Today on Alphabet City: JP’s book tour alter ego Gary Tyler Moore becomes a sexy insider in Miami.
“Other than a couple of minor bouts of anorexia in high school and college, I’ve always hovered around 23 pounds above my goal weight,” I write in Alphabet City, explaining some of my body image problems. I suppose those issues have affected my rather awkward relationship with Miami over the years. From the first time I visited years ago while working at Condé Nast Traveler, I’ve always felt like I didn’t fit in with the gorgeously toned bodies parading along South Beach. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I faced the second stop on the book tour wondering just how the citizens of South Florida would greet Gary Tyler Moore. Everything is a little sexier—and crazier—in Miami, but this time I felt that the Capital of Latin America rolled out the red carpet for me.
Miami is one of those cities that loves a good body—both your own and your car’s. And I got many double takes tooling around in the swanky Chevy Traverse. With plush leather interior, a Bose stereo and an A/C that works overtime in the sweltering humidity, I often thought I should just do my appearances inside this boyfriend magnet. My favorite tricked-out accessory was the camera that kicked in when backing up, providing spy like images to the rearview mirror. I felt like a gay action hero driving up to Kimpton’s high-design EPIC Hotel & Residences in Downtown Miami.
While EPIC’s grand scale may look unlike any other Kimpton Hotel, it has the same warm service I’ve come to expect from the company. A chalkboard sign outside welcomed my little one Frida—making me curse my decision not to bring her on this leg of the tour. My corner suite looked like the perfect setting for a J. Lo music video with wrap around views of the Miami port—making me wonder why I didn’t make this hotel the last stop on the tour rather than the second.
The EPIC team pulled out all the stops for my appearances at the hotel’s guest wine hour and later at a 52nd floor penthouse suite at the Residences with food by their delicious Area 31 restaurant. Both events attracted folks from far and wide—at the wine hour I zeroed in on some visiting Germans (as you know from the book, I’ve always had a thing for the Boys from Berlin), and a sweet couple from Ft. Lauderdale traveled through heavy traffic to support Alphabet City and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
If the EPIC is sophisticated chic in Miami, then the Loews is accessible decadence in South Beach. I was excited to experience the results of a recent $50 million renovation which are spectacular and comfortable—this is the choice on South Beach for those on business or with families that need a hotel combining functionality with design. The food at Preston’s is also worth a stop for the fish tacos and the make-your-own Whoopi Pie—an Alphabet City-themed dessert that seems to follow me on tour. My ocean view room featured one of my all time favorite bathrooms that was stylish but just worked—I’m still trying to figure out how I might import it to my home in Washington Heights. And I can’t forget the location—steps from both the ocean boardwalk and the shops of Lincoln Road with parading beauties of both sexes.
That night, many of those male beauties stopped in for an Alphabet City happy hour party at Bar 721—an event that landed me in my first gay bar magazine called “Mark.” I was tagged a “must do” and my picture was labeled “Intellectual Surplus”—which I took as a swipe at me wearing glasses and that once again I didn’t fit into the culture of South Florida. But the boys proved me wrong. My cute straight friend Ryan, dressed in a tie fresh from his job as a U.S. Attorney, charmed the pants off the patrons—taking me from table to table and convincing folks to take a break from their partying and purchase Alphabet City. Bless, Ryan.
The final South Florida tour stop was an Alphabet City Book Party hosted by dear friends Isabel and Adam in Ft. Lauderdale. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far on Book Tour, it’s how much I treasure these intimate events—where I get to do some readings from the book and hear people’s reactions. This party was special because it brought together a cross-section of my audience—gay guys and straight gals. The boys loved the stories of making a pass at Gloria Estefan’s husband, while the ladies loved the tales of a gay Mary Tyler Moore trying to make it in the world. I’ve taken to calling it a little bit Sex and the City and a whole lot of Will & Grace.
Just before the Ft. Lauderdale party, I went jogging on the path through South Beach for the first time in my life. As I got to the newish South Pointe Park and stopped to take some pictures, a really cute couple approached and commented on my tattoo. Nelson from Cuba and Eduardo from Peru were surprised I wasn’t from Miami—they told me I looked like a local—and invited me to go dancing with them later. Somehow I had crossed the divide from nervous outsider to sexy insider. Maybe it’s because I’m Latin-by-marriage. Maybe it’s because I’m nearer my goal weight. Maybe it’s the tattoo. Whatever the reason, Gary Tyler Moore will be coming back. Gracias y Adios Miami.