Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mutinous Memories

My Mum recently sent me the link to a 2005 article in Miami New Times about the heyday of a certain notorious nightclub in that city, where I lived as a teenager. It was called The Mutiny:

In its time there was nothing like the Mutiny Hotel and today it lives on in hindsight like the afterimage of a hallucination, bright but blurry. The Mississippi Delta is said to begin in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis; likewise the Mutiny in its day defined Miami's psychic boundaries. It was the nerve center of the city's exploding cocaine trade, a favorite hangout of globetrotting spies, and a desperately popular watering hole for Latin America's nouveau riche. It was meant to be elegant, and was, but early on it became infamous and edgy, and reveled in the reputation. Its most decadent highs were a carnival barker's advertisement for the Seventies, and its decline was an early object lesson in America's S&L crisis."I did a movie called life, with actors that were real people," says Burton Goldberg, former owner of the Mutiny. "We had dictators, secret police, drug people, bankers, the international trade, gunrunners, and celebrities: Rod Serling, Senator Kennedy, Cher, Hamilton Jordan, Jacqueline Onassis, George Bush. Mimes and magicians! Naked dancers in very fine taste, not prurient! Music! Chairs with enormous arms!

As it so happens, the Mutiny was where Yours Truly worked as a waitress for several months during a semester-long hiatus from my junior year at UF. A few years ago, I wrote about the experience here at Litbrit, as well for Ezra's eponymously-titled blog. At the time, I changed the names of the club--and certain patrons--to protect the not-so-innocent. But what the hell, the club itself is no more, and my choice of faux names--The Uprising--was a pretty transparent synonym for the club's real name, anyway.

If you like Scarface and spy novels--or perhaps just fancy a break from all the politics and sad, sad 9/11 stuff that's on the tube and in the 'Tubes this week--you might enjoy my little memoir/story about working and living it up Miami-style at the end of the Disco age. I invite you to read Sunshine, Cigar Boxes, and Semi-Automatics:

With Lena's help, I opened and poured bottle after bottle of Dom Pérignon; I served Ceasar salads and filets mignon and enormous Maine lobsters erupting crabmeat and brandied cream; and I brought several glasses of Johnny Walker Black on the rocks from the bar, where I'd already made friends with Sam, an art student at Florida International and a fellow Monty Python wonk.

"Alberto's here again, huh?" he said when I requested the third such cocktail. "Though pretty much everyone drinks this, you'll find. But it's Monday, and there aren't too many people who can put away this much Scotch on a weeknight." He drained the bottle and slipped its nozzle onto a new, full one. "You'll have fun here. You'll make good money."

So I had heard. But thus far, Lena and I had waited on exactly one party.

By three in the morning, though, I'd served a few other tables and opened another half-dozen bottles of Champagne. Alberto and his crew were beginning to look restless, but they hadn't asked for the check. I was certain it would be outrageous, well into the hundreds of dollars; Lena informed me that the two grand Alberto spent that night was nothing compared to some of his weekend expenditures, indeed, nothing compared to the bankrolls through which some of the club's other guests regularly burned. [Continued...]

Also at Litbrit.


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