Wednesday evening on Miami Beach kicked off with the revived New York Dolls playing their unmistakable brand of proto-punk on the beach behind twenty shipping containers that had been converted into exhibition spaces by galleries showing young artists. The veteran band still looked the part: David Johansen in a studded kilt, his belly bared; Sylvain Sylvain in red jeans and cap; and newbie Steve Conte in an outsized pirate hat. Finishing up their tidy set with the crowd-pleasing “Personality Crisis,” Johansen struck a few classic poses, skinny arms in the air, and shouted, “If you don’t know who we are, we’re the New York Dolls”
I beat the mass exodus from the beach and dashed to the new, hyper-chic Setai Hotel, where Taschen was hosting a launch party for David LaChapelle’s book Artists and Prostitutes. Caught in the inevitable crush at the door, I ran up against a burly bouncer growling at a pushy, black-leather-Yankees-cap-and-gold-chain-wearing youth to “stay back.” “I’m David’s personal assistant,” the would-be entrant piped, “and if I’m going to leave I will be escorted off. I need to get in right now to deal with the slide show.” I slipped through along with Isaac Julien, his boyfriend Mark Nash, his onscreen star Vanessa Myrie, and his assistant Kelly. Inside, we immediately spotted LaChapelle’s muse, robosexual tranny Amanda Lepore, who was perchednude of courseinside an illuminated plexiglass structure in the middle of the pool and leafing through a copy of LaChapelle’s vapid tome. (Even Lepore couldn’t be bothered to look through the volume, replete with her own imageshe tossed her hair, crossed and uncrossed her legs that “cost as much as a house,” and cast absent Botox stares at the guests.) Grinning, Julien appraised the spectacle: “Perfect.”
New York photographer/drag queen/nightlife personality Greg “G-Spot” Siebel was at the poolside turntables, spinning pop hitsfrom “Genius of Love” to “Slim Shady”to the delight of revelers dancing atop the bouncy outdoor cushions. Clearly the king of his own party, LaChapelle stripped down to his undershorts and leapt into the pool, splaying himself Severin-style before Lepore’s transparent cage and eliciting coy admonishments from his delighted gaggle of twinky admirers (“Daaaaavid!”) before luring the lemmings in after him. Beaming and attentive, LaChapelle’s female PR attachés swooped in, emitting cute noises usually reserved for especially endearing infants and promising extra sets of towels, while the wait staff lowered platters of hors d’oeuvres to within the reach of wet fingers.
Determined to stay dry, I ran to the Raleigh Hotel in time to catch the tail end of the Deitch party, where Karen Elson-fronted Weimar-inspired cabaret act Citizens Band had just finished their set. Band founder/harlequin-doll-chic pioneer Jorjee Douglass and rocker Amy Miles were still in full makeup and costume (but aren’t they always?), and the band’s extended social scene (the collective itself numbers twenty-six) lingered around the pool. Deitch, in a deep purple suit, chatted with actress/designer Tara Subkoff and her boyfriend, artist Nate Lowman, while 2004 Whitney Biennial participant Terence Koh greeted just-announced ’06 pick Dash Snow in a trans-Biennial embrace.
The following morning, the crowds were out and about again by 9:30AM for collectors’ open houses. Three buses idled outside the Rubell Family Collection warehouse while chartered vans blasting air conditioning with the windows open unloaded their silk-wrapped, Swarovski-crystal-adorned, and varicose-veined passengers onto the sidewalks of the shabby Wynwood Arts district. It was art-world speed dating, the perfect spot for dealer-on-collector, collector-on-collector, collector-on-dealer, and dealer-on-dealer action: I spied Barbara Gladstone with the Rubells, the Rubells with Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, the Eisenbergs with Pascal Spengemann, and Spengemann’s business partner Kelly Taxter with Andrea Rosen, all within ten minutes. The Rubell’s mini-museum (with Damián Ortega’s obelisk-on-wheels placed near the entrance seemingly an overdetermined nod to the new MoMA’s Broken Obelisk prime placement) fully caters to the public with a gallery guide introducing the exhibitions (including this year’s survey of contemporary Polish artists), wall texts, and even calculated voyeuristic flourishes: a meticulously ordered, glassed-in art library here, a shiny chrome-and-painted-steel exercise room there. A few blocks away at the new MoCA exhibition space (donated by real-estate developers Tony and Joey Goldman) local artist collective Friends With You has created “Cloud City,” a temporary installation of cross-digested “superflatness” in the roundgiant beach balls, colorfully painted walls, and oversized, cuddly alien gingerbread men. I overheard two New Yorkers near the funhouse entrance: “Be careful . . . behind that curtain lies what the art world has come to.” The response, after a quick peek: “This?”