Barbidoesmiami

and escapes the rising water…


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The Tassel Room

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Have you ever dreamt that you’re in the bathroom section of Sears and you need to pee and in this dream you convince yourself that it would be OK to go ahead in the Toro toilet showroom model?

Well…

Tonight I went to an interior style book-signing party and a celebration of “12 impeccable years of design, art and luxury” somewhere tucked between Fort Lauderdale airport and North Miami.

The invitation had come by mail and looked like a wedding invite with peacocks and “the pleasure of your company” requested by Ann Getty, John Hall Nelson and  Iran Issa Khan. There is little friends of Iran won’t do for her. Iran is after all the most supportive friend anyone can have and so when Iran beckons friends follow her to the end of the world. Literally.

Cocktails and Dinner it said and I was ready. I had a vivid idea of what could be done in a decorating warehouse. Anything! All that furniture would surely become a fabulous set, a styled background for the most over-the-top party ever. I imagined the ambience of every movie Tilda Swinton had ever been in (Orlando meets Narnia meets I am Love). Rampant fantasy settings, dimmed chandeliers, mysterious rooms made up from samples, drapes, beds, not one chair or table alike, random but real, a wonderland that would have me dreaming….

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But.

Expectation will fuck with me every time.

First I drove through the suburban nightmare of Hallandale and Dania Beach, a monotonous six-lane with traffic lights every hundred yards and rush-hour traffic that leaves one brain dead.

I tried to stay hopeful. I reminisced about the final episode of Downton Abbey that lingered in my mind.

Then I drove through a dark landscape of ominous warehouses and imagined Hollywood Studios with the set of Marie Antoinette dedans.

But this was Hollywood FL.

I turned a corner and stopped in front of a very ordinary strip mall with a very ordinary looking furniture showroom.

A showroom, a huge showroom, a brightly lit traditional Miami suburban showroom. It was just that. Nothing more and nothing less. The place where trophy wives go to decorate their plastic Greek Revival home on steroids in gated communities with names like River Highlands, Princeton Pastures and The Governor’s Club  and hope to look the nouveau part with all its Downton, Versailles, Deco Drive, Morris Lapidus, Versace, Shabby Chic, Chinoisery  and Out Of Africa style like gilded mirrors, claw footed tables, deep fat couches with red zebra upholstery, ebony and ivory inlay tables, brocade drapes, satin sheets, bronze and glass coffee tables…  all this inside while a steady stream of red and white lights whizzed by at 80 miles ph on I-95 just yards away.

But regardless, there were waiters with white gloves and trays with bacon wrapped scallops, foie gras and caviar. There were women in Louboutins and Oscar de la Renta cocktail dresses. There were old men in pink slacks, navy blazers and jolly ties, there even was one young gay man in a bright yellow short suit.

The first thing I saw upon entry was a king size four-poster bed made up in traditional dusty blues. The four tapered posts had mirrors that aspired to deco meets Morris Lapidus style.  But at  5″ wide and 6ft tall, these four mirrored  posts would make for very narrow sexy time, I imagined, walking in half dealing with my disappointment the other half busy with this bed – and the kinky couple that might be in it:

He (trying to see himself in the slither of mirror): “To the left a bit, no thats too far , to the right, up a bit yes now I can see, no dont move, well no dont stop completely…”

She: “Shit man, I prefer my mirror on the ceiling and my cuffs on the posts.”

Personally I had a vison of having the 12 impeccable years of design, art and luxury celebration in that bed, with our dinner on trays all together in bedjackets Joan Crawford style. I suggested it to my friends in attendance but every single one seemed creeped out by me.

Like it was me and not the actual place that was creepy.

I mean.

Whats the point of having dinner in a Hollywood FL furniture showroom and act like its the ballroom of the London Ritz?

Fuck’em.

In the end it turned out that it was in the tassel room.

The tassel room was where it was at.  The tassel room was what I’d had in mind all along, the tassel room was the inadvertent VIP room with not one tasseled red rope across the entrance but dozens on the walls. I had tassel room envy as soon as I saw it, but the tassel room had already filled up with women who were wearing tassel camouflage, like  Hermes prints and  feathered, beaded, puckerd, folded and pleated fabrics – it was hard to tell the tassels from the lasses tucking into their steak, asparagus and grilled veggies.

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Dejected, I headed to the lighting showroom and  persuaded one couple to dine with me, once there some thin ice was broken and a few more joined in. But I mean please, here we are dining in a lighting showroom with dozens of ugly wall sconces so why  be ashamed to play with the dimmers? And why not  joke about the brightest bulb in the room?

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After this we remembered that Ann Getty had  a book, but was this not a signing? She seemed to be there incognito, at her own booksigning party where no one ever spoke about a book but it was more of a discovery-like treasure hunt, first you had to find this publication (there was zero promotion, which was almost a refreshing, like new kind of thing) and then, once we found and purchased it, we went armed with her author picture in an attempt to find her and ask in a syrupy voice if she would be so kind to sign it.

And then it was over.

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Miami Beach Round Up, ten best …

Remember? getting ready to leave Milford September 2009...

Nine months since I packed the car in Milford and headed south with three kids, six bags, and loads of movies. Nine months since we did what we wanted, in a fuck the consequences kinda way, like – get outta town – hop on the bus gus – life is a beach – fuckem if they cant take a joke – the experience will do us good – life is too short  – broaden the horizon – migrate like a nomad – follow the sun and live your dream…

So what was it like? Living the dream on the beach? It was just like life. But sunnier.  It so wasn’t Milford. It was so Miami Beach. But it was life nevertheless. Husband and I still had fights. So did the twins. We still had homework and laundry and rashes and crushes. I still got rejection letters and I still cared when they came. Only it was 78 degrees in February. Only some days we said lets have lunch on the beach, and I made sandwiches and we hopped on our bikes and ten minutes later lay in the sand, stood in the surf, without guilt, on a Tuesday afternoon.

When I look back there were some memorable moments, quite a few actually, like I have a top ten of my high and low moments of nine months at the beach:

Best Parties:

1. October>The Halloween cross dressing party for grown ups, after candy rounds with the kids, going back home and dressing up with husband, have a scotch in the bathroom while he tried to get into a bra and pantyhose, making myself up like a man, and leaving the house around 11 instead of coming home at 11. Coming home at 3 am. Drunk and stoned. Not done that in a while great start to our Miami Beach party season…

2. Which concluded with a party on Biscayne Point a few weeks ago when husband wore his pajama striped pale linen pants and I wore new white silk pants, and  our host dropped his glass of red wine at our feet, splashing it mostly over husband ‘s pants and within ten minutes of our arrival I’m sitting with my feet in the pool, for once wishing for high chlorine levels to help remove the wine stains, and look through the gauze curtains to my left only to see husband in his white y-fronts standing by an elaborate four poster bed while host holds up pant after pant, as if they’re at Prada together. Me thinks, well, thats the fastest A has ever gotten out of his pants at a party and how gay is that host? Not at all it turned out, he had buxom brunette twins in matching shorts and fishnet stockings launching around, bored and clearly waiting for the party to be over. One well-groomed older lady referred to them as “the hired help”. Still, it turned into one of the best parties when Tray Lockerbie, a young singer from Nashville stepped out with his guitar, sang a few songs and inspired three more musicians to come out, including husband. They jammed, we sang. We danced. Got home late, husband in different pants from the ones he left home in – a sign of a good time had…

Miami icons: Sam, Esther, Iran

3. Our  dinner parties at our Aqua Candyland Bachelor Pad like the one  in honor of Eyjafjallajökull and Zaha Hadid who could not make it home to London because of the ash… four fabulous Miami Matriarchs: Sam, Iran, Kathy and Esther, dishing and gossiping and one-upping with stories of their wildest Miami moments…

Zaha and Barbi in the Tiesto candy-land elevator

4. The twins birthday party by the pool, voted best party by them, in 90 degree weather, ten ten-year old girls and two boys (pretending they were at their own separate party) going wild. Iona came to the rescue, miraculously, like a pied piper, rounded them up and bossed them around into orderly games that included hula hoops, diving for prizes and water guns. All a sweaty, hamburger-scented blur to me.

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5.  Top best moment beyond, over and above parties: Finding out that Iona got into DASH. A top-ten-ever-proud-mother-moment.

6. The “gifted” test of the twins. A controversial public school moment, where I bought into the system that separates the so-called gifted kids from the rest, and puts them in classes that are superior in method and level of teacher. Hm. Ok, some another time shall I rant about this. Anyway. To get there from here, my girls needed to get an IQ test of sorts. Now. You have to know that over the years opinions by various teachers on their intelligence and the ability to apply themselves have varied. I never wavered, but was often worn down by  negative reports that included notes like “unable to concentrate”, “reading impaired”,  “incomplete homework”.  So this test was a test. A test about who was right. Was my conviction just motherly love? Like Kiki said, “of course you think we’re smart, you’re our Mom!” She thought the teachers were the only authority, and when “gifted” teacher, Mr Spagnola, told their class that they were “the worst class in the school” the last nail had been nailed into their “see Mom, we’re stupid” coffin.

NOT SO.

my smart twins

They tested brilliantly. Smart, ahead of their age, eloquent, sensitive and insightful. A weight of self-doubt fell off my shoulders, the veil of insecurity was lifted from their aura. Just one silly test was all it took. I know its all relative, the Wizard of Oz is right about certificates, but, but, it was a good Miami moment.

7. The day I moved into my small sunny studio at Ofer Mizrahi’s utopian village alongside the tracks on 4th North Court. I’d had my eye on the small,  like 250 sq.ft, studio for months –  a palm-tree just outside the french doors, surrounded by young painters, designers environmentalists and architects. A place of my own to escape to… for more look under # 7 in my Worst Miami Moments…

8. My Mom’s visit. Showing her all my favorite things and seeing her health improve in the sun, surrounded by  granddaughters and love.

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9. Getting my scarves into Base at the Delano Hotel, making clothes again, finding local women who can sew and bead and enjoy making my stuff while getting paid, and realizing that I can start my business here and help clean the beaches from plastic pollution and maybe make a difference in the environmental consciousness of Miami. All of which is recorded here:   http://itsamanmadeworld.wordpress.com/

blue beach plastic silk scarf

10. Marriage. We have been together 20 years this Labor Day. Twenty years is longer than I lived in Amsterdam by two years. Its ten years longer than my life in London. In twenty years everything happens. E V E R Y T H I N G. Jobs come and go. Money comes and goes. Parents die, kids are born. Friends die, friends are born. Dreams die, dreams are born. Together we lived in Tribeca and on 9th Street, we lived in an old terracotta factory on the Raritan Canal just outside Princeton which flooded during hurricane Floyd and a week later I was pregnant with twins. We moved to Milford, we built our dream house, we moved to Miami.

Alastair Gordon at Tiesto @ the Fontainebleau

Love. I learned that love changes. That love isn’t static but more like a pink lava lamp. Sometimes we are completely one, sometimes we are at odds, but we always come back together with more love, more intensity and more understanding.

Miami was his idea. We needed it, he said. We needed sun as in light, and parties.  He challenged us and some days this made me mad. Some days I did not want to be Barbi in Miami, I wanted to just be Barbara again. But now, a year later, he has left for Milford and I miss him. And I love him more for making us do this, and for taking me into our marriage deeper than ever before…

Alastair, Kiki and Leila leaving Miami Beach, back to Milford....

Iona and I are here for two more weeks, while she does her DASH summer camp and I enter ten more memorable Miami moments, coming soon….