"the" Mrs. Astor

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I suppose the definitive side story of Sunday night will be the conversation overheard by Leopoldo on a bus ride over the causeway to the beach today. Two students were sitting in front of him. A little queen was telling a friend about the wonderful party he had attended on Ocean Drive Sunday. "It was fabulous, with a lot of people dressed as nurses and doctors. There were so many cute boys. And there was a scary nurse with a skull face and another one who was tall, with blond hair and a long red scarf. She was like a white RuPaul."

I guess I peaked.

Let this be a lesson to all you boys out there: Never, Ever wear five-inch heels unless you are used to doing so. The pains that develop in regions of your body which never spoke up previously will be a chorus.

Marcello, Tiffany, and Alberto; they specialized in different ailments of the anal region.

"Dr. Riley, Dr. Riley; your shirt has been found in the broom closet and your patient, too.

More pics; story to come. We are escorting Commission Bower to Halo again tonight; Matti is closing in and every gay vote counts. Leopoldo and I saw her in front of City Hall today and she said, "I didn't recognize you on Sunday; you were so tall."

Poor FernanDcute; usually he's so pretty. Head wounds are so not Fashion TV.

Sheila was feeling "It" that night; the last time she touched a head wound her husband, Seymour, had caught his cock in his zipper.

Sunday was a day of great mayhem; more people couldn't have squeezed in the ER. There were plenty of nurses, some doctors, plenty of patients in search of attention, and everyone looking for "medicine". A few pics and a story tonight.

By most accounts--but mine is the only one that matters, anyway--Leopoldo, my personal doctor who needs no operating light, cuz he operates at night, was the most hansome man in the Emergency Room. (And, I towered over him for once.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Countess du Barry of Newport, Captain Jeremy, Countess Bedelia, Lt. Andy of The 7Th, and the unsinkable Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish. The ballroom was full.
Countess Bedelia might have been a bit shocked by the reception she received upon arriving, but she shouldn't have been. The Southern Court has always been swept away by Bedelia, her followers, her jewels, and presence.

We here in The Great Southern Court always fall back on our comfortable, quiet lifestyle; only The Great Northern Court is capable of ostentation like Countess Bedelia's bag.

Happy times; I am not unaware of how lucky we are to be blessed by such friends and experiences. We take a lot as granted, but I never let an hour go by without acknowledging the wonderful time it has been.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Matti Bower delivered a passionate speech last night reminding us that rights given by The City can be taken for granted and taken from us; I recalled the firefighters of Miami Beach whose City-given domestic partner benefits were snatch away by federal law. She reminded us that she has sponsored or promoted every gay rights issue placed before the commission for the last eight years; I recalled how her opponant, Simon Cruz, once questioned one gay-related vote with the whine that he was against "social engineering". What an idiot. When he got a grip, he voted for it anyway; the Miami Beach Commission has always voted 7 - 0 for any gay rights issue.

More pressing issues confront us today. Admiral Pimpernel's flagship steamed up Government Cut this morning escorted by Palace gunships firing Bacardi water canons. And, I can already hear the rumble of The Countess's open carriage; along her route children sing a song I wrote for the day, "Hail, Bedelia", and doves are being released. du Barry's route from Lauderdale is a bit more secret, with three exact carriages heading in different directions to throw off tax agents.

The entire Court is summoned to appear at 6 PM for the formal ceremony welcoming the dual monarchy of The Great Northern Court and the return of our own Pimpernel from the Court of St. James. Perhaps a nap is in order, but the tension is too much. The only thing to do is for all to put on their tiaras and get ready for a bumpy night.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Will Wonders Journalistically Ever Cease?

Last night was one of political fund-raisers, fortunately not more than a block from La Casa. Matti Bower's was a great success at the Van Dyke and another for another openly-gay man running for commissioner at Halo. Along with Mr. Astor, I just wanted a simple night of knowing nods and hand shakes; it was not more than that, although Drama always just below the surface of any event.

No matter. I'm about to go to another fund-raiser for Matti at Twist. The poor woman has been battered by her opponant, Simon Cruz; he has raised $400,000 to her paltry $50,000. He has every lobby in his pocket: the Jews, the Cubans, the developers (he's the president of a bank that finances "developement"). He's the type of guy who would kiss your baby and make you regret it; it's hard to wash away an oil slick.

I liked Matti from the start because she was honest, questioning, and lived right here amongst us. No one know's what any politician will end up as, but she sparked interest from the beginning of a long, up-hill battle. No money, little staff (her daughter), and less organization; still, she had what I said was possible: the ability to get the gay and woman vote; that would clinch it.

To everyone's shock, The Miami Herald came out yesterday for Matti Bower as Mayor. To buck the established forces is not like that paper; "She sensibly balances quality-of-life concerns with a strong interest in core issues such as tourism and economic development" it wrote.

Wow; for a paper I've long criticized, I take off my hat. And, Matti: Ten Days To Go, Girl.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The message--handed between cocktails and the debate about whether the weather would affect the weekend and was el Nina worse than el Nino--was all too clear. No code could cloud the obvious. It read: "Two Queens Will Change All". The Countesses Bedelia and du Barry were, indeed, arriving--some would say assaulting--this island kingdom together on Saturday and setting up rival court at the neighboring palace of The Carlyle (just about as pretentious as you can get). At the formal announcement, members of The Court started to squeal like pigs; they ran around exclaiming their admiration of The Northern Court, and I wondered just how many spies Bedelia did have here. The only thing you can do in a situation like this, I remembered, was when The Kaiser Wilhelm visited his cousin Nicholas II; neither one of them like the "positioning" of the other, but they put on their best uniforms, toasted each other profusely, and carried forward.

Then they declared war on each other.

Of course, that can't happen now; du Barry is my sister.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I returned from my twice-weekly visit to Mr. Astor's country estate (with a brand new outfit and shoes, mind you) to find The Palace a beehive of anticipation for the "ER" party this Sunday. Great expectations have developed and inquiries were rampant about who would be a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, and--especially--a patient in need of a rectal exam. According to one well-placed source, the area thrift stores and novelty shops were having a run on medical outfits and any symbol of The Red Cross. This fit neatly into Leopoldo's experience while trying to check out the pair of white high heels. "Do you really want them," said the poor soul. "I need them for my nurse uniform."

Another hotbed of thought was the imminent arrival of The Countess Bedelia; questions were asked about what to wear and how to act upon her entrance. I replied, "Careening drunk and dancing like a fool would make her feel at home." Everyone already knows The Countess's penchant for fun, but of concern also was the question of whether my sister du Barry was going to accompany Bedelia. It seems that tax agents are in pursuit the great lady much in the way they were of Casanova. Still, I can't believe a woman of such snobbery as du Barry would let a competing countess steal the show; she IS from Newport.

So, all looks good for visits from many dignitaries this weekend including our dear Pimpernel from England. It will certainly be a week of conspicuous consumption for all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Henrietta Rules

Another one of "those" Sundays... Leopoldo had the day off and we went haywire. I remember religiously watching To Tell The Truth, and my worshiped Kitty Carlylse would often cast her vote with the preface, "Now, let this be a lesson to all of you..." Well, listen closely; Don't ever, ever start a Sunday with Sambuca for breakfast.

But, what a day it was. We met up with the charming student, Julio, who wanted to interview Henrietta, but she was late and didn't remember my number to call. Like all icons, Henrietta doesn't bother herself with modern contraptions like cell phones and was three hours late. Still, like all good things, it was worth the wait; Henrietta swept into The Palace and held court like no one else could.
Radiant and regal, she swept the afternoon crowd off its feet.
Don't tell anyone, but Mr. Astor took me to some bizarre discount store (educated consumer that he is) and we found a treasure trove of stuff including those glasses. Most of his collection of designer glasses could bail out a third world country, but those he found for just a pittance.
And, Henrietta is no fool. If you can cozy up to a razor-tongued, sharp lawyer with nipple rings like Rily, why not?

Connie (she-so-bad) Chung has been a long-time friend of Henrietta.

Aw...in the end--as drunk as we all got--we had to give up the day to the wonderful, gracious Henrietta. (Her hair seems to tell a story that she was having a good time, too.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another week whizzed by; Mr. Astor drafted the pattern for and cut out my costume on his two days off (what a doll). There was a martini party at The Tides which gave us all a chance to see the renovation and new decor. The Tides has a lot of money behind it, A LOT, but as we all know it can't buy you love or happiness, and to those two I will add taste.

Oh, I will be the first to admit that every piece of furniture in their lobby was extremely expensive, and I know that mixing different pieces from different time periods is the height of chic, but the lobby of The Tides looks like a yard sale of some European member of the lower nobility. And then there are those busts of the blackamoors on the patio; I cringe every time I walk by. To top off the evening, there wasn't any air conditioning yet, so we slipped back to The Palace next door again where a boisterous and loud crowd of the usual drunks were having a ball. No wonder The Tides hates us.
On another night (they get blurred) this week Angel (in black) brought a big group of well-wishers to celebrate his tenth anniversary with his partner. Ten years is incredible here; ten months is even stretching it. That is Leopoldo on the left (with the cleavage, always) and on the other side of Angel L's co-worker, Lloyd and friend Sheldon. The weather is slowly changing now into cooler, yet balmy nights with superb breezes off The Atlantic. It's payback time.

It's so good having Jeremy back where he belongs, but he's having trouble adjusting to his work routine here. With three weeks off upon returning from Columbia, he seems to think his routine is to leave home, have breakfast, drink at The Palace all afternoon, break for lunch at Twist, and cap off the evening with--what else, drinks at The Palace. He did take two days and go to Key West, a town notorious for--what else? I won't even say.

I truly don't know what he's doing here, but I can tell you what I'm doing: Worrying. Instead of oiling up the machine gun nests on the roof and probing for tunnels being dug under The Palace, Jeremy seemed more interested is doing fancy dance steps. I now firmly believe The Countess Bedelia hypnotized Jeremy on his state visit to her castle in Transylchusetts last Thanksgiving and what we see are secret, coded messages sent to make him act this way. (She is well known for her tribal dancing in public.) I saw Manchurian Candidate; we all know their tricks. I'm going to have to de-program him before Bedelia and her court of winged monkeys arrive next week. It will take a lot of alcohol, I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Tale of Two Pair of Shoes

There are many events coming up for Halloween in this town which sets it watch to such things. The Save Dade ball is on Saturday and The Palace's special day will be Sunday; Carlos is holding an "ER" T-party and everyone is scrambling for nurses uniforms, scrubs, and emergency vehicle workers' jumpsuits.

I really, really wanted to go as Clara Barton, not a long way off from my suffragette outfit a few years back at Twist's turnabout party. But, Leopoldo today found a pair of size 14, never-worn white spikes for ten dollars at a local charity thrift store. When he went to the counter, a very distraught customer asked, "What size are those?" "Fourteen", L replied. "Do you really want them; I need them for my nurse costume." Sorry Charlie...but, now I have to be a nurse.

At the end of the first week of going out together, Leopoldo admitted that he only had one uncontrollable vice: shopping. Given the times and town I live in, that was almost a blessing, not a curse. So, when we went shopping for fabric downtown yesterday, I wasn't surprised how quickly L found all the cloth needed for my outfit in the first store; you couldn't find a more educated consumer. Then, he asked, "Can we go look at shoes?" Within minutes he had sniffed out a pair of silver spikes (the outfit demands silver spikes and clutch to match). They were fierce, although I refused to try them on. He did, however, and they were a little roomy, which sold me on them; when we went to the counter to pay, the clerk said, "We do get shoes this size, but they don't last for long." L looked at me and we both uttered, "O000".

Unfortunately, when we got home the toe of the shoes were too narrow for me to fit into; they are being taken to be stretched, though, because Mr. Astor says I'm going to get into those shoes if it kills me. I would feel embarrassed by this if Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish hadn't shown me the six-inch, white T-straps she donned in a similar festive mood. (At least I am not going to ride a pick-up truck around town on a bale of straw in my shoes.) I may, however, end up in a real "ER" after two nights in these killers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It was not one of those weekends of wild abandon, one in which the barbarians were at the gates and you consumed as much as you could out of the last moments of your life; no, that's for two weekends away when Countess Bedilia arrives with The Great Northern Court. The weather was not accommodating, which means "not-all-that-bad" considering it's the middle of October; Speedos were still the style of the day. And, although a lot of shenanigans went on, it still seemed liked a laid-back weekend.
So, perhaps, the most touching aspect of the weekend was Mr. Astor's gift to me--celebrating our three month relationship--of "New York Interiors". "I thought you'd like it because it would bring back memories," he said. Lessor people have gone to heaven for thoughts like that.
Overwhelmed, I immediately brought out a related picture book I've suckled on for twenty years, "New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments", a book of floor plans of such monuments to power. I read this book every day for almost five years and still keep it handy when Mr. Peabody says, "Sherman...let's go to the Way-Back Machine".
I like the Way-Back Machine; and I like Mr. Astor.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Last night I was greeted (after opening the gate to Leopoldo's residence) by Tara, the most ferocious dog I've ever met. But, Tara loves me; she knows I always show up with food and the baked macaroni and beef didn't disappoint. (How much happier can I be than with a dog and a Latino to fuss over?) After the obligatory margarita, we set out for Magnum's tiki bar. Getting anywhere in Miami is a chore; every artery is clogged with repairs to an infrastructure never designed to serve the needs of an explosive population, but we made it to 79th Street well enough.

As we approached, I stopped and stared. In front of the bar was a large sign welcoming everyone to the "Ticky" bar. You get used to this here, but Magnum's is a class act, which--in it's previous existence as Jeffrey's here on the beach--was a lovely, lace-curtained establishment you could take your mother to. The gracious Jeffrey refused to pay the outlandish rent increase and packed off to the mainland where Magnum's established itself as another, civilized--and now rather baroque--restaurant (which is closed for vacation). "Ticky," I kept repeating. "Why would they do that?" L asked. There was no answer (maybe there was some fine print I didn't notice), but there was nothing "tiki" about it anyway; it was an old flower store shack, turned bar. We sipped cocktails under a tent, while hamburgers were grilled for us, and listened to Abba for two hours. It was a fine evening but, I still couldn't get "Ticky" out of my mind; "Love Shack" would have been more appropriate, but who knows what they would have done to that.

Tonight everyone will trot downtown to see Edison Farrow's production of "Queer Riot" at the Guzman Theater. It is almost twenty years since I met Bunny in New York. She's still got the same old potty mouth; if it's true that "God punishes you where you sin most", Bunny's tongue would have whithered up and fallen off long ago. The only change is that her hair has gotten higher every year (I don't know how she balances the weight of that hair on those platform shoes). As The Queen Mother of Drag--she must be in her eighties now--Bunny still keeps going on, as do we.

Friday, October 12, 2007

When Good Fringe Goes Bad

Some people just don't know when to stop. My case: Miss Deon's carrying forward of the fringed Capri pants of Sunday to fringed Ralph Lauren shirts. It's like a person who only accelerates when they should be applying the fashion brake.
We all had a lot of fun at bingo last night, which more than bowling I think, brings out some very interesting characters and character traits. Juicy's final number as Dolly Parton was particularly amusing.
My carriage now awaits for the ride across the Venetian Islands; tonight we are actually planning to go out, to Magnum's tiki bar on 79th Street. Who could ever have imagined it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For years here, The Palace has been the center of Balkan intrigue first initiated by Boris. It evolved, as all Balkan adventures do, into a roller coaster ride of plots, mysterious disappearances, and the ever-present threat of assassination (in itself, a rather exciting way to start every day). The Court is now assembling into its former great power, with the return of Captain Jeremy and, therefore, Order. The peasants are trembling with the Jeremy's return to command; it was difficult to maintain "a presence" while depending upon a leader wearing a teal-colored gown. I have regained a certain amount of confidence both with Jeremy and Mr. Astor at my side; Mrs. Stuyvestant-Fish still holds the left flank and The Baroness Seitzinger is always in the rear guard. Fringed Capri pants can be worn with abandon and nearly naked boys can frolic again, unhindered. Feathers are being added to hats without second thought.

All is forming in place for the arrival of The Great Northern Court, headed by the the dual-powers of The Countess Bedelia, of Transylchuetts, and my sister from Newport, The Countess duBarry. I am sure those two power-mongers think they will conquer our noble land just by arriving with their trunks of gowns, chests of jewels, an ample amount of fawning courtiers, blackamoors, hat-makers, face powder masters, wrinkle removers, shoe custodians, and the like.

They have another thought coming.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Before my departure over the Venetian Islands for The Mainland, it must be noted that all is not debauchery and conga lines here on South Beach (although most of it is). The unsinkable Thomas Barker has been working relentlessly for Equality Florida's "Fairness For All Families" campaign to fight the proposition to repeal and outlaw all benefits for domestic partners. This insidious measure is outwardly aimed and gay and lesbian couples by the far-right in an effort to stir up the conservative vote in the national election (somewhere Katherine Harris's ugly face must be in this). What most don't realize is that it affects EVERY domestic partnership, gay or straight, and would target elderly couples living together, teachers, everyone. A similar national bill recently stripped Miami Beach firefighters in such relationships of their city-given rights and the move to fight that is on too.

Well, we all trotted over the Halo for another fund-raiser last night for Equality and the club put out a wonderful spread of food from Pasha around the corner with Absolute donating the liquor, although most of us were still suffering from Sunday. To the credit of Thomas, his co-workers, Halo, and everyone else who helped and attended, they raised over $12,000; not bad for a bunch of dilettantes.

Not the best photograph ever taken, but it does show the ever-changing colors of Halo's walls.

(Also, that is Thomas Barker's backside on the right, arguably the most popular seat in town. )

Monday, October 08, 2007

There was no doubt in anyone that Sunday was to be the big day, the afternoon of booze and boys (and girls). There are times where a soft message floats off the Atlantic summoning all to the beach, and yesterday was one of those days. At 4 PM the crowd started to form, first on the patio and sidewalk and then inside. Suddenly, Leopoldo and I realized that we were in our early afternoon outfits and rushed home to change into late afternoon wear; by the time we got back the drinking and carousing was furious, a typical afternoon in the tropics. We managed to get out before serious damage to reputations could ensue, but others did not. Many shuffled in today in great pain looking for more medicine.
Dustin and his boyfriend symbolize the great pairing of White and Tan here in Miami.

I can just hear every one's favorite gay Mormon, Dave saying, "Good times...good times" He'll be here soon, too; it is now time for annual migration of northern gay birds to fly to Miami.

"A tasty piece of meat between two slices of white bread" comes to mind. Stuyvesant-Fish and The Astors shamelessly led the Bunny Hop, or something near it. (Mrs. S-F re-entered the workforce today. At this hour there is still no word if the workforce survived. )

The fashion find of the afternoon was Deon's fringed Capri pants and you know how expensive something so silly must be. Mr. Astor gave me a pair, too, but mine stick to the more classic lines; the pockets to them are so shallow that I've already lost two cell phones and a card case out of them. The word shallow is inextricably associated with Capri pants.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I am behind in everything these days; blame The Boyfriend if you must, just don't harm him. Last Friday Twist hosted the party honoring Henrietta's fifty years in drag on Miami Beach. It was to honor the surreal Icon of South Beach, Henrietta, a wonderful, caring, gentle soul who decided half a century ago to put on a dress and be himself. To my knowledge (vast, let me assure you) there is not one person on this island who does not idolize this great image of all the South Beach is. When Carl Fisher invented this little sand bar to be a point of pleasure, surely he envisioned Henrietta; we know that from her stories about basement drag clubs in the sixties existing for those "in the know". As the papers reported: "...and her jewels are all real" to the way she can make a room Kowtow like Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish, Henrietta is a gem. The town took off its hat to her that night.
Lately, there have been a couple of people who contacted me about Henrietta; they want to interview her and I can only say "Amen". Someone has to chronicle the life of this person. My favorite story is of her Mafia-connected uncle who took her in in the fifties; he owned a very popular Italian restaurant in Mid Beach named, Marios; Henrietta learned to cook there while perfecting her penchant for drag. Her uncle didn't care, "As long as I came home by eleven." The Beach wasn't very tolerant then. Blacks could not be on The Beach unless they had a card saying where they worked and couldn't even sleep here; Sammie Davis Jr. had to leave the island after performing with the Rat Pack at The Fountainbleau and take a room in Overtown. The fate of a drag queen was even more dire, except for the fact that Henrietta lived on the same block as Meyer Lansky in Mid Beach and cleaned his house. "Every cop was paid off then, and with Meyer as my client not one would touch me."

Ah, sweeter stories are not even made up. And those sweet stories, I believe, are about to be recorded.

An older shot of Henritetta with Riley; I'll never forget the Sunday afternoon of the birthday party I threw for her. Henrietta demanded to cater the event--a talent she is well-known for in town--and I got a call saying "We are pulling up; come take the food." I summoned a crew of nubile busboys and ran out to the alley to see Riley in his Mini-Cooper with Henrietta's magnificent bouffant scrapping the ceiling of his car. It doesn't get better than that.

Friday, October 05, 2007

We all popped over to Halo early last night to support Commissioner Mattie Bower in her run for mayor. The general feeling is that there must be a reason her opponent, the incredibly slick Commissioner Cruz, has lined up every special interest group south of Palm Beach and has ten times as much money in his war chest. Most of us feel that reason is that he will continue the process of giving away every last piece of land to developers. Mattie continues her rounds of the gay bars, PTA's, homes for the elderly, and every other grass roots venue; this is a small town of 90,000 permanent residents and the last election was decided by a hundred votes. Mattie is working hard to get every one of them. Here she is getting the vote of Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish who sudden re-appearance on the social scene delighted everyone; anytime that woman can escape "the home" is big news. And even bigger news was that Mamie is actually re-entering the workforce on Monday after a ten month crusade of drinking and napping. Several bars will undoubtedly have to close now.

If it's October, it's time for bob and Terry to winter on South Beach. They have a hard time deciding where to go. Last weekend they flew to LA for a Rufus Wainwright concert and the weekend before to Monaco. But, with winter approaching Miami Beach will be the weekend of choice for some time. Terry won not only the first bingo prize last night...

...but also the second, prompting calls of "fix" once again from the likes of Deon and Mrs. S-F. How many times do I have to tell these people that bingo is not easy to "fix" and if I did "fix" it the prizes would be a lot bloody better than a bottle of champagne or a Mr. Potato Head in the shape of a penis. Really!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Some people just know how to throw things, like colors, together. It can be a purple backdrop, a yellow fire truck, or a green bus bench. They can immediately imagine the image (and so can the photographer); you put the two together and you have magic of some type. And we have it by all accounts; it is only a matter of time now before we join forces and move in together.
Dinner parties are starting to rage again, after a summer respite. This is the time where hosts throw open their doors and prove their talents in the kitchen and collections of art. Last night Mr. Astor and I were honored to accept David and Deon's invitation to dinner at the very fashionable Indian Creek. In the old days (pre-Versace murder) immense houseboats lined the bay side of Indian Creek lending a very old South way of living. They are gone now, along with so many other things, but Indian Creek and its hotel is still a little treasure of Miami Beach.