"the" Mrs. Astor

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Katy K Shirt

Fashion comes in many forms here in Miami. There are the “fashionistas” like Leopoldo and Ditmar whose closets carry enough Versace and Prada to outfit an army, and the laid-back tropical set, of which I am a card-carrying member. When you live and work in a beach of scantily-clad people, it is very easy to fall into the mode of “less is more”. Dressing up for me now only means the Thurston Howell III Palm Beach Look. It is so easy, now.

But, there was a time—in New York—in which I, too, was a fashionista; you had to be if you went out every night, but it could be very costly if you weren’t clever. My boyfriend and I had found an invaluable, Vietnamese seamstress who could knock off a Jean Paul Gaultier suit in two days and I was the constant companion of the manager of Matsuda’s stores, which automatically got me a 90% discount there. (The more I took her out, the larger the disounts became; I was a monster.) Matsuda’s latest British school boy jacket would be passed on to the seamstress and clones in different fabrics, purchased in Delancey Street Jewish fabric stores, would suddenly appear.

One hung over Sunday morning I got it into my head to visit the Astor Place store of one of the darlings of The Lower East Side, Katy K. Katy had a line of couture Western wear, a look so incongruous there that it was over-the-top chic. I walked in and plunked down over $300 (in 1990 dollars) on a custom cowboy shirt with embroidered cowgirls on the yokes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but everyone loved it (no, there were no boots or hats to go with it). Along with many other quirky items, it ended up in a trunk here of seldom worn, but sometimes revisited kooky clothing. But, there were times that I simply got frustrated with so much unused fashion that I would bundle up a batch and bring it to the local, Aid’s charity thrift store on Alton road.

About a month ago, I entered my outer office which doubles as a dressing room on weekends for the “girls”, and ran into Geraldine preparing to do a Patsy Cline number with the Katy K shirt. “OMG!” I shouted, “That’s a Katy K; let me see the label.” I didn’t remember ever getting rid of it, but I knew there couldn’t have been many others. “I got it for FIVE dollars at the thrift store,” she said. I explained it’s history and rampaged through my old clothes collection when I got home. It wasn’t there. At some point I had gathered it up for donation.

Geraldine offered it back, but I refused because it had found a whole new life, just as I had here in South Beach. It was once again being paraded around to the amusement of the crowd. She let me take it home to scan and Leopoldo gasped as he ran his fingers across the embroidery. He is always asking about my time in New York as a Party Animal and he had a piece of dinosaur history to hold.

I’ve decided not to actually try to fit into it, though, in the interest of both Geraldine and myself. Dinosaur skin—even the most expensive--shrinks with time; I doubt it would fit.

Another Bingo Night came around and we found it very well-attended with a great assortment of locals and visitors from New York, Paris, Columbia, and Costa Rica. It was a very energised crowd: hard-fisted drinking, talking dirty, and given to counting the doilies in a room. Early on, Leopoldo and Thomas accepted my gift of a good luck charm for their first bingo game; Leopoldo's mother had sent it from San Francisco as a gift to me, and I keep it on my desk to ward off demons.
In a moment of pure enthusiasm mixed with our great friend, Greed, Thomas snatched the lucky icon, fully convinced of his inevitable win...

...but, it was Wire owner, Carl, who won the prize. I assured everyone--once again--that it is quite hard to "fix" bingo. And, in any event, Carl only prints embarrassing photos of me; why would I want to help him win four drinks of hemlock?

And, there in the sultry, tropical winds of a Miami night, a showgirl did all she could to counter the full moon.
Leopoldo and I just reveled in the wonderful crowd of locals and tourists we greeted and met, counted our blessings and went home.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The roller coaster has slowed considerably; school has begun and teachers, professors, and--of course--the students who all frequent The Palace everyday now have other demands. Even the tourists have slowed somewhat, although the strong Euro keeps up the flow.

What has happened to me in the last few days was not an unending social schedule; it was the loss of electricity for two days. An utter horror, it was not even the result of a hurricane or terrorist action. It was a lizard. Yes, when the "electrical engineers" uncovered the breaker box (in my presence, mind you), there it was: an electrocuted lizard under the main breaker that fed the entire property. I call it the $700 Lizard now and is not big enough to make a lizard skin pinky ring. Sleeping without electricity is impossible in a Miami summer even with a Xanax AND an Ambien, but we lived and discovered, from the ravishingly handsome Polish protector, Marc, that YouTube has a fun piece of our Hairspray Ball, here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tomorrow night's movie in Scottie's "Gay Classics 101" is Birdcage, which nicely follows up last week's original. Showtime is at 10 PM, upstairs in the VIP room, at Twist.
I always love the dinner scene where the soup bowls with Greek boys fucking becomes an issue. (They've never been an issue with me.)
Pimpernel flew into Miami yesterday afternoon for a two day holiday; I still don't understand how anyone can go through the rigors of airline travel these days just to say "Hello" for a weekend. A visit by Pimpernel invaribly involves grand dinners, excessive drinking, and bawding stories, but we live for that. Today, he took Leopoldo and I to a magnificent, three hour lunch at Smith and Wollensky's at which we feasted and watched jet skis, fishing boats, and yachts sail by on Government Cut. Upon return to The Palace, Mrs Stuyvesant-Fish and Connie (she-so-bad) Chung joined us for the drag show. Mrs. S-F delighted us in the story of how she had just spent four days in Palm Beach with her buddy, Michael. One afternoon, the two of them (drunk, probably) drove around for two hours in a 1982 Rolls Corniche convertible. She said, "That car had brakes like an airplane, and we would tool around until we saw a cute worker trimming hedges, floor it, and then screech to a halt. They always dropped their clippers (she might have used the work, 'tools', but I won't go there)." I replied, "Mamie, didn't you have anything better to do in an afternoon?", and she answered, "No; not in Palm Beach." She was on her twentieth cocktail, and I chose not to pursue it.
Many guests were coming up--as they have all week--thanking us for the magnificent Hairspray Ball on Wednesday and asking what was next. I don't know for sure, but I mentioned to Carlos the 50's trend of "Come As You Are" parties, and we will see where we can go with that. Come As You Are...that opens a lot of room for interpretation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Night and Day

I took a rare afternoon off to be with Leopold, who used his nine day vacation to stay with me, a motion that has not gone unnoticed. We went to "Invasion" today and after the movie I mentioned that I was going to the mens' room only to come out to see him frantically talking to an employee (he hadn't heard me). Leo ran up and hugged me like some sort of milk carton child and the theater employee said, "You found him?" I laughed, "Oh, you can take me off the Missing Persons List." and she cackled, "We only have Lost and Found." We all laughed.

I am continually amazed by the cohesiveness of our group Palacistas. We see each other almost on a daily basis and constantly amuse each other. Sometimes, some of us will be in a stance of formality or sometimes in a period of undress. No matter what, we stick together and enjoy each others' strengths and weaknesses. At times we put on a dress or a wig; it is a very stratified club.

Daylight doesn't affect the laughter or the devotion to each other. We are truly blessed with friendship in any type of light.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some of the most glamorous ladies in society put on their finest to attend the great ball at The Palace last night. Despite war, famine, and insurrection, the grandest gowns and jewels adorned these women; young men begged for introductions and reporters had to be whipped away. It was so good to return to those carefree days which so often seem to have slipped through our gloved fingers.
I wasn't through preparing for the ball when a rabid photographer caught me looking for the social doyens who were slipping through the back door to escape notice.
Soon thereafter, they arrived in force.

Mr. Astor and I gratefully thanked the evening for bestowing such wonder upon us. Somehow, my hair never got finished, but as my lawyer, Riley, would say, "When it is you who wields power, you don't have to answer to anyone."

At some point during any great evening, things start to unravel.

Certain, not necessarily glamorous, persons pop up.

You have to start questioning if it is really time to gracefully exit.

Established stars get suspicious of the machinations of the upstarts.

And, there is always a black woman trying to grab the attention.

And, when the revolutionaries did start to climb the gates, the society ladies were confident that their simple "Stop" would keep them at bay. Leopold and I looked at each other and said at the same time said, "It didn't work in St. Petersburg in 1917 and it won't work now." That's when we slipped out the back door.
My thanks to everyone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday night Mr. Astor and I left the revelry at The Palace early enough to make sure the next day would not be a problem and that we would have time to take a dip in the pool. Angels led us off to sleep soon enough, but at 12.30 AM wraps first at my window and then at the doors made me grab a chic wrap and investigate. It was none other than Neil, whom we had left at The Palace much earlier after inviting him over for a dip. "Pleeeeese, can we go for a midnight swim; it is my last night here." What could we say as we didn't really have to get undressed?

So another BBC water ballet was performed, and we will be told when to expect it on TV.
We really will all miss Neil; everyday he took up his watch at The Palace downing Beefeater and tonic in The Beefeater Guard's summer uniform: capri pants. Farewell for now; we'll await your return.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Days fly by so fast, and it isn't even season. There was a non-stop parade of parties from Tuesday's Martini Night by Edison Farrow up until last night's movie night by Scottie at Twist. And, although these events have always lined up like this, perhaps the very best part of it all is to have a dashingly handsome man on your arm, one everyone now expects to be in that place. Social life takes on new meaning whether you have the next mayor in tow or you are in a bowling alley; everything is brighter in a town that glows 24 hours a day.
We thought we were ending the day at Scottie's presentation of the original La Cage Aux Folles (next week is Birdcage). It was well-attended and hilarious.

But the evening was not to be put so easily to an end. Drunken water ballet burst out in the early morning hours, Leopold, Neil, and I doing our very best Esther Williams.

Just when I was about to bring charges of 'hooliganism" against The Countess, images popped up on my camera to remind me that people who live in glass castles shouldn't throw stones.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

While proper society ladies are engaged in charitable bingo, The Great Northern Court is spinning out of control. In addition to performing African dances at places named "Rumpy's Tavern", The Countess has enticed my sister--by all accounts still a proper lady--into mocking me with this.

In past days of glory, I would have sent the Great Southern Fleet north to bombard them. Times being what they are, we have to The Fleet at dock so The Countess will continue to "act up" unfettered.

Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish (unfortunately referred to at Mrs. Styrofoam-Flinch this weekend by my beloved, Leopold) threw her formidable weight behind Commissioner Bower's campaign in a delightful meeting yesterday.

We will all be gathering at Scottie's movie tonight. It will be a tastful gathering, unlike the out-of-control-madness of The Countess. In the Good Old Days, she would be hauled before a council and reprimanded, perhaps even locked up for a while.

Tiaras at Rumpy's; the horror is to much to comprehend.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Scottie's movie tomorrow night at Twist (10 PM upstairs in the VIP lounge) is the original La Cage Aux Folles. As usual it will be a gathering of The Faithful. It is one of the first "beach" events I brought Leopoldo to and it will remain a staple of the "beach" diet. Leopold has become the most important thing keeping me here; I had an offer in another country, but can't accept it now. He is everything I ever hoped for.

We entertained commissioner Bower yesterday at The Palace for a photo shoot and then dragged her over to Twist's happy hour. What a good sport; she never stopped talking to the boys and reinforced my opinion that she will scoop the gay vote. We also find her ahead in the Mid-Beach Jewish vote and and back-breaker in the North-Beach Hispanic vote. I've said from the beginning: "You capture the gay vote and the women vote, and it doesn't matter how much special-interest-money your opponent has; HE WILL LOSE.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Late Wednesday afternoon I secluded myself and Leopold into the movies, turning the cells off, of course. When we came out and put them back on I knew something had "happened" by the number of messages. As it turned out, Commissioner Bower's staff were frantically trying to reach me to ask if I was "available"; she wanted to attend Thomas Barker's birthday bash and needed an escort into that stratified crowd. I had already told Leopold about these occasional duties with the next mayor, so I gave the go-ahead.

Thomas summoned up the strength to get out bed, telling me earlier in the day, "If I had known that a little alcohol with pills makes the pain disappear I would have done it years ago." Such innocence in the ways of the world, I thought. I greeted Commissioner Bower as she arrived and brought her to the beaming boy.

Leopoldo and Ivana, who is replacing Neil Bull at BBC headquarters here next week. Is it me, or does she have an uncanny resemblance to Angelica Huston?

Thomas had much to be happy about that night. He had two out of seven City commissioners at his party (here, Commission Gangola on the right). As he recounted yesterday, "It was a great mix of politicians, trannies, straights, and gays."

Halo GM, Jason, with his Mexican boyfriend, the adorable Kenny. We both agree that Mexicans make the best lovers.

Channel 7's immensely popular anchor, Craig Stevens, was there, too, and Neil was totally please to be introduced to him and talk shop.

Ms. Bower's motherly instinct--something which I see is one of greatest assets with the gay community--shines here with Carlos.

And The Palace contingent attended in full force, taking over their usual corner of Halo's bar, the south west end.

Geraldine belted out a song I've never heard before; it was a heart-wrenching ballad about all-consuming love.


She made the crowd roar with laughter.

FernanDcute, meanwhile, sang Yma Sumac while giving birth to stuffed monkeys.

Thomas clapping against the ever-changing colors of Halo's walls.

When we walked Commissioner Bower to her car, I was totally floored by her 1989 Cadillac and couldn't help asking for a photo next to that tire casing on the trunk. She hopped in and, with a wave of the hand, floored it and zoomed down the street. We love that woman.

It was a stunning crowd and a fun evening, everything one would associate with Barker. The cream of the crop saluted one of the nicest men in a town that does not breed many of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The day is here, and Thomas Barker assured me this morning that I will not have to use his body double tonight, which is good because there is no one who can quite be Thomas Barker.
The buzz about the birthday party has been building all week with locals re-arranging their work schedules, planning arrival times, and--of course--deciding what to wear. (Leopold, in particular, is wringing his hands about the appropriately extravagant outfit.) A genuinely nice guy, Thomas would command a loyal following naturally; the fact that he writes one of the most-read gossip (or as he like to refer to it: "entertainment") columns will assure the attendance of everyone else. Remember: the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.

The official plan calls for cocktails at The Palace between six and eight so that any necessary gossip can be quietly exchanged in a safe setting and, after Halo becomes too packed to move, to return and gossip about everyone we ran into. Yes, it's shallow, but it's what we do best.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

According to The Herald, a new sport has quickly taken on: swimming with the gators. "The experts stress it's foolhardy, daft, dumb and every other word meaning stupid..." read The Herald, going back to my long-held notion that stupid people deserve to be eaten by my friends, the alligators (who have enough to deal with in the fight for territory with the pythons). Maybe they don't want to be photographed in their caves, but there is an interesting slide show here showing what these guys find under the murky water. Manny Puig, one of these new daredevils, was the spotlight of the article; "And, just like humans, they're all different, Puig says. ``Some alligators are psychopaths; some are not.' '' That's about as reassuring as walking up Washington Avenue at 5 AM; let's see "Some homeless crack addicts are psychopaths; some are not. But most are, so maybe I shouldn't ever walk up Washington Avenue, period." It won't be long before someone disappears and is hidden by an alligator in it's cave for snacking on; they like to stash prey for later. Then there will be the rescue effort and all the alligators will have their lives turned upside down because of a stupid person.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another legend slipped into history with the death of Brooke Astor. You know a legend when they have been photographed by Cecil Beaton Married to the grandson of The Mrs. Astor, Caroline, Brooke--more than anyone else--is credited with saving many of the institutions of New York City so taken for granted today. Hopefully, her final days were made all the better by Annette de la Renta.

Scottie's showing of Mommie Dearest was a supreme hit last night, and we all gathered for cocktails tonight to pick next week's. Let's see...La Cage aux Folles or Funny Face. Hmmmm. Special attention was paid to The Countess Bedelia's antics up North: wearing a tiara at Rumpy's Tavern; we called up photos on her site of such action. What can you say? She says she was bringing culture or something to the peasants; I say the only thing brought to the peasants should be the wrong end of a saber. My talk is hollow, though, without Jeremy; Neil is a loyal guard, but he's better at waving a xylophone stick than a saber. I guess he could lull the unwashed masses scaling the fence with daggers in their teeth with some of his music while I slip out the back door with Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish (if she's sober enough to not want to actually "meet" some peasants and teach them literacy). And, poor Thomas Barker is not doing well; we have gone into super care mode to make sure he's OK. A finely-tuned assembly line of friends is taking over his care, but the poor baby's birthday is Wednesday and I told him we might have to carry him in on a divan because the party must go on. The entire town will be going to Halo to celebrate, and if I have to put a broomstick up his back and prop him up for the night, it will be. This town does not take "No" as an answer.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No one should forget that Scottie is showing Mommie Dearest tonight in his continuing series, Gay Classics 101 at 10 PM, upstairs at Twist in the cozy VIP section. I still find it amusing to listen to the debate about whether Faye Dunaway over-acted or she was just really portraying the actual Joan Crawford. After ten years on South Beach over-acting is a difficult thing to distinguish from the norm. In fact, "the norm" probably is over-acting; normal people are either ignored or mocked here. We'll all pay close attention tonight. Was Faye over-acting or is she just another neighbor across the way?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mr. and Mrs. Astor were honored to be the guests at the gracious dinner held at the pied-a-terre of Lady Nell Bottomswell-Bigsley-Cochraigne, affectionately known as Miss BBC. The Lady's brilliant beau, Nicholas, entranced us with local stories of hurricanes, legal briefs, and just down-right amusement. It was a shared moment for both couples, and we regret with deep feeling the impending return of the good Lady to her homeland.
Mr. Astor attracted the usual number of glamorous showgirl types. (Mrs. Astor looks the other way and understands all situations like this...the girl is from the chorus.)

Still she has style and enticing smile, so I will sleep with one eye open.)

Mr. Astor was also being eyed by more sinister elements; everywhere I turned fans flicked, bushes moved, and magazines had eyes cut out of them.

In the end, it was an evening totally focused on Neil and Nicholas--almost a melody, like the musical scores composed by Neil in London. And Mr. Astor and I deeply bow to them for the charming evening that somehow drifted us to nearly 3 AM in a strong, tropical wind that was refreshing and loving. Great friendships are based upon the rockbed of nights like this.