"the" Mrs. Astor

Friday, April 27, 2007

We are setting the mounting tensions aside for a night to attend the opening of the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival opening premier of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Starring the luscious David Gallagher of 7Th Heaven, director Duncan Roy has move the story from Victorian England to the decadent New York of the 80's. (It will probably hit way too close to home.)

At our pre-party cocktail party last night, that famously trashy, Thomas Barker, introduced me to the fact that trashy behaviour comes in both sexes and inclinations. Two beautiful, straight woman were telling him about "the cable guy" (my ears pick up on stories titled like that). It seems one let the cable guy in to do his job and the other went into the shower; when roommate number two came out of the bathroom, she found the other having sex with the cable guy. "You mean you didn't pay him?" she said, drying her hair. "No, I paid him; I'm just getting my money's worth." I wasn't through snickering when the first said, "Well it's not as bad as you having sex with the air-conditioning repairman and then call him back to "repair" it four times in the same week!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"The Palace is being run amuck without my presence. I need to return... and protect all those beautiful backbar boys."

So wrote Jeremy last night and so true it is. When he was here there was always order; I remember a line from an old movie (Cabaret, I think) where a woman moans, "At least when we had The Kaisar, we had Order." As the situation stands now, if the gay cops are not brought back the "backbar boys" probably won't return either, taking me with them and then all my friends. This is a type of Social Domino theory about to collapse an entire weekend. And we will set it up somewhere else; THAT is a type of Law of Supply and Demand theory.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Other "incident" this weekend involed my beloved Ray. We have always employed cops on Sundays (mostly because I want to protect the gay customers from guidos); when the owner wanted to get rid of them a couple of months ago I argued that point and one that they check ID's and banded those kids who could drink. NOT only that, but the chief was gay and he employed his boyfriend; you couldn't hope for anything better.
But several weeks ago I noticed a change in the cops; they weren't gay or even gay-friendly. That was probably my biggest mistake. On Sunday, I noticed two of them being very belligerant, and approached them saying, "Come on guys, lay off the boys in this room (Raymond's). " They left immediately, but, when I shortly went home, returned and began their campaign again against under-21-year-olds. THAT is illegal in our world; we are a restaurant where you only have to make sure kids under that age don't drink alcohol, but they can be there. THAT'S WHAT I EXPECT OF THESE COPS!!!
Tlhe kids started to be questioned and thrown out, Raymond came from behind the bar to defend them, and the new cop said, "Shut up, faggot" and shoved him against the wall (I WISH I was there for that "hate crime" statement). That is when the unthinkable happened: Raymond (a scant 120 pounds), hauled off and punched the fat cop, giving him a bloody nose and a black eye. Only the immediate intervention by calls from myself and another manager to the chief (it IS a small town, remember) stopped Ray from going to jail. The owner and the over-frantic night manager were just ablaze with anger and I kept my composure, because I know what happened and I know that I will not allow my most profitable night in the bar be stopped even if I have to throw my weight around. Right now, everyone is standing back.
It was quite a weekend when you consider that there was an attempt to rob Wonder Woman, too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And, another thing about "the incident" on Saturday. Really; if you are going to attempt to steal money out of the purse of someone, would you really pick a Super Hero like Wonder Woman. Aren't there bounds of stupidity any longer? In addition to having employees, customers, and eventually an undercover cop tackle you to the bloody patio floor, you have Wonder Woman come out with The Lasso of Truth. It's all over after that. The Lasso is admissable in court in this town.

The most surreal moment? Miami Beach police questioning Geraldine while dressed as Wonder Woman about the incident. It is one of the reasons I live here.

Provincetown Gerry was here on Saturday with her gang. It was another surreal day that started with rain and ended with Scottie and me tackling a rather grimey kid who tried to steal Geraldine's purse. I was never cut out to be a crime fighter and thank the undercover cop who was in the crowd for the actual takedown.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Two years and seventeen days after I first met him when making fun of his white belt, Jesse made my prediction come true and moved here. He will make his home at Jeremy's while my army brat is on assignment in Columbia. In true form, Jesse's father drove him here from New York (what Jewish father wouldn't).

Today was taken up with the annual Aids Walk and we had to be up and ready at 8 AM to pass out water to the walkers. Frankie, James, Erin, Henry and Gustavo formed my right flank. The Latin left flank, led by my beloved Ray, marched; we are now on our way to his Latino Night. There is no rest.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Once again serious brush fires are ravaging the Everglades, a situation brought on by a long drought. By late afternoon an unusual haze was noticeable and ash was falling in areas; Mark said he could see the orange glow of the fires from his home in west Miami. But our resident environmentalist, Frankie, assured us that the fires were, like hurricanes, nature's way of pruning and that the wildlife knew what to do to survive. (He likened the ash on his scooter to snow in a move to put a romantic twist on it.) Meanwhile, Broward County was advising many people to stay indoors and avoid breathing the outside air.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another passing. The great Kitty Carlyle Hart's death puts another nail in the coffin of the New York of the last half of the 20th Century. Apart from her TV appearances which many of us remember, she was the epitome of an elegant and cultured New York that she seemed to rule for an eternity. Fortunately, she didn't have the troubles of her friend, Brooke Astor, and could be seen in photos attending benefits or arts functions until very recently. There won't be another like her.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So, there was no bus, just a limo of my closest queens. Next to me was Scottie, who perpetuated the ruse by making fake phone calls and prepping me with disinformation about the night. All I wanted to do was stand out of the sky window and bare my breasts and was oblivious to the actual path of the limo which was not going toward Downtown. These guys planned this thing for six weeks without spilling the beans.

The Book (ten years of recently declassified photos) was a gift from Wire Magazine owner, Carl Zablotny. Hundreds of those photos played in a stream on the video screens; there was no escape from my past.

I caught Ramon and the staff from The Diner in the mirror looking at it.

No matter where you go, there is always some queen older and more knowledgeable about Carol Channing show tunes than you. Ricky made that abundantly clear.

For some reason I have always found myself in the company of military; perhaps it is a form of self-security. With Army Jeremy away, I found comfort and kisses from Coast Guard Keith, whom I've known for eight years here.

No night about me would be complete without the presence of Miss Tiffany Fantasia Phillips. Tiff got me up on stage and alluded to the fact that two years ago Boris and I gave her a chance with the Saturday afternoon to do her thing and she did it just as well as I expected. She rules that day, now.

My resident members of Queen Cabaret, Fernand-D-Cute and Geraldine lent their talents, too.

Everyone knows that What Ever Happened To Baby Jane is one of my favorite movies, so while the monitors played the movie...

...Fernand-D-Cute performed it.

There couldn't have been a better-planned evening.


To the very last second, I had no clue. I, who always prided myself on having a finger on the pulse of everything that goes on in this town, was totally oblivious of the surprise birthday party last night at Twist. There was no bus, no dangerous trip downtown. It was so seemingly harlmless; the limo pulled up to the club "for one shot and a kiss from Matt". "No, not that door, go in the other", Scottie said as we all got out, and--even as my hand was on the door handle and I was thinking, "This door is NEVER open so early" I had no clue. I pulled it open and a tsumami of "SURPRISE" washed me away.

A great conspiracy fermented under my nose for nearly six weeks and involved just about every person I know from Bogata to London; anyone who thinks, as I did until last night, that a town of fussy little busy-bodies like South Beach can't keep a secret was proven wrong. It seems that everyone from top to bottom knew of this scheme and delighted in hiding it from me while discussing it under my nose. The level Scottie reached of intrigue and planning, lies and disinformation, and carefully laid plots would astound the greatest mystery writers.

I had no clue. I don't feel safe anymore. Photos to follow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tonight the unspeakable will occur: I am going to The Mainland, Downtown to be exact. Most of South Beach is pulling up stakes and going, too, to celebrate Edison Farrow's birthday a Karu&Y, and there is quite the interest in just what a 25 million dollar restaurant and lounge looks like. Downtown is a big gamble right now. The new Opera House, fantastically delayed and over budget, the dozens of new skyscraper condos, over-built and under-sold, and many new upscale restaurants; it is a group gamble that everything will one day come together. It is my birthday, too, and it was decided the best thing for every one's nerves would be to all celebrate as one. Scottie has rented a bus to bring us all there and the image of us all singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" won't get out of my head. I'll carry a Derringer in my muff.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The distraught call from Ray came late Saturday; the electricity in the back bar had gone out and couldn't be repaired til Monday. I asked him to not worry as it wouldn't be the first time we held a party by candlelight. The front bartenders had coyly offered their room, but Ray's people expect to be at Ray's bar with Ray, and I nipped that in the bud. By mid-afternoon a skillful use of extension cords had brought the coolers, a large fan, the music, and finally the computers back and a flurry of texts were being sent out announcing a "black out party".

I actually sat with Riley waiting an eternity for the bloody sun to go down, like Dracula, but when it did it was worth it. Looking at this photo, I can just hear Riley saying to the Latinos, "Velcome, children of the night."

It was Nick's birthday and that birthday party was going to happen light or no light. (Not until this morning did I notice the mis-spelling of "whale"; these kids.)

But the kids had fun and only the flash of my camera illuminated the real action that was going on.

Happy birthday, Nick. We should have a black out party once a month.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It was, for SO many reasons, the basis of a glorious night. I will get into those details next, but right off the the start we (the aloof group always in the back) started to fixate on the ass of one of Ray's regulars. Well, OK, it was me who started it, but it was like a snowball turned avalanche. I mean, it was gorgeous!

I hold a game for the readers: Place the ass with the face and you win. It is somewhere in this group of Ray's die-hard regulars. Look carefully; judge body weight with style.

In the end, it was the ass of Chris, which never stopped moving and evoked much conversation about the way Latinos seem to have an extra ball-bearing or two more than the rest of us. It was all good; I have photos that will take some time to justify, I mean, adequately describe.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Saturday I entered a small storage room and screamed. There, before me was a gaggle of drag queens in various stages of dress and make up. I had a flash that I was Fay Wray and had suddenly found myself on a transvestite Skull Island, but no such luck. It was just Tiffany and her teenaged acolytes from Prideline Youth Services, for which we were giving a benefit that day. Prideline takes in teenagers who have run away or been thrown out of homes and keeps them in school and away from drugs and prostitution.

Thankfully, they don’t keep them away from drag because the kids performed all the songs from Dream Girls and were a smash. Our generous customers gave them almost a thousand dollars (I saw many tens and twenties being stuffed into their champagne bucket) and it was matched by the equally generous owners of The Palace and The Wire Magazine. Always looking for something to worry about, I was in a constant state of fret when the crowd built up to such numbers as to spill out on the street and totally stop traffic on Ocean Drive. These are my nightmares, but by the time the police arrived the show was over and nothing could be addressed.

That Pimpernel left yesterday after the last lunch extravaganza. Mikevil so totally over-rates the consumption of solid food as opposed to vodka; the liquid lunch gives birth to so many ideas and machinations. Solid food just makes you want to sleep. It was, of course a superb visit and everyone thanks Pimpernel for his outrageous generosity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A drought is in progress leading to a number of water restrictions and the like, but a drought is the savior of South Beach. The nearly perfect weather created huge traffic jams as tens of thousands headed across the causeways toward the beaches.

Pimpernel was hosting Easter Lunch for those of us lucky enough to be invited, so I decided to my King of Kings, KiKi out for a rare public appearance. About two blocks into our three block walk we ran into Mark, and he and KiKi got to see each other again after two years. It was apparent that KiKi was running out of steam and taking little, baby steps. But we made it and KiKi loved being around people who appreciate his charm and wit again; he found the lavish spread delightful. As he napped after eating, I again thought about just old and frail he had become, although fat, old, and frail would be closer to the mark. It pains me not to be able to take him home or to work like I used to; he liked being out and about, snapping at fingers and toes.

The next day I received, from Mark, an email link to a company selling dog strollers. I’ve contemplated these a lot lately and passed on Mark’s rather effeminate choice to a more manly Kittywalk SUV Pet Stroller. It’s either this or a Red Flyer Wagon, but we have all agreed that is just a little too butch for the situation, and we’ll have to fly du Barry down to decorate it in a manner that KiKi would be comfortable in (pillows and perhaps a fringe top).

Meanwhile the non-stop feasts and toasts continue with Pimpernel, who has NEVER allowed himself, or anyone around, to be in any situation uncomfortable.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

First class members of Ray-Ray's inner Latino circle, Stephen, Nick, and David. David gets my 2007 Best Beach Look Award for very nicely resurrecting the 1920's mens' swim suit look AND maintaining a glowing, porcelain complexion.

Season is gradually coming to an end. The conferences, winter parties, fashion shows, and food tastings are over and, although April is a rather fine month of weather, it is given more toward relaxation and an enjoyment in the knowledge that one survived another "season" intact. There is still the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Miami Beach Polo Cup, and the vivacious, Aquagirl coming, but the relentless madness of party-after-party had receded. (Like all madness, it lies just under the surface here on South Beach, just waiting to flare up.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

On the occasion of Pimpernel's state visit from England, I am going to take a little vacation and concentrate on the consumption of a great deal of solid food and wine for a few days.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My retirement from the night life is almost ten days into the future, and there have been some episodes: The pouts, the telephone calls; The Saturday night knock on the door ("We went to The Palace and they said you were at Twist. We went to Twist and they said you were at Score. We went to Score and they said you never showed up. "Well, I came home, but I'll go out with you for a nightcap.") There exists the same amount of mischief at 4 PM as at 4 AM; it's just that the 4 AM crowd is much more exotic and way more willing to accept what you say.

The 4 PM the crowd, though, will argue. On Tuesday afternoon a rather energetic and loud argument erupted between four of us at a bar on Lincoln Road. The ignition was just what was the national background of the ill-fated and short-lived Emperor and Emperess of Mexico, Maximilian and Carlota. The family of Max was never in doubt; as the brother of Franz Josef, he was definately Austrian. But the tragic Carlota, born The Princess Charlotte, was confused by the mighty garrison of French troops which guarded them in Mexico City. In the end, it was as if all you had to do was close your eyes and hear Hercule Poiret say, "She's not French; she's Belgian!"

At ten days, I am dangerously close to becoming boring, at which point I will put a revolver to my head. Or a drink...I'm not sure which.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

On Saturday I went to The Palace to await the arrival of Pimpernel's Swiss friend, Patrick, who was arriving from Lima, Peru after a five month trek through South America. Although I had never seen a photo of him, the sight of a tall, strapping, blond boy with a backpack the size of a refrigerator was enough for me to go up to him and introduce myself. "You must be Patrick", I said, finally able to use the famous line from Auntie Mame. I told him to let me help him get off the refrigerator and it nearly went--with me--through the floor. I brought him to Pimpernel's artful apartment and told him to rest; after five months he had picked up a stomach bug on the last day in Peru.
I went to meet up with Patrick last night and had a surprise visit from Chicago by Dr. Will, original Seventh member. For a moment it felt like the good old days, though Jeremy isn't here.

Last night we met up again after a short visit in the afternoon and Patrick showed me a small bit of his collection of photos: beaches in Uruguay, sunsets in Chile, and a fascinating one of him holding up the rainbow flag at the foot of Machu Picchu. The town of Cuzco at the foot of those mountains has as it's official flag the symbol of the famous Coricancha Temple in Cuzco honoring the god of the rainbows.

The rainbow is a common image in Incan folklore and can be seen in the dress of the native population. But recent association with the very similar, gay rainbow flag has cause concern about whether a new adaptation of the colors should be designed. Patrick said most tour guides go out of their way to explain that Cuzco is not a gay town, while some businesses actively promote it for the gay tourists. (That's funny to me; Boris told me of plans some time ago about moving to that city with his Peruvian wife and setting up a gay bed and breakfast there.) It's all good. Even if they do change the formation of the flag, a rainbow is a rainbow and history and legend of an old culture will never change. It looks like a fun place and supposedly has a vibrant night life that goes on from dusk to dawn. Hmmmm.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Miami weekend lasts from Thursday night through Monday morning (which is why there a move afoot to abolish Mondays and make Sunday a two day affair). And it has been a long, long time since I've been sober for an entire Miami weekend, so I've been nagged with one thought over this quiet, reflective period:
"Why Oh Why Is North America Buying Wheat From China?!"

Sure it's for dog food, and perhaps American and Canadian wheat is a little expensive, but it's not poisonous. They can't feed their own population and we are buying food, too? What other food products are leaking into our supply, even in the form of additives. China has none of the health restrictions and laws that at least provide us with an adequate food supply here. What's next? Are we going to find out that Gummy Bears are made there now; I haven't looked at a package lately, but wouldn't be surprised.

Successive administrations have allowed The Chinese to absorb much of our manufacturing needs to the point that if there were to be a cessation of trade Home Depot, Walmart, and most other big retailers would go under (not a bad idea to some). But Bush has perfected the game. By gradually given concession after concession on tariffs, The Chinese have amassed a fortune big enough to buy all the bonds the U.S. has to offer which, in turn, finances Bush's war. Where do you think he'd get it from, a middle America that is fighting to pay mortgages?

Jeremy and I came up with the perfect solution to all that money waiting to be spent. We would offer Texas for sale at the bargain price of $450 billion dollars, about half of the excess money lingering in Beijing's vaults according for Fortune. Then they could build a new Great Wall around it and do what ever they want with all those Republicans. They could make them all work in rodeos and state fairs or even reenactments of the storming of The Alamo; what a tourist attraction. We would then take out the $300 billion dollars this criminal war has cost us, buy back the bonds, and buy Cuba with the extra 150. It soon will up for sale and we need another tropical state; Florida has become to overwhelmed with boring people from the north. Even the alligators want to leave. Free movement would ensue with most Cubans moving to Miami to be with relatives and most gays moving to Havana to fix up those beautiful, if crumbling, old buildings. That's what they do best, anyway. The party would be fierce.

And, The Chinese? Well, you get what you pay for.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Rest My Case...

...about "Would you eat dog food?" Exhibit A.