualties ("Two guys died in one night"), the patrons dropping like flies by midafternoon: "The music's faster, the drugs are stronger, and everyone dances hard on the beat. And the whole scene's coming here." If and when the sexual bloodbath arrives, we want to be well out of dementia city, dead and gone, launched into the new frontier of celibacy cyberspace.

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Tom Austin