Nothing kills a conversation faster than my introduction at a Miami bling party
Meet barbara, she makes beautiful jewelry from trash she finds on the beach…
I get a wan smile of panic, then the introducee bolts to another circle in search of meeting star people like J.Lo’s derriere masseur, Lohan’s life coach, Madonna’s Manolo shiner or P.Diddy’s Cuban cigar lighter…
It was, last night, the Barton G. launch party of VAULT, his new magazine, held at The Villa, his new Art of Being Social intimate inn housed in the former Versace Pallazzo
Barton G., a Houdini who, 20 years ago, took Miami Beach and boiled it down, distilled it, infused it, let it sit and then blew its essence out into a gawdy kitch trippyness he branded the Art of Being Social, naming himself the master of ceremonies – the Jeff Koons of party planning.
We went to snoop.
The book GdeV Studio (husband and me) is doing on Miami had just reached a point of critical mass – the days that Versace fell in love with South Beach, and built his pallazzo from ruins on Ocean Drive among the locations trucks, NY models, Jewish retirees and crack dealers…
The VAULT launch party was the perfect pretense to have a mosey
While a boxing ring the size of a cereal box was being lowered from 11th Street into the infamous swimming pool courtyard by a 100 ft crane (for a 3 round boxing match between a supermodel-by-day/boxer-by-night and an I’ll-fuck-your-face-up-bad boxer, which the spoiled crowd watched with as much fervor as if they were watching Jo Biden eating oatmeal) we wandered into the Villa’s inner courtyard and climbed the stairs all the way to the roof, to Gianni’s lair inside the watchtower strewn with pillows and overlooking Ocean Drive, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. When Alastair trespassed further he was confronted by what may have been a ghost of nineties security, a Men-in-Black guard with the charm of Scarface.
A standoff on the Pallazzo rampart ensued.
The Architectural Critic versus the Blackwater Mercenary
(Culturally way more interesting than what was going on below in that tiny boxing ring)
I felt a chill and flashed on Alastair being thrown off the roof and me becoming another lonely widow spawned by South Beach debauchery ( Donatella being so much the brand-widow of Versace)
After chest puffing and rank pulling Blackwater won and we descended back down to where the mortals were allowed and found a quiet pocket of civility – a small wood-paneled bar that was deliciosuly air conditioned and served a variety of pink wine and champagne. Only two people had discovered it before us.
Nanci and Louis.
Alastair joked that the palazzo was ground zero of Miami decadence and Nanci complemented my dress
In typical Miami Beach style, the evening turned on itself.
Degrees of separation were discovered that ranged from Lawrenceville to the Berkshires, high powered careers in NYC,, friends and children and a shared fascination with life on the beach in all its excesses.
Nanci was interested in my work as an activist designer but then again she was a New Yorker
Two weeks earlier I had rushed back from Eleuthera because I’d been invited to be part of a Miami Beach sustainable fashion show and award ceremony called Sustainatopia
I had made my “red carpet” dress in Eleuthera and Iona would be my model
But when we arrived it was clear that the event was as awkward as the name suggested
We hung around backstage at the Fillmore for a while but when no one seemed to know about the staging or order of show we turned around and went home. I dont think anyone ever missed us and I’d spared my 15-year-old daughter from an embarrassing cat walk across a vast and empty stage…
I was a bit sad because she looked so beautiful
But nothing could bring me down from my Eleuthera high and I looked forward to speaking the next day at the Impact Conference, where Pam Longobardi, Cynthia La Grou and I were billed as a panel about Envisioning Alternatives in Social Investing.
What the hell did that mean?
Hadn’t we prepared to each speak about Driving a New Economy through the Arts, Design and Media and addressing the problem of plastic pollution? John Rosser, the organizer of the sustainable conference, confessed he’d changed our title because he felt he’d ”taken a risk alienating his core constituency on our behalf.”
Fear of being too green?
Fear of being too sustainable?
The fear of being unsexy in Miami and being taken for a hippie in this city full of glamor addicts.
But wasn’t he the organizer? If not him then who?
Oh well, for the party after the panel I’d curated a small show at the Botanical Gardens and about a hundred people came to see…
Pam’s drift web installation in the Banyan Tree
Richard and Judith Lang photographs
My new piece, from neck size to wall size, a large wall installation
Bucking all sustainable trends like recycling and green design Miami has turned out to be unexpectedly mercurial
Whereas Eleuthera has been surprisingly supportive and open
Soon I will go north for the summer
But I’m determined to overcome my conversation-killer stigma when I’m back next year …