"the" Mrs. Astor

Sunday, April 30, 2006

You never know what's going to pop up in a South Beach conversation. Maintaining my near-heretical stance of avoiding The Palace this weekend, I nevertheless felt the need for some libation after a day of shopping and stopped in on the boys at Twist's happy hour. Talked was drifting in the aimless waters of politics with city gadfly, Mike Burke, when the conversation took a quantum leap as Mike brought up one of my favorite supporting characters in modern history, Felix Yussupov, the murderer of Rasputin. Finally something I could sink my teeth into! We discussed the vast Yussupov wealth, the murder, the scandalous youth in drag (of course), the homosexual proclivities, and his memoirs, Lost Splendor. I gently corrected him when he asked if I knew Felix was a nephew of the Tsar, and explained that he had married Nicholas's niece, Irina, and was not a blood relative.

Then, out of nowhere, a Spanish queen name Estaban jumped into the royal discussion and said he had met the granddaughter of Empress Zita, Margarithe, who now lived in gentle poverty in Connecticut. Although I doubt that there is any poverty in Connecticut, I exclaimed that Zita is one of my other favorite supporting stars, who as the last--and short lived--empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, took to her grave the secret of what really did happen at Mayerling (but not before making some outrageous accusations). It has long been suspected that the real story of the murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf and young Baroness Mary Vetsera was a complete coverup. Estaban told us that Margarithe had only two formal gowns, one white for audiences with the pope and one black for everything else. I thought that a piece of remarkable good sense, one that could forever rid me of all those pastels in the closet. A spirited discussion ensued to no one's satisfaction, but I was delighted to return home knowing that these two intensely interesting characters had popped up at a happy hour. I brushed off all calls to go out, opened a bottle of champagne Jeremy had given me, cut and baked off a wedge of brie, and watched Moulin Rouge. I don't think the evening could have offered anything more satisfying than that which had already transpired.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Yes, it is a bitch. Some fashion maven presented Boris with a very convoluted outfit and, of course, Ditmar--thinking everything always looks better on him--asked to try it on. Well, sometimes I just can't contain my disdain and perhaps a little too loudly exclaimed, "Pleats...So VERY last year."

This was my punishment. The phone hasn't stopped ringing.

Agents? What Agents?

The panic that gripped Miami this week seems to have subsided, but the denials made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that ANY agents were on the street should have been a bit qualified. Here are three in front of the popular 11th Street Diner, and they weren't talking about the pot roast. I I S is an interesting participant. This is.Internal.Intellegence.Systems and must be the newest member of the private contractors hired by the Bush government. The chunky chick on the left was a federal agent and seemed to be in charge. Shortly after I took this photo a guy I know walked up to them and said, "You fuckin' fascists! You have no right to do this." The agents growled something about keep moving or they'd do something nasty, the guy spewed forth a few more profanities and salked into Twist's happy hour. A little later I followed and asked, "Larry, where's Raphael (his BF)?" And a very bitter Larry replied, "Home, hiding."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

In Bed at The Nash

Last night the attention shifted to The Nash, another small, boutique hotel, as a week of parties and viewings for the 8th Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival began. The Palace is hosting Friday’s party for Francois Ozon’s film, Time to Leave (Le Temps Qui Reste). “Bed Art” was the title for last night's event and was ever-so-suited for a hotel.

Each room of the Nash’s second floor was turned into Bed Art with different mediums being used, primarily projected images and performance pieces. They were numerous and rather contrived, but not without entertainment value. Who am I to judge art? I have enough problems judging the time to the next Happy Hour, but here are a few examples.

In one of the first rooms a boy was “asleep”. We had entered his bedroom and—when he “awoke”—his anxiety…

…as he launched into a tirade about bad dreams.

As I was gazing at this car wreck of art, a local news team shoved a microphone under my nose and asked, “Would you get into that bed?” “Not at all,” I replied warily eyeing the camera. “Why not?” “Too busy.”

No art exhibition, or any exhibition for that matter, would be complete without the 14-Inch Dick. I had to bring up a point of order, however, as I did not actually see a BED associated with this piece and had a folding cot brought immediately.

And just who was the Vestal Virgin protecting Mr. 14? That's right, Miss Tiff.

The artist in another room was “taking a break”, but I thought the blow torch and glasses a bit interesting. While walking out I saw the artist returning. I kept walking.

Carl and I regrouped on a terrace with Troy and Jeff, two Palace boys who radiate their Mid-West background. We talked about the “room upstairs” where you stripped, had a Polaroid taken in a very artistic way, and then mounted it up for all to see. Everyone was “You do it, and I will” or “Do it. I dare you”, but….

…only publicist and famed drunk, Thomas Barker, actually did. (He has balls.)


You heard stories, got telephone calls all day. Balans, The Loews, The Delano, even tiny David's Cafe. Shameland Security agents swooping in and hunting down suspected terrorists. Oh, that's what they are SUPPOSED to do, isn't it? Aren't they supposed to being doning something other than arresting busboys at the hotels or mothers in supermarkets?

Yesterday the monumental construction boom in downtown Miami came to a halt. Work on all those high-rises ceased when workers stayed home, afraid to leave the house. The news reported instances when they simply left their tools and fled. I know that brain power is NOT one of those energy policies at work in The White House, but didn't anyone have the sense to realize that it's not the all-American type pouring concrete in 90 degree weather? Sadly most of the people cowering behind their doors aren't even illegal in the true sense; they are "not 100%", and I will explain that later. The disruption of business is a hope; when businessmen lose money, what do they do? Yes, call their Republican lackies. This may backfire big time.

I kid not when I say that where ever you are these days, when a door opens, in walks fear. I never, ever thought I would witness anything like this in my life, in this country.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Victor

We spent last night at Edison's martini party on the roof of The Hotel Victor, next to The Palace. War, civil unrest, and general strikes may plague the city, but the posh hotel--a favorite of celebrities like The Countess Bedelia--was awash with partiers. (Where have I seen this before?) The rooms start at something like $450 a night and they are at 80% capacity. Unfortunately, The Victor may not have anyone to wash the dishes or cook the food either if Bush has his way.
The impressive drapes in the staircase made any boy have fantasies of The Stage.
I remembered that Claudius had been found hiding beind curtains by The Imperial Guard and immediately proclaimed emperor. If I were emperor I would round up every Republican, declare Texas an independent country, and exile them all to it.

The hotel's restaurant prices are as lavish as it's cuisine and decor and we found it packed. Ditmar and I had our martinis served in the most extraordinary glasses, sort of like the style that popped up when Art Nouveau met Art Deco. There was no way, no matter how many times I tried, to fit one in my Gucci clutch. (Note to self: Next time bring the Prada tote.)


It’s strange how things can change so quickly. One day everyone is dancing a Conga line under a brilliant sky and the next they are cowering in fear. A blanket of fear has covered this happy, fun-loving city; and it’s not a cozy one at all.

Two days ago agents of Homeland Security began raiding businesses in search for “illegal” aliens. Unmarked, black vans pulled up to popular businesses on Lincoln Road and in Little Havana unloading shouting agents intent upon grabbing screaming workers. They actually stopped people on the street and demanded ID. Yesterday roadblocks were set up on the 79th St. causeway onto The Beach and this morning on the MacArthur to the south. People going to work were being hauled out of their cars and yesterday a grocery market in Little Havana was raided; a brave move by Bush forces that rounded up twenty five mothers.. One moment someone’s mom was shopping for food and the next she was in handcuffs.

Shameland Security agents manned the four corners of 65th and Collins Avenue just north of “Millionaires’ Row” this morning doing nothing but scaring people who drove by. This morning Scottie mentioned that he left the house without his ID and asked if I had mine. I replied that I didn’t ordinarily walk around with my passport, replying, “What are they going to do? Deport me to Rhode Island? I should be so lucky.”

But this isn’t funny. These so-called “illegals” are the backbone of our entire society. They work hard and pay taxes. A friend who’s mother works for the federal government said it was a common rumor that it was payback for Bush getting booed in South America a short while back. How vile this government has become.

The federal employee also said that next Monday’s call for a general strike by the Hispanic community had incensed the government. How about that? A general strike; when was the last time you heard that in America? Is this what this once great country has come to? Let’s add endless war and an empty treasury to that and you have the seeds for some type of revolt.

Well this snooty New England society lady doesn’t like being scared by government goons. What have we sunk to? I suggest we make all these people wear an orange “I” on the outside of their clothing; then we’ll see just how many of them are around us, buying goods and services, being our friends. Then we can build some nice camps to put the ugly people in, and some ovens too. They, however, are for the fat, white men with the blue suits and red ties. They’ll cook up just fine, but not—unfortunately—in time for many innocent people.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The sultry sunrise as I walked down Ocean Drive yesterday showed no hint of the edgy day to come. This sometimes happens in South Beach just after the end of season. Everyone's tired, flush with money, and...edgy.
All I could do when I saw Tiff downing her second plate of fried appetizers was think (out loud to her), "Now, tell me; if this creature approached you in a dark mall parking lot asking if you wanted a chicken wing, would you run?
Alas, others found solace in the false paradise that is drug abuse.

I would be the last to call someone "old", but when Ricky was asked to show ID he pulled out a piece of the Rosetta Stone.

In the end, I alone stood up for world order and spent the day enforcing the dress code by making the boys undress. If I didn't do it someone else would.

Friday, April 21, 2006


One of the things you do with a new love is watch movies dear to you. It’s one of those personal experiences you share. I started out with Titanic, the one with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. How I love that movie; I grew up wanting to be Clifton Webb and ended up becoming Barbara Stanwyk. We got nowhere near the end of my list, but we got to watch,
Auntie Mame
Rear Window
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane
Sunset Boulevard
The Manchurian Candidate
And many others. Those are the best.

One remarkable failure was John Waters’ Desperate Living. Funny; so many of us grew up worshipping Waters’ slamming of middle class America. Who couldn’t adore Mink Stole’s nervous breakdown where she shouts out the window, “Don’t tell ME I don’t know what Vietnam was like!”

Well, foreigners can’t; they can’t tolerate any of it. Waters doesn’t translate very well to foreigners. Now I wonder why we love Bad Taste. Bright people adore kitsch and embrace camp. Bad Taste is just a rarified version of those, but what a bad reflection it becomes when we find ourselves laughing at stained panties from Bloomindales.

Word to the wise: Don’t show any snooty Argentine a movie glorifying White Trash and not expect to suffer the consequences. Let’s keep these movies to ourselves, like a secret handshake.

Still, who doesn’t love a girl who kills her mother on Christmas morning because she didn’t get the “Cha-Cha” heels she wanted?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I love my boys. What was to have been a private, sedate birthday dinner at everyone's favorite German beerhall/restaurant, Schnitzel Haus, turned out to be a big surprise for me. The boys packed the place and even Miss Tiffany put on a performance. It wasn't exactly Eva Braun singing Alpine ditties, but her nearly seven-feet of Amazon-like talent did command the attention of the entire room. I could hardly make it up the steps to The Palace afterwards; I can hear the phone now. "Hello, this is the Betty Ford Clinic. Your suite is ready."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Oh, No...

...has it really been a year?

Another birthday. I developed a benign neglect for the day after a co-worker in New York once inscribed a card with "Better to be one year older, Dawn (Davenport), than fucking dead." And, yes, it is. There is so much fun and happiness to be squeezed out of every day of the year that leads up to the next Dreaded Day. We had a pre-birthday party at The Palace on Sunday with the usual gang. That Pimpernel had set aside the demands of Credit Suisse for three days and attended the Saturday dinner at Camp Astor, presented me with a huge stash of my favorite cheese and chocolate liqueurs, and took up a prominant position at the bar on Sunday.

About 5PM it became less about me and more about them, what a waggish friend of mine called the chicken and twinkie diet. I replied, "That will drive you crazy." We laughed.
Things rapidly degenerated into the usual Sunday orgy of fun, and we found ourselves slipping out to dinner at Hosteria Romana again and slipping upstairs.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I have always subscribed to the sensible New England thinking of "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" and this has never been more underscored by the new neighbors. My former neighbors in the home to the south were a nice, gay couple who were good friends of mine, and they had good taste. The new neighbors seem to have more money than taste and must be a little short on the good sense, too. They erected a huge, solid iron gate which happens to be wind-resistant and it blew down in the first hurricane last year. Then they decided that the existing pool was too small, yanked it out, and dug another twice as big just before the second hurricane which turned the back yeard into a swampy lake.
They other day I couldn't resist looking at the finished pool and climbed to the roof of the cottage. There's just no accounting for taste; that tacky TiKi hut is shadowed by the Flintstone-like rock decoration. Of course there is a fake waterfall in the jacuzzi section, too; I wouldn't have expected anything less.
Our back yard seems so much more sensible.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Aura Prints at the Scene of the Crime

We were strolling down Lincoln Road when this sign stopped us dead in our tracks. It gave us pause to wonder just how you get an aura picture, what it means, and just what you do with it. Of course, we could have just walked in and found the answer to these life questions and more, but we had just taken lunch and I had to use bathroom facilities. Aside from not wanting to get involved in a lot of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, I had the feeling that if it was possible to photograph my aura that image could be distorted by my bodily needs. Yes I could see someone like Ms. Bees making some snarky remark like, “Oh, I recognize that aura; he has to take a poop.(or something equally vulgar)” Or “There’s cold, poached salmon adrift in a sour cream cucumber sauce in his aura”. Spiritually gifted, nosey people like Bees would more than likely use an aura pic to open a Pandora’s box of inner secrets. Thoughts like these were swirling around my head and I’m sure there was a particularly huge aura around me. Bees has a grandmother somewhere here in Florida, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s been put up to something like this.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Admittedly, I don't know any cowboys and that's another fantasy best left unacted upon. I believe as a child I did entertain the notion of dressing up as Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke; the idea of running a whorehouse, or at least dressing as if I did, was the closest I ever came to life on The Frontier. The Wild West to me was a huge tent set up in the back yard with an extension cord running from the house for the TV. (I spent more time thinking up ways for the neighborhood boys to take off their clothes than worrying about Indian unrest.)

But I DO know that no cowboy ever dressed like this. The whole gay, cowboy thing has gotten out of control. How can a normal, healthy boy dream of wearing a saucy, red dress with black lace trim and running a rough-and-tumble saloon/whorehouse anymore with cowboys in pastels and $600 boots made in Italy? It just isn't right.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ditmar was wearing fancy under pants, and this boy was wearing none at all, by the looks of things.

Ben reappeared after a mysterious two-week absence. Fears that he was being held, shackled, in the sinister Castle Bedelia were put to rest; he was in California on business and laying the groundwork for his move there. He said (and I quite agree) that Miami is not necessarily the place for a person at his stage in his career. I coquetishly slapped his face with my fan and said, "Now you will have to sleep with all South Beach before you go." "That's why I have to leave," Ben replied, "Haven't you read the bumper stickers: BEN THERE;DONE THAT"? Not many men can wear orange with confidence, and succeed.

Nothing warms the heart more than a deserving boy getting a new pair of shoes.

Of course, if they are size 15 black patent leather spikes it is nearly impossible to keep a boy from trying them on and parading around in them.

While Tiffany was off to the other bar I took one of the monsters out of the box and demonstrated how just about anything can be an effective marketing tool.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Limbo, And Loving It

Season is ending and the weather is warming up, but we can always count on our customers to maintain the atmosphere of extreme fun, especially on weekends. Last Sunday they cleared the tables from the patio and began a Limbo contest (why hadn’t I thought of that!). The boys—all quite drunk—had a ball demonstrating their Limbo skills and I, subscribing to the theory that “If he’s good on the dance floor, he’s good in bed”, gleefully judged their performances. I am now studying “The Limbo, It’s Origins and Impact on Western Civilization.” and working on the design of my Limbo judicial robes. Boys, boys, boys; what would we do without them?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Social Drinking

Good behavior is not rewarded on South Beach; indeed; it is frowned upon. It carries a lot of baggage such as the notion that the perpetrator of good behavior is out to embarrass others. Good behavior is at best forgettable and most certainly boring, the greatest crime that can be committed in the shallow waters of The Beach.

Bad behavior, on the other hand, is lauded and applauded. It is as likely to assure you entry into the stratosphere of society here as it is to bar you from the lowest dive. It is difficult to differentiate between The Gutter here and The Penthouse; both are immeasurably fun and—worked with a clever hand—are a nice compliment to each other.

Drinking is the common denominator of South Beach society. “It IS The South” is one phrase heard over and over, but it is a far cry, or sip. from The Deep South. The three southern, “Blue” counties here, Palm, Broward, and Dade have enough transplanted New Yorkers and New Englanders to be known as The Sixth Borough (of New York City). The phrase that rings closest to the truth in Miami is “The further north you go, the further south you get”.

Everyone likes a good cocktail here; the only determining factor is “when” the first one is consumed. I, for one, am firmly in the bleaches of Good Society which dictates that there is no redeeming social value to drinking before 1:00PM. True, we all hear about the occasional shot of Rumplemintz in the morning cup of peppermint tea (with toast), but we don’t talk about it. That would be rude. Rather, you can set a watch to the gentle stampede to the bar at 1; the rapid click-click of squashed-heeled shoes is pure music.

If you do gather before 1:00PM you talk about the previous day’s escapade. Last Sunday Dr. Lynne and Mattie May were reminiscing about the previous day; Dr. Lynne qualified her statement by saying, “Well, what do you expect? We started drinking at 1 and didn’t stop until 11.” Mattie astoundingly replied, “At least I didn’t start until 2.” I gently smiled at his restraint as I sipped my peppermint tea.

Mondays are Biblical in the recounting of how Sunday ended. I have heard just about everything. Who did what with whom, or how this or that was lost, what was destroyed, how certain death was cheated. It’s not that all of this is important or even listened to as 1:00PM is always just around the corner. The society horses parade around Ditmar’s bar, line up at the gate, and wait for the bell. Jeremy won the Friday derby when he got out of his doctor’s appointment quickly and took up position at 11:00AM; there was no doubt he was in the race to win and win he did. By 5:00PM a First Place ribbon was being pinned on my beloved captain; no other horse even came close and Jeremy’s favorite line, “I’m not drinking anymore, but I’m not drinking any less” echoed throughout the room..

The breakfast bell just chimed; if I don’t hurry all the peppermint tea will be gone.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Winter Music conference just ended here on South Beach. It is five days of music nirvana. DJ's, musicians, record producers, and everyone else in the business gather here every March for five days of music madness. New music is not only presented, it is promoted with great enthusiasm and backed by all the hype money can buy.

Day and night (there is not an hour unused) the parties rage; once again the sun, the time, and the law have relinquished rule for that period. Parties rule a party town. It is as if an old theory is proved: music soothes this beast of a town. It is a very well-behaved crowd that only wants to present, demonstrate, and enjoy all that the element of music offers the soul.

The Palace presented DJ's on Saturday and Sunday to capacity crowds. There is nothing quite like dancing to abandon while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I did a little dancing myself at the risk of being "unstately". Come on, a little Quadrille never hurt a girl's reputation. It's that Polka you have to beware of and those brazen Guardsmen holding your body close while the medals dance on their magnificent chests and you are lost enough to raise the hem of your dress which reveals stockinged ankles of pearl-white splendor.

Oh, but I lose myself.