Sometimes you don’t need the whole manually labored roll out of a red carpet to get the comfort you crave in your imaginary living room. Sometimes just a swatch will do for the violent punching of the face, burning of the knees and urination upon that you require.
“Shut. Up. We’re on the red carpet,” I nudge one of Eddie’s phantom ribs.
“Ooh, how’s your landing strip?” he pubes back.
We’re literally standing on a swatch of red carpet outside the new entrance to the absolutely new Dolce nightclub grand opening, the one that has nothing to do with Paris Hilton. It isn’t unfamiliar territory for my missing tiara – I was here for the last opening of Club Paris when it tried to re-brand Church Street with Satan’s yeast infection – but it is a new entrance, this time on the Church Street side. On the photo backdrop welcome wall is the insignia of Cameron Kuhn. A Lamborghini sits within spitting distance, vanity plate reading “SMOKED.”
Still, it doesn’t look good for Eddie and me as it appears that, once again, we’ve stepped out of our terrestrial living arrangements and onto the cliffs of nocturnal condo-owning bats. But because this is the new Orlando, and I am an old bitch, it makes sense that we’re here.
“I’m so glad to SEEEEEE you,” squints gorgeous erstwhile Buddy Dyer campaign manager Anna Curran as we press our way through the Miami Vice set at hand.
I’d rather not be seen. But I’ll snort you!
Precariously, I wind us up the stairs to something resembling a velvet rope blocking off something that resembles a VIP room, and decide to throw in a little Orlando-style business card palm-pressing, because I am wearing a suit. Headset walkie-talkies buzz, strong-arms block and eventually an apologetic management type intercedes with a flourish. “Follow me.”
Seriously, the room is rocking to Starship’s “We Built This City” – sadly, not a duet between Lou Pearlman and Cameron Kuhn – while Mylar balloons shaped like stars flutter near plastic breasts shaped like money, and … there are shark tanks. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Orlando.
“Hi, my name is Britney!” offers our magically-appearing-from-nowhere – and perhaps ironically named – server. “I was so glad when I saw that I was going to be your server!”
What? She doesn’t know who I am, but she knows that we’re gay and that’s all just fine. Perhaps I’ve been way too hard in my toenail-painting, hairspraying pre-opening judgment of this warehouse of bad taste. Looking at the three unopened bottles of Ketel One with adjoining mixer service laid out in front of me, I can honestly say, “I was wrong,” and, “I’m thirsty,” and, “Make your mama a drink,” and, “You know how she likes ’em: stiff!”
I belong here.
“Are you from Orlando Style magazine, too?” swishes a long-haired, foreign fashion horse closing in on the right and plopping onto my couch.
“No, I’m from the Weekly!” I swing imaginary extensions back at her. She hands me her card, which reads “Clara Herrera Collection” next to a pouty model in Cher’s-bathroom dress. “Omigod! I totally wrote a column about one of your shows!”
This, clearly, is kismet. And I hope she never read that column.
Anyway, the evening is threatening to burst with ridiculous positivity – or at least my liver is – as at least one girl poses for “paparazzi” over by the entrance, draped in something like a white ballerina dress with a caged-macramé skirt covered in champagne glasses, while another in a nude, Bedazzled bodysuit does upside-down disco yoga on a stripper’s box. If I were on cocaine right now, I’d be Jerry Hall.
“I thought this was VIP,” snobs Eddie in the direction of the obligatory frat guy in shorts and flip-flops. “I guess it’s V-I-anybody. He doesn’t even have cute toes!”
But even khaki’d date-rape dreamboats aren’t enough to disturb this groove or break this stride or ’80s-whatever this ’80s whatever. I have the distinct feeling – to the tune of the Go-Go’s “Head Over Heels,” no less – that everything is fine, that things are on the up, that I have made it! I love you, gluttony!
“Unless you’re hot, I don’t give a fuck,” Eddie’s vodka head continues to swell. “OK, unless you’re Billy Manes.”
“But Billy Manes is … hot?” I hate myself in third person, midsentence.
“OK, but you can’t wear flip-flops in my cluuuub. Omigod! Wham!’s on!”
Wham! is indeed on, and like this bulging party, they’re waking up before they go-go, moneyed hausfraus finger-to-finger dancing in fits of giggles. Eddie and I are taking paparazzi candids of each other, and even Clara Herrera is joining in, snapping us in gay abandon. Everything has gone all prom, and for once I’m not Carrie.
“Excuse me,” a polite Brit taps me on the shoulder. “Who are you?”
I tell him. Jerry Hall, naturally.
“Oh, there must have been some misunderstanding. This is our area,” Sven – the publisher of Orlando Style – informs me of his financial pre-pay. “But you guys can stay until our people show up.”
“Sorry! They sat us here!” I slip and fall, later pissing on a swatch of red carpet as we run out into the firstname.lastname@example.org