"the" Mrs. Astor

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We had a grand time at Twist on Friday night; important members of Court like Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish and The Baroness Seitzinger showed up in glory. Everyone effectively emptied Tommy's bar of all the good booze and somehow lived to tell about it the next day. For Mr. Astor and myself, Saturday began The Weekend of Retreat; it seemed as if we had not had any rest for months. I spent most of the weekend in bed and the rest baking; Leopoldo shopped. We spent the nights having dinner by the pool and getting tipsy.
Tonight we were dining on my pork cutlets (damn swine flu fear) and killing any internal bugs with copious amounts of red wine when Terry raised his hand to his mouth with the loudest gasp I've ever heard, looking to his right. Leopoldo shrieked, jumped up, and ran...ran half way to Hialeah. I screamed too, convinced that Terry had seen Bigfoot emerging from the ficus bushes, looked to my left and saw IT: a baby possum which had casually walked up on the deck and was lumbering its way toward the table. By the time I had jumped to my feet to defend our table from Nature with a butter knife, the poor little creature was scurrying away, undoubtedly scared by the screams of terror. (Later I wondered if the neighbors would have called the police as--in my mind--it must have sounded like we were the victims of a South Beach Manson family.)

I have never been a big fan of Nature unless it was within the covers of National Geographic, but there are far more frightening things than possums. Sure, they can be rabid, but most of my friends are. So--to make amends--I left the leftover Brussels sprouts in a bowl outside our door. The poor thing probably needs counseling after tonight episode, but the next best thing would be some nice veggies in butter sauce. It's the least I can do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I picked up Pimpernel at the hospital yesterday and took him home; as it turned out, he did not have a stroke, just a seizure. Still, ten days in a hospital is enough to turn a grown man to tears. He asked that I take him to see "real people" immediately, and off we went to our favorite gin hall, Twist. Leopoldo joined us, and--as a cat can smell a mouse a mile away--suddenly Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish showed up proclaiming that I was inordinately quiet this week and that I must be plotting against her. The truth is that I have been exhausted by recent events and needed to rest a bit. She didn't even pretend to hear my excuse as the octopus in her started to maul Mr. Astor. Every time she exclaimed, "Look at that big bird up there!" I would look back to see her doing her very best imitation of a tailor ("I'm just checking his inseam..."). After consuming several bottles of cheap wine, Mamie rolled out and took her carriage home; I certainly hope she doesn't think that relieved her of attending Court tonight.

A dear friend sent me this Youtube clip of what was a major part of my world in New York. In it are two of my closest friends, Brandywine--who had a cable TV show called On Patrol--and the legendary Lahoma van Zandt. Lahoma is retired now and is the editor of a national magazine, and Brandywine is, well, still Brandywine and has a kooky store in NYC named Howdy Do with her longtime partner, Brenda a-Go-Go. This is a photo of them modeling Marc Jacobs' line.

Every Saturday night we would go to The Roxy, a cavernous club on the West Side of Manhattan. It was a boy-filled, drag queen Valhalla. It was also a time of mindless drug use and one night I decided to buy a vial of Coke, went up to dealer Fat Sue, and--don't ask me why--said, "give me a bottle of C." Sue thought I said "K" and I stormed up to the VIP room and told Lahoma, "You know, we can't just put out lines, so let's just snorkel it". We went into an embarrassing K-hole sitting with a nation-wide columnist. It was one of those turning points; I shortly thereafter stopped the rampant drug use and became probably the only person ever to move to Miami to escape them (my drug of choice became Latinos). Lahoma soon went sober and got a real job.

Watching the antics in that clip brings back the fondest of memories of a drag-filled, drug-induced world I was so privileged to photograph. Some day, though, you have to grow up. I'm so happy I never did.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I picked up Henrietta on Saturday morning and chatted with her as I fiddled with my new camcorder. No one knew just what to expect; the parade had not been widely advertised.
Everyone seemed amazed by the 20,000 people who crowded Ocean Drive to see and be seen. It was another glorious Miami day and there was no shortage of color.

The birthday/pride weekend was a magical success (although some of us are suffering some pain). Next stop: Leopold's birthday in June.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It has been three days of non-stop partying; I don't know how I can look myself in the mirror.
The People's Mayor, Matti Bower, was tooling around in a 1940 Chrysler. She came up to us at one point and introduced us to a friend as..."They believed in me before anyone ever did." Oh, those were grand days.

And, what do you know? My favorite boy-cop was there. There aught to be a law...

Friday, April 17, 2009

At this hour things are out of control. I am being dressed as if I was some Catholic girl going to a religious ceremony--all white, not quite sure of what is expected of me...Help me, decent people...

Baroness Seitzinger paraded this image around on her mailing list today about the mystery of my real birthday; her mailing list comprises of three elements: Her jewelers, her ex-lovers, and the sprinkling of real society that buys her purchased title. Still, she was a doll with hosting a luncheon in my honor at The Van Dyke today. We had a lovely time.

A great deal of interest is being generated about just what I am doing with Henrietta tomorrow. It's simple: I am accompanying her to the Gay Pride parade and videoing those moments. I am encouraging everyone to go to Twist after the parade as it is the most friendly venue open.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our attendance at Edison's birthday party in the Fountainbleau was our first since it's billion dollar renovation. It's always been glamorous and over-the-top, and there was no disappointment there. The hotel seemed packed as was the birthday party in the hotel's LIV nightclub. To my utter surprise, drinks were only $14, a sharp decline perhaps spurred on by a new reality most businesses have had to adapt to; at those prices you couldn't help but have more.

I've always loved the Fountainbleau and its neighbor, The Eden Roc; they embody the era of 50's and 60's Rat Pack, fast and furious glamor. It employs over 2000 people, has the largest butchery in Florida, and farms its own seafood so that it is as fresh as possible; it throws fierce parties and there is nothing quite like convincing a visiting friend to rent a cabana by the huge pool. It's always been worth a trip and has a magnificent Sunday buffet, too. (The fact that it also has a master bartender who works in a "cocktail universe", creating specialty drinks for every bar and restaurant isn't lost on me.)
But my favorite Fountainbleau story is the famous "Staircase To Nowhere", created by designer, Morris Lapidus. Lapidus and his son thought it a great idea to put the coat room at the top of a sweeping, grand staircase that allowed women to gracefully descend in their gowns as all in the lobby watched. It is in the background of the vintage photo above.
Another delight was to see that the renovation carried that idea forward in the design of the new nightclub. We entered up a few steps to find staircases leading down to the club; one could see the glee of those guests arriving as they went down to join the party. I had already been convinced to wear a black velvet jacket; deep down I knew it should have been an aqua chiffon evening gown.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life is so ephemeral. We are glad that we live every day as if it was our last, because it may very well be (and it's a fun theory, anyway). We spent all afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital waiting to see our friend, Pimpernel; he had a stroke on Easter Sunday. It looks as if it might not be as serious as first thought, but is certainly not good. One day you are bouncing around and the next, in a hospital bed. Oddly, the young boy in the bed next to him seemed to be much worse off; he had broken his neck in a motorcycle accident. (I divided my time between them in my best Clara Barton mode.)

Still, everything must go on, and we are on our way to Edison's birthday bash at The Fountainbleau.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter dinner was celebrated under cloudless skies and rising temperatures. Baby Jesse showed up, and it was certainly nice to see him again. There was an Easter egg hunt with exciting prizes, a tasty ham and every one except Jesse got falling-down drunk. I took my first video with the new camcorder Leopoldo and Henrietta gave me for my up-coming birthday; everyone groaned that it would be another toy to annoy people. I plan to start my filming of Henrietta's life and stories next Saturday as she rides the Twist float at the Gay Pride parade.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I have two prints for the 1800's that are way-too-gay to ignore. I can't remember where I found them, but--like everything else I have ever purchased--I didn't care. I knew they were fabulous. Who knows...perhaps the tall one is saying, "I've seen you here before; I like what I see."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I've been very lazy for some days now; it's not as if it was boring, but it was nice to just relax after week after week of "events". You can't rest during an event; that would be frowned upon. At the very least, you have to embrace the event and run with it as best you can.

For us, our event this week was the visit of our friend, Neil Bull of the BBC. Neil was one of the members of the infamous Seventh Gay Calvary of the old days (and participant in the equally-infamous pool party photo back in Aug. 2007). It was an all-too-short visit if you ask me; his new boyfriend, Luca, turned many heads.

Another, equally important event, was the return of Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish back from a trip to Ireland; yes, she has been away, and the reason you haven't seen her sainted name mentioned here is that I don't talk about the guilty when they are absent from the court of world opinion. But, she is back, and the RKO tower is working overtime. Of great interest to me was her story about attending tea at a club called, The Phoenix, in Dublin; Mamie had been intrigued by the ad from the club for "Emerald Warriors". Upon arriving she found that The Warriors was a gay rugby team that was presenting their best baked cakes at the tea; when asked what she drank, Mamie replied, "Not tea." The next story involved a dairy farmer who had never seen a king-sized bed, but I won't go into that; we have to do all we can to keep the milk and cheese industry stimulated.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

TMZ made an interesting point about Lady GaGa's appearance on American Idol and the obvious ripoff of Lady Bunny's look. True, I've never seen them in the same room together, but as Bunny said recently to an imitator in Puerto Vahatta, "Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I call it stealing!" (TMZ did point out, though, that only one of them was born with the name Jon Ingle.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

The high definition version of The Birds was a big hit, and the head of the Miami Beach Cinematheque, Dana, gave an exciting lecture before the showing about many unknown aspects in making the movie, Hitchcock's creepiness, and poor Tippi Hedren's problems during the film with him. (My favorite: the way he attached rubber bands to the feet of live birds on her in the final attack, when she had been assured they would be mechanical. Hitchcock wanted real terror on her face and got it, along with a nervous breakdown.) My friend Kendall, owner of a large collection of vintage posters, lent this rare Polish one made for the opening in Warsaw.
The Cinematheque is one of those small town gems with a cozy room of about fifty seats. I wish I had taken a close-up of that photo on the wall. Tippi is driving the convertible and you see Hitchcock's face in the side mirror.

Dana also has a very large collection of film and movie books around the room and two bars, which always comes in handy. Also, earlier this week, I wrote a poorly phrased sentence about "...both of us" remembering when the movie came out. I, of course, meant when it was shown on TV; Leopoldo wasn't even born in 1963 and I was just three minutes old.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

As the world hurtles toward something it doesn't quite understand and misery mounts, something like a silly musical can bring a smile and a sigh of relief...for a few moments, at least.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

We are extremely excited about the Miami Beach Cinematheque's presentation tomorrow of the spruced-up version of Hitchcock's classic, The Birds. The treasured Universal Vaults have been opened in an exclusive agreement with MBC partner Emerging Pictures, the world’s leading digital distributor of motion pictures presenting high definition versions of Hitchcock movies. The Cinematheque is always on the front lines of both classic and new, independent films. (I'm in the final stages, I hope, of working out a Saturday afternoon matinee club.)

Both of us remember seeing the film on its release, and changing our opinion of pretty, little birds forever; of particular note was the woman--the bird expert--in the movie who said with derision that there were so many birds it would be certain doom if they DID gang up on us. And, of course, there were the love birds carried out in the end as the little girl whined that they didn't do anything wrong. Sure, you little brat; they were the spies.