I was leaning back on a fluffy white Tempur-Pedic mattress, sucking down a vodka tonic, and nibbling on a chocolate-covered strawberry. Past the overhead personal plasma screen TV and beyond the wall of bulletproof glass, I could make out the sexy silhouettes of gyrating partiers and hear the pulsating Daft Punk. A young man with flawless skin, clad in nothing but a loincloth, thigh-high boots, and a splash of body paint, wiggled by and offered me another drink.
And this time, my sexy fantasy wasn't interrupted by a buzzing alarm clock. I was actually sitting in the VIP section of the Living Room, a multilayered dance-club explosion of color, light, sound, and beautiful décor. It's a little like an acid trip, a lot like having sex with a strobe light, and kind of like being temporarily filthy stinkin' rich (or, what I imagine that would be like). So fucking awesome. And that's even before you realize there's an open bar until midnight.
Ambiance: After walking through the entrance and being greeted enthusiastically by men wearing only skimpy loincloths and excessive amounts of body paint, I darted into the seething crowd of free-booze-toting clubgoers and tried to find the most direct route to the bar.
It was a pleasant night for the outdoor patio area, which features white curtains hanging from the canopy ceilings, extravagant mirrors, dark wicker couches, glowing candles, tiki torches, and black egg-shaped chairs suspended from the ceiling.
I made a beeline for the bar, almost got hit by a swinging egg-chair, and managed to wrestle a cup of free bourbon from the hands of the broad-shouldered bartender, whose muscles had been outlined with black paint.
Drink in hand, I approached Yasmany, who was dark-complexioned with red paint on his face, feather earrings in his ears, and nothing covering his body except a tiny loincloth. He was accompanied by Angel.
"What's with the body paint?" I demand.
"We have a different theme every night," Yasmany said. "Tonight is bondage night." Yasmany's own body paint slightly resembled red and black lightning strikes; Angel's channeled leather strapped across his shoulders and chest. For that subtle "please dominate me" effect, he wore a black belt tied around his neck.
"Tonight is also 'alternative night,' " Yasmany said. "You come Saturday night, that's straight night. You'll see the girls all painted up and wearing pasties."
"Also, did you know this is an AOE club?" he continued. " 'Anything on Earth.' That means that if you want something, we'll get it for you, no matter what. We had a customer once who came in at 3 a.m. and wanted pizza, sushi, and a Coke. We got it for him."
"What if someone wants a pony?" I asked. Someone being me, of course.
"Well, then, they might have to wait until the next night to get it," Yasmany said. "It's hard to get a pony at 3 a.m. in the morning."
Living Room(s): The well-dressed, pouty-lipped blond man at the door clearly was maestro of the place and therefore the person responsible for all the near-seizures the strobe lights were causing.
"What's going on here?" I asked, gesturing to the entire club.
"Welcome to Living Room," Mark said. He kissed my cheeks, one and then the other. "This place is 12,000 square feet and completely green — no additives, nothing bad for the environment. Even our body paint is Earth-friendly."
I tapped the side of his plastic cup with a smug look.
"Even that's recyclable," he assured me. He grabbed my hand for a tour. With my free hand, I gave a finger-wave to the sexy body-painted boys.
As Mark pulled me along through the jam-packed club, he explained that Living Room is not just one room; it's several rooms, all with creative and/or complicated names. For instance, the outdoor patio area can't just be called "patio"; it's called Inverness (heaven).
We breezed through the Opal Room, a sparkling blue-and-white area full of flashing lights, drink-spinning bartenders, and beautiful people dancing on giant white blocks.
A massive and potentially dangerous mob of people had gathered around a closed door, and to get to it, Mark had to literally drag me through the mass of warm bodies. "This is the Meditation room," he said, pulling me through the doorway and locking the door behind us. The giant windows overlook Riverfront; the dark-wood walls, floors, and giant glass chandeliers are stylishly designed to perfection. "Everything in here is controlled by Angelina." He pointed to a giant flat-screened object hanging on a nearby wall, projecting the pretty face of a woman. "Called Angelina because she has Angelina Jolie's lips and eyes," he said. "She talks too; if you get close to her, she'll tell you you're sexy."
"But why is this part empty?" I asked.
"We don't open this part up until midnight," he said with a mysterious smile, like he's a sexy Willy Wonka and this giant-ass, acid-trippy club is his chocolate factory. At least that explains the overeager throngs of people gathered directly outside.
"This is called the Gate," he said when we arrived at a small room beyond the Meditation room. "This is the dance floor; we play house music here." I blinked as laser lights flashed overhead and a giant screen projected an image of Buddha. The red hues onscreen swirled and dissolved into green, then blue. I heard Mark throw around words like "mood space" and ridiculously high dollar amounts, but I was too mesmerized. When I snapped out of it, Sexy Willy Wonka was gesturing for me to put my hand on top of the dance room's bar.
"It's a liquid bar," he was saying. "The only one in the United States."
Sure enough, I poked it with a finger and the liquid underneath collected around the spot.
"So, someone would have to be on serious drugs to design a place like this," I said. "Right?"
"I've designed many other clubs," Mark says. "This is my favorite... I've put pieces of my soul into this. Every detail has to be perfect. I'm constantly touching things up. This place has to be like new every single time it opens."
He pulled me through a velvet rope and up to the VIP section.
VIP: As I mentioned earlier, the VIP section is badass, with its body-painted attendants and personal air vents. After Mark ran off, probably to hair-check the rest of his employees, I found myself a little lonely — until a troop of extremely excited guys claimed the VIP spot next to me. Herman, a young Colombian man who had designed parts of the club, was celebrating his 25th birthday.
As I sat and watched them, a compact man with blond hair combed to a point sat beside me.
"I've been coming here every weekend since the place opened," he said. "And I've never paid for anything." The place charges no cover and boasts an open bar till midnight — I had to wonder how the place makes money.
"The owner loves me," he continued. "I'm bored here, but I come here because everything else is boring."
"I feel that way sometimes," I said, trying to be empathetic.
"You have beautiful toes," he said, staring at my feet. "I have a toe fetish."
Patrons: Feet are not my thing. I was out of the VIP section in a flash, and once back in Inverness, I stumbled upon Anthony and Chad.
"What do you guys think of the place?" I asked.
"Not enough sex," Chad said, tossing his floppy brown hair. "No people having sex inside."
Anthony told me that this place was the most awesome place in Fort Lauderdale, but by no means was it the best place in South Florida.
"Not enough Latin boys," he continued.
"Well?" I turned to Chad.
"Not enough sex," he repeated.
"He doesn't know. He hasn't been to a gay club in years," Anthony said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Maybe I'm not gay," Chad said defensively.
"I'm not gay, and I was at a gay club two days ago," I said.
"He is gay," Anthony said smugly. "We dated in high school."
"Look, I've been busy in med school," he said. "Would you like me to use the wrong tools when I operate on you because I've been busy at gay clubs?" Touché.
In the wee hours of the night, I finally squeaked out of the electric paradise. Turning to reflect, I gazed upon that glowing green building against the dark night sky. The place has excessive amounts of affection among strangers, extravagance, flashing lights, a shitload of perfect white couches, and damned good music. But let's skip the bullshit: It has free drinks and boys in loincloths. So VIP section and awesome décor be damned: Drinks and loincloths are all you need to drag my bitchy ass through a door.