"the" Mrs. Astor

Monday, March 30, 2009

Amidst the craziness of the world around me, I have been following and researching the work of the Christian Appalachian Project simply because I am always amazed at how groups of concerned people can come together to do battle with things like poverty against overwhelming odds, and poverty is a creature that nips at the ankles of so many people these day. I have no use for Christian or Jewish groups who operate under religious foundations to promote themselves, because the more defined your group is the less you find a broad caring; you might as well as go for Aztec. That aside, the CAP has been working overtime in a region in which poverty has the upper hand and, I discovered in the press a local hero in the form of Cuban refugee, Miami native Raul. He left Miami and, after graduating from The University of Miami, found a cause in the Kentucky working with the poor youth, teaching science, health, and anatomy. He is a local hero. So, that always makes me think that when you study the work of Marie, Queen of Romania--who donated a life to an adopted country--you have, right in the back yard, a man of humble beginnings who has donated his time to another adopted country. We are in dire times and need people like this to get us through it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lady Bunny Does Puerto Vallata

As mentioned earlier, my friend Carl Zablotney sold The Wire magazine to his long time editor, Thomas Barker, and went on to live his dream of owning a club in Puerto Vallata. He opened this week and flew down an even older friend of mine, The Lady Bunny to perform and entice the whole town. As a girl who loves foreskin and Valium, it was the perfect trip. Carl told me the opening was a tremendous success, as was the bawdy show Bunny put on.
Carl's club has several outdoor balconies, hence the name. It is located on the gay beach within a short walk to the ocean.

Carl was delighted with the renovation of the old building.

If you have ever seen one of Bunny's shows, you know it is filled with potty-mouthed humor mixed with local jokes. Most of the local jokes on opening night dealt with the many Lady Bunny impersonators in town. She wasn't kind.
Carl had to turn away people when so many showed up to see Bunny's opening night performance.

There was only a brief time to take a rest in the Mexican sun for Lady Bunny. After the show, she would have a tight schedule.

Bunny's first job was to make friends with the locals.

After getting a taste of the locals, Lady Bunny began her own Hillary-type effort to bring international diplomacy to the forefront (or fore something) of American policy. A brief exchange with a Spainard...

...led to a trio of Germans.

Until she was awash and surrounded by a group of Canadians.

Diplomacy does take its toll. Bunny was keenly aware that Valium is sold over the counter in Mexico; it was one of the first things she mentioned when invited by Carl.
Forget the drug cartels, kidnappings, and political upheaval. Mexico has a new icon, The Lady Bunny, to look up to (or down to as the case may be) and a new dance club and bar, The Balcones. Good luck, Carl; we'll see you soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

To this day, Leopoldo always questions why we get mail addressed to "Marie, Queen of Romania". Simply put, every time an address request for a mailing list is presented to me, that is what I sign. It puts a slight smile on my face when I open an invitation addressed to her.

Marie was a charismatic player in the history of Europe. Born the granddaughter of both Queen Victoria and Tsar Alexander II, she found herself in the fireplace of WWI as the consort of King Ferdinand of Romania as that country daringly sided with the allies. Open to devastating attacks by the German and Austrian forces and with the Imperial Russian army falling back, Marie used her considerable talents to lobby America for a loan to fight off the attack and retreat into a triangle that she labored to hold. Against all odds, she got the loan before America entered the war, and personally led her troops to hold what was left of Romania.

When the war ended and the allies were not inclined to consider the vast expense Romania had paid in funds and bodies to hold the Germans back, she gathered her vast charms and went to Paris to argue the cause of Romania. She won over every diplomat with her expanse of language and--most of all--charm. In the end, Romania was tripled in size and Marie returned to a war-ravaged country deeply indebted to her moxy. Marie was about as popular as Princess Diana; the public reveled in the fact that she put country before self and she was greatly admired on her visit to America in 1926. She died at Castle Bran, reputed to be Dracula's last fortress, in 1938, fortunately just before he beloved country would be ravaged again, this time by Hitler.

There is much more behind my smile when I get an invitation to some club that is addressed to Marie, Queen of Romania. Maybe it is just a small way to acknowledge the great work that woman did for her country, that wasn't really her country, but adopted. Sometimes you do what is right.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The streets of Miami Beach are swarming with pale, young people with severe haircuts, wild clothes, and most carrying a case of CD's. Winter Music Conference 2009 has begun and, to the relief of all, they are spending big; perhaps the music industry is one of the sectors less affected by the times. But, we began WMC in a different manner by attending The Florida Grand Opera's presentation of The Marriage of Figaro.
Mr. Astor's friend, Barry, contributes much to the opera house and--with the opening of Marriage occurring three nights ago--managed to arrange three seats in the center box on the grand tier normally occupied by the major donors on opening night. The presentation got mixed reviews (and there were some sighs from what I call Opera Queens sitting behind us) but--as I told Leopoldo before leaving the house--"It's Mozart; it's got to be entertaining.", and it was. In fact, Marriage always struck me as a sort of 200-year-old I Love Lucy episode; and, with a story line concerned with confused affection, infidelity, social posturing, and a sprinkling of cross-dressing, it was so South Beach. Three and a half hours downtown, though, is enough for me.
The poor opera house was dogged by construction delays and cost over-runs and, has been struggling ever since it opened. It has never helped, either, that the fourth building, the parking garage, was never built in a section of downtown notorious for little parking. It still looked good, though.

Most of all, I was pleasantly surprised to find the house at 80% capacity; not bad, given the conditions the town is in.
Leopoldo and I recalled to Barry that we had almost met at the opening night of Aida (another long opera that made me wishing, "Please just send in the elephants..."). During intermission, Leo was at the railing above the main floor on which I was standing with Ditmar and his parents. I was talking with a woman in a stunning peacock print gown (there are still people who make an effort here) when Mr. Fashion spotted her, and then me. Little did he know that just a few months later I would literally run into him during one of his rare visits to South Beach. I've never let go.
And, if you ever get bored, you can look up at the ceiling and imagine what Betty and Barney Hill saw.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weeks of planning and days of frenzied, rushing around all paid off with a spectacular party for Henrietta. She was wearing a lovely Chanel watch along with some rather fancy jewelry. And, just in case you make the same mistake I made, it is not orange. "...it's tangerine."
Our household, Bob, Terry, and Leopoldo, surrounded The Queen with love.

Doctors George and Brad made sure that top medical advice was available.

Miss Tiffany was splendid and that hair-do added another six inches or so to her stature. I swear she must have been eight feet of Amazonian glamor.

Thankfully, it is South Beach and you can always count on boys in swim suits to be in attendance.
Even the cop-on-duty was gorgeous and happy; being a little tipsy, I ran my finger across his badges and said, "Looks like you've been through some tough campaigns."
We had some fun discussing the theme for next year's 69th birthday. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted and it was generally concluded that we would all withdraw and relax for a while. It seems that most of society doesn't remember how they got home, what time the left, or why that empty pizza box was in the bed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The day is here, the cake is made, and my hat just slaps your face when I enter the room. Today, the entire town and then some, will honor its most favored subject on the occasion of her 68 th birthday. As usual, Henrietta drank us under the carpet last night; I don't know how she does it, but the attention of go-go boys, club owners, and other sycophants was quite wondrous.

Hats, feathers, furs, and jewels are being laid out as Leopoldo and I host the most anticipated party in, well, a year. When you do Henrietta, you don't get better than that.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Romania.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The first image of our gift to Henrietta has been leaked to the international press. It is a simple, but elegant band of roses set with diamonds; it was last worn by Queen Marie of Roumania, although I did briefly try it on last night as I approached Mr. Astor in bed.

I've been sitting around the house all day, baking cakes. I have to muster up all the strength I have to meet (do battle) with Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish and The Baroness Seitzinger at 4 PM. If you have ever seen a Japanese monster movie like Battle of The Gargantuans you know what it will be like.

There is no stopping the head-long race into Henrietta's birthday party. It seems that everyone is lining up to attend.

I baked cake number five today: a vanilla cake to which I added vanilla pudding. Tomorrow, I will make the vanilla cake with cream cheese. A decision has to be made. The sounds outside of the peasants revolting with pitchforks and torches are most disturbing. I have sent a messenger to them with detailed instructions on where to find The Countess Bedelia and the Countess von Cartier...

While I have been laboring--yes, "laboring"--at the wheels of S0ciety, those two born-t0-well-to-admit-to-anything social whores are sitting back and applying ointments to their knees and minds while I try to to maintain decency and momentum.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

I have been making a cake each day this week, testing ideas and ingredients, and knowing that their is not much time left. Henrietta's 68th birthday is this Sunday and she asked me to make a cake; she said that she didn't want a present other than that as it would show our love for her more than anything else (she should have taken the present). Well, we are getting her a present; it will be the "topping on the cake"and it is a stunningly simple, yet fabulous tiara. Mr. Astor and I had a deep discussion about this at the wedding store downtown. He favored the classic, raised-front tiara so typical of coming of age parties of Cuban girls. I argued for the only one the simple ban of roses and stones; I pressed that it would be easily mixed with Henrietta's real jewels and present a noble and stoic presence in her monumental hair do. I won.
Henrietta, The Queen of South Beach, will be honored by the citizens of South Beach this weekend. It will mark 53 years of living in drag and being one of the most beloved characters ever to have reigned over this kooky island.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I have been roundly wrapped on the head by the likes of Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish and The Countess Bedelia for putting myself under house arrest after last weekend. I insulated myself from Trouble as best I could: Locking the gate, not answering calls, eating crackers and soup. Trouble was kept in place for an entire week.
On Sunday afternoon, there was some inclination to find Trouble. I, of course, was firmly against the notion; having led a prayer meeting earlier, I thought it totally inappropriate. There was, however, that look on Terry's face; translated from hieroglyphics, it spelt Trouble.
Some boys just seem to look for Trouble; it is always just a Speedo away.

I really was trying to be good...at least for a legally binding amount of time, but on Saturday night Gary (on the left) walked into my kitchen, naked, and announced that a pool party had begun. My housemates had initiated another bacchanal. I was appalled, mostly because I was just putting the final touches on my dinner for Mr. Astor; we ate quickly.

Trouble in Latin terms times three: Chris, Leopoldo, and Achilles.

In the end, Trouble is not a place or a person, it is a fog that creeps under the most locked door and, well, makes you crazy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

There are some things you don't mess with on South Beach and one is a dog owner. Sit out on Lincoln Rd. late on a Sunday afternoon and you will witness a parade of dogs and their owners like no other. Owners think of their dogs as their children, not unusual in an edgy, resort town of one-nighters and gross insincerity. So, if you are a politician and want to keep that job, don't promise a dog owner a park of their own and then try to go back on that promise.

The City Commission got just a little taste of dog-owner wrath yesterday, when a meeting was held to discuss reneging on the promise of a dog park on South Pointe, a park promised years ago when The Commission was dancing a profitable jig with wealthy developers and trying to attract even wealthier residents. God only knows what The Commission was thinking when it tried to back out of the deal. Well-heeled condo owners blasted the members with threats and denunciation. "I pay $50,000 a year in taxes, and I still don't have that park," shouted one woman. Others threatened to sell and leave and--of course--someone even came up with the original blueprints agreed to by The City; funny how written documents can raise their head and bite. Members of R.D.O. demanded justice. The Commission--true to their kind--did the best they could: Back down and postpone a decision until another meeting is held on April 15. That one should be even better theater, and it sounds like a mission.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This was the last sane moment I can recall: Sean's birthday party at Twist on Saturday. From that point on I will plead The Fifth on everything and lay blame on the momentous visit of Miss Conway (of the Conways of Old Lawrence). It seems that Miss Conway and I have been waiting 20 years to finally meet each other; we had a mutual friend in the form of one of the biggest party animals of all time, Laurie Ketcham, but we never met. I met Laurie at Studio 54 (the second version owned my Mark Fleischman); she was sitting on the bar and wrapped her legs around my friend, Bob. She never really let go, although Bob had to go on to school, leaving me in the hands of Laurie; we rampaged through NYC for ten years. Nothing or no one was safe.

So, my finally meeting Miss Conway put us in the Ketcham mood. We talked about Lucinda's taxi in which she ferried us back and forth between NYC and Old Lawrence, about the rambling Ketcham mansion (falling apart like the town itself), all-night parties where the lawn would have more bodies that a WWI battlefield in the morning, and just how we survived it all. Not many did. The reason the last three days are a blur is that we paid tribute of the Goddess of Excess, Laurie Ketcham. Everyone had a good time.

It is finally March and "season" is almost over. I don't think we could live through another month of visitors from The North.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Fer More Winter Party Pictures

Leopoldo with our dear friend Kendall from the Cinematique with whom I hope to work out the deal needed to assure a 2-feature, camp film presentation with Martinis.
Countess Bedelia making a crack, as usual, and Mrs. Astor about to grimace as one's carriage flies though the street of Miami Beach..

Penny and Miss Vicki traveled down from Ft. Lauderdale; both are involved in the Broward
Trans Gender organizationl.

Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish sent an endearing note that my poor health worried her, other members of society, but I promised the Social Triumvirate together on Saturday. It seems that a small vial of passion powder had been inconceivably them mis-labeled and I actually had put a powder with the force of Hades in my teas. Yes, it had it's ups (many), but the downs were drastic enough to make me stay up all night, spying behind a blue-velvet curtain to await imaginary assassination. Let's just say that it didn't add the the wonderful part of the day.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

And, now this (from Mrs. Stuyvsant-Fish):

"Ladies: Two social secretaries have been working full time to go through my correspondence since my return from Las Vegas. Yesterday, both turned in notice after being forced to read the ramblings of you two old drunks (and one slut) battling it out over moral superiority. I bribed one; the other unfortunately fell off the balcony as I didn't feel as though I could keep her confidentialty agreement in force. The stress of Las Vegas and the amount of work nearly did poor Mamie in. She retired to her chambers on Monday afternoon, and only made a brief appearance to greet the pizza delivery man yesterday afternoon. She went back down into another deep, pill induced slumber. Poor Mamie racked up nearly 24 hours of much needed deep sleep since Monday. Today, she is back at work, albeit taking things slowly at first. HOWEVER, let this be the warning to you two that her liver and tongue are back, primed and ready to rumble. Regards, MSF"

Just when you thought it was safe to walk the streets.

After chasing me into my crypt, and my locking the door, Countess Bedelia beckoned out with the skill a siren. I had taken full responsibility for my actions; when you are acting like a party animal, you will get sick as a dog. The town as a whole awoke to a massive hangover from the 5-day party; the refugees who summoned up the strength to say "Goodbye" last night at Score were like of pack of sick animals licking their wounds. No one was quite sure what they did on a certain day, but it was resolved that--as usual--we did everything.

Penance is now the order of the day, although since The Church has made much lately of their Indulgences availability, there is hope of little actual pain. Sadly, they don't sell them any longer. But--if they did--I would grab the first franchise for this little island of sin. I can easily imagine selling six drink tickets and one Indulgence at a club, or drag queens selling an Indulgence for the night for tips. Ah...the possibilities.

Monday, March 02, 2009

That Woman

The cable came in with no uncertain terms: "Your worst nightmare has come true." I replied, "You are snowed in and going to drag me down the drain." Countess Bedelia is here for a few more days. I have protected as many young boys as possible, but she has the upper-diamonded ring hand. Countess von Cartier wired me this: "Dear Mrs Astor Thank God you took that poor. Innocent boy under your wing. Bedelia would have only used and abused him. Well look at me I'm up here in Newport in a White Straight Jacket mumbling lines from All About Eve............. Please save them all ." Indeed. I have done all I can to save young, easily-impressed boys from bad influences like Bedelia; they really belong with us, who have only their best interests in mind.

The annual pool party at the Surfcomber again made for a lot of eye candy; these are just a few of the images that are still so vivid in our minds. We haven't even downloaded the second camera's photos. As usual, Countess Bedelia ruled the entire day; I have never seen so many kowtow to one woman, THAT WOMAN. We all had so much fun; it should be illegal.

My baby has always been a chick magnet...

Our dear friend, The South Beach Bum, was there; it is always a distinct pleasure and honor to be in his presence.

And we have adopted this boy to be our constant companion; he's another Leo, a Leonardo. He has narrowly escaped the clutches of Countess Bedelia; I cautioned him early that he had to make a choice of being with the two of us in the tropics or with Bedelia in Transylchusetts, confined to a cold dungeon with little more than bats to keep him company. Leonardo made the right choice.