"the" Mrs. Astor

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bad vs. Good Behaviour

One might have assumed "things" would have gotten out of hand, but who knew? The question had been asked, "could a group of porno stars come in and party on a mid-afternoon". Why not?

This boy had an admirer and didn't even know it (or wouldn't have cared).

Our, little Raymond (on right) always brings his well-behaved latino friends. We love them.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Alive, But Barely

I awoke this morning with beach sand in my long blonde hair; apparently I had washed up on shore some time early this morning. The last thing I remember was my liver sinking in a sea of Moet, people jumping off it, and a flute playing Nearer My God to Thee. Fortunately, I already WAS in a dress, so I was able to get on the last lifeboat, but foolishly reach out for one last glass and fell over. I looked up and what did I see: The Palace and realized that The 7th, The 12th, and everyone else will be gathering for Your Last Sunday As a Free Man. Oh dear.

Anne Hyatt was intent upon finding the gorgeous boy from last night and she did. His name is Mark, "from Conneticut". He was tipped another $100 and we never waited for any glass again.

We wisely decided not to engage in the hand-to-hand combat for food and established a defensive perimeter around a corner of the Moet pavillion.

The alluring Anne Hyatt hooked up with resident scoundral, CJ, at The Palace after the festival.

Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Bubbly Q

When I stepped out on the beach I ran into Carlos, one of the most handsome of South Beach's cops (and nice, too). He saw me with my ever-present camera and said, "Me? You want a photo of me?" Some day we'll have a private session, OK?

The BBQ by chefs around the country was exhilarating. I was asked this morning what I liked most about it, and I said the ability to sample so many different, extreme tastes. There was one valuable lesson learned: don't try to eat BBQ'd quail holding the plate and a glass of champagne; it doesn't work.

Another lesson (supposedly learned last year): don't wear black, Brooks Bros., cap-toed shoes on a beach unless you want to appear not to have thought out the night. Like any other event of this type, there were belly dancers, acrobats, and fire twirlers, but you really couldn't pay attention to the entertainment with all that gorgeous food around. There was so much it was embarrassing; you either gorged yourself and suffered the consequences or you maintained some decorum and felt cheated. I took the latter road and arrived home just in time to catch him sneaking out. Yes, no one could believe that I could tear myself away from the bacchanal and made plans to visit a friend for dinner. I momentarily considered returning--or at least going back to The Palace--when I heard the pitter-patter of rain that turned into a deluge. Those poor people on the beach, I smugly thought.

Palace owners Henry and Doug flanking the beautiful and engaging Anne Hyatt.

Most chefs are of the Emeril type of guy; you may enjoy their dishes, but you don't want to make a dish out of them. This chef, though.....

It's difficult to see, but all this was ON the beach behind The Delano. The ocean on one side the the beach condos on the other. I almost wore this same dress; I'm glad I wore the blazer instead.

It is very important to bond with a person in charge of pouring champagne and he might as well be cute. Doug gave him a nice tip and we never waited in line again.

Yummy; and I took one of those glasses home.

This couple looked as if they made a wrong turn and instead of getting to the circus showed up here.

Every need was attended to, and as I left this lovely was helping everyone, well, detox.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Press, Press, and Pull

Every time this year I become a member of The Press. It’s not for me to conduct some award-winning investigative reporting on the consumption of frozen mango margaritas. It is to get into the Food and Wine Festival without paying.

The Festival is off and flying with the first grand parties last night at Casa Casuarina and the Victor Hotel, our neighbors to the south on Ocean Drive. The hottest ticket in town, although it’s been sold out for weeks at $275 per person, is tonight’s Bubbly Q at The Delano. The participating chefs compete at BBQ’s on the beach and Moet Chandon keeps everyone’s whistles wet. It’s hard to leave standing.

Last night Virgin tycoon, Richard Branson, came into The Palace with 13 friends and spent $1,000 on dinner. Now, our hamburgers and supper dishes are very, very good, but to spend that much means downing many bottles of wine and champagne, which is exactly what he did. He also left an extraordinary tip which tells a lot about a guy who started with nothing.

This morning I was talking with some tourists from Chicago when two big—very big—SWAT team cops walked in, all loaded down with guns, radios, and armor. The room froze, I looked for an escape route, and Ditmar turned around to face them. The biggest one approached the bar and leaned over; the only sound was the chatter of teeth. Ditmar approached him and the cop looked him in the face, gave him a big, wet kiss on the lips and said, “Hi, honey”. We all looked at each other and laughed. It IS South Beach.

The Parties Rage

Tonight, the final preparations for the Wine and Food Festival were made. For as far as the eye could see, the tented pavillions lined the beach in what is to become the best year so far. The three-day event is so sold out that an ad in The Herald offering a four day cruise in exchange for two tickets was laughed at. On Friday night my kickoff is the uber-BBQ at the Delano Hotel followed by the Grand Tasting; I hope my bride-to-be forgives me. Gluttony WAS one of the seven, deadly sins.

At early evening the word was out about the Veuve Cliquot party at The Victor Hotel next door. The sidewalk and entry way had be carpeted for the night in the VC signature orange, but you had to just sigh when you saw the orange bathtubs which were to be filled with the champagne. "No, no", I said, "I have to be home tonight." I can only imagine what I would have done with tubs of boys bathing in the bubbly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Pied Piper

I always used to hear that you needed a doctor, a lawyer, and an auto mechanic in the family if life was going to make any sense at all, and that is all true. But as time goes on one's needs expand and that family needs to be larger than one that sent two children off to professions and kept one in a blue collar to keep the Volvo tuned up.

One family member well-connected in the entertainment world must be kept now. In New York I had "Mr. Opera", actually a brother-in-law, who review operas and always had a fourth row, center seat at the Met. When he couldn't attend he often offered it to me and, even if he did, had the connections to take care of The Opera Queens. Here in Miami I have Matt (holding the beer bottle in a non-scandalous manner), a director of the state theatrical association. He is sort of the Pied Piper of the Broadway set; a new musical opens, he whips out his flute, and all the children follow. Last night we all heard the haunting tune of his pipe a followed him, dancing, to Hairspray's opening night.

Interesting enough to me, Hairspray--a piece so centered around race and prejudice--played to an overwhelmingly "lily white" audience. "Typical Miami Beach opening night", I told Matt, "the old Jewish money from above 23rd Street and the new gay money and their friends from south of it." Truthfully, if a bomb had gone off there wouldn't have been a banker, hairdresser, bartender, or fag hag left to run the town.
Mattie wowed me again with third row, center seats that found me embarrassingly looking up the skirts of the dancers and wishing they were boys. And after a slow start that reminded me (no doubt because of the same time period) of Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray took off into the stratosphere of High Entertainment. By the rousing final dance number young fags were dancing in the aisles and old, Jewish ladies clapping as if they stumbled upon a revival meeting. Ah, Miami Beach.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Eyes and Heart

Separated at birth: Todd and Perfidia, sisters in hairspray.

What a nerve-wracking day. Firstly, the doctor at 7am, where--to my utter surprise--it was announced that not only was there nothing wrong with me (despite my vehement protestations that years of being force-fed alcohol was taking a toll) but that I was still able to bear children.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday at The Palace

It was the usual scenario: I was skyping on Sunday afternoon when the calls started coming in. At each ring of the cell; it is always the same: "Where ARE you?" And even though I had announced my intention to stay home, I know the routine. Fortunately, a smart afternoon outfit of a crisp white shirt paired with daring plaid pants had been laid out in advance of this.

As I approached the patio it was heartening to see Ben and Jeremy dining and drinking together (each of their food tasters had already died of natural, if sudden, causes). Still, they seemed to be enjoying the superb weather, the enormous crowd, and--of course--my arrival.

Our little Raymond (far back left) brought a gaggle of latino boys to the next table. In the old days I would have been seated there, fascinating them all with colorful stories and extending a sudden invitation to an inpromtu pool party.

Thankfully, those days are gone.

My boys.

Ben demonstrated talents on his beer bottle that prove he will be a great asset to the group.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I'm No Fool...

...A captain in the hand is worth two in the bush. He is number one.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Old and the New Guard

With a pressure cooker of a month upon us, I've spent a little more time than usual with my boys, The Palace Guard; Ben (on the left) is the head of the new recruits and Will one of the original members of The 7th. Being new, Ben was full of questions and excitement and even called Jeremy chiding him about making a move to be captain (a coup so soon, I thought). That would not happen under my watch of course, but I like his enthusiasm and informed him that he is entrusted with protecting The Palace from bad elements.

I arrived home to find the sweetest note from dear Constanza, a member of an old New England family of impeccable breeding and drinking.

"...let me say how very, very happy I am for you, and I might add, how glad I am to see you so well settled and happy in MB. I have over the years regaled friends with stories of you (don't worry, not ALL of the ones I could have told!), and I'm so very excited to have you back in my life again. You remind me of what's important.

Okay, I'll stop waxing sentimental. I know you have peasant uprisings to quash and guard uniforms to redesign. Have you done the wedding registry thing at any stores? If so, where? One wants to consider seriously just what gift befits a royal marriage.

I have a pretty extraordinarily busy spring, until about the middle of May. Perhaps in May or June I might come down for a weekend visit? I would utterly love to do that, and I am a suitably independent travel companion, I think my friends agree.



I have been so extraordinary lucky throughout my life to have had the most interesting, intelligent, and fun friends, some of them for decades. They are my family and that family is readying to take in a new member.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Thomas Barker

It's not difficult to pinpoint the moment Thomas Barker came into the fold. I had had the joy of being seated opposite him at Jenny Yip's glorious Chinese New Year dinner party and reveled in his stories. A well-known publicist and writer of a rather racy nightlife column, Thomas was a bubbling fountain of gossip that night, not the least of the stories remembered being the one of him and a boy from Brooklyn in the back seat of a Chrysler. A week later I ran into him at a party and he was entertaining us about doing it in the back seat of his father's car. And last week he was going on about the back seat of a Ford Explorer when I just couldn't help it and said, "Well, aren't you just the poster child for Detroit." That's when we bonded.

It's always nice to have a well-connected hussy around; they make it their business to know everyone, to know what everyone is doing and to whom. Like most hussies, Thomas is a bit of a drunk, more than a bit of a flirt, and therefore the life of the party. I remember quite vividly at back seat story number one, an old Jewish real estate baron remarking how much he loved Barker's weekly column; it made me smile.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Shelley Novak Awards

Love, marriage, planning a life together..... All of those are pressing items on the agenda, but it's time to get down the the really important things again. Yes, it is once again time for The Shelley Novak Awards, the academy awards of Miami drag society. The date is February 27 at Crobar.

It would be an understatement to say that the anticipation for this night is causing anxiety here. Remarks are made, ("She looked so tired in that old dress."), dirt dug up ("You know, she did serve time."), and accusations flung ("I know she stole it!) in the jockeying for votes and attention. Social powerhouses like Edison Farrow use their vast resources to coordinate the voting and stir up the pot.

It's not a good time to be known as a judge or other deciding factor in this claw-your-eyes-out competition, but The Unsinkable Shelley Novak did ask me to be a presenter. My immediate reply was, "Will any other presenter being wearing gold lame' that evening?" Shelley answered, "No presenter can afford gold lame'." I squealed like a pig.

I am now rehearsing in front of a mirror. I walk up the imaginary stairs of the stage (the audience is hushed, waiting for me to step on the hem of my gown and fall). I glide with unbridled grace and dignity across that stage, waving to some unknown club person in the front row (I can't see them anyway without my glasses). I shake the hand of the announcer and brush him back to take over the podium whipping out a fashionable pair of diamond-studded reading glasses (my hands have been steadied by a shot of Van Gogh expresso vodka). I gently clear my throat.

"And the nominees are..."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Love and The Threat of Death

I've watched closely as many members of my clique have slipped into relationships, a state of being here in Sodom-by-the-Sea about as rare and stable as any ice sculpture in the sun. Perhaps The Palace helped the idea along, too, because despite it's position as the crown jewel of South Beach's gay businesses, it is not really a cruisy venue. Sure, put 100 gay men on one corner--many of them half naked--and sparks will fly. As CitySearch points out, The Palace is more a center of fun and socializing than a pick-up joint.

Now many of my confirmed bachelors have a common worry: Death my Murder. And there is no amount of protection I can offer.

Just this weekend, Jeremy--the strong and hardened captain we all rely on--was heard saying, "Really, if I'm not out of here by four, Jose will kill me!" (A short time later, he bounced back in saying, "I've been granted a one hour reprieve!!", from certain death, no doubt. Yet another friend confessed to me, "Bill will kill me if he knows I'm smoking a cigarette." Even the condemned get a light, I thought. And just yesterday, humpilicious Officer Brian moaned, "Bennett wanted to kill me when he learned I was coming down here a third time in one month." Well, Brian, arrest the bitch, and while you are at it all the rest of these shrewish wives.

Amour de la glorie.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Outside of a fox hunt, how many sit-down events can a person successfully wear a red sport coat?

I'll Take a Magnum of That

I will try now to get beyond the KiKi thing, although I still can't imagine why someone would try to hurt me like that when I never sort to keep him. All those apologies now being offered are such an empty glass of emotion.

Believe it or not, Life still went on as it was Mark's birthday and Ditmar was not about to allow the melodrama of my life to interfere with the celebration of such a dear friend. He dictated (don't Huns always do that) that we arrive at the extremely popular, Magnum restaurant. (I described this once before as it takes oh-so-much to get me to the mainland, but Magnum is worth the trip.)

I get giddy when I'm around Second French Empire decor, and I know that makes me a REAL queen. Jean Paul Sarte's "No Exit" wasn't a nightmare for me, it was a dream come true; give me velvet drapes with fringe, gold leaf, and a monkey statuette with a clock in its belly and I will roll over and purr. This is the entry way into Magnum. With its red walls and mahogany wainscoting, the main room beckons as a bordello; at any moment you feel gypsies from La Traviata will swarm out of a door and fill the room with sexual frenzy. Ditmar--ever the fashion plate--wore a red sports jacket and cap with red piping. When I remarked, "How nice of you to dress to match the room.", he replied, "Why don't you try it sometime?" To which I replied, "When they find the mauve, flocked wallpaper of my boudoir in a fabric that will translate to a bolero top, I will." Please don't try to out-bitch me.

It all sank in this morning.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

La Liz

Of all the great society weddings I have been to, I must give honor to that of Sister Dimension's in the glory days of Susanne Bartch's Copacabana. Sister had been Susanne's Dj for many years and was a club icon when she incongruously decided to tie the knot with a low-life, ghetto boy named Boy Stab. I mean, REALLY, who marries someone named Boy Stab; surely you arrange for a name change of some sort: perhaps Cornelius Stab-Whitney.

In any event we were caught up in the moment and went along with it all in the spirit of mindless entertainment. And, great fun it was. The club was packed that night with not a single dilettante wishing to miss the function. There must have been twenty bridesmaids dancing on stage as The Wedding March began and Sister, in a huge wedding gown and many attendants, walked through the adoring crowd. Somehow, I maintained the wherewithal to video the ceremony as La Liz, pictured here that night, conducted a ceremony in which Boy Stab couldn't even remember how to say, "I do" to. It was all such fun.

When La Liz asked if there was anyone, ANYONE, who objected to the union, music suddenly start to play and The "Lady" Bunny (Maid of Honor) stepped to the forefront and sang a rousing rendition of "It Should Have Been Me". When I look at the video today, I see the manic nature of the crowd and my own swaying, if artistic, filming and think, "They just don't make weddings like that anymore."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Swinging Captains

Despite the deluge of drunken Bostonians, I was able to spend some quality time with my beloved Captain of The Guard, Jeremy. We agreed that the new formation will be entitled The 12th Dragoons.

Jeremy's well-being is one of my main concerns, as everyone knows; without him there would be chaos and anarchy, not to mention the dramatic loss in vokda sales. So it was with not a little shock that I listened to him tell me, "I jumped from a plane three times this week."

"Really? Did it go Ok, like not having to chew open the emergency parachute cord when the main one turned out to be that lost beach towel of last week?"

"Oh," he said with that familiar wave of the hand, "I only got entangled in a tree the third time in the middle of The Everglades."

"NO!," I exclaimed, "I knew a girl who parachuted in high winds and was carried to The Everglades. She spent three hours beating off an alligator with a stick until the police located her!"

"I wasn't so lucky," Jeremy explained. "I was rescued by a general; it was very embarrassing."

Suddenly, several guys listening (there are spies everywhere) chimed in and asked, "Was he cute?"

Jeremy let out a cackle and said, "Is any general cute?!"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I had to congratulate Tiffany this afternoon on the glamorous, bronze sequinned mini-dress. So practical and so unlike the white linen tea gown I was wearing; I'll never get New England out of my blood. I did have friends visiting from Boston this weekend and firmly blame them for my fall (really a triple-twist dismount) from the wagon. What a bunch of drunks. The leader of the pack, elegant Constanza, actually had the gall to ask me today just what I did at The Palace on weekends. (This while endlessly entertaining them.) I replied, "To be spendid." That shut her up.
The other Bostonian, Officer Brian, was packed on a Norwegian cruise ship today and sent away; as usual he contributed mightily to my going down the drain.

With all Bostonians now departed, I've been able to focus on the agenda item on all lips today: The Wedding. The guest list stands at 150 and I've been thrilled to learn of the attendance of The Countess Bedelia, who will be Officer Brian's date. Our Best Man, Captain Jeremy, is away on military business until the 17th, making the wedding a little later than planned; we will have to live in sin until then, but is IS South Beach. It has all turned into the very "feel good" event that has been with me all this time; even the people who had that initial raised eyebrow have come into the fold. The crowd is tapping their fingers together and chirping like magpies.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Bachelor Party

Things are getting crazy. Well, I should say people are getting crazy as this wedding approaches.

Last night I fell off the wagon I had so gloriously climbed onto in November. Officer Brian was nursing a hangover the size of Montana when we started boozing with Miggy the bartender. Some wag said, "Every night is a party for you."
It was then that my dear friends banded together and promised me a bachelor party, too. Through the tears I thanked them and they asked, "Do you want the strippers from Twist there?"
"No", I coyly replied, " I do have one request. I want an Asian-themed party." "Oh, do you want geisha boys, too?" "No," I replied, "I want MOTHRA!"

There was a hush in the room as I spoke the name of the great diety. Everyone stopped drinking and slightly bowed their heads. I swear I heard drums in the distance as I invoked the name of the only true God, Mothra. I went home and got out my Mothra action figure and prayed to it for a happy marriage; Mothra winked at me and I could hear the little Cosmos girls singing The Mothra Song.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How Would You Like...

...this coming out at you from the dark while on drugs?

Leigh Bowery and The "Lady" Bunny in The Green Room of Mars.

The Green Room's floor, furniture, and walls were upholstered in Astroturf; it made for a rather comfortable room. How many times did I hear or did I say, "Going to Mars tonight? OK, see you in The Green Room." It had two distinctions: One, it was right off of Perfidia's room where she played the most fantasmic period music to the crowds of adoring drag queens and their fans (whom I photographed and videoed), and, Two, was on the path to that floor's bathrooms. It provided a venue for people-watching along with the opportunity of being invited into the bathroom.

I was the only one allowed into Mars with a video camera (an early Sony mini) as it was deemed that my attention to drag queen's posed no threat to the club's other, more sinister, operations. Who needed sinister operations when you had Connie Girl swinging from ceiling pipes and Joey Stephano being fucked with beer bottles on the pool table? Heady times.

Leigh Bowery was one of those characters that Life only grants one of per lifetime. An Australian boy who turned society upside down with a life lived in makeup and costume, Leigh managed to shock even jaded, New York nightlife. He was at home sewing sequins on a leather face mask as he was shooting ping-pong balls out of his ass at Michael Alig's Disco 2000. Once in a lifetime.

Lady Bunny is so cute here; for once her hair was not higher than she was. It was her email to me yesterday which prompted me to look at old photos. I recommend her DVD, "Rated X, For X-tra Retarded."