"the" Mrs. Astor

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Happy Fourth of July! After watching the fireworks from my apartment at Waterside Plaza on The East River, RuPaul, Lahoma van Zandt, Larry Tee, and I shared an moment of freedom in the basement of The Pyramid Club.

I awoke way too early feeling way too fresh not to be tormented by Thinking Too Much. (Too many "toos" for this hour.) And why would bad dreams come into play when, God knows, I've been so good of late? When you wake up with a hangover there is no way to ponder the mysteries of the universe, a shallow and tawdry live, or why I have been buying so many strange books. I hope this doesn't signal one of my cycles again (I have been acting weirdly) in which I retreat into my protected little world and cease dancing The Charleston on a table top and start clipping palm fronds in the back yard. Oh, my.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reporting for Bed-Check, Sir.

I took the old fashioned way out of Twist's 12th anniversary: I went to the private party before opening, relayed my best wishes, downed several Kettle One's, AND was asked by the promoter of the annual drag awards show, Miss Ocean Drive, if I would be one of the judges. "Well, you know, with your experience in drag", Miss Amy Rivers said, and I cut her off. "You mean, 'with my experience photographing drag, don't you?" (My experience would set crossdressing back to the Ice Age.) That cleared up, I seems like I will be joining the celebrity board of judges in two weeks. I remember writing something about this; I was afraid to even breath my opinions for fear of retaliation. Oh, my; perhaps we can wear a mask. I remember To Tell the Truth where Kitty Carlylse would wear a little cat mask or something. It has to be tasteful. If Satan comes out in a blue dress and thinks that just because I had tea with him this week that I will be swayed, he's got another thought coming. I have standards!

Sober and Happy

Well, not really sober in the sense of AA, but for me, for The Beach, and for this lifestyle. After my encounter with the witches from Salem exactly one week ago, I decided to pull back a bit. YOU try drinking Shawn Porier under the table, chasing rum with tequila shots, and you will find all sorts of demons. Witches, of course, aren't demons or in any way associated with Satan, but rum is, and the following day found me in the most distressed way.

So, I summoned up my strength and had a relatively clean week. (A little wine with dinner assured that my body was not going to go into seizure.) And this is what I accomplished this week:
I did not ruin one piece of clothing.
I planned out the opening of our new bar on Friday.
I took my beloved dog, KiKi on a day trip.
He slept by the pool and I drifted in it, not afraid of the sunlight.
I agreed to work with du Barry on a benefit next March and began searching for a space.
I didn't fall into the arms of any men of disrepute, except for those of the ever-loyal, Johnny.
The holiday weekend has been planned out like a fascist train schedule.
I sent a check to my "ex" just because I felt like it.

Now, before my friends begin to suspect that this is not really me ("It looks like Alexis, but it's NOT Alexis), I am going to put this big pod I woke up next to last Thursday morning in the garden shed and go have some cocktails at Twist's 12th anniversary Party.

I hereby declare the "maid problem" over.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tea With Satan

All this Hocus-Pocus talk and Hookers' Balls has gotten me in a tizzy. I have always felt that the only way to confront a problem is to address it directly or buy it.

So, I sent my liveried "part time hired help" to Satan's home to request a meeting. My card is taken and one returned; it is all singed around the edges (not something "good" families allow to happen). I show up at Satan's home in Coral Gables, a typical nasty mish-mash of bad taste given to over-the-top amenities.

Ding-Dong. The horned cameras are eyeing me, but I pretend not to notice. The door of imported (albeit expensive) Honduran wood opens and Satan says, "Welcome, Mrs. Astor. We have been waiting a long time for you." I ignore his forwardness and reply, "Mrs. Astor. THE Mrs. Astor. Charmed I'm sure." "Indeed," says Satan, "Won't you come in?"

The place is vulgar; Second French Empire furniture mixed with faux Biedermeier. I warily seat myself upon an imitation Napolean III settee and glare at a clock placed in the stomach of
of an ostrich. Portraits of monkeys in Imperial garb fill the room; I think I recognize an ancestor.

"The reason I called upon you, Mr. Satan--or is that Sir Satan," I state, "is to get all these crazy notions of witches and demons out of my head and put back the booze and boys."

He says, "It's Satan, not Sir Satan. And, the only thing I have to offer you is torment and pain; torment and pain the likes of which you will cry to heaven for relief."

"Oh," I thought, "He knows about Carlos from last night", but brush it aside. "Can you recommend a good gardener?", I ask, as fire and steam spews from this nostrils. (The hair there is a problem, too, but I look elsewhere.) "You take not seriously that which is before you", he looms.

Then, I thought: This Man is a Fool! Of course, I don't take' seriously that which is before me'. If I had ever done that, I'd have been dead twenty years ago. I picked up my gloves (singed) and said, "It's been a pleasure" and walked out that door, disappointed. And as I left the corroded gates to the estate, wild parrots flew over my head as they do every day I walk to work and I realized that the booze and boys never left me, I just had to get HOME.

The Hookers' Ball, Miami 2006

Well, a bottle washed up at my seaside place of work; in it was a parchment note written with whale semen from du Barry on Cape Cod:

I'm so glad you want to do this event this winter.We need to get things started. While you are prowling the streets of the beach, be on the look-out for a space. As I said before, it needs to be tacky or--if that does not suit you--then some club who will give us the space.

God, her letters are so formal. BUT, I'm glad to being taken seriously again. AND, the fact that she even allows me the judgement of that which "does not suit" me.....well, the power's going to my head. The swelling is causing a pain that can only be relieved by booze and boys. OH, MY that wasn't me saying that; it was...it was...

yes, Shawn Porier. He's put words into my mind that never lived there before. Alas, one chance meeting, and I am The Devil's servant; well, not servant really. Servants are but of memory; perhaps hired help.

I'm Bewitched!

This is what I awoke to today:

At 2:59 AM, Shawn Poirier said...
Greetings all, Myself and another Salem Witch are proud to say we actually had the Honor of meeting Mrs. Astor for an evening of decadent drinks and wicked conversation. It was a pure pleasure! Like a wicked autumn carnival. ( or should I say carnival of souls) the conversation hit with tilt a whirl camaraderie. With speed our conversation spun from the polite "first meet" chat which roller coasted into dizzying chatter, spiced up with words like, spell casting, Necromancy, "I would like a tequila shot with that," drag, nudity, and "Don't worry the bleeding with stop soon." Of course meeting Mrs. Astor was definitely the big E ticket experience! All in all meeting Alexis was the highlight of the evening. ( However the humpy beefy dancers in another local night spot did prove to be stiff competition!) Be that as it may, beauty won out over brute brawn. One of my witches and myself took the spent evenings "fun tally." The judgment ....One can see hunky dancers anywhere, but there is only ONE Mrs. Astor and she is in Miami. Thanks Mrs. Astor for making myself and the Salem Witches feel so very welcomed in Miami! Bette Midler has nothing on you! I hope to see you and your court in Salem for the Official Salem Witches Halloween Ball held this year at the Historic Hawthorne Hotel. Blessing to you all. I have to go for now, as the winged monkeys need to be fed. Shawn Poirier High Priest of the Salem Witches and new friend of the fabulous Mrs. Astor! For all the Halloween fun in Salem check out... www.witchesofsalem.com and www.festivalofthedead.com

What will I wear to the ball? I threw out the Bathory gown just this year..... (Hmmm. I have to dig up THOSE photos.)

I can't remember if this is a Witch from Salem or a Whore from Newport. I get confused from time to time, and, NO Ed Grow, I haven't been drinking.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tlhe Newport Hookers' Ball for The American Red Cross attracted The Cream of Rhode Island society.

The Long, Long, Long Long Road

Any exchange with my sister, du Barry, is a delight and over the past two weeks we have spoken and emailed each other some thoughts and gossip. The Witches of Salem had told me they wanted help in organizing a Hookers' Ball they wanted to arrange and I immediately offered that my sister, who has often organized Newport's American Red Cross Hookers Ball, might be of help. This was one of the things we have been talking about; (I'm about to be thrust into the position of Ambassador to the Withches Council of Salem by the Social Doyens of Newport, a job I embrace.)

du Barry's inevitable return to Miami Beach before The Season begins brought some interesting statements from her. (She's not in Newport right now; no, she's vacationing FROM Newport at her family cottage on Cape Cod, orgainizing one picnic after another. She suppers so much---

Anyway, in her last email some interesting statements were made. du Barry: "Yes it is true I did a Hookers Ball in Newport a few summers ago . Do you think it would be something that Miami Beach would be interested in this winter. It would be a wonderful project for me to work on. I don't know if it is something you would be willing to join me in the planning.I think with your Miami influence and my planning back ground it would be the event of the season on Miami Beach."

I read it several times. Were my eyes deceiving me? Was I being accepted back into "correct" society or only being enticed by a social carrot. I wondered: "Has THE PAST been forgiven?"

You see, during every six month stay here in winter, du Barry could always be counted upon to join my social distemperance union and start drinking at four, the acceptable hour for Northerners (1 for locals). We attended the best events and met the best people.

But, she could never get over my morally lax lifestyle. No amount of explaining that it was the Way of Life down here could
win her approval. (Again, images of my grandmother wringing her hands pop up. "You are a Rhode Islander, ACT like one!") My life of torn teagowns and tawdry tales kept her eyes rolling like a slot machine. Du barry had been brought to tears when she found out I had slept with EVERY (male) servant--well, they are actually hired help; the days of "servants" long ago went by the way of memory--. "Not the one (the gardener) with the dirty nails!?" she once shouted. Alas, yes; the poolboy was there later to clean me up.

But, now I see that I have been given a second chance to rise out of my rather-complicated and extremely comfortable GUTTER. YES, once more we will team up--"Those Rhode Island Bitches" will have everyone shuddering in their Prada. Of course, I have to live through hurrican season first; I've just started purchasing supplies. (There is a new crop of stores catering to vacuum-wrapped gourmet food and it's about time.)

Naturally,the road from immorality is a long one, but it is fortunately not like AA where you have to stop cold. Here, you just ease your way out of it, step by step, kiss by kiss, tongue by tougue, finger by finger, probing in every cavity,,,,Stop it Alexis. Stop! But I AM excited; maybe FOX can make a reality show out of it.

I'm glad she's still on Cape Cod; I hear they still don't have internet service there, so she won't read this. God, I don't even think the have an X-rated bookstore, the only place I can get leather yarn for my knitting circle.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Where Did It Go?

The week that is....

My little pal, Johnny, and I went to one of Chris's sumptuous lunches last Sunday and then later to The Palace. We were digesting the meal and thoroughly enjoying ourselves when a decided commotion on the beach drew our attention. Shouts, police sirens, and lifeguard whistles were disturbing what had been a calm afternoon when we saw the reason. Gliding across the ocean was an enormous waterspout (Miami's version of a tornado). It was an awesome sight that I had never witnessed; all you could do was admire the power of it all. It dissipated into the distance and celebrated our brush with death with more drinks.

On Monday there was a storm that stranded everyone where they were for three hours. After a certain amount of rain in a short amount of time, the water has no where to go and the pressure creates five-foot gushes from the storm drains. Fortunately, I was stranded at the bar and not at the supermarket.

Sometimes you enter a room and can smell a story; on Wednesday I walked into the north bar and eyed a couple with extremely pale skin. "Ah", I thought; "They are either from Minnesota or are vampires". I proceeded to sit next to them and, being a lady of social skills, engaged them in conversation. As it turned out, I was wrong on the first count, but damn close on the second. They were card-carrying WITCHES from Salem, Mass. down to celebrate the Summer Solstice. We had a devilish conversation as a full, orange moon rose over the horizon. Master WITCH, Shawn Porier, spoke of Salem's Ms. Firefly's School of Spirit Conjuring and her dear friend Auntie Rattlebones and showed me an ad saying, "...Auntie Rattlebone will even teach your child how to conjure up The Spirits with a Rattlebone." I love this life, I really do. Shawn talked about a group that specialized in Horror Burlesque and how they continually rattled the nerves of Salem's old, New England ladies. (Images of my grandmother wringing her hands at the sight of some of the bizarre students I brought home danced in my head.) We talked about Elizabeth Bathory, Hungary's Blood Countess, and how I hand-made a 15th Century gown to dress up as her four years ago. He directed me to the site of a friend of his at
www.bathoria.com. His sites of www.festivalofthedead.com and www.witchesofsalem.com rounded out my evening's surfing.

Yesterday, a strong wind off the ocean kept the thunderstorms over the mainland where they belong and South Beach was awash, absolutely awash in gorgeous bodies. Chris returned from Texas yesterday and Johnny has the weekend off, so we will stay awash ourselves. I am going swimming right now, heading down to The Palace with Chris and little Johnny and proceed to engaged in what would generally be best described as bad behavior.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I feel compelled to continue telling of the life of the legendary Lahoma van Zandt. This was the first color photo I ever took of her. It was October 1929 and she was screaming,
“Sell! Sell!” to her broker. Lahoma had unfortunately neglected to put the nickel in the phone and she lost her fortune overnight. Distraught, she flung herself out of the window of her basement apartment and woke up on a discarded mattress with a bottle of gin and only her talent left.

She revived her vauderville act and made a string of wildly successful movies with The Mexican Spitfire, Lupe Vellez, and during World War II she entertained many, many men, sometimes even on stage.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Word is Out

"The market continues to perform well. Don't want to jinx it!! And the dollar defies all "experts". Seems headed to $1.18. ATTA BOY! Fun evening last night at the Palace. Rained in............ I swear........... Not much else happening. Alexis is coming over for Sunday lunch. Will be on the arm of a particularly charming young fellow. Lucky guy! So, you know what I'll be doing this weekend. (cooking) Have a great one! Rumor has it that Sam and George are having a barn burner in Phoenix in a couple of weeks --- (who's going!??) "

Thanks , now he'll probably be scared off, and I'll be back to picking up floozies. And what in heaven's name is a "barn burner".

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Do you ever have those nights when although you have many friends around, you feel alone? Now that so many of my friends are leaving town for the dreaded hurricane season, this is what I feel like.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My dear, dear friend Wayne in Dublin has bee asking me to send more photos (the first of which I deleted as I thought them not right of Polite Society). But here's another one, Wayne, although I know it's not showing that which you love (Irish poetry, of course.) More to follow, although privately by most standards of decency.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Although I had passed up the Wednesday lunch, I succumbed to Chris Inskeep's invitation today because so many of the guests, mostly from The Netherlands were preparing to leave Miami for the hurricane season. We had all become very close and I will especially miss them. (Not surprisingly, most of the conversation centered around canals, sex, and cheese.) Chris won't be returning to Switzerland until the beginning of August and hosted one of his three-hour luncheons today. Everything Chris serves is worthy of editorial comment, but I have to remark about a Spanish wine named Vega Sicilia that he served with the cheeses. Quite something to look into. (I thought that was the end of the meal, but a bowl of "Drowning Berries" was brought out. The poor things were dead in a pool of Grand Marnier and brandy and I gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to as many as I could.) The most curious part of the afternoon came as one boy gave me the Calendario Romano, or 12 months presided over a gorgeous young priests. He thought it was a fitting gift. I know the world has changed while I have been napping at the races, but......

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Only One Knows...

Yes, only Ed Grow knows why I need two ostrich eggs by next Wednesday. The Ladies Who Lunch are on the edge of their flocked velvet chairs wondering what I am up to. They will be put in their respective places when 1pm, Wednesday arrives. I will wear the same tea dress that Alva wore and bear the same triumphant gaze. Ed will be in my thoughts as the "bitches" are kept in place.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Need Help

I am being epicurally challenged by dark, social forces in regard to my LUNCH next week and I plan a full, frontal attack that will send these bitches back to the forests they came from. Only thing is I need to purchase ostrich eggs. I imagine they are quite large and don't come in a convenient styro box. Where do I find them?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Miss Otis Regrets

LUNCH still goes on here on Miami Beach even though my beloved sister, du Barry,—the doyen of social gatherings—is back home in Newport, Rhode Island. The weekly ceremony now travels from home to home with mine being next week’s destination.

Today’s is being held on Fisher Island, a paradise by anyone’s standards, but one that is a bit out of the way. After long thought about the notion of actually missing LUNCH versus the fact that I would have to take a cab to South Point and then wait for the ferry and then actually entertain the notion that I was going to return to my office, I called my hostess.

Her boyfriend answered the phone and I said, “Hi, I just want to tell Craig that as, for tomorrow, ‘Miss. Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch…”.
The boyfriend replied, “Who?” I said, “Miss. Otis”. He said, “You’re Alexis; I recognize your voice.”

Then, it struck me: the boyfriend had no clue to the title of the song to which I referred: Alberta Hunter’s famous rendition on the recordings made in London in 1934. This is a CD that I’ve taken for granted since it was released in the late 80’s. It has a collection of period Hunter pieces the likes of which I don’t believe have ever been duplicated. But, I never thought that someone like the boyfriend (who is 32, by the way) would never have heard
“Miss Otis Regrets”.

Perhaps I am too romantic, but when I first heard lines like,
“…Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today, Mister,
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today,
She is sorry to be delayed,
But last evening down on Lover’s Lane she strayed.”

So, I went looking for it all night with no results and called Rhode Island announcing I was on the horns of a dilemma. This morning I awoke to find Alberta Hunter on my voice mail. Once again she was singing about a man who did her wrong (she was a very out lesbian for her time).

"From under her velvet gown,
she drew a gun and shot her lover down..."
How sadly wonderful it was to hear her singing the last line of that song as she is being strung up by a mob on the willow,
“And the moment before she died,
she lifted up her lovely head and cried,
‘Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today’.”

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I mentioned my dear friend and first infatuation with a boy in a dress, Ricky, recently. How I adored him. (Still do, by the way.) I can still feel the excitement of hearing the rustle of his taffeta dress as he climbed the circular staircase of my apartment at 7 Benefit Street in Providence. Ricky Boscarino--twenty years later--is still a good friend. His ever-restless creativity spawned Luna Parc, a home he built himself from the infinite caves of his imagination. The ever-expanding home in Montague, New Jersey is even visited by buses of Japanese tourists.
Take a trip to a world like that which only Ricky could dream up. How I miss him......

Friday, June 03, 2005

Perhaps this was the weirdest thing I ever did. At the age of 12, for art class, I painted a picture of me and my grandmother on canvas which still hangs in my foyer. This was as she had named me as we enjoyed our life. There was me ,fearful, lovingly looking toward her and her distant look onto everthing before her. That was our relationship; she tried to teach me how to be cold and unadjusting toward the world around us. I loved the life, but embraced everything, all too differently. (I got an A+ from Mr. Windsfield--who I think was gay.) Anyway, I was.....

Am I right to think I'm a victim?

OK, so I get back from a very short holiday, move the computer to a different corner and suddenly most everything is not working. Well, I have to admit to adherring to various conspiracy theories (every now and then). Come on, I'm Best Friends with Ms. Bees who holds title to fantasmic theories, machinistic moves, and plain-right diabolical schemes. Yes, it was my friendship with her that these powers are now stopping me from posting photos of her in cahoots with Dick Cheney. No, that's my paranoia at full blast. She's a good girl.