When the Drag Queens Go, the Neighborhood Follows

I never thought I would miss the sleazebags. Yet after 13 years of living on South Beach, the burg is feeling uncomfortably sedate — even respectable. First arriving in January 1999 to an oceanfront high-rise, I had a front-row seat for the circus’s last run.

My building was painted a blinding Pepto Bismol pink, a holdover from the area’s original Art Deco days. If its wiring and plumbing seemed to be of a similar vintage, the view of the Atlantic was breathtaking. The neighbors were equally over the top: from fresh-faced models packed three to a studio by their rent-paying agencies to a pair of swarthy gentlemen alleged to be Serbian arms dealers. Add in a clutch of party promoters and a sprinkling of eccentric snowbirds, and you had a good cross-section of South Beach’s social whirl.

>> Read More