Art Basel Miami Ends with Sex, Fantasy, and Insanity

Saturday night in Miami was a clash of nudity and insanity. There were naked girls—proving to be a recurring theme at this year’s Basel—graffiti, and a $150,000 print of Will Smith’s kid performing oral sex on his father. There was the Norwood party at the Shore Club, the Phillips de Pury auction of a Ryan McGinley, Dash Snow, and a Dan Colen at the Webster, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black at The Hole Gallery‘s Playboy party, and the Westway pop-up back at the Shore Club. It was all too much. 

Patrick Duffy’s Norwood party with Mint&Serf at the Shore Club was our first stop on Basel’s big last night. Dipset and Gucci Mane blared through the poolside cabanas, while people danced and sipped on Kanon vodka. Flowing sheer fabric separated the party from the truly awesome graffitti installation by New York artists Mint&Serf. A red and green smorgasbord of fake treats stretched alongside the pool while bulging, tanned bodybuilders posed around it in thongs, a fantastic contradiction. It was an intoxicating mix of bronzer, hip-hop, muscles, and the Mint&Serf crew’s favorite word: swag.

Jacuzzi Chris, an overly swag-centric artist and musician, who came down with the duo, told me, "The most important thing I’ve learned on this trip is to keep it cute and keep it swag." Everyone had an amazing time. Mint said it best: "After going to crazy parties, you get the idea. Everyone has crazy swag. This is the first party that’s out of the box. Louie Vuitton with the bottles and the models, it’s contained. That is wack. This is out of the box. And that’s what art should be, right?"

From the Shore Club, we moved a few blocks down to the Webster, for the Phillips de Pury charity auction of work by Dan Colen, Ryan McGinley, and the late Dash Snow. Fabulous caviar-laced canapes were provided by 21 Grams, a Franco-Japanese restaurant opening in New York this January. People enjoyed the food, drinks, and art until the auction began, especially the 9-year-old girl dancing with a caped man who looked like he was kicked out of Van Halen circa 1991.

Dash Snow’s brother Max got into a bidding war over Dash’s piece, a collage of a dick and skull with Saddam Hussein’s face on a the leg. It was sold to Max for $22,000. McGinley’s’ piece sold for $28,000 at rapid speed. Colen’s piece, a copy of The Pursuit of Happiness film poster manipulated so that Will Smith’s son was performing unspeakable acts on his father, sold for a whopping $150,000. The proceeds went to a charity that builds schools and playgrounds in Haiti. The controversial art clashed with the high-brow atmosphere. McGinley said of the event, "I’m really happy to be part of any charity event. Playgrounds will be built in Haiti because of this event. And this is the first time I’ve been in a show with just them [Dash Snow and Dan Colen], who are great artists and good friends. Anything that promotes the legacy of Dash I’m happy to be a part of."

After the auction, we whisked over to the Playboy party at the Dream Hotel to catch a performance by New York artists The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, presented by Bowery gallery The Hole. The rooftop pool area was packed. People crowded around the VIP cabanas while the Karen Black girls began. Kembra Pfahler’s work depicts a sexual, dark, and savage femininity. The girls are completely nude, their bodies painted a flat bright color, with lace up thigh high boots and demonic make up. Their hair is unbelievably huge and black. They rubbed fake blood on each other, cracked paint filled eggs on their bodies, stood on bowling balls, and sneered. At the end, they brought out a cake. One of the girls was lowered down, and smashed her ass into the cake. She stood up and other girls began viciously eating it out from her ass. Sophia Coppola said, "Love the event. Great people, good taste. Simply amazing, love it." Kathy Grayson, owner of The Hole, hung out with the DJ, acclaimed British artist Matthew Stone, in the elevated booth. She couldn’t have been more pleased. "This event is an awesome juxtaposition,” she said. “Kembra gives a radical take on femininity. To be able to do an event with Playboy, who has influenced this important artist for years, is just amazing. With Kembra, feminism isn’t a dirty word. She is intensely radical. Pure punk vision." 

But Kembra summed it up best: "Anyone that believes in equality is automatically a feminist." After that the night became hazy back at the Shore Club. But I do know one thing: Benni, PJ and the PPP boys for Westway know how to throw a great party. 

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Ringing in the New Year, Miami Style

Growing up in Miami is great for several reasons. The best is being able to spend the holidays in eighty-degree weather while simultaneously fulfilling required parental time. While many of my friends back in New York were making plans to start their New Year quietly by a fire – anywhere, really, so long as it was indoors – I was mapping out a night of party hopping on Miami Beach.

First stop was the Mondrian, where the Sevigny siblings were hosting a party by the pool. Despite the blizzard that hit New York days earlier, there were still plenty of snowbirds who made it down for the big event. The Misshapes’ Leigh Lezark was one of those fortunate enough to catch a flight. Then, just before midnight, I hit Skybar at The Shore Club. The hotel was hosting a night of old-school beats with DJ Cassidy. I arrived just in time to catch Naughty By Nature perform “Hip-Hop Hooray” as the clock struck midnight, a great way to ring in 2011. R&B legends Bel Biv DeVoe were up next with a thirty minute performance that ended with their classic song, “Poison.”

image DJ Cassidy and Bel Biv DeVoe.

I ended my NYE at nightlife impresario Susanne Bartsch’s fete at The Delano. The annual extravaganza held up to its usual wondrous standards as Bartsch and her creative clan of hosts transformed the hotel into a decadent, royal court-themed soiree. Patricia Field was enlisted to deck out the lobby lounge, and Joey Arias, alongside a clan of creatively-clad fixtures of the New York club scene, were sprinkled about poolside to add scandal to the evening. There were “harlots” in the Orchard, “clans” in the Court, and a Bloody Mary beach bar. The party traveled into the hotel’s underground club, The Florida Room, where yours truly stayed and danced until the sun came up, Miami Style!

Photos courtesy of w.orldredeye

Cowley Manor: A Summer Stay Across the Pond

To many New Yorkers, summer conjures up thoughts of clambakes and pool parties in the Hamptons–not to mention bumper to bumper traffic on 495. Fear not. There’s still time to rethink your timeshare and switch it up a bit. If you’re looking to hang with Kate and Naomi this summer, look no further than the Cotswolds—London’s Hamptons (only smashing). Cowley Manor is where you’ll find the supermodels along with hordes of other London hipperatti soaking in the new Pool.Side at C.Side. Think Miami’s Shore Club pool scene by day (and night), but set against a gorgeous 19th century manor cum hotel retrofitted with sleek Knoll trappings.

Should you fancy a stroll through the 55 acres of pristine parkland, lakes, and meadows with that bird you’ve been chatting up at the pool, Cowley has your Hunter wellies covered. Starting mid June, you can book a Classic Cowley Picnic on the grounds complete with comfy rug, giant outdoor bean bags, and a hamper and cooler filled with tasty treats and potables. Somewhere Henry VIII is nodding in approval. Since you’re already staying for the night, dinner, breakfast, and a one-hour treatment are included at C.Side, Cowley’s award-winning spa with their Spa & Stay offer. Alternatively, you can keep a few bills in your pocket if you book at least 3 weeks in advance through the end of August, or check out their Town & Country package–2 nights at Cowley + 2 nights at the St. James Hotel & Club in London. No worries, the Hamptons will be there next year.

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Miami: Where to Party for Superbowl XLIV

Unless you’re a regular at Rick’s Cabaret, you’ll never be able to feast your eyes on so many drunk, carefree football players and lovers as you will in Miami this weekend. Even if you aren’t a football fan, Miami is a great place to watch multiple definitions of ‘action’ happen. Witness Kim Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson throw down on behalf of their football playing men, place bets on what Playmate T.O. will bag and stalk Rihanna, Timbaland, Jennifer Lopez and Usher as they host events around SoFla.

Friday The Shore Club (South Beach)- Uber sceney fusion of Ian Schrager, Paris and Diddy. What: Friday Night Lights When: 9:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: DJ faves like David Berrie and DJ Clue, Solange Knowles, Lamarr Woodley from the Steelers, Ray Rice from the Ravens, Shawne Merriman of the Chargers and Warren Sapp.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach (South Beach)- Miami’s billion-dollar baby. What: ESPN’s Next Party When: 9:00pm – 1:00am Hosts: Estelle, Ne-Yo and Keri Hilson perform whilst Q-Tip DJs the event.

Cameo (South Beach)- World-class DJs, underclass desires, and upper crust prices. What: T-Pain and Akon perform When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: I was just wondering whether or not T-Pain was still in jail, or was supposed to be going to jail, and, like we often do with Lil’ Wayne, we suddenly see him popping up at a club performance. Which makes me second guess both the penal system and whether or not he was even supposed to be in jail in the first place. He’s here, drinking at a table with Akon.

Saturday The Raleigh (South Beach)- The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. What: The Maxim Party with Amanda Bynes When: 9:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: This month’s cover star Amanda Bynes is joined by Jermaine Dupri and a giant swag bag filled with VW, Samsung, Patron, Armani Code, Pepsi Max, BSN, Ubisoft and Gillette.

W Hotel (Fort Lauderdale)- Urbane chain does slick SoBe hotel, W-style. What: Taste of the N.F.L. After Party with Pete Wentz When: 10:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Pete Wentz, though no one really knows what he has to do with the N.F.L. but the event is in good taste, as twenty-eight of the finest chefs from around the country, one from each NFL city, serve up their specialties alongside an alumni player from each of the NFL teams to raise money for local and national hunger organizations. And this is where they get wild after the meal.

Sagamore Hotel (South Beach)– What other hotel on the Beach has a lobby set up as an art gallery? What: Playboy Hosts The Black Eyed Peas After-Party When: 10:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: The Black Eyed Peas get that song stuck in your head, but the bunnies inexplicably take your mind off of it. The pairing bodes well, as Playboy is trying to re-brand the hotel as a Playboy property.

Cameo (South Beach)- World-class DJs, underclass desires, and upper crust prices. What: Ludacris and Trey Songz performances When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Who needs a host when you have Luda and Trey poppin’ bottles at the next table?

Sunday W Hotel (South Beach)- Urbane chain does slick SoBe hotel, W-style, and tonight: 1OAK style. What:1OAK infiltrates South Beach with an event that supports the Red Cross for Haiti Relief. When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, and Gabrielle Union. Maybe the most A-list of this round-up. Which means lot’s of footballers.

Mansion (South Beach)- An obligatory stop on the South Beach nocturnal tour. What: Strip Tease Super Bowl After Party When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Marques Houston performs and the Opium Group hosts.

How Insider Josh Wagner Throws Down

Last weekend, BlackBook Industry Insider Josh Wagner, the regional director of nightlife for Morgans Hotel Group in Miami, celebrated his 30th birthday with no remorse about getting older. He threw down. With the help of close friend Lil Jon (who shares the same birthday), Wagner and 100 of his closest friends re-lived the glory of their college years in honor of the big 3-0 in South Beach. Details after the jump.

(‘DiggThis’)How’d you celebrate turning 30? Lil Jon and I actually share the same birthday and we’ve been friends for years. We decided a couple of months ago that we were going to do our birthdays together at the Florida Room. Lil Jon and Pitbull were on the mic all night doing their thing and there was a bevy of Miami DJs that include everyone from DJ Irie to Ross 1 and Ruckus was on the bill and Jon was spinning and Matteo Di Fontaine who was DJing with U2 for the last six months on tour . There were about seven different DJs who passed through during the night and it was just a pretty ridiculous, raging party. We also had the Big Bounce perform before that from 10-midnight.

How are you and Lil Jon friends? Jon and I have known each other for years, from Skybar at Shore Club. He came down and there was a massive birthday cake with both our pictures stenciled on it. There was lots of champagne and more importantly, tons of tequila being thrown around the entire night.

Did the festivities continue? On Sunday, at The Standard Hotel, we had a non-conventional South Beach day with a 90 pound pig roast with beer pong and flip cup foosball and mud baths and spa treatments. It was just a bunch of Miami’s finest enjoying a Sunday afternoon trying to re-live their college days. It was keg stands and college’d out. I was in a fraternity when I was in college at University of Wisconsin and you would have definitely known it by seeing me last weekend.

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How’d you survive a full weekend of that debauchery? To be honest with you, I had a lot of my friends fly in from out of town who do not work in this industry, and they were so much more inebriated than I was, so I actually felt good the whole weekend. Maybe it was sad because I could consume a lot more than they could, but it was very funny to see on Sunday , a bunch of models in bikinis and old frat boys play flip cup together. Very funny.

Biggest highlights? My 63 year old mother was spotted chugging a bottle of tequila at Lil Jon’s table.

Was this your best birthday party ever? 25 was pretty amazing. I was utterly surprised and I’d never been surprised before. I had about 30 of my friends unbeknownst to me fly into town and completely shock me. This one was a wonderful way to enter my 30’s.

Photo: Seth Browarnik/ Red Eye Productions

Industry Insiders: Josh Wagner, Hotel Barman

As regional director of nightlife for Morgans Hotel Group in Miami, Josh Wagner oversees Skybar at the Shore Club, Sunset Lounge at Mondrian, and Florida Room at the Delano. Here, he talks to us about cachaça, Grace Jones shedding tears, and growing a beard.

What are your favorite places in Miami, outside of Morgans properties? The pool at The Standard Hotel is the most relaxing place in Miami, period. There’s an incredible place called Silvia’s. It’s this inland restaurant on the canal where nobody speaks any English, and you can pick your fish in an icebox right there, and they cook it up right on the spot for you. I love the bar at Smith & Wollensky. I like Abbey Brewing Co. because it’s a tiny bar that just has beer and a dart board, and on any night off, there’s nothing better than a pint and a game of darts.

What does “regional director of nightlife” entail? I make sure that we have the proper finger on the pulse of what’s happening. Plus I control the decision-making on anything from special events, music and entertainment, any programming. Anything regarding nightlife or entertainment.

What’s the most difficult part of your job? Sleeping and not being able to find enough time to sleep.

How would you describe yourself? As a gentleman who is calculating and knows what I would like to accomplish in my life.

And what would you like to accomplish in your life? I’d like to have a hotel chain that features great public areas, that has great food and beverage options. It’ll be very much the equation of successful boutique hotels. Then I’ll retire from that, become a politician for 15 years, and teach history to college kids wearing a corduroy jacket with elbow patches and a pipe and a big beard.

Every night, do you jump around between all three places? I spend most of my time at the Florida Room because my office is at Delano, but I bounce around to the three as much as I can.

How do these three spots differ? Symbiotic with the actual hotel properties themselves, each of the properties offers something unique. The properties share certain characteristics that are similar and very distinct to Morgans, but they are also three completely different experiences. Skybar at the Shore Club is a larger venue where you can sit and have a club-like experience in the Red Room, or have cocktails outside in the garden or poolside. You have Nobu and Ago on that property as well. The Florida Room is the smaller, more intimate gem sitting under the basement of Delano. When Ian Schrager built it, the mentality was that we have to build an iconic lounge underneath to follow suit. It’s a Latin-style speakeasy piano bar, and every night, we do live music followed by atypical DJ sets. It’s a very non-South Beach formula of 70s, 80s funk, old-school hip-hop. The clientele at the Florida Room is very mature, and it’s not a forced mentality of bottle service. Any night, you’ll walk down and you can see a performance of anyone from Grace Jones to Perry Farrell. Between all three of our properties, you can really roam and experience something completely different.

How’s business at the Mondrian? The Mondrian is our newest property down here, and the Sunset Lounge is there because Miami has kind of always lacked a place for the people who have a regular 9-5 job. This is a place to have cocktails right after work, or use as a pre-dinner/post-dinner venue for cocktails. The Mondrian is the first hotel built in 40 years on the west side of South Beach, with beautiful views at sunset. We really wanted to create an offering for people to sit and have cocktails and not feel like they’re being forced to enjoy Miami clubland. It’s relaxed and chill. There we have a cachaça bar. Cachaça is what tequila was 15 years ago. We have 60 different types of cachaça, and we infuse 8 different flavors. You can enjoy a wonderful, tropical environment with a properly made cocktail with crushed ice, and anything from cardamom and pineapple to passion fruit and chili. You genuinely feel like you’re on a tropical vacation at the Sunset Lounge.

Are there any personal touches that you’ve added to these venues? The people that work there. One of the things that we really pride ourselves on is seeing people succeed, and for us, it seems that at all of our properties we have our family. You’d experience that when you go there, that there’s someone who cares about their job, and they see their future potential in it. I’m really proud of the teams that we’ve created.

What do you look for in potential employees? I look for people who care, who smile and are friendly. We’re in the business of engaging with guests and talking with people. You have to be a people person. We help create experiences, and when people come out to enjoy themselves at Morgans hotels, they’re looking to make memories, to have positive experiences. I look for staffers who want to help make moments, and we’ve done a pretty good job finding them.

What’s your favorite property? I’d have to say the Florida Room because you never know what’s going to turn up there. Lenny Kravitz designed the lounge, and some of the most intimate moments of live music that I’ve ever seen have been in the Florida Room.

Most memorable experience there? When we had Perry Farrell performing in the middle of the room, surrounded by a cocoon of people … everybody was just completely entrenched in the fact that they would have this man sweating on them. Grace Jones was sitting and crying in front of an audience that she was actually touching in a room that fits no more than 250 people.

How was Lenny Kravitz involved in the design of the Florida Room? Lenny has a design company called Kravitz Design, and the Florida Room is actually their first public project. They created this gorgeous room with Swarovski crystal chandeliers and a $150,000 custom-made Schimmel lucite piano. There’s only three in the world, and the other two are in Lenny’s apartments in New York and in Paris. There are leather ceilings and glass-beaded wallpaper. The place oozes sophistication and intimacy.

What’s going on in nightlife in Miami from a general perspective? Nightlife in Miami is at a major crossroads, and bottle service is obviously dead. It was uncool two years ago. It was a means to be able to gain access and purchase real estate that nobody else was able to buy. But 2009 is the year of the bartender. That guy who used to go out and spend $2,000 on a table is still going out, but now he’s spending $200 at the bar. Places that have great bartenders and great cocktails are places that are not going to see a real dip in sales at the bar. Happy or sad people always like to drink; that’s one thing that always needs to be remembered. The juice in that bottle, that stuff is liquid gold. Go down to Wall Street now, you look at the pubs around Wall Street, and they’re absolutely packed. Those guys are having rough times, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t afford a couple beers at the end of their day.

Miami: Top 10 South Beach Hotel Pools

imageSure, you could pay to stay and play, but why limit yourself to just one aquatic experience?

1. Delano – Getting past security may be harder than scoring a table at Casa Tua on a Saturday night, but it’s well worth it. If waving to a pretend friend on the other side of the velvet rope fails, head to the bar; chances are, spenders will be welcomed. Plan your wardrobe around lounging; no one comes here for dipping. 2. The Shore Club – More modern than tropical, getting into this pool is fairly simple. No special trickery required. Put away your camera; shooting celebrities will get you kicked out. 3. The Setai – Access to this sought-after pool is doable from the outdoor restaurant by the boardwalk. Favorite among the Parisians and hip-hop moguls, Setai is “ze bomb.”

4. Mondrian Miami – Either the management is desperate or lost or both, but getting in is as easy as spotting fake boobage. Mondrian faces the bay, so be ready for jetskiers and their tranquil ways. 5. Flamingo – Technically not a hotel, but with the well-documented shenanigans, who know who pays for what at this notorious residential building. Pool area hosts frequent weekend parties rivaling the beach clubs. 6. The Raleigh – Pool is more Etro than Dolce, more Aston Martin than Lamborghini. As with its sister hotel The Standard, $20 gets you in front and center. Even if local bus is your mode of transportation. 7. Gansevoort South – Thing is, the pool is 18 stories off the ground. That plus lax security makes Gansevoort perfection for those brutal, sunny days. Vertigo victims, check out ground level’s infinity-edge oceanview pool, courtesy of beach club guru Stephane Dupoux. 8. Fontainebleau Miami Beach Vegas does Miami. What happens here stays here, only because by the time you reach the distant front gates you’ll have forgotten all about what went down. Don’t worry about the security, as they will never find you. 9. The Standard – It takes close to an eternity to get your car back from the valet; still, this kid-free pool environment wins hands down. Standard is cool without trying, but chillin’ here will set you back $20. Cool is hot but it ain’t free. http://bbook.com/guides/details/the-palms 10. Sanctuary South Beach – For more intimate experience, this tiny boutique hotel has a soaking tub on the rooftop that few know about. No security to manhandle you, so you can play king of this castle. Chances are no one is watching.

Industry Insiders: Alan Philips & Josh Shames of Sky Group

Alan Philips and Josh Shames are founders of SKY Group and Deluxe Experience. Their clients include One Group (STK), Gerber Group (Whiskey Bar), Morgans Hotel Group (Hudson, Royalton, The Shore Club), Borgata Hotel, Brier Group (Highbar) … the list goes on.

What are your favorite places in the world? Alan Philips: Sushi of Gari. They have the freshest fish, simply and creatively prepared, in understated surroundings. I don’t think that there is anywhere you can experience something as delicious and unexpected as the salmon tomato onion sushi. Bagatelle has incredible energy and music, very New York. I recently had the pleasure of staying and experiencing the newest Morgans Hotel in Miami, Mondrian Miami. Marcel Wanders has designed a spectacular hotel that captures the surprise and whimsy that you first felt when entering the Delano 20 years ago. Josh Shames: The Box is an amazing New York experience, and I’ve never felt the energy from a nightclub that I have felt at Palladium in Acapulco, Mexico. 2000-plus people, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls over looking the Acapulco bay. As for restaurants, the China Club in Hong Kong or Il Latini in Florence, Italy, are the two of my favorite dining experiences. If I had a last meal, then it would be Don Pepe’s in Ozone Park.

Who do you admire in your industry? AP: Ian Schrager has continued to innovate for decades and maintain an individual point of view. The amount of time, energy, and commitment to your vision it takes to do what he has done is incredible. Imagine having Studio 54, Morgans Hotel Group, Palladium, Gramercy Park, and now this partnership with Marriot on your resume. Nobu Matsuhisa — he did not just create a restaurant, he created a whole other cuisine. Then he opened tons of locations that never sacrifice the quality of product. And just when you thought he was done, he kept creating new and intoxicating dishes that never cease to amaze. JS: Its cliché, but you have to mention Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager as they changed New York nightlife and the hospitality industry forever. No matter what has been done since, it has all been an extension of what they accomplished years before.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen recently in your industry? AP: I like that people have been offering more inclusive experiences. Jamie Mulholland and his team did it this year at Surf Lodge. The vision and customer experience is all-encompassing from beginning to end. The restaurant, the bar, the hotel — it all goes together and is fabulous. I believe that customers want more for their hospitality dollar, and in this economic environment, they won’t mind spending money, but the quality and excitement better be there. I don’t think there will be tolerance for products that are sub-par. Additionally, I am excited about things moving away from bottle service. I like table minimums, and I believe that this will force operators to be more creative. Great ideas come out of necessity. JS: For a while, people thought that if they opened a nightclub or lounge and put a door person outside behind ropes, their place would be filled and generate revenue. I believe people have wised up since then. Operators, owners, and investors are starting to be more creative with their venues and concepts than they were five years ago

What is something that people might not know about you? AP: I love to cook. When the family gets together, my job is to cook. JS: I am left-handed and I go to every Broadway show.

What are your staples? AP: Books are Wolf of Wall Street, Good to Great, and Outliers. Artist is Da Vinci. City is New York to live and Miami to visit. JS: Destinations are Florence, Italy, and Aruba to relax. Politicians are Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

What are you doing tonight? AP: Going to Nobu 57; I’ve been obsessed with Dover sole tempura since I got back from Miami. Then Ella to hear Brooklyn Dawn spin. JS: I never make plans that far in advance.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? AP: DVR. My girlfriend and I watch way too many shows. Lost, Sopranos, 24, Big Love, Californication, Gossip Girl, Weeds, Brothers and Sisters. Okay, this is getting embarrassing. JS: My Blackberry.

Drink of choice? AP: Patron Silver on the rocks with two limes. JS: Iced coffee in the mornings, diet raspberry Snapple during the day, and anything with ice in it at night.

Person you’re dying to party with? AP: My mom. JS: Myself. I’m always so concerned with everyone else’s experience, I forget what its like to have a good time.

What’s next in ’09? We’re developing a new web-based project called Deluxe Experiences that will launch in early 2009. I have been working on it for a year, and we are really looking forward to seeing it come to life. We are also managing an artist Brooklyn Dawn — she is a super-talented female DJ whose energy, skills, and sound are something totally different in the downtown scene. Everything she does is so genuine and exciting. Also, began a new area of our business focused on servicing our lifestyle clients and synergizing them with our hospitality clients. 2009 is going to be a very interesting year in the hospitality business, as people are definitely going to have to find new ways to make money.

Miami: Top 5 New Year’s Eve Parties

imageWe tried for a top 10, but settled for 5. After all, we are in recession, people. If Cup O’ Noodle and sparkling cider is on your New Year’s Eve menu, may we suggest rolling out a blanket on Ocean Drive and 8th Street for some free-of-charge fireworks viewing. If, however you wanna be a baller, consider the following. 1. The Mondrian Miami hotel is teaming up with Tommy Pooch and Alan Roth to ring in “Recessison,” a.k.a. NYE 2009. Two hundred bucks will buy you an entry into the Sunset Lounge, where a 20-piece orchestra will mix with tunes spun by DJ Tavin. Resident eatery Asia de Cuba offers a range of packages depending on your wallet and/or appetite. 2. If you’re a reality TV junky, head on up to the Shore Club, where Kristin Cavallari is set to make an appearance. Organized by Skybar and New York’s Tenjune, live performances will include Busta Rhymes, Ron Brownz, and Pras. Mos Def spins while you pay — $275 to be exact.

3. The Fontainebleau’s New Year’s Eve approach is diversification. Adam Levine and Maroon 5 are set to entertain the masses poolside, while Diddy, in his usual style, is king at LIV, the hotel’s nightclub. 4. The Delano’s evening agenda is equally impressive. $350 will put you front and center at the Florida Room for an exclusive performance by the Roots. Janelle Monae will perform poolside. 5. If you follow T.I.’s criminal drama, then Gansevoort South Hotel is where it’s at. Watch him perform “Whatever You Like” flanked by federal security guards. Yeah, that is how T.I. rolls these days. Chloe Sevigny should do a fine job hosting, while Wilhelmina Models, celebrating their official New Year’s Eve party, will collectively try to figure out how to pop a champagne bottle. That alone is worth the $400 ticket.