Sunrise Over Star Island by Hari Nef
I didn’t know why I was in Miami.
The year before, 2012, was cool. I was 20 years old, I brought my boyfriend, I flew one-way, and I went right from the airport to a performance (mine). This year was different, mostly because I was 21. It was the first time I’d traveled on my own with plane tickets and lodging.
People kept asking me what I was “doing” in Miami this year, so I arched my back and said “partying.” That’s what I’d decided; I was on lists. I didn’t eat for like three days. I psyched myself up! The night before I left, I tweeted this:
I saw myself alone on a beach in a slip dress, sucking a cigarette, not checking my phone—early evening, but not sunset. I saw myself at parties, abandoning parties, smiling a little: slouched over, real skinny. Palm trees! I’d tan and listen to Cat Power.
This one new friend of mine—an arch/hot big sister type with more than 10K Twitter followers—had told me about “this one Basel” where she’d met “that one photographer” and fucked him right on the beach. “No, actually,” she moaned, “we actually fucked on the beach.”
I wanted to fuck on the beach. I wanted to sleep all day and look cute; I wanted to glare at the sea with a drink in my hand until some art dude decided he had to fuck me.
My first night in Miami, I felt elegant and well. I looked like a severe and special occasion.
I looked hot. I’m definitely hot. I’m gorgeous! I organize my body.
I do it for myself, but I do it in front of men.
The men who want to take out their cocks for me want sex in the abstract, or the spectacular. They like boys but worship girls. They want a silver tongue in a dirty mouth. These guys are cool. They’re fun and open-minded. They’re… artsy. They want to see themselves in art, around art, and inside of art. It’s a hard market, but these guys take out their cocks for me for the same reason people take #artselfies at Art Basel Miami Beach.
God bless Ladyfag and god bless her parties. A Ladyfag party smells like sweat, vodka, drywall, and Gaultier Homme. I showed up rolling and commenced my party ritual:
1. Dance for 6-12 minutes to the best house music I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
2. Throw myself into what appears to be the most exclusive/restricted section of the party area.
3. Sip vodka sodas with people who are 1-10 years older.
4. Try to make one of them ask me if I wanted to have sex with them.
Suddenly, I was air-kissing Brody*: a gorgeous editorial fashion gay whose gratitude for trans ontology I’d recently mistaken for flirting at an opening. Christian—Brody’s European slice—offered kisses of his own, and then came Peter! Brody, Christian, and Peter touched each other, and then they all touched me.
“You’re so chic.”
“You’re an amazing individual and I really respect what you’re doing.”
“You’re such a fucking goddess and you’re so fucking above everything.”
Peter and I tell everyone that we grew up together, which isn’t really true. He went to my best friend’s creative arts high school and lived a few towns over from me. We’d appraised each other at school dances and poked each other on Facebook. Peter’s 18 now, a recent Parsons transplant hustling promoter stunts in ritzy straight bars—but still up to his knees in fashion/art. Precocity, cuteness, and hometown advantage urged some imminent relationship or partnership with Peter. Tonight was the night.
We got drinks and did lines.
The boys touched one another, and then they all touched me.
Brody touched Christian’s ass.
Peter touched Brody’s lower lip.
Christian touched my hair.
“You wanna come with us?”
Peter and I suck Camels in the tropical heat.
“Star Island. I’m staying at this chateau. Lisa’s* staying there too. She’s being really annoying.”
I wanted to scream.
I’d grown up on Lisa—and she’d grown up too.
I’d seen all her films, snatched up 8+ years of her tabloid milestones.
I reblog photos of Lisa on principle.
Lisa is hot: a total goddess. Severe and special!
I wanted to scream.
But instead I said “Yeah, sure. I mean… it’s Basel, right?”
The sun didn’t rise. I was too high; the boys kept me high; a driveway became a sandstone patio, a private dock and a panoramic view. I sipped a mojito. Lisa, to absolutely no one’s surprise, sipped one too.
And the boys got naked. They got in the pool and splashed around. I watched them and sipped, and every five minutes:
“We love you Haaaaaaaari!!”
“She’s so fucking over it!”
I answered them with deep, luxurious silence.
I loved those men with all my heart.
I knew why I was in Miami this year.
I lit up a cigarette!
I saw myself where I’d seen myself and felt a very deep pang of joy.
I knew that not one of these men—not one, two, or all three—would fuck me this century. They could damage me that way, decrease my value. It would cheapen the spectacle. Like I said, it’s a hard market.
Lisa and I smoked our smokes on empty recliners, foamy half-shells. The boys played in the water and the Earth swallowed them up into her gullet. The cries of women getting fucked on the beach shot heavenward. An airplane full of 21-year old single trannies plunged out of the sky and into the ocean. The sun bloomed over Miami Beach.
Hari Nef is an actress, writer, and casting director living in New York City.
Photography by Molly Matalon.
*All names have been changed.