"the" Mrs. Astor

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My favorite employee, that little kah-ween Ray-Ray who thinks he's Beyonce and has captured the town's energy with his Latino night, is--according to rumor--about to be recognized for his bartending and beauty skills by a local newspaper. And, I would be the last to accuse Ray of being effeminate, but a lesbian hit on him the other night and when he brushed her off she got in his face and all huffy until he said, "But I'm a boy." "Oh, no. I'm so sorry," apologized the lesbian.

My sister, The Countess du Barry arrived from Newport yesterday with 31 tiaras in her carry-on. She set off howls of laughter when she described security's reaction, but she IS a countess and there are still those of us who travel with our jewels on our person. Countess Bedelia arrives tomorrow with apparently enough jewelry to buy a small island. I have warned her that my ropes of diamonds are coming out, the same one's Henry Lehr once said made me look like a walking chandelier.

My afternoon off today will be a bit more subdued; I'm donning my Clara Barton outfit and visiting the sick and shopping for Ramon and the dogs. It's amazing how little help is available and how difficult it is to process all the paperwork for any help at all.

Jewels and charity work; what a life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The atmosphere of the ESPN headquarters takes on an almost carnival atmosphere at night. During the day, we are continually amused by the live broadcastes with the The Palace and The Tides in the background. I requested ESPN T-shirts for the dragshows on Saturday and they have promised to pan the sidewalk during the shows.

But, as always, there is the religious spoiler in the crowd, this time in a tin-pot, white trash van blaring warinings of doom. Don't these people have anything better to do, like check their mongoloid children's homework, or check on the pigs running loose in the back yard?

The manouvering for tickets to du Barry's Tiara Party has reached unrestainable heights. You either have one or you don't (but, check with me--I have pull). I just want to assure all that there is enough KettleOne to get through the afternoon.

Not a fun, fun day; so many friends in the hospital. It makes you wonder why you might be spared all these abominable maladies while those so younger fight them. It was interesting; when I visited the dogs today (without Ramon--in the hospital--there) they were so sad, ever-knowing. They just wanted some semblence of normalcy, I could see.

Still, life on South Beach went on.

Monday, January 29, 2007

It IS a special week when one of my "babies" comes home from Europe to introduce me to his boyfriend. "Leopold", always fondly remembered as Jake, is here for two weeks with one of the most adorable Germans since Lilly Marlene. None of us could get his name down, but the German was astounded by my knowledge of the area and history of Hesse-Darmstadt, where he was born.

Ah.....as The countess de Lava said in "The Women", "La'mour, La'mour; tu jour, La'mour.

I love my boys.

And who shows up on The Palace steps (ESPN headquarters is just across the street), but Mike Ditka whom Brian just gushed over. Unfortunately, I have no clue about the game, always having thought it rather vulgar, too slow, and terribly middle class. At least in soccer, there was some action and something to look at.

Something I AM familiar with, Henrietta, stopped by to say she would like to hold her birthday party in our new back bar (the infamous latin room). I told her we would pull out the stops for it and it is in March. The room will be host this weekend to Countess du Barry's "Tiaras at The Palace", an event the tickets to which are now being fiercly fought over. I have had several young men approach me about it, but long ago decided to bring James, one of the most intriguing and adorable attendees to Court I can think of and someone I have held in high regard for a long time. Sometimes you just have to follow instinct in a situation like this; James is that instinct and I won't be proven wrong.

Latino Night began with the arrival of our dear friend, Brian. He, too, kept referring to the evening as my being at the candy store. I informed him I was much to busy to be sampling chocolates, but understood his observation.

Emiliano had his own gripe with me in that he says I never send him photos. Just keep pealing off those clothes dear boy and you will get everything you want.

Edgar on the left caught me off guard last week when he said, "You should be ashamed" As it turns out HE is the one now on guard since he was making out with Jeremy. Jeremy can do no wrong, but Edgar.....YOU can, and now my eyes are on YOU.

Bryan on the right has been elevated to Official Court Favorite. He's not only sweet and adorable, but he took over photo obligations when my battery died. Welcome, Bryan; your star is on the rise.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

One of the most amazing things I forgot to mention is that the day Mayor Dermer turned over control of The City to the dachshunds, the dogs erected a fence around City Hall to keep the employees coralled in. During the day, you could see employees rolling around in the grass and nipping at each other as the dachshunds closely monitored their actions.

I just came back from stopping in on Ramon and the dogs; another bloodclot has developed over his ear and some sort of action will be taken this week. It is heartbreaking to see someone who cleamed up his act, got a great job, now reduced to handouts. I assured him on as many counts as I could; he will not starve or be thrown out (but this is humiliating to him).

SO.....In the great tradition of South Beach, I will focus on the nonsensical things, like tonight's Latino Night hosted by The Countess Ramona of the Grand Duchy of Hialeah. I didn't need to send out a general invitation to Mrs. Astor's Four Hundred. They have been quietly preparing to join me at my reserved tables on their own. Pearls have been taken out of the vaults, the temperatures are going down and furs are coming out, and ducal crests on the doors of carriages have been polished. Indeed, I can hear the clamor of carriages already in the distance, coming from Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.

Ramona's court is more given to gold and silver, but that's what makes the whole thing work. I, for one, will be bring out a rope of diamonds to make sure none of The Four Hundred out-does me. We are in a high stakes game now; reputations are on the line and no one, better than me, can play that game. There will be a great deal of fanning tonight, both to talk behind and to fend off untoward moves; a woman has to be armed these days. If all goes as it has for the past two weeks, there will be immense flirtation between the two courts.

Whatever Mikevil says, it's a good thing.

With an appropreate tip of the hat to that idiot representing suburban Denver in Congress, Tom--"I'm as dumb as they cumb--Tancredo, our beloved Dave Barry says it all here.

I continue to be amused by the little things in life. Today I told Ramona, Countess d'Latina of the Grand Duchy of Hialeah that he would make a superb, new, gay version of "I Dream of Jeanie". In front of us all, he said, "Oh; I want to be the Jeanie in the bottle." I replied, "Just what did you think I had in mind, the astronaut?"
"Oh, NO", cried the chorus listening, "You are NOT the astronaut, you are Jeanie."
I love my Raymond.

Last night I caught a sight of a cabaret singer, entertaining the appreciative crowd and accepting tips while offering insightful tidbits of her wild and varied life. The air was warm and only the numbers of us kept the Storm Troopers at bay.

There ARE good Germans, though, and the gay part of the Fisher twins, Florian, confounded me by his being alone. "My favorite German", as I always refer to him, should have a bevy of admirers at all times.

And, to cap off the day, I had an adorable cab driver to take me home. (My carriage was in the shop being outfitted for next week's duBarry fest.) He had no problem with the photo request, even when I asked him to lift his left leg the way he drove. In the old days, this would have resulted in something, but I'm a lot smarter now.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

They Know Not What They Do

ESPN is setting up their immense headquarters right across the street from us.

In an effort to establish good relations and tell them that they had to re-focus their night spotlights off of us, I sauntered over today. I asked the first burly tech, "Who is in charge of all of this?" "Go over to that area, it's Michelle Marquez." (Nice aristocratic name, I thought.)

Soon, I was introducing myself to Michelle and she immediately acknowledged the spotlight problem. Then, she asked if I would like a tour of the operations (and, it was impressive). She mentioned that she had noticed "the place with the blue umbrellas next to The Tides", and I said that we were popular and inexpensive. Michelle asked, "If I post a bulletin to eat at a place so convenient, could we get a discount?" "Absolutely, we would be honored and I will inform the managers to look for the ESPN neck tags."

I told her about the drag shows, and she was all aglow. Look out America; here we come.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ruth Remington, the head of the Dachshund Fest, Commisssioner Bower, Mayor Dermer, and Commissioner Gross ceding power for the day over to the dogs. No one could quite detect the difference in town services, but it was all in fun--the main reason for this town. Carl Fisher invented and sank his immense fortune into creating an oasis dedicated to fun, and--despite whatever City Hall tries, or whatever Mikevil says--it remains that way.

Commissioner Bower is one of those fun creatures here; she opens every statement at the commission meetings with "I don't understand....".

Mayor Dermer apparently was without an outfit advisor (or a mirror). The black and white bowling shirt, together with what my grandmother would only have termed "that mop of hair", told me he doesn't care anymore. Commissioner Gross, on who's campaign I've worked and will undoubtedly lend my skills to again on his run for mayor, is quite a bit more down to earth and pragmatic. Once, the evil-of-all-evils: Code Enforcement, tried to make us remove our rainbow flags as they violated some obscure code about flying only "approved" flags. During the debate, he shut everyone up by saying, "Don't we have anything better to do; let them keep their flags."

And we have. Thank you, Saul.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Official Court Favorite, now annointed with the title of Sir Jay and forever a member of Mrs. Astor's Court, warns all wannabees with the wag of his finger: "Ask not for whom the Court holds: it holds for you (if you play your cards right.)

There is always an opening at Court.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I have decided to not mull over problems and tragedies in the lives around me on the advice of the wise Pimpernel. Who knows; maybe the insanity of this story sent by It's Me, Maven is all it takes to get by the mid-week crisis.


I seem to have fallen into the cycle again of coming home exhausted, falling asleep early, and awakening early; it's an annoying situation. Being up early lets me reflect on the past weekend of superficial fun, but that's what makes this town tick: dog festivals, belly shots, and drag queens engaged in hand-to-hand combat with bible-thumpers.

I can drift back to images of David Lynch and his dog sitting on our patio railing, being silly, enjoying the warm temperature reaching 83 degrees, and basking in the attention. I got this email today from the head of the festival:

Hi Alexis,

I cannot thank you enough for your help with the dachshund 'fest this year. Of course everyone loved the Weenie Martinis, your martini gear was fabulous, the effort hilarious. Of course you dragged heavy tables back and forth while we barked out escalating furniture demands. Of course you had the best looking flyer, not to mention people, especially back at the Palace.

But what I really thank you for is how, between you, David Lynch and Carl at The Wire, the weirdness of dachshund day found its stride this year. The 'fests were always a pleasantly odd day in NYC, and South Beach was evident in our early Winterfests, but finally the direction is clear. The Weenie Martinis, the carnie vibe, the accordioned Dach Song wafting in the background -- it needs to be a little more strange and wonderful every year and I hope you'll be there to make it so. Mi Winterfest es su Winterfest. I'm thinking great things could be done with the Grand March next year...

You're the greatest.


Ruth Remington

The human spirit is such that in times of great sorrow or outside pressure it finds a release that will for a very short time allows you to forget those things and be--what has always been a natural diversion--silly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Belly Shots and The Spanish Court

A great burden has been lifted from my shoulders: I have now been able to relinquish all social duties on Sundays to Ramona, Countess d' Latina. Her Spanish Court has turned the town on its high heels and no one could be happier than me. A year ago or so I published a photo of Ramona's table and suggested they were a rival court; they always amused me by their careless antics and flair, despite the stories of scandal that trailed them. THAT only amused me more. Now, they have their well-deserved own Court and the Old Court can sit back and rest and watch. Jesse had an amusing comment. He asked, when I told him I was content with sitting in our reserved table and fanning myself, "What will the Patrons think?" (I assumed he was referring to The Patriachs, the Highest of the High in the original Mrs. Astor's Four Hundred. ) I replied, "The Patrons are too busy with their well-tuned tounges down the throats of members of The Spanish Court to care what I'm doing."

The staple of The Spanish Court is The Belly Shot; unlike the American version, sugar is used instead of salt and rum (or a cordial) instead of tequila. It actually makes it look all the more fun. The first shot seemed--to my well-trained eye--to be of boyfriends (it was so intimate and loving). Of course, this is Miami and the same intonation can be derived from the 7-11 counter boy where you buy your half-and-half.

The next shot was of a well-seasoned member of The Spanish Court and he seemed to have that element of "I Love What I Do".

But the third was a victim. Thomas Barker, who had been acting as an MC of the shots, accepted my advice to ask for an American for the role on the bar. I am always looking for that turn which might produce the buzz. I also strong-armed Official Court Favourite, Jay, to submit and he graciously did after much protest. What happened next was everything I could have wished; a bidding war erupted between representatives of several Latin countries with Mexico and Costa Rica garnering enough support from the crowd for me to remind Barker that Central America had gone to war over a soccer game once. In the spirit of Henry Kissinger, I suggested that both be allowed to feast off of Jay.

For service above and beyond, Jay has been awarded the title of Sir Jay in Mrs. Astor's court (the one that REALLY matters). He was a trooper and I hope he got up for law school the next day.

No party would be complete without Miss Tiffany to electrify the room....

...and, once electrified, the only thing to do is make sure you don't step in water so you jump up on tables to dance. It's one of the things people in this town do best, anyway. My feathered hat is off to Ramona for the great success of his night, the absolute fun his people have, and the joy it brings the rest of us.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dog Day Afternoon

It was a glorious day for the weenie festival, and although my promised help failed to show up, I pretty much handled the crush of dogs trying to get a cold weenie martini. My table had great props like a three-foot bottle of Grey Goose (my water supply) and Art Deco shakers. The little critters came at me from all sides and even from under the table; dressed in a remarkable array of outfits, dachshunds must be the most pampered pets around. Mayor Dermer came up to me to thank us for the effort; I wanted to tell him he looked like a very bad Las Vegas performer, but refrained.

Another political moment came when Commissioners Gross and Bower bumped into each other at my table and exchanged pleasantries although both had just announced they were running against each other for mayor. It brought back fond memories of a Sunday lunch two weeks ago with Carl of The Wire magazine and the owner of a popular restaurant on Lincoln Road. Carl was going on and on about how Gross should run for mayor as he was the only one who really knew the needs of business and was an honest guy. I agreed, having worked on Gross's campaign five years ago. The owner was adamantly disagreeing, saying Ms. Bower was too niave to be corrupt and a great show for the outside media. That's when I said, "YES! She's like Bella Abzug, put some fun hats on her and we've got a circus." "She doesn't need hats," he replied. "She's got that hair!"

Well, Commissioner Bower turned to me and asked me for a martini, and I replied that it was just water for the dogs. She asked for a glass of water, and I replied that the dogs have been drinking out of my vintage martini glasses. "So, I can't have a glass of water?" she asked sort of hurt. "No," I said, "It's for the dogs." Then it sort of dawned on her (sort of) as she saw the dogs lapping water out of those glasses and she smiled and drifted off. "You should have let her drink out of a glass, dummy," said Carl just behind me. "I would have had a great photo."

We then went across the street to the after-party at The Palace and had just a grand time, although I was exhausted and dehydrated, of all things. Suddenly, shouts and chants came from the street and we ran to find the Bible-Thumpers, always ready to spoil a good, harmless time. Miss Tiffany grabbed the michrophone and shouted that videotaping her would be a violation of the copywrite laws, started reciting a prayer, and I ran to the phone to call the police.

Police: "What's the emergency?"
Me: "We are being harassed by a group of religous nuts and I am afraid of a confrontation between them and our customers. They have crossed the street and are on our sidewalk, in our crowd chanting and singing."
Police: "Do you see any weapons?"
Me: "NO! These a religous freaks; The Bible is their weapon."
Police: "We'll send a car right away."

They went away rather quickly after that, but it makes you wonder why they just can't leave us alone and why they seem to be obsessed with Miss Tiffany.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In Addition...

...My other nemesis, City Hall, announced today that The Mayor will turn over control of the city tomorrow to the dachshunds. A great moment in history, it will be the first time this town wasn't governed by cash, corruption, and cronyism. Mayor Dermer mustn't have been taking his mental fit pills today.

The coming weekend has all the markings of getting out of control; and--for a controller--that is a Bad Thing.

First, the Dachshund Winterfest is expecting 300 to 400 dogs and their owners. This is the most adorable of the kooky things that go on here on South Beach, but the hype has reached seismic levels. There will be doggie fortune telling, massages, speed dating, and much more. The annual singing of the Dach Song will be once again sung by all like some Hitler Youth rally as the dogs parade behind a German accordionist. Only two business have been allowed to participate. Dogma, a gourmet hotdog restaurant will host the first-ever mini-hotdog eating contest for the dachshunds and right next to them with be The Palace serving "Weenie Martinis" to the little spoiled monsters.

All this sounds great, except my arch enemy, the doer of all things written badly, The Miami Herald, trumpeted the event with a long article which thrilled its third grade level readers with this: "Also on tap: Dogma Grill will oversee the Hot Dog Hot Dog Eating Contest, and drag queens from the Palace Bar & Grill will serve water at the Weenie Martini Station." That trashy, Castro-obsessed paper is out to get me. From the moment I started working with the organizers I never mentioned donning any of the stunning sequin gowns I own to serve "martinis" to the dogs. Now I feel people will come up to the table and be tragically disappointed and perhaps make some snide comment (much like all my friends have who forwarded the article to me).

Then there's the Latino Night on Sunday; this is already generating enough sparks to light a city in Iowa. But there's time to plan a strategy on crowd control there; first I have to survive, reputation intact, the dachshund nightmare. Presumably, The Herald hasn't been tipped off on my outfit for Sunday night.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Maybe I'm out of my mid-week crisis. It always starts on a Monday afternoon just when the drugs, booze, and hype is wearing off.

I attempted to bake a pork roast on Monday, but fell asleep for five hours and the result was something that resembled a bowling ball with the feel of a coconut. So, I went to the local deli and purchased a big tray of pulled pork and another one of rice with a red, bean gravy topping (KiKi loves that). I brought them over and KiKi did the usual "dance", something I always called the Dog Tango, where he circles me in a motion of side steps. Only Leopold--who lived with me for some time and got to know KiKi like few do--would know this. The two other dogs were happy too; entering with two trays of food is a "good thing".

I entered the kitchen and everything seemed quite spotless as normal and, in the way some people check medicine cabinets, I looked in the freezer. I was shocked to see only two ice cube trays; a further look to the the fridge revealed something that could only have looked like an Albanian refridgerator in the 70's: a small pan of about half a cup of dried rice and half an avocado. This shocked me, because although I knew he had been out of work for a week because of the bloodclot and pending surgery, I never, ever expected not to be informed about a lack of food. A call later in the day confirmed that he was ashamed to admit his situation so I did what any organizational-obsessed, control freak would do and conducted the largest "airlift" of food since the Berlin Crisis, thanks to Publix.

I LOVE shopping for food and when the van arrived with it I was happy to say, "Put everything in the freezer" and drove off to The Palace where I had to deal with another dog situation, The Dachshund Winterfest. I will be manning the table serving martinis (only to dogs) with my new friend of city-inspired madness, Elliott Thompson. I don't know: I spent the first few days wondering why I fixate on Latino belly shots, puppet-headed drag queens, and the rest of my friends living a dissolute life while apparently some people go hungry. I think I'm over it.....for a few days.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I didn't know what to quite make of Tiffany's request to emply La Rouge at first, although I did read a very complimentary article about his puppet faces. In the end, I thought her abilitly to scare children away was the best thing I had to hope for. Instead, she not only kept the children, but an enormous crowd. Funny, one customer said, "I love her green wig." and I replied, "Those are ferns, honey; they don't grow out of everyone's head."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Art Deco Festival enjoyed not only glorious weather, but a bit of historical sensation this year. The 700,000 visitors got to experience the first-ever collaboration with a foriegn city, Shanghai, because that city--like South Beach--thrived in the 1930's and was later caught in a time warp. Shanghai has about 400 pristine Art Deco structures those people who care about such things are trying to save. We were thrilled by officials from Shanghai just trying to figure out what goes on in this town, why almost everyone wears next to nothing, and why so many men wear dresses.
Meanwhile, our biggest Kah-wheen, Raymond was tapped again to bartend for an ill associate. THAT was it for me; Raymond will bartend from this Sunday on as he brought his entire Latino/a crowd with him.
Belly shots became the order of the day, a feeding frenzy erupting. With Raymond's friends a belley shot is not a mystery, it is a given.

Raymond even gave us his own Court Favorite, Steven. I had to immediately designate the "front" Court Favorite from the rear, but that is what a person such as myself can easily do for a boy like this. Steven was a little taken back by the title, but quickly understood its benefits.

And, as always, there were two white boys soaking up all he atention: the ubitquitous, Thomas Barker, and the hadsome cutie-pie from The Victor, Dustin. Show me a group a Latinos, and I will show you those two just five feet away.

Court is cancelled again today, members, until the owner decides if he wants to act in a civilized manner in public.

Instead naval manouvers will take place as word just arrived that The Bishop's 60-foot yacht, Excalibur, just docked at Sunset Harbor. If the winds die down a little, Bob will take our more humble 50-foot flagship of The Great Southern Fleet out of the Miami Marina and up the bay to Sunset. Apart from taking care of refreshments and snacks, my main endeavor will be NOT to fall overboard as I almost did two weeks ago; we need more crew boys to care for ladies of my social magnitude.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

In something supremely South Beach, the annual Deco Parade of Dogs was held this afternoon. It was the best example one can show of too many people, with too much money, and too little to do making a statement. Still, like all things here, it WAS fun as long as you put everything else out of mind.

The other day I passed three, yes three, protesters on Lincoln Road with signs that read, "Get Out Of Iraq" and "No More War". They were surrounded by eight policemen who seemed totally perplexed as to why they weren't able to be drinking Cuban coffee at David's Cafe. I couldn't figure out who the police were protecting, since no one paid any attention to the three sad souls. Nearly a thousand people showed up for the Deco Dog Walk, though, and the two policmen I did see were eating Polish sausages at at pitiful roadstand.

I guess the three war protesters didn't have dogs.

High drama, treason, plots, and threats have overtaken The Palace today. Quite frankly, it is impossible to explain how owners could ruin a business so adept at being successful. Did I hear "drugs and drinking" from the Greek chorus?

There is nothing I can do but order the sacrifices of more boys in insure prosperity and good weather. Fortunately, the staff is more than tuned in to such things.

It's not as if I have to sound a gong or anything like that to force a boy to prostate himself for the good of all. That's a "good thing".

My main goal is to hide behind the cloak of mystery, the parisol of intrigue; always there, but seldom noticed. As Riley says, "Wielding power is a many-faceted tool, but you never want the public to see you holding it".

In the end, all I can do is maintain the least amount of decorum one indivual can, setting an example but never the rule.