"the" Mrs. Astor

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I stopped by The Diner today for a cup of gossip and a little coffee, and one of their nasty employees asked me what was in the Gap box. I told him it was a casserole for KiKi and the other dogs and he shrieked, "How disgusting; you cook for dogs when people are starving." He shouldn't have gone there.

I replied, "You know what IS disgusting? What is disgusting is that people like you feed your pets food from "reputable" companies like Iams and Eukanuba, when it is the same slop that K-Mart sells under it's name, except YOU think it's good for your dog." Unfortunately, much of it has been poisoned by a rat-killing chemical, aminopterin, that is added to wheat glutton by a Chinese supplier. I could have added that it is one thing to mortgage your country down the drain to the Chinese to fund an unfundable war, but mess with the pets and you are in deep trouble. But, it shut him up.

This dog--with many other dogs and cats--have died from this outrage. The two dogs I helped raise are 17 and 18 and--apart from showing their age--exhibit no signs of sickness from eating the same food I eat. They gobbled down their beef, cheese, and noodle casserole as much as I did today. As I've said a hundred times before: "Would you eat dog food?"

Here is the list of "reputable" companies involved in this.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Another Henritta story because, on my second night of retirement, a few details come back. But first, I had a productive three-hour lunch with Le Compte Lamot on Wednesday planning our version of Cinco de Mayo, "Disco de Mayo"; he will take the back bar and I will host the front. I'm looking for some recordings of Lupe Velez. Strangely, there was no solid food during this lunch.

Henrietta had captured nearly all the visiting and transplanted New Yorkers and was describing how rough it was on the queens here in the sixties. Arrests, beatings, and general abuse abounded. She talked about how blacks had to have a card detailing where they worked and at what hours in order to be on Miami Beach; even entertainers like Sammie Davis Jr. had to leave The Beach by a certain hour. Overtown had hotels for them.

So, it was natural that one of us asked how much she had suffered. "Oh, I was OK," she told us. "My parents owned the most popular Italian restaurant on Miami Beach, Mario's. Back then everything was tied into The Mob, and I worked for Meyer Lansky, who lived near us. You know, Meyer Lansky the gangster?" Ghasps emitted and eyebrows rose; of course we knew who he was. (Lansky was the brains behind the Eastern mob and ran Miami and Havana for decades. He was so slick, the law never got him.) "Well, because of that," she continued, "the police never touched me. Back then every cop was paid off."

Again, I thought, someone has to chronicle this story of early drag, camp, and gangsters in Miami. I saw Carl tonight while making all the stops, and he agreed that perhaps a long article on this time and this incredible person could jump start such an undertaking. "You know, Meyer Lansky, the gangster?".....Priceless.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jeremy’s not gone one day, ONE day, and Riley is already acting up and exposing himself to the crowd during Bunny’s intermission. Well, I guess I’m just jealous. For a long time people thought Jeremy and I were boyfriends because we were always seen together. When he left for Bogota last time, they started thinking Riley and I were for the very same reason. Within minutes of sitting next to Riley last night, he turned and said something I had been thinking just minutes earlier: “Well, I guess we’re going out together again.”

And later that evening, just before the show, we heard and young guy go up to the bartender and ask, “When is that Rabbit Lady going on?” Priceless.


On my first night of retirement from the night life, while watching the ceiling fan spin, a gang of peasant women with teased, blonde hair and dressed in knock-off Pucci burst through the doors of my chateau and forced me at the point of pitchforks to go see The Lady Bunny's show at Twist.
It was probably for the best, because everybody was in attendance and it was the type of event that people wanted to make sure you saw that they were there. The very amusing Adora opened the show, which is usually her night and you could feel the tension of one star giving it up for another, visiting one.

Of course, Bunny was the one everyone had come to see, the legend.

Bunny's show is extremely filthy and has made grown men cry and horses flee, but the crowd ate it up.

She gyrated to moves not seen since The Love Machine first made it's spectacular hit in New York and delighted the audience with a song she wrote just for the night and the place where she trashed, well, The Trash. "Glorious and Profound" the papers will write in the morning, and my side hurt from laughing so much. Thank God I had Carl to hang on to (and all his drink tickets). Retirement can wait until another day this week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chaos erupted on 41st Street yesterday. 41st Street runs across the island on Mid Beach through a wealthy residential section; it connects the Atlantic side’s “Millionaires’ Row”—a condo canyon of housing prehistoric Snow Birds and New York transplants--to the bay side’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, where most of them go to die. In between are a lot of banks for them to hoard their money in and a lot of doctor’s offices to treat them before they go on to Mt. Sinai. Nothing much ever happens there except at The Forge, situated right in the middle, and a fine place for a $200 meal (sans wine) and a night of dancing.

Late in the morning this hapless creature entered a bank and announced he “…wanted money”. He had no mask or gun, but was taken seriously enough for the alarm to be sounded. Within minutes police swarmed in and took the guy into custody; there was no big struggle, no screams, and—of course—no shooting.

Then, a mysterious call came into police claiming to be his brother-in-law and warning that, if they did not release him, he would start shooting people on the street. Mayhem ensued. Every police car available arrived, swat teams with them; the FBI joined in and police helicopters competed with TV choppers circling overhead. Fox played it live and for seven hours the phone caller taunted the authorities into hysteria. Police entered two other banks and closed them. The searched the Sheridan Building across the street and forced doctors, dentists, office workers, and anyone other soul unfortunate enough to be having a tooth cleaning out of the building with their hands behind their backs lest THEY be the one with the gun. A nearby school was locked down for hours, the children herded into the basketball court while their parents clawed at the fences crying for their release (seemed strange to keep them out in the open....). In the end the police admitted that they over-reacted
In the end, nothing. No gun, no sniper. Maxwell Blanford of The Forge--with whom I worked at Level--summed up the horror of the day by telling The Herald that "...even the fish couldn't be delivered for dinner!" It was SO Maxwell, because it was so Miami Beach, pure theater, delightful entertainment. I guess with The Winter Music Conference having ended, something had to go on. But, don't the police have caller-ID?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The carefully coded messages of my about to leave the night life seem to have been placed in the right hands. On the rounds to several nightspots, it was mentioned (no need for any surprises). I could not, however, avoid attending Edison Farrow's rooftop party across from the Lincoln Theater, where my friend, Patrick, conducts. There is nothing more refreshing than a March night kissing you with balmy sea lips.

Edison was anxious and excited about his plans to produce two nights with Sandra Bernhardt here in July. I remember the last time she appeared in this den of sin when she sold out The Jackie Gleason Theater; still, it's a lot of work, a lot of money, a lot of ego, and a big risk. Only Edison could pull off such a thing with his vast publicity network and his loyal following.

I excused myself early (no better way to exhibit restraint and intent), but could not stop thinking about The Lady Bunny's show tomorrow at Twist.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We were a little sad tonight as it is the last we will see of Jeremy for six months (unless he sneaks by tomorrow afternoon), but I want to keep it on the fun level it always was here and between us all with a little story. Two weeks ago we were squeezing through the corridor between the two bars when I spotted the tall boy (who's name I forget!); he is not here very often, comes from South Africa, and always has a nice thing to say about the place or the crowd. We exchanged pleasantries and Jeremy started to say something. Tall boy looked back and forth and even behind himself when I motioned with my head that it was emanating from Jeremy beside him, a foot or two below eye level. "OH!", he exclaimed. "I thought I was hearing voices."

We screamed with laughter (as we have for two years).

And to that bitch from the tundra, Mikevil, who said, "Don't you people ever work, sleep, or eat solid food?", I say:

1. YOU try to keep hundreds of people happy while running an energetic but dyslexic business and tell me that's not work.

2. Yes, we sleep: fitfully.

3. Who said rum cake is not solid food?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today was Heneritta's birthday; she is so nice and such an institiution and legend here, that is was an incredible honor to hold this for her and we wish her many more.

Posing with my long-time friends, Bob and Terry, yielded up a cache of stories from Heneriettta. She described how in the late eighties the poilice would raid the gay beach, 21st Street and try to snatch everone on the sand. The fiesty ones would run in the water where police patrol boats waited with nets. We need a writer for her to tell the whole story.

Ray's boys were out in force, and I love them because they support Ray with every ounce of conviction that friends would have for another. I'm not part of their crowd--although I adore them--but if I were Ray I would be comforted by the knowledge that these guys LOVE him. You don't come across that in this crazy life very often.
Edison Farrow and his boyfriend, Nester, graciously contributed their precences, too.

The crowd was really loving DJ Carlos; he was playing Music of The Divas.

Warner traveled all the way from Homestead to attend Henrietta's birthday (and wasn't she happy!). Hey, Warner, my birthday is next month; can you wear the same outfit?

Henrietta with "the gang". I kept it on the back burner, but actually celebrated my two year anniversary at The Palace, some of an accomplishment given the intrigue level and marginal ability to be assassinated at a place like this. There is no doubt that it is coming to an end, but the two-year tour has been fantastic. Seeing Tina, Ahrlene, Bunny, Susanne, Amanda, and all the rest made me realize that after twenty-five years of non-stop night life, it is probably time to stop. I don't know; perhaps I'll set up a nice, little shop that sells refridgerator magnets of my best pictures. I could include a cool, refreshing beverage with it, too; not mention how I could mesmerize every visitor with MY stories. It could be a small club, maybe with a tiny dancefloor. You know, just big enough for a good time on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I was such an innocent lamb when I called Carl Zablotny of The Wire magazine to confess that I had no idea how I got home when I only had one drink (at the bar). Carl said, "You've got to be kidding. You were drinking martinis from that woman's breasts all night." Then I remembered how mesmerized I was by the talent of the big-buxomed girl who had the cocktail shaker in her breasts, strainer in her mouth, and pouring Grey Goose without using her hands. You don't come across that every day.

Lady Arhlene and Tina Paul (the Fifi Bears), my mentor in New York and the only other person fanatically photographing the night life. They, too, have been part of my life for nearly 20 years. We shared so many visual delights and met so many fantastic people. Sadly, we saw so many friends go--as they put it--"...to the VIP Room in heaven."
So many martini glasses, so little time.

Miss Conspicuous Consumption. I loved Jeremy's remark when I, wandering around a garden of extreme decadence, said, "You'd never know that we were at war and loosing it." He barked back, with another military boy toy next to him, "WAR? WHAT WAR? " There's no war; I was mistaken, just like with the one drink.

Amanda Lepore; I knew her when she was a little girl or boy in New York. We never cared what you were, as long as you weren't boring.

Yes I remember her now--and the pig. The facts somehow have a way of coming out of the fog.

Words can not adequately describe a night with Susanne Bartsch. Photos, perhaps, can.

I have been attending the parties of Susanne Bartsch for nearly 20 years; to this day they are still the most entertaining nights one could hope for. On the Party Richter Scale, they number a 7.8.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Today is Ultra Day 1. Starting this afternoon the world’s top DJ’s and electronic acts begin performing in Bicentennial Park to the 50,000 mostly young people who have paid $70 to gyrate all day. The dancing goes on until midnight, but it doesn’t end there; in fact, it has no end. Within blocks from the park the huge dance clubs open their doors at 10 PM to the crowd, and the dancing continues until noon, Saturday. Magically, Bicentennial Park opens at noon for Ultra Day 2 and the same clubs start preparing to open again that night.

Drag Heaven comes to me tonight when Susannne Bartsch and my old buddies from The Copacabana tear up the super-glamorous Setai. It will be like slipping into the past and will be very "Ultra" for me. I got to know and love South Beach by traveling down with Susanne (second from the right with arm extended) for wild weekends of debauchery and photography at The Warsaw Ballroom. I had never seen so many Latin boys wearing so little doing so much; "Some Day", I would think.
Looking at this 15-year-old photo and some of my recent ones makes me realize not too much has changed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No Geater Compliment

I exist in madness, but someone in a fit of one today told me today "...you remind me of Madame Chiang Kai-shek". I took hold of my (self-imagined) magnificent self and replied, "You compliment me sir, may I buy you a Kamakazi."
Yes, the wife of the leader of The West's best bet in Asia during, and after, WWII was remarkable in many ways. Madame Chaing was educated Wesleyan and had developed a Southern Drawl of the highest distinction. After education in the U.S., she married warlord and "nephew" of the West, Chaing Kai-shek and quickly became the face America saw during the Japanese invasion of their homeland (a brutal, inhumane time); speaking with a Southern drawl, no one could have coaxed the backwoods families of The South to support the Chinese effort, which she did. In 1936, she assumed the role of Secretary General of the Chinese Commission on Aeronautical Affairs. She said, " Of all of the inventions that have helped to unify China, perhaps the airplane is the most outstanding. Its ability to annihilate distance has been in direct proportion to its achievements in assisting to annihilate suspicion and misunderstanding."

When her husband was arrested in 1936 during a period of chaos, she marched in and secured his release. She knew what was right and what she wanted. She organized airlifts of supplies by The Flying Tigers, she set fashion rules in time when Italy didn't rule, she was--no one remembers--a living goddess.
That's not why I love the comparison. I only deal in history here; she was GREAT.

The Polish piece didn't post in whole; I'll work on it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Winter Music conference has started to rage with thousands of DJ's from around the world showcasing their stuff, recording industry people trying to get their attention, and new performers trying anything at all. The mood is electrifying as you sit in a restaurant and overhear the latest crazes and listen to the unique language that industry talks in; I need an interpreter. But it's excitement, and this is a town that thrives on that. Our neighbor, The Victor is headquarters for WMC which means there will never be a dull (or quiet moment).

And even as the best minds of the music world joined across the street at The Victor, more tents were being hastily finished this morning for the opening tonight of Funkshion Fashion Week, another unique event of new fashion designers presented by founder, Salé Stojanovic. It is not open to the public, super selective, but what do you know....
My old buddy, Boris, is Stojanovic's best friend from "the old country".

Alejandro Crocker's red dress for Funkshion. I'm destined to own it because it is so Auntie Mame.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

While the cries that I had let the barbarians take over mounted, Jeremy summoned up enough strength to put down his cosmo, lift his finger in the air, and proclaim that "I am firmly in control" (in his best Alexander Haig imitation). Dazed, he spun around looking for his drink--or a boy--and fell into the arms of Sasha. It is apparent that there is no more protection for this court; he later was trying on Sasha's shoes. The barbarians are looking better and better.

Everyone traveled down their own road of personal madness this weekend. (This is generally true at this time of year when the non-stop parties keep everyone at a frantic pace.) Andy was countering Jeremy's claim to dominance by loudly announcing he was the only true "top" in the group, but kept lifting his shirt to show his newly clipped torso and saying, "I'm turning myself on" as he gazed in the mirror.

Geraldine is a brilliant entertainer and seamstress (a valuable combination in a world where many ladies of the stage must shop at thrift stores). I loved the subtle combination of these hues of blue and green, but was most fascinated by the sponge ball dangling from the coin belt. Little things like this make me crazy.

And in the category, "Don't Dare Me" I submit proof (since he dared me today) that Ditmar has been forced to become an exotic dancer. Well, actually he had just come in from the beach and in true form grabbed a great deal of attention away from the group of scantily-clad boys; he also grabbed a microphone and took over the moment. Within two days, Ditmar was hired by Score to develop their happy hour. Score is very popular at night, but lacks an afternoon crowd (the exact opposite of The Palace). I know Ditmar very well; his mind--so given to machination--will be at high speed in this new job.

"A girl's gotta eat..."

Happy birthday Ray-Ray; you are one of the sweetest guys around, and everyone will be taking about THAT party for a long time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"...Ten Days"

Riley is back from Spain and he kept repeating this, "I go away for ten days and..." The implication was that I had let the barbarians through the front gates when I had only opened a side door with a very obvious sign reading, "Only Sexy Barbarians". I wasn't born yesterday.

I love these boys; they make "nothing is as boring as a Sunday afternoon in London" so much fun. (A quote from The Dowager Empress of Russia, Marie, mother of NicholasII.)

They follow my favorite, Ray-Ray and create such a sensation. I know--as Mamie Stuyvest Fish has noted today--that I have neglected the formal routines of The Front Ballroom for the sordid sensations of The Back. For this I will throw myself at the steps of the accusers; but, right now, all those judges are in my court.

If you can't get a natural blonde, get what you can.

Riley is going on and on about my letting Court go to hell. Hell has never been so much fun and he really has to remember that "I'm gone for ten days" equates to the eleventh day when he was floating in the pool with his panties around his ankles, to remember what this is all about.

Every thing is--once again--OK. For the first time in three months I see smiles and hear laughs that might have gone unnoticed. The Beach is still here; I just dozed off for a while.