"the" Mrs. Astor

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Horror

I was always amused by this in Neil's BBC office.

Now to The Horror. We were all shaken as we watched the images from New Orleans last night and, I was overwhelmed by the immense destruction and suffering so close to home. (I was a little embarrassed,too, by my whining about the electric after seeing what those poor souls are going through.)

Last night I emailed all managers to prepare fund-raising ideas and this morning put an ad in The Wire announcing the first: Miss Amy Rivers' Labor Day Drag Relief performance. I also contacted The Rainbow Fund, an organization that uses it's vast resources to organize benefits from the gay community to those in need. From there it will be simple; gays love donating to a good cause while they can drink and have fun. And Mrs. Astor is particularly good at squeezing money out of people. She's mastered the acquired art of Southern Charm with her born talent as a shrewd Yankee and mixed it with a Rhode Island indifference to resorting to threats. You have to do what you have to do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

La Scandal

Ditmar and Neil Bull at The Palace last night.

But before I found myself back at home base, I was embroiled in a drag nightmare.

Sometime back I had been asked to be a "celebrity" judge at the Miss Ocean Drive drag contest, the winner of which goes on to compete in the Miss Florida Pageant. I was told to arrive at 7 and promptly did; party promoter Edison Farrow was there as a judge as was George Neary, the director of the Convention Bureau's "Cultural Exchange" program, a nice euphemism for "Gay Events".

I was asked to write down the question I would ask of the contestants, and I requested to see what the other judges had put down. Inaudible groans emitted from me as I read: "If you became Miss Ocean Drive, what would you do to help the fight against AIDS?" (ugh) "What does winning this title mean to you?" (burp) "Do you think winning this contest will make you a better drag queen?" (a little better, but...)

So I wrote: "If you win this title and go on to compete in the Miss Florida pageant, will you engage in a viscous campaign of back-stabbing to get what you want, or will you conduct yourself with grace and poise?" I should have known then, that all was not going to go well.

The show was supposed to start at eight and we judges entered the ballroom and started having martinis; my fellow judges were a rather diverse group of people very much involved in gay political and social endeavors. I enjoyed meeting them, but hung out with Edison (he is always a fountain of gossip, even if I do see him almost every day).

By about 9:20pm I was getting mad and went up to a kah-ween with a kah-lipboard and asked when we judges were to take our seats and when the bloody show was going to begin. The kah-ween snootily replied, "The show will begin when it begins." I stared the little bitch in the eye and said, "If it doesn't begin in ten minutes, I'm leaving." He answered, "You can't leave." I said, "I'm from New England. Eight means eight, not five past eight and NOT 9:30." He made some sort of squeal and ran off. At 9:31 I bid goodbye to my fellow judges who were in a very confused state, also. And, as I was leaving, the fat Cuban in charge of the event tapped me on the shoulder and had the nerve to say, also, "You can't leave." I replied, "Watch me, bitch" and walked out.

This morning I got an email from Edison through is sobesocialclub.com telling his crowd that he left after waiting three and one-half hours and will watch the Herald and Wire come out to see who won. I was able to get to The Palace by ten to again join a goodbye party for Neil Bull from the BBC (there will be one more here at 11am--we never stop). I also got to see Miguel, whose story is developing in my life.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Farewell to Neil Bull

The Palace threw a rousing Going Away Party for the BBC’s chief technician of their South American broadcasting office here in Miami, Neil Bull. Neil has been here all summer and is such a sweet guy (and super great customer) that all of South Beach’s boys seemed to have shown up. Last week I gave a pool party for him, and my dog, KiKi, treated everyone with a demonstration of The Tango. By the time that pool party was over just about anybody who could stand waltzed over to The Palace to toast him over and over. Few people can out-drink and Englishman, though, and Neil managed to close the place.

Poor Neil is being transferred from South Beach to Bangladesh! There ought to a law against things like that. Like a true Englishman, he is taking it in stride, but I don’t know how.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Almost to the Edge of Madness

Is it really day number four of no electricity? Yes, it is and it looks like I will have to join the many I know who have had to move to a hotel. I had to bring KiKi back to the ex; no dog should have to go through this.

Tina Paul entertained us yesterday with her story of driving eight hours to Attica prison to see Michael Alig. She and Ahrlene even stayed at The Attica Motel where screams and fights were so much a part of the visit. Meeting with Michael in the visitors' room, the girls were treated to the sight of a male prisoner masterbating while talking to his girlfriend. Eventually Tina was able to go with Michael into the "Disney" room, a room for taking photographs that had happy Disney characters painted on the wall. I'm promised copies as soon as she returns to New York.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Not Cranky

No electricity still, so I'm back at The Palace. Tina Paul will be here soon and Carl, Mark, and Raymond are already carrying on. Kevin from New York took care of my naked-boy-in-the-pool worries a little while ago, so I won't be the least bit cranky this weekend.

'On The Good Ship, Lollipop..."

Where the palm-palms sway....

Uhg! Still no electricity at home and I couldn't sleep, so about 1:30 am I said to myself, "Alexis, what would Ed Grow or Ms. Bees do?" And an answer came out of the silent air conditioning vent: "They would go out and drink themselves into sleep." So I walked the block and a half to The Laundry Bar and found it packed with fellow, power-deprived maniacs. It also seemed to be Media Night as I ran into WSVN anchorman, Craig Stevens, The Herald's Janet Jorgulescu, free-lance writer, Kent Miller, and channel 4's Brian Andrews. It was a veritable gay media convention and all agreed to join me at The Palace on Sunday for pre-VMA cocktails. Today I'm hosting a party for New York celebrity photographer, Tina Paul and her girlfriend, Ahrlene; Tina and I crawled through the same gutters back in NYC and it is a delight to have her around for the VMA weekend. The palm tree is still in my pool, although I pulled most of it out. I don't know if the Sunday Pool Party will go on this week; I'm going to be deprived of my naked boys and will be very cranky as a result.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Yuk, Yuk

Question: "Hey, Alexis, what's the palm tree doing in your pool?"

Answer: "The backstroke."

Monsieur L'Electric

That was what Marie Antoinette called American ambassador to France, Ben Franklin, and I walked to The Palace this morning to happily find some electricity. There is none in the rest of the town.
As the winds howled and the waves crashed in front of The Palace yesterday, Ditmar hosted our Hurricane Party. He took a charming picture of me strapped to a palm tree across the street, the sheets of rain pelting my frail body, the violent winds ripping my dress to tatters. I hope his maid (who seems to trail his every move these days) can figure out how to email me the image.

Late in the day I donned my hurricane outfit and made my way to Twist; I told Boris I would return, but that proved impossible as conditions worsened and The Palace had to be closed. Twist was wild with hurricane madness; we were treated to a strip tease by Madame Wickenhauser that proved red heads do have drapes that match the carpet. All was going fine until a gust of wind tore off the front door of the club; Valentino, the manager, tied it shut and we had to crawl out a small opening to leave. When the lights started failing, LPJ, the owner of The Wire newspaper, Carl and me decided it might be a good time to eat, and I suggested The 11th Street Diner. I'm an educated consumer and know that not only does The Diner served great American fare, but--as it is located across from police headquarters--is on the emergency power grid. We ate, drank, and sang and then made our way back to Twist; by now all power was out and drinks were being served by candlelight.

Making our way home proved daunting with no cabs in sight, 80 miles-per-hour winds, and a dress that was now really clinging to my body. Suddenly an angel pulled up in a BMW; it was Richard, The Mayor who told us to hop in (I now take back all of those things I've said about him in the last few months).

Nature has a way of pruning itself every now and then; I could not get out my back door because a tree has fallen against it. In fact, there is now a palm tree in my pool that was torn from my neighbor's back yard and I've lost all the banana and bird-of-paradise trees. They can be replaced, but the stained glass window of dragon flies can not; it was the only house damage I could find this morning.

All the visitors for the VMA's are starting to emerge from their hotels; it is time to open the bar and restaurant to welcome them. We'll call it a Post-Hurricane Party and Ditmar will be hosting that one, too.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Deluge

The forecast is for ten to twenty inches of rain, which will mean it will rapidly have no place to go. However, there is no sense of urgency or panic this year. The restaurants of Ocean Drive were packed late last night as was The Palace and it seems I was not the only one there to meet the cop from New Jersey. Black and Tan Mark had read my post, as had everyone's favorite army boy, Jeremy, and their friend Danny of The Evil Empire (The Bank of America). It seems everyone knew Mr. Policeman from previous visits and it became quite the party.

Every now and then a rain band blew in; rain bands last for about 5 minutes but movement stops. We all made a break for it about midnight when a particularly nasty one passed through. I noticed wild parrots flying south in large numbers this morning; they don't take chances.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Damn the Torpedos

Ah, what a place of contrasts; if you look to the West you can see blue skies and a lovely sunset. If you look above you can see the first storm bands, and if look over the horizon of The Atlantic, you can see dark, menacing storms approaching.

I worked my bustle off today securing passes and invites to MTV events; it pays to be nice to everyone along your path of life. The County is being very cautious and has learned a lesson from last year. In that horrible month then Mayor, Alex Penelas, became a hysterical mad woman ordering four mandatory evacutions, one (Francis) THREE days ahead of expected landfall. Not one citizen of South Beach leaves; if you're going to loose everything you might as well go with it. But, the hotels must evacuate their guests and the town is at 95% capacity for the VMA. The new mayor is very careful, indeed.

Just what am I doing tonight? Am I checking my battery collection (left over from last year), fighting with the Cuban housewives for the last can of Chicken of the Sea, or putting my hurricane shutters up? Answer, none of the above. I am feeding KiKi and returning to The Palace for my date with the cop from New Jersey. Don't be jealous, Officer Brian; you are #1 with me, always. However, as they say, "A girl's gotta eat."

Here We Go Again

It started the last week of August last year, and it's like a repeating nightmare. Last year, although not hit directly, Miami Beach was terrorized by four hurricanes in four weekends. It devasted business and we lost $100,000. in the month of September. Fortunately, it will be out of here by the VMA ceremonies on Sunday.

That concert I went to was being filmed for a TV video to be played on the Sunday night broadcast of The Awards. Maybe you can see me there at the Hotel Victor; I'm wearing rather flashy plaid pants.

On another front I am meeting Jerry the gay cop from New Jersey for drinks tonight at The Palace and I just heard that The Killers are appearing at The National Hotel, too. I shamelessly walked up to the head technician of the band a few minutes ago and offered to buy him lunch today. He's a cutie and looked openly touch by my kindness; I wouldn't mind being openly touched by him, but it's tickets for The National I'm looking for. I can just hear Ms. Bees Knees in the background: "Mwah-Ha-Ha-Ha". Or Ed Grow: "I nevah hahrd of sahrch ordahsitty".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Killers Fan

I slipped out of the concert/video a little early because I saw the danger in getting too, too involved. How wonderful and exciting they are! At the height of the concert fireworks started to go off and I ran like a child to a railing and saw a barge off the coastline firing them off; I love shit like that. I stopped back at The Palace (hey, it's next door) and started talking to a really cute guy. He had a rather severe ghetto hair cut, beautiful brown eyes and mulatto skin. Holy nightstick, Batman, he is a cop from New Jersey! Jerry told me he visits often and is addicted to The Palace; I hated to tear myself away, but needed to get home. We agreed that The Palace is the "beat" of all gay cops and Susie, the bartender tonight, told me he was one of her best customers. I am not there late at night, so I miss things like this. Fortunately, Jerry doesn't read Ed Grow so he thought my outfit stunning. Snap this, Ed!

The Killers

I'm getting all pretty to see The Killers perform at The Victor Hotel (right next to The Palace). A very guarded event (it is the first of the many VMA parties about to begin for this weekend's
event), I was able through great diplomacy to secure a highly desired seat on their roof-top pool location. Yes, I sent emmisaries with notes of great praise, I engaged in a little gunboat diplomacy (like "you can't put that truck in front of our window--or can you?"), and finally I went to the top: I offered food and booze to the concierge. I was going to wear the blue chiffon dress with a train the size of New Jersey until Ed Grow gave my fasion secret away. Now it will be a peach satin Lee Radziwill super-tight gown with a bow the size of Montana on one shoulder.

Take THAT, Ed, you lahvlee kah-ween.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I have a friend, Scott Simpson, who has had to deal with a thing in his life. Four years ago he developed lymphoma and it tore at my life; he was someone I saw every day and liked so much. He went through Hell and, at one point, I offered him one of my unused bedrooms to stay in because I was so afraid for his safety and sanity. Scottie, a New Englander, politely declined and said he would fight it. And, God almighty, he did; someone who was pale as death and had lost all of hair bounced back with vigor. Now he is one of my bartenders.

Scottie had to go back to New England for a family wedding; he accompanied his mother. I was enthralled about the details of this WASPY wedding in Bridgeport, CT, especially when he told me they imported palm trees to line the wedding walk (I mean, WHAT do you do with them afterwards?) Scottie's mom was recently divorced. Late into the night, one friend approached the mother and whispered into her ear. Scottie's mother said "You lose. They think you are my new husband." Scottie replied, "No, I win. They think I'm straight." Later another guest came up to the mother and whispered something. Scottie's mother said, "that couple asked if you were a rent boy." Scottie replied, " I win twice. Now they think I'm worth being paid for."
Love you, Scottie!!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

As always, I tried to make a statement in a subtle, almost unnoticeable manner. It is a careful balance of social reform and alcohol need that propels me into action.

I didn't know Blanche Hudson got about anymore.

May history record that I maintained my values and sense of mission....

....until the VERY end, where I gave in.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Where DID She Get All That Money?

Few people know from where Lahoma van Zandt acquired her vast fortune. I can now--being released for confidentiality agreements--reveal that source.

It was not from the meteoric rise in the entertainment business she enjoyed in the 40's and 50's. That money was spent on a lavish wardrobe, expensive costume jewelry, and gigalos. It was "in one day and out the other" in that regard.

No, Lahoma invented The Casting Couch. She had keenly observed during her early years in the 20's that a vehicle for young women of aspiration was needed. The automobile had already been snatched from her entrepreneur's mind, and she set herself out to find a new type of mobility. One day, within the paws of a Hollywood producer, Lahoma ventured a guess that being in a relaxed state of mind would make it easier on both parties. Thus, The Casting Couch was born and it was first produced by hand in her home town of Atlanta, Georgia; soon she purchased a warehouse in the Meat Packing District of NYC to bring product to the consumer. (In later years, she would wisely turn it into a sex club for deviants.)

So when you see this ancient entertainer gracefully alighting from her limo at Mortimer's, remember that good, old fashion American ingenuity and the need to recline at "rehearsal" is where she got all that money.

Moments in History

Aside from all the craziness, I like to bring out the best in the boys I meet. From the very first entanglement with Ricky Boscarino, I have been fascinated by historical drag. My going to Twist's turnabout party as a sufferagette was a good example of the way I like to play with it. (I am still deciding which photo to post of that embarrassing night, but I will because it is so much fun to laugh at yourself before you do so of others.) In previous years I went as Magda Goebbles, Elizabeth Bathory, and Dorothy Hamill.

A while back I asked a club buddy, Todd, if he would let me "play" with him in my little studio. I told him I wanted to put him in a wig and dress and make him into Louise Brooks. He wasn't too sure who she was until I lent him a biography on the great, troubled actress. He became quite interested after he read that book. We played with poses all afternoon, including the famous image of Louise playing with that enourmous strand of pearls in her fingers, but, in the end, this turned out to be my favorite and one that Todd kept on his office desk. I, too, have a framed copy on the wall of my bedroom; she fits in nicely with all the other girls I've had the pleasure to meet along the way.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some boys will do anything for the camera. I'm still sorting out the photos from last night; it's all such a blur.

Things that made it home: me, LPJ, my wallet, and the straw boater.

Things that didn't make it home: my dignity and the placard that I clobbered some fool over the head with.

Things that were confused: HOW we got home and why one of my cap-toed squashed-heeled shoes was on the front lawn.

I actually had to recuse myself from the wine tasting today. Yes, this lush could not get through the third taste and locked myself in my office. 30 minutes later, with Ditmar behind the bar, I ventured out and immediately became embedded between Black and Tan Mark (so-named because of his penchant for Italian fascist styling), Tiffany, a 6'3" black, drag queen, and Miles from Hawaii, a regular visitor who does business here. I was also wedged next to Matt, another Ditmar groupie who teaches Broadway shows to high school students across South Florida (have you evah, evah heard of anthing more gay?). Suddenly drinks were flowing as was the conversation; people flowed in and out like the tide with an amazing full moon rising over the palm-treed beach. I kept telling myself that it would be best to go home, but that moon kept getting higher and more lovely. Mark was telling us about how he relieves the stress of his computer consulting job by working at a farm for cats near the Everglades. I asked if they were 'big" cats, and he said, "Yes, very big. Like lions and cougars". Florida, a state like Texas where there are few laws governing behavior, is given to people who collect big game for fun and then decide that they can't keep them any longer. The farm he volunteers at houses these discarded, big cats. I asked him if the cats remember him when he visits, and he said that they very much do. His specialty is giving massages to them, which absolutely amazed me because Mark is so mild-mannered, the ideal computer nerd (ideal, because he's smart and cute). So here is this Italian fascist-styled computer nerd who comes to The Palace every day after work, and I never knew he was a massage therapist for lions after so many shared drinks with Ditmar. The next thing you know, I'll be sitting next to a witch or something.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Should I or shouldn't I? It would be my fourth "Turn About" at Twist (and perhaps my tenth ever). It is the yearly night where Twist employees and those of surrounding businesses "turn" or dress the opposite of their sex. "Drag" seems so crude for such a classy event. I'm thinking "Suffragette"; yes, classic and yet, daring. I'm thinking: "Bitch, stay home". I'm thinking: How lovely I will look in that blazer, long khaki skirt, straw boater, and pulled back hair; the boys will go crazy over such restraint. I'm thinking: Stay home and listen to La Forza del Destino and you will really know what is in store for you. I'm thinking: I will get a lot of drink tickets from the owners if I show my support. I'm thinking: You will be a fucking mess the next morning when your expertise will be called upon. I'm thinking: Who cares, it's South Beach an everyone is always hungover.

Wine Tasting, Is It a Sin?

From time to time a decent wine company pops up and we schedule a wine tasting. Since we are in the midst of a change of menu and look, the time was ripe. The representatives of a Venetian wine distributor were invited to present their wares last night about six; we purchase enough wine to make a distributor stand up and pay attention. Crown Prince Boris, our head bartender, Ditmar, and myself sat down into a pool of delicious, Italian wine. All of it was quite nice, but we were all partial to a line, whose owner was present, called Gladiatore; it was fine tasting, indeed and the camp aspect was not lost on any of us. Each type of wine had a better camp label than the previous one, and I pealed of this one for my amusement. Everything was going fine until the owner brought out the Prosecco, an Italian champagne that is extremely popular in Europe. (I know it can't be call Champagne unless it is from that region in France, but I will.) How fine was that Prosecco! Boris was on duty, so he was cautious, but Ditmar and myself were definitely not and dove into the Prosecco; we swam in it trying to see who could be the better Ester Williams. Needless to say, by the time the "tasting" was over, we were smashed, babbling like idiots, and singing each others' praise. Oh, yes; we also had the wherewithal to do the right thing: We ask the owner and his distributor to come back on Thursday for another "tasting" so we could make up our minds. Ditmar, who lives on the mainland, actually had to call his maid to take a taxi onto the beach to drive him home. I relied on a taxi. Tastings are dangerous; they are like the ocean. They can be cool and refreshing, but if you venture too far an undertow will surely sweep you away. My head hurts.

Monday, August 15, 2005

LPJ with designer, Julian Chang. Julian is the hottest new look to hit The Beach in a long time, and everyone is wearing him. I mean, EVERYONE. LPJ is wearing JC and has added his own touch: the priestly vestments around his neck. (THAT keeps everyone kissing your "scarf" all night long.) Julian has taken The Beach by storm (to be cliche' ridden), but it's true. Julianchang.com, makes it simple to understand. And, if LPJ finds it to his liking, I must follow suit.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Yes, indeed.

My dear, if allusive, friend Alfredo Avila (white T-shirt); he styled a "Boys 'N Bikinis" fashion show last night at Score. Such hard work, going to the factory every day and making widgits. And WHAT is that gahng (I'm talking like EG, now) finger thing going on. I want that stopped.

Away from foreign entanglements and homespun drama, I can always count on my LPJ to keep me in touch with reality. . He looked good last night at Score. Good for you, Johnny!

Back and Feeling Like Scarlet

At 4pm today I will return from a self-imposed exile of floating in the pool, staring at cotton-puff clouds; just me and my books and my beloved dog, KiKi and a brief visit--of course--by Hyacinthe. And what did I learn this weekend?

1. Red snapper topped with mango chutney is a breeze to make if someone who used to be you friend made a lot of it as preserves.

2. KiKi prefers cheeseburgers to mango-topped red snapper and got what he wanted.

3. Don't mention to Hyacinthe that you might put a lock on the driveway gate and not expect her to give a lengthy dissertation on the East Berliners who carved tunnels with a teaspoon to get where they wanted.

4. In 1360 King Pedro of Portugal wanted to legitmize his children with his mistress Inez de Castro, whom he had married after their births. The pope (always there when needed) declared that the children could be legitimate only if their mother was crowned queen--and Inez died five years earlier. Undeterred, King Pedro dug her up, dressed her skeleton in regal robes, and had it placed in a chair in the cathedral and crowned in an elaborate ceremony which all the nobles were forced to attend. After that no one protested when he legitimized the children.

5. Don't get involved with Newport politics. Making the mistake of writing that someone is running for governor when it really is secretary of state can cause war.
Last week our very own ex-secretary of state, Katherine Harris, accused the press of doctoring her photos to look like she wears too much make-up. (Oh, no; they couldn't.) Only a couple of years ago, Barry Seltzer tried to run her down with his car saying later that he was only "exercising" his political rights. Secretaries of state are sensitive.

4pm approaches and so does my carriage. I will, with grace and majesty, climb the staircase of The Palace. Well, it's not really a staircase, but I have so far not fallen down on those three steps to the bar. I am wearing a dazzling pair of shorts which I made out of flowered drapery material; I'm coming Rhett, I mean Johnny.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Club Kid Sexuality

Ms. Bees Knees--ever the social commentator--brings to the table an interesting question: were the Club Kids gay drag queens on acid?

Although certainly most of the boys were gay, sexuality was a tertiary point. This was not a scene where you dressed like a peacock on magic mushrooms and looked for a mate. It was one in which you displayed your abilities. They included the ability to astound, the sense of "the moment", the shock value of a color scheme, and even the correct way to wear a splatter of blood. This was a world that Amy Vanderbilt never contemplated manners for.

To be appalling was the rage, and New York ate it up; New York Magazine featured three club kids on the cover one week. Out of nowhere sprang hundreds of misguided, lonely, but truly creative "kids" who found solace in the wild world of the nightlife. Sex was not the first course on the menu. In a strange reenactment of Louis XIV's France, appearance and deportment, ability to amuse and entertain, and slavery to costume became more important than sex. Being photographed with Michael Musto was better than a date; being written up by him sent you to levels of orgasm more sensual than a blow job.

Glamour Kids

In talking about all the Glamour Girls I knew back in New York, it would be unfair not to give credit to the Glamour Boys, too. More correctly
described, they were Glamour Kids and started the revival of New York nightlife in the last half of the 80's. There are better historians on Club Kids than me, but I give the credit of the amazing rise from the ashes of nightlife to James St. James. He was the sentry to The World, a dilapidated, old dancehall on the Lower East Side where birth was given to Club Kids. It was a nursery of freaks and James was head of the ward. You would never have wanted one of these kids suckling at your breast, but they were certainly fun to play with. The It Twins, for instance, had magical toys that made it a joy to be in the nursery. Rats and party animals scurried around The World, and you never really knew if a piece of the ceiling--or maybe even the whole balconey--was going to fall on you.

As I have said before, James was the Edith Wharton of his time and world; as crazy as he was, nothing ever got by his sharp mind. He and Michael Alig were co-rulers of the Club Kid empire. I stayed almost exclusively in the drag queen circles, but always kept an eye on The Kids; they were bad, bad children. James' book, "Disco Bloodbath" quite nicely describes the whole period; he, too, managed to survive the whole thing. I would have a hard time counting the number who did not.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Catherine (I won't give her full name as she lives and conducts business under it) was one of my special girlfriends, like Lady Barbara. They weren't girlfriends in a sexual way, but in a social way. These women, for it is the only way I ever thought of them, were my dates to events of all sorts. They exuded class, taste, and--most of all--illusion. On one hand, they were flattered to be accorded the dignity and fun they deserved. On the other, I adored having them with me; the laughter and fun seemed endless. And, how they loved the camera!

I guess I was "the other side's" version of A Walker. Usually A Walker is a single man who escorts ancient, society women to social events since their husbands couldn't be bothered by the nonsense. I watched a documentary once on a Palm Beach Walker who made his living that way; Walker's are invariably gay. Mine weren't ancient, society women, but they weren't women, either.

There aren't many of these women down here. Everything is either over-the-top or Cha-cha-Babes; it is a non-stop freak show that, while entertaining, leaves me remembering the class that was New York. But I won't turn on any smaltzy music, Mikevil, and wax nostalgic again.

Catherine, No Flash...

...seconds later.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sunday at Home

I vowed I would behave myself this weekend and not end up in the gutter as usual. So, I took custody of my beloved dog KiKi upon whom I could shower my attention. “Custody” is a polite form of blackmail as it involves a liberal, monthly stipend, but straight people pay child support, so why shouldn’t I?

Since everyone knew I was home all weekend, I became open game. The Big Game Hunter of all time is Hyacinthe, and she wasted no time in barging in with a visit and a swimsuit. But, it is the way she “barges” that amuses me. Although the door gate locks, the driveway gate does not and allows easy access to the front door (good for mailman, bad for stalkers). Hyachinthe ALWAYS listens at the front door for a moment or two before knocking. Why, I don’t know, but she must think that that cute, little glass globe is a modern ornament of some type and not a surveillance camera. She has this way of sliding the gate open ever so slowly to avoid detection but, when I AM home in the afternoon, I always keep the camera screen in my peripheral.

Like clockwork (that being the time that the sun starts to recede from directly overhead) Hyacinthe is spotted slipping through the gate; although she’s not large, the six inches she’s afforded herself defies the law of physics. I have just finished cooking KiKi a lunch of chicken breast over rice and spinach, so I am fortuitously positioned to see the breach of security. And, sure enough, Hyacinthe listens at the door.

I really don’t know what she expects to hear. The heavy panting of the pool boy? (He only comes on Thursdays to my dismay.) Me dancing and singing to Fred Astair? (Unlikely in mid-afternoon.) But still she listens.

I know she reads this from time to time, but I really don’t think it will stop her. Maybe she’ll just not make that distorted face when she presses up against the door now that she knows she’s on camera.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"I Detest Cheap Sentiment."

The last summer in Westerly, Rhode Island. As Ray and Mikevil are so eager to point out, I am given to sentimentality; this was just a few years ago, before September 11 and we were forced to sell the place. (I must have been feeling butch that summer.)

I sat on that porch so many hours each weekend, drifting in and out of reality. Hydrangeas surrounded us with a air of unending happiness. Those were the summers of afternoons on the nude beach (Moonstone) lobsters boiled in champagne, and my favorite: the weekly opera. Every Saturday night, we would MAKE our guests watch our rendition of La Forza del Destino by Verdi "play-acted" (like my grandmother used to say) by us. I always assumed the role of Leonora with a gown of pinned bedding and sometimes a quilted lampshade on my head. What we put those guests through! Yet, they always clapped when the show ended.

Where is this quote from?

"I have no use for cheap sentimentality"

It keeps ringing in my head. I think is was snarled by Margo Channing; only Ed will know for sure.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

God Help Me

I stepped down from my official role at The Palace a little early yesterday and turned power over to Crown Prince Boris (the King and Queen have been secluded at their country estate all week and Boris and I have taken care of the usual things like plots and revolts). I chose to go to the open, north bar as it was filled with good looking young men. A fine selection it was, too; a couple of blonde Dutch boys, a gaggle of cute, pasty Brits, the usual preponderance of hot Latinos, and even some Americans.

It was a warm, sunny day and a volleyball game manned by incredibly buff boys across the street on gay beach was drawing the attention of many customers. I was sitting next to a Cuban friend of mine and our conversation centered around one of my favorite, shallow things: gossip. Gossip leads to silly and we started talking about what "assumed" name we would travel under. He said he'd like to assume the name, Lilly Langtry, which--given his dark skin and black eyes and hair--made me smile. I said that, although I already had several assumed names, I would choose Lady Castlemaine as it had a nice ring to it and was the name of a famous courtesan. Courtesans always have a lot of fun until they die of consumption.

All seemed fine until I noticed a few, startled looks across from us. I spun around and eyed a man about 6 foot 3, disheveled and scruffy, looking like he hadn't had a bath in weeks. His beard looked as if "things" were living it, BUT most startling of all? He had a huge, black leather-covered Bible with a red cross on it in his hand. I had seen this guy before on the street. He immediately approached the British boys who looked horrified when I jumped off my barstool, walked over, thrust myself between him and the boys and said, "You cannot bother our customers. Get out." "But, I only..." "Get out!" "The Lord..." "GET OUT NOW, OR I WILL THROW YOU OUT!!" (by this time staff members were positioning as a rear guard, so that was not as brave as it might sound.) He looked at the rear guard, looked me in the eye (I could read his mind; it was thinking "God will get you."), and quietly walked out. I took my seat next to my friend again and looked over at the Brits; they waved. My friend said only, "Mrs Astor, Mrs. Astor".

I felt so righteous I could have died right then and gone to heaven.

Goddess of Something, Always...

Lady Bunny's early publicity machine--well, we couldn't really call it a "machine", it had few working parts, but some cogs--turned out enough material to lay the groundwork for her elevation to Vestal Virgin.
Well, we can't really call it "Virgin", but goddess she would eventually be. Hard work combined with a dirty mouth allowed her to establish herself as The Queen Mum of the drag world. Little drag queens would be able to look up to Bunny and say, "I want to be like that.", although this sometimes led to being sent off to military school. Like the English Queen Mum, Bunny has lived to be 101 years old through a scientific mix of hair spray and gin, and--if we are lucky--will be around for another hundred years of adoration.

Friday, August 05, 2005

There was always some scheme about how to raise money for Bunny's wardrobe, even if it was meant taking money from the poor. I mean, if The Church can get away with it, why can't a drag queen?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thyme Flies

Has it been only twenty years since Lady Bunny and a gang (and there is no better term) of drag queen hoodlums took over Tompkins Square Park and created Wigstock? I remember being hoisted on my drag queen father's shoulders to watch the first event; I was licking a fudgesicle and thinking how much I liked to see boys in dresses. Bunny-although she says she was six years old at the time--was actually thirty-eight. She's WAY old by now, but still puts on a crowd-pleasing performance. I saw Peggy Lee once in a walker, and it sort of reminds me of that. You have to give the "Lady" a hand for entertaining so many, for so little, for so LONG. God bless you, Bunny, because even He wears a wig on your saint's day.

Love Songs

This is one of the best compilations of love songs; who knows if it is still around. I bought it one late spring day in New York with several others and took them all to our summer house in Westerly, Rhode Island. We giddily danced and sang with them all summer (and for long afterward). Those were summers of love, liquor, and living it up. Hildegarde's "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup", is number four, but the whole CD is great. There is a delightful series of songs from Gertrude Lawrence that includes a wonderfully entitled piece named, "A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich, and Me". For the most part it was the first time I had ever heard these songs or of these singers, but--in true fashion--I embarked on a mission to find and collect everything I could on these women. I started prowling second record stores on the Lower East Side and found a treasure of history that opened doors in my mind to the thoughts and feelings of that period. In a time of economic depression and looming war, people turned to fantasies of love and glamour and a "pop" culture was created. Of course, I don't have a turntable anymore; what an anachronism THAT seems to be. But, I do still have all those albums and sometimes take a few out just to read and look at. "Love" seems to have been so much more serious then.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What Happened?

I mildly suggested that anyone interested might check out Hildegarde's most famous nightclub song, "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup", and I get from Ms. Bees that she has not been able to locate it on Ipod, and I've had no response from Knottyboy, who can't seem to reply at all. And, all along, I thought this new universe of available music really was. How sad. Where's Ed Grow?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Farewell to Hildegarde

One of my favorite performers of the Old School, "The incomparable" Hildegarde died yesterday. Scarily, I had just mentioned how I used to go to all her shows when she appeared at The Russian Tea Room. (I did that several months ago when I wrote about my mother, and she died a week later; scary.)

I always bribed my way to a front table; you know, if you are going to see a legend do it right. She was one of the only musicians every to play the piano with opera gloves on. At her final performance we were close enough (right next to the piano, actually) that during her two breaks Bibi and I had to rise from our seats to let he pass. As she stepped off the stage, I offered my hand, but she grabbed my thumb (more practical, perhaps, with gloves). The second time she stepped off the stage I offered my thumb and she smiled. After the show (and we were all bawling like babies), I waited for her at the foot of the stairs from the second floor; I had a book she had written many years earlier entitled, "Over Fifty, So What?". As she came down the stairs she smiled and said, "My Thumb." and I offered it. My favorite song, of course, was "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup", a touching yet happy love song that always makes me smile.