This story appears in the December 1978 issue of Playboy. Subscribe

If you believe in Anita Bryant, Miami is the last bastion on the Bible belt; if you believe the tourist ads, our southernmost city is a sexy promised land of sun and sand. The real story makes for our first installment in a major new series on the sexual profiles of American cities.

Saturday night in Miami. In a parking lot just off 79th Street, a black hooker is going down on a white high school teacher who will soon return to his family in a nearby suburb. At the trendy disco in the Hotel Mutiny at Sailboat Bay at the other end of town, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman is assiduously pursuing a stunning 19-year-old Cuban girl, who teasingly whispers in his ear and, leaning forward, gives him a splendid view down the front of her flimsy black dress. On a clear day, you can see Havana. Meanwhile, somewhere above their heads, a couple writhes in pleasure beneath the mirrored ceiling of the $125-a-night Rameses room, one of the hotel’s erotic King Tut’s Chambers. Around the corner at the seedy Hamlet Bar in the heart of laid-back Coconut Grove, a jukebox blasts out rock and country songs toward a bar stacked five deep with trim young men in cutoffs, sandals and close-cropped beards. They are happily homosexual and this is their turf. It matters little to them that the next morning, anti-gay-rights warrior Anita Bryant will team with reborn Nixon hatchetman Charles Colson to celebrate a Sunday sunrise service on the causeway to Key Biscayne.
Fifteen miles to the north in Miramar, several dozen Miami couples–including a municipal-court judge, an Eastern Airlines pilot, a kitchenware salesman, two local cops and all their wives–are sipping drinks in a dimly lit club, planning a swing party for later that night.

Twenty-five miles away in Fort Lauder-dale, what may be the world’s heaviest concentration of singles bars has become an unholy traffic jam. Thousands of young people, the prevailing physical type running to blond, blue-eyed and bronze-skinned (Homo beachus), are on the prowl. By dawn, a good number are bedded down in vans or motel rooms.

The University of Miami appears to have just as much sex life as most Southern colleges.

In Coral Gables, just southwest of Miami, the same thing has happened in four of the ten bedrooms of the Sigma Chi house, which threw an air-conditioned luau in its sunken living room for an entire sorority earlier that evening. As the sweet scent of burning Cannabis rises in the halls, another dozen young college couples are locking doors and enjoying their privacy in the University of Miami’s Pearson Hall across the campus.
In Miami Beach, leisure-suited conventioneers with wives in beehive hairdos stroll the balmy sidewalks. A honeymooning couple from Ohio calls up an X-rated movie on the television set in their room at the once-glamorous Fontainebleau Hilton. At the Emerald Lounge in the high-rise Americana hotel at the opposite end of Collins Avenue, Donna Waters, 25 and for sale, is closing a deal with a crewcut businessman from Memphis. They settle on $75 and he hands her the key to his room. He is about to get the best–and possibly the first–blow job of his life. At the far south end of Miami Beach, where the average age is 69 and rising, there are six widows or divorcees for every unmarried man. An old geezer complains, “Why these odds at my age?” He returns to his whitewashed residence hotel with a new lady-friend who spent the first 50 years of her life in Hoboken.

At the Crazy Horse Saloon on north Biscayne Boulevard, conservatively dressed businessmen sip their three-dollar whiskeys and a leggy blonde showstopper named Dana crawls out of her black corset and garter belt until there is nothing left but spectacular womanhood.

Across the road at the self-consciously exclusive Cricket Club, a couple in their early 20s is performing Saturday Night Fever in a basement disco called Le Dome. The male of the species is so preoccupied with the sight of himself in the ceiling mirrors that he fails to notice when the spaghetti straps of his lithe partner’s dress slip from her shoulders. The millisecond strobe flashes begin bouncing off pert young breasts.

Yes, there is sex in Miami. Sort of.


The map shows the approximate location of Mimai hot spots. Anita Bryant’s house is noted purely for historical reasons. Illustration by John Craig

This is a tale of 63 cities, a dozen ethnic and age groups, numerous lifestyles and plenty of conflicting opinions. Miami, our Southernmost large city, like Los Angeles 2700 miles to the West, is no unified community with a geographical heart and logical meshing of its component social parts. It is fragmented by its own suburban sprawl and diverse lifestyles, with everything constantly changing. There are 27 municipalities within Dade County, ranging from garish and world-famous Miami Beach to the conservative middle-American community of South Miami in the far southwestern corner of the sprawl that reaches to the very lips of the Everglades. One must reach north into Broward County–home of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and 29 other municipalities–to complete the portrait of what passes demographically, socially and sexually as Miami. Broward is the hyper-Wasp outpost of south Florida, a growing counterweight to the Jewish and, above all, the Cuban influences in Miami proper. As in Los Angeles, the many parts of this sun-bleached pie-in-the-palms are bound together by endless ribbons of elevated interstate concrete that makes south Florida, like Southern California, an economic unit on wheels.

It is thus not surprising that there is no single prevailing sexual Geist, style or energy in Miami. Baron Sepy Dobronyi, the exiled Hungarian sculptor and confirmed bon vivant who provided his striking home in Coconut Grove as a set for Deep Throat, coexists more or less peacefully with Anita Bryant, who lives across a causeway and believes you will go to hell if you eat sperm. The white-Corvette-and-swimming-pool lifestyle at Suntan U, as the University of Miami loathes being called, spreads palm by parking lot into the conservative, consumer-minded suburbs of the southwest, which support only a handful of pornography shops and contain a large number of churches. Only the streets acrawl with bronzed kids on bikes prove that, at least in the privacy of their homes, these people, too, have sex.

The singles scene ranges from teeny-boppers and high school truants on the First Street beach near the dog track in Miami Beach to the gold-digging young models dressed to the teeth in search of a well-heeled sugar daddy at the exclusive Jockey and Palm Bay clubs on north Biscayne Boulevard. The city seems to have more private clubs than standard singles bars and you have to know where to find them. Miami night life is an entirely indoor affair and you get there in an automobile (the bigger the better).

That is especially true in Fort Lauderdale, which has become Miami’s Wasp satellite and the capital of blonde, blue eyed fun in south Florida, with a beach scene, an enormous singles-bar scene and an apartment scene. Whether true or not, the belief that the Cubans are taking over Miami–several discos have been “Cubanized” in recent years–is increasingly driving Miami’s Anglos 30 minutes up I-95 to Fort Lauderdale for their social life. In many cases, Anglos are, in fact, moving to Fort Lauderdale and commuting to their jobs in Miami.

Moving up the age spectrum, there is among middle-class marrieds in south Florida a fast-growing swingers’ movement–formerly known as wife swapping, but that’s déclassé now, especially since the swappers may not even be married. Indeed, with the gay community finally living more or less out in the sunshine, swinging is Florida’s largest closet industry. Miamians swing, but, like porcupines and sunburned snowbirds (winter tourists from the North), they do it very, very carefully.

Miami has its share of prostitutes, massage parlors and pornography shops, though rather fewer than most would expect. Miami’s role as the destination of the foot-loose tourist, long since overtaken by Club Med and other Caribbean resorts, has yielded almost exclusively to the convention trade in the beach hotels. This often means that wives are part of the trip, so the sexiest thing that happens is that Mom and Pop get their juices running before bedtime by taking in a Las Vegas-style flesh-and-feathers show. Yet for the conventioneer on the loose, there is a subtle sprinkling of (mostly white) cruising hookers in many hotel bars and an unsubtle parade of (mostly black and Puerto Rican) front-seat-of-your-car blow-job artists walking the streets of Miami’s combat zone around 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. And, if you’ve got the bucks, escort services provide the kind of date a man of means would not mind taking to dinner as part of the preliminaries.

Pornography, oddly enough, appears to be of declining interest in Miami. A determined antismut drive has driven most dirty bookstores from downtown and halted new openings in the combat zone. The only porn store that opened in the Little Havana district was almost immediately bombed by Cuban radical zealots. A number of adult stores have reached a prosperous plateau in suburban shopping areas, where a businessman can take in a peep show on the way home to the kiddies. Patty Wheat, a very successful sex-shop operator who specializes in sexy lingerie, 79 kinds of vibrators and medium-core porn, runs three stores in outlying areas that draw a high percentage of customers over 40 in expensive cars. She also runs a “swingers’ exchange,” where, for two dollars, you can check her listings of prospective swingers.

Pornography is stronger and more open in Fort Lauderdale. It is part of Miami’s schizoid personality that while Linda Lovelace could do her thing to Harry Reems on the set in Coconut Grove, it is not legally possible to publicly exhibit an uncut version of Deep Throat in Dade County. In Broward County, where Miami transplants are so eager to avoid the ethnic diversity of Miami, you can not only see Linda swallow Harry whole but also sample a wider range of porn shops than in Dade.

And then there is Miami’s gay community, at an estimated 200,000 strong one of the largest in the country. Gays come to Miami for the same reason as straights: the good weather, the easy life, plenty of jobs in the service and consumer industries. The relaxed dressing habits of Coconut Grove, with its gaily painted pastel buildings and waterfront parks, are congenial for body-conscious young men who favor tight shorts and tank tops all year round. Anita Bryant notwithstanding, the gay community is a comfortable, well-accepted fixture in the panoply of Miami life.

Miami is a place of rootlessness and transitory relationships. This is where the Heartbreak Kid left his bride for Cybill Shepherd. It is not a good place to find the ultimate mate, for mating is not the name of the Miami game.

Rachel Copelan, a Miami author and sex therapist who is something of a local media sex guru, says, “The tourist character of the area leads to a lot of one-night stands and short-term relationships.” The merry-go-round of sexual liaisons in Miami may also account for Florida’s spot at the very top of the national V.D. per-capita rate for the past two years. Dade County V.D. Control reports over 230 cases of gonorrhea each week and 100 of syphilis each month. There is also a very high incidence of teenaged pregnancy in the county, now estimated by Planned Parenthood at one in four.

Since sex is the ultimate form of social life, understanding the Miami sexual scene requires breaking down the social world into some of its component parts.


SINGLES

There are an estimated 325,000 unmarried people between the ages of 18 and 40 in Dade County. An astounding 50 percent of them have never been married, while 26 percent are divorcees–at least once. For those whose job is something more than lying on the beach, there are a number of professional attractions. Young men with business or law degrees come to Miami for some of the same reasons they go to Atlanta: It has become a booming regional distribution headquarters and financial center–the region is not only Florida but also the Caribbean and Latin America. Miami has always been the tourist’s gateway to Latin America (not to mention the gateway for drugs and, in pre-Castro days, prostitution); it has now become a financial gateway as well, with more Latin-American money transactions taking place in Miami today than ever before.

Women, too, find employment in the trading institutions. The airlines industry brings thousands of others. Both Eastern and National Airlines are headquartered in Miami; there are an estimated 10,000 female flight attendants and ticket agents based in Miami, many of them living in the apartment complexes and frequenting the singles bars in the sprawling area around the airport.

The University of Miami constitutes a special branch of the singles scene. Unlike at most universities, its sex life is not solely campus-centered; students go out to the discos and clubs and beaches used by the rest of Miami. Yet for all that, most students seem to date other students, the fraternities have something going on almost every weekend and the mixed-dorm arrangement makes for a relaxed availability of sexual options for those who are looking.

Two extremes of singles social life are framed by the differences between the southern and the northern fringes of the town. Coconut Grove is the southernmost part of Miami, situated directly across from Key Biscayne, Nixon’s old hangout. Here the life is jeans and halters, pizza and beer, no ties and no bras. A very young set frequents the bookshops and flea market and sells clothes in the trendy stores serving old ladies in heavy cars who come to the Grove to shop. Grovers are the laid-back side of Miami singles life. A lot of skin is showing. In the late afternoon, young people in various states of undress from all over Miami flock to Kennedy Park in the Grove for jogging, touch football and some fairly classy Frisbee. Kids who just met at Lum’s or the Pizzaria near the intersection of Bayshore and Grand Avenue–the heart of the Grove–regularly pick up and go to someone’s apartment for a little toot and some Warren Zevon.

At the other end of Miami proper, between 110th and 160th streets, one finds the city’s three most exclusive club-condo-hotel complexes: the Jockey, the Palm Bay and the Cricket Club. When playboy in its telephone survey asked people where they would send newcomers to catch the action, 39 percent specified private clubs and discos. Perhaps it was based on experience. One out of four people who went to such places got lucky and established a sexual relationship. The Cricket is the newest and hottest; it reeks of money the minute you get past the elaborate guardhouse and ride down the palm-lined cobblestone driveway to a huge porte-cochere where valets wait for cars. Inside, the walls are papered in silver foil and herringbone patterns. By day, one finds idly rich teenagers whiling away the afternoon under the deft hands of the facial-massage artists in the beauty salon of the health club, a subterranean catacomb that includes two saunas, two whirlpools, a Nautilus gym, a Universal gym, a swimming pool and even a “eucalyptus inhalation room.”

By night (on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights), the Cricket opens Le Dome discothèque to anyone with a membership card (it costs from $208 to $416 to join) or a connection. One sees 19-year-old girls with the latest from New York draped over their svelte, unblemished bodies climbing out of all manner of expensive transportation. The parking lot is a semipermanent auto show. There is always at least one Rolls-Royce, not to mention the odd Lotus Esprit, a Ferrari or two, numerous Mercedes, Caddies and Lincolns. The disco is an underground hexagon with a stainless-steel dance floor rimmed by comfy velvet-covered modular furniture that can be pushed around to form conversation pits. There is a fashion-show atmosphere of mercenary snootiness overlaid with youthful nervousness at Le Dome.

Between the two extremes of the Cricket and the Grove, there is a singles life at several other levels. For those accustomed to the outright meat-market approach to getting laid, there are such California-style singles hangouts as Mr. Beneby in Coral Gables, with a large bar pouring drinks full blast on all sides. The atmosphere is unweathered wood and coral rock and get drunk fast. It is loud. For an even rougher singles atmosphere with a clientele mix that includes the stews and the ground crews, there is The Brasserie near the airport and Flanigan’s in the Springs, part of a very successful lounge-cum-liquor-store chain called Big Daddy’s. There are 50 Big Daddy’s around Miami–they are the McDonald’s of singles life.

The Fort Lauderdale singles scene also falls into this category. While some of the bars offer live music, most of them are simply heavily decorated noise-and-booze hangouts. Yesterday’s, on the intracoastal waterway, fills an entire freestanding building and even has its own wharf for guests arriving by yacht. Christopher’s just up the street is a scaled-down version of the same thing. Some of the more popular hangouts are Pete & Lenny’s, Mr. Pip’s and a slightly sudsier beach-front watering hole called The Button that draws beach people and what passes for surfers on the Atlantic.

The tropical climate, according to legend, has an initial aphrodisiac effect on most people.

Despite the salubrious climate and sounds of the ocean roaring in your ears, the Miami–Fort Lauderdale scene tends to be glitzy. Sloppy jeans and flip-flops are even officially banned at most Big Daddy’s, which are hardly bastions of high taste. Yet appearances count for a lot. “This place is very disco, very glittery,” says one Fort Lauderdale single woman. “Whoever has the best clothes is the star.”

The operative thing about all these folks is that, like Southerners, they are very social. The tropical climate, according to legend, has an initial aphrodisiac effect on most people, anyway, stripping away inhibitions and clothes in equal parts, the relaxed chat-and-play atmosphere of the region seems to do the rest. “The girls mature a lot faster down here,” comments John Riley, 23, a transplanted New Jersey native who works in Davy Jones’s Locker, a jeans shop in Hollywood halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. “I’m talking about their heads and their bodies. I could never go back North.”

“In Chicago, it would take you two or three meetings at the same place to make it with a chick,” says Vince Ball, 23, a photographer who moved to Miami 18 months ago. “Here it’s one.”

“People are much freer with their bodies here,” says one woman. “Being outside is a very relaxing thing. It affects how people look; they want to look good.” She said the fact that people “go around in bathing suits gives a certain physicalness to Miami. Wearing a bathing suit on the beach is a certain sexual reality. You talk about your bodies more. And after that you touch.”

Of course, the Cuban influence casts its spell on the Miami singles scene. Dade County is about one third Latin. The city of Miami is over half Latin and Hialeah, a large Miami suburb, is about 60 percent Latin. The Cuban girls are very stunning and very Catholic. They are saving it for marriage. The cultures do mix–at the discos and the beaches–but the reports from the front lines vary. Mike, 30, a Miami lawyer, views the scene this way: “For an Anglo guy in Miami, your odds are cut 50 percent. Cuban women don’t want anything to do with you.” However, Julio Suarez de Dios, a 22-year-old musician, says that success depends on your approach. “With my people, you have to let go. You let go of the insecurity and you become aggressive. You’re having a good time, you let go. The on-the-make attitude seems to heighten the sexual response of everyone in the place. Of course, the Cuban guy is a little more devious, a little quicker. The Cuban girl is more aware of the American guy. She’ll see the little tricks. He’ll usually wine and dine a Cuban girl more than the Cuban guy. If you really take care of yourself, wear a suit, put on cologne, you’ll do much better.” Ah, romance.

And then there’s the University of Miami. For a decade now, university fathers have been anxiously trying with only moderate success to live down their school’s reputation as Suntan U. The marine sciences, physics, geography, geology, music and drama have become strong departments; the humanities are considered the school’s weak areas. The administration points for legitimacy to a number of graduates headed every year for advanced learning at places like MIT and Cal Tech. For all that, the University of Miami is a painless place to go to school.

It is no city college. There are 17,000 students (10,000 undergraduates) paying the private-school tuition of $1850 per semester to get their brains straightened out on a modern, whitewashed, low-rise campus dotted with palms, an artificial lake and a double-Olympic-sized swimming pool surrounded by a deck and hundreds of lounge chairs that make it look exactly like the hindside of the Fontainebleau Hilton. The economic condition is generally affluent, as any glance at the large parking lots of the dorms and fraternities indicates. “You can go out and buy a Corvette around here and nobody will be impressed,” says Karen Waters, a senior who is president of the Panhellenic Council (association of sororities). “Everybody has one.”

“My brother came down from Brown one week,” explains Karen, “and he couldn’t believe two things: all the pretty girls and how huge the parking lots are.” In the outdoorsy atmosphere of the university campus, it is extremely easy to make daytime contacts. Connections are made in “the pit,” a patio behind the Memorial Building that swarms with students between classes. Or they can pass through the Student Union’s rooms full of pinball machines, ping-pong games and pool tables. The adjoining cafeteria where Cuban bus boys and girls, not students, pick up the trays is open all afternoon. Forty yards away is The Rathskeller, a snack bar with beer, disco music and more pinball machines. It abuts that enormous pool deck that is more for sunning than for swimming.

The University of Miami appears to have just as much sex life as most Southern colleges; i.e., a lot. Given the fact that many of the coeds jiggle out for classes in haltertops or tennis outfits, it would be hard to imagine things any other way. “The only problem I have with them,” says one fraternity brother, “is getting ‘em to give head. Or a hand job. You’ll eat a girl out and then say. 'Well, how about a blow job?’ and she’ll say, 'No way.’”

Marshall Steingold, last year’s editor of The Miami Hurricane, recalls the dorm action fondly. “I remember in my sophomore year, I was the dorm R.A. [resident advisor]. There was a lot of noise at one end of the hall, so I went down to see what it was. I looked in the room and there were about five couples in there having a Mazola party–spreading oil all over their bodies. They invited me in and I had a ball.” Drugs play a role, too. The aphrodisiac of choice is Quludes, which are cheap and easy to obtain–“somebody gives you some or there are doctors around here who prescribe them.”

“If you’re going to do 'ludes,” says one party-minded Miamian, “you make sure to slip the girl two and take just one yourself. Then you can get in the sack and do anything imaginable.”

One of the unique delights of the progressive sexual atmosphere at the university is a weekly advice-to-the-sexlorn column that appears across the top of the Hurricane’s op-ed page. It is written by Marian Grabowski, a biology professor of indeterminate age, and is based on the questions she receives in a question box near her office. Miss Grabowski brings a terrific compassion and startling frankness to the printed page of a college newspaper.

Her advice is fundamental. Students ask such questions as “How do women masturbate?” and “What is 69?” Last year’s all-time favorite Q. and A. was the following:

Q: I do enjoy oral sex because of the pleasure it gives my man. Please, what is the best thing to do with the come? I can’t ask anyone else.
A: Swallow.


SWINGING

On the face of it, Miami is very much a city of staid burghers at considerable pains to show themselves a part of the great American mainstream. Away from the beaches, Miami is as middle class as Peoria. Yet it is from within this very world that one finds the urge for the kind of closet excitement that swinging sex brings. Swapping partners is the one way image-conscious straights can do something that seems really wild without ruffling the rest of their social façade. Their only traditional release has been the secret quickie: Bill balls his secretary after work, while Sally occasionally gets it on with the lifeguard at the pool where she takes the kids. They do it without telling each other, but word gets around. The playboy telephone survey of Miami revealed that 45 percent of the people thought that extramarital relationships were on the rise.

One swinger at Playhouse I told about the time she ran into her mother and father at the club.

Swinging is an alternative to cheating. The focus of organized activity (as opposed to mail-order swinging) is Playhouse I, the creation of Del and Bobi (last names never given), a mid-30ish couple who have become the gurus of swinging in south Florida. Playhouse I is a large, plush lounge on Miramar Parkway halfway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. It is open every night except Monday and is restricted to couples only on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Sunday night, a buffet is served. Since under Florida law the beverage-division cops have full search-and-seizure rights without warrants in any place that sells liquor, members must bring their own bottles to Playhouse I. Setups are provided.

There is no on-premises sex at Playhouse I; there never has been. As one swinger put it, “South Florida is the tip of the Bible Belt.” However, at a new 10,000-square-foot club in south Miami called Playhouse South, Del and Bobi will soon be providing all the amenities that do-it-in-the-open swingers like to have: a sauna, three Jacuzzis, European showers, plush sofas, a screening room and a sunless solarium. “Clothing will be optional” is the closest Bobi will come to admitting that serious club swinging may be on the way to Dade County. But the club will also provide for those who come only to dance and keep their clothes on. A disco and lounge–again, bring your own bottle–will be separated from the spa area by one-way mirrors allowing folks in the Jacuzzis to watch the dancers without being seen, unless they turn up the lights.

In the meantime, Playhouse I in Miramar is designed to bring together people of a common persuasion who would rather meet potential foursomes face to face than solicit them through any of the fast proliferating national or local swingers’ catalogs, such as Select, Modern Swinger and The Florida Swinger. Yet those who prefer discretion stick to the privacy of newsletter trysts. Through the locally published Florida Swinger, Miami couples can make anonymous dates almost in their own back yards. “I work for Ma Bell,” says one woman who advertises in the Swinger, “and they would not stand for catching me or my husband in some club.” They scratch out their faces on the Polaroid photos they submit with their ads.

Consider the case of Joe, a 39-year-old pilot, and Susan, 28, his wife of six years, who one night found themselves in a blind-date swinging session with “a judge who had had me in court on a traffic case only the week before. We were both pretty embarrassed, but the situation was absurd. He said he would have fined me, anyway, but I wonder… .” Joe lives with a lurking fear that one day he will run into a Bible-toting supervisor and have his wings clipped. He doesn’t seem to realize that swinging is a two-edged sword. One swinger at Playhouse I told about the time she ran into her mother and father at the club. At first she was mortified, but by the end of the evening, she was beginning to wonder what it would be like to swing with them.

Playhouse I is thriving. An estimated 60 to 90 couples pass through the unmarked rear door facing the parking lot on Friday and Saturday nights (the front door is barred to discourage the curious and the unwitting). The club newsletter announces such events as Screw Night: The men were given bolts, the ladies nuts and they had to match them up–a kind of adult’s spin the bottle. Last spring, editor Bobi promoted Ladies Bi night–a blatant attempt to encourage more single women and women “of the gentle alternative persuasion” to visit the club. Del estimates that some 85 percent of his female members–but only five percent of the males–are bisexual. But he says foursomes–two swapped couples–are still the most common swinging constellation, with threesomes and small orgies coming in second.

There are a handful of X-rated motels in Miami (particularly in the North Miami Beach area), but these seem to be favored more by men hiring hookers and couples who want to try the water beds and dirty TV shows on a lark. For swinging, home parties are still the rule. (Five percent of the people in the playboy telephone survey had been to sex parties.) But with no law on the Florida books protecting consenting adults and with Anita Bryant’s tirades fresh on the local consciousness, extreme discretion is practiced. Fornication, not to mention “lewd and lascivious behavior,” is still against the law in Florida. A cop from the Miramar police force periodically drops in at the Playhouse in his official duties. Perhaps he waves to the one or two area cops who are among the club’s members.

The club’s membership list is more inviolate than a ten-year-old virgin. Having been burned a few times by what they call “lookers, hookers and undercover cops,” Del and Bobi deal cautiously with newcomers. The general policy statement at Playhouse I includes a clause specifically excluding “members of any law-enforcement agency applying for the purposes of entrapment.” But Bobi claims a membership of 1600 couples–including not only cops but judges, city and county officials and some state legislators as well. On the couples-only nights, the parking lot begins filling promptly at eight o'clock with a disproportionate share of Cadillacs, Lincolns and Corvettes–but with an odd van or C.B.-equipped pickup truck as well. Bobi’s final comment on swinging: “Everybody’s doing it.”


PROSTITUTION

An estimated 13,500,000 people visited south Florida in 1977 and some of them wanted to get laid. It is impossible to hop a winter flight to the tip of Florida (“We’ve got a warm spot just for you,” claim Eastern’s huge Northern billboards) without at least hoping for a piece of the action. Despite city fathers’ attempts to paint their economy in more diversified colors, the enduring one-liner for Miami remains “sun, sand, sin and sex.”

Miami, like Manhattan, is a magnet to young women, from runaways to college students to secretaries. A lot of them end up as prostitutes, for a period of time or for good. There are three ways to get a paid fuck in Miami: streetwalkers, hotel cruisers and outcall/escort services. Escort services are, in effect, legalized pimping services. They advertise regularly in such giveaway tourist magazines as Key, which is found in most Miami hotel rooms with a picture of Hugo the Killer Whale or an Orange Bowl float on its cover. The back pages tout “Hot stuff,” “Wild or tame,” “Sugar and spice” and offer to take every kind of credit card. An agency will respond to a request for an evening’s date by first sending over a crusher who checks out the customer and collects the $55 fee (plus tax) in advance, often angling for a tip if the customer wants a really good lady. (If the date lasts more than five hours, the client may have to fork over ten dollars an hour overtime. The price for a 24-hour minirelationship is only $185.)

When the lady arrives, she asks Mr. Visiting Businessman to sign a contract and agree to behave like a gentleman. She then calls in to the agency to confirm that the five-hour date is on. If he has survived these Army-induction tactics, the client now has the privilege of dropping $100 or more on a nice dinner and drinks. When they return to his room, the lady of the evening calls her boss to report that the date is officially over.

Now the real action begins: He negotiates. Asking prices for what he wants have hit $300 in Miami, but $100 will usually do it. Fifty dollars would be a gift. When the waltz of the wallet is over, he can get laid. Hallelujah.

The two other choices are the streets or the hotel bars. The street action is mostly black and Puerto Rican and situated in the city of Miami; the hotel cruising is mostly white and takes place across the causeways in Miami Beach.

Ellen Wood (“my stage name”) is 28 and a hotel veteran. She emigrated from Chicago as a teenager and caught the last throes of the Beach boom by working the sprawling Fontainebleau Hilton and Eden Roc hotels at the heel of Collins Avenue where it meets Arthur Godfrey Road. In the old days, she collected large tips for kinky favors: “Those were wild times,” she remembers. “I made a thou a week.”

With the precipitous decline of business at the south end of Collins Avenue (“They fucked it up so bad they couldn’t replace the dirty carpets”), Ellen moved farther north to the Marco Polo and Newport hotels but liked neither. “Too many cheap bastards, wise guys and kids who wanted it for nothing.” Ellen is now working the Tack Room of the Diplomat Hotel. A leggy lady with a trim waist and ample breasts, she dresses tastefully and looks in light make-up more like a visiting schoolteacher than one of Miami Beach’s hustling hustlers.

“Yeah, that’s what a lot of guys, normal men, want now,” says Ellen in response to a question about anal sex. That, she suggests, is enough to double her normal $75 “cover charge.” Rough stuff–sexual brutality, urinating in Johns’ mouths, bisexual orgies–also doubles the price. Quick, straight, slambam sex has become the exception, not the rule, Ellen adds ruefully.

In Miami, the hotel hookers at least make a stab at working with class. “They usually pull up in a Lincoln or a Cadillac,” says the well-traveled social director of one leading Miami Beach hotel. “They’re young, pretty and dressed as well as if not better than the regular customers. But they have something sophisticated about them, too. They don’t look like the conventioneer’s wife who tries to dress 'tropical’ and wears thick make-up. You can spot them right away. They don’t try to hide their occupation. Late at night, you can see and hear the hotel keys rattling on the lounge tables, being passed back and forth.”

Among the younger hookers–at 28, Ellen Wood counts herself as one–there is a predictable penchant for going dancing or working loud places with disco music or at least a dance floor. Like their “legitimate” contemporaries, young whores are usually good dancers and love to show it off. This is one reason they favor Alfred’s Lounge at the Forge Restaurant, The Wreck Bar at the Castaways, the dance floors at the Jockey and Palm Bay clubs, the Boom-Boom Room and Poodle Lounge at the Fontaine-bleau Hilton, the Tack Room at the Diplomat Hotel, the Emerald Lounge at the Americana, the Bird Room of the Marco Polo Hotel and the Seven Seas Lounge at the Newport Hotel.

There is, of course, a finely tuned interlocking network within the machinery of big-time hotel tourism that makes the cruising hooker possible. Prostitution is a required, if illegal and clandestine, service and it must be provided efficiently and without hassle, rowdiness or embarrassment. As in the casino-hotels of Las Vegas, it is most often the head of hotel security, not the bartenders and maître de of the establishments, who exercises control over who works and who doesn’t.

In one leading hotel, the social director recently pulled a prank on the owners at the annual employees’ awards dinner. After the ten- and 20-year service pins and watches had been handed out, he announced that two loyal longtimers had been overlooked. The hotel owner’s wife frantically scanned her awards list and found no unchecked names. Who is missing? she wondered.

“Mary and Shirley,” announced the impish impresario, naming two veteran hookers who work the hotel lounge almost nightly. “They’ve been in this room for ten years and they work harder than anybody else.”

“Look, we could become very moral and stuffy and give the girls dirty looks,” says the convention-service manager of another leading Beach hotel. “But what does that prove? Men are men. This is a resort-and-play town. Women walk around here with their tits hanging out. People want to get laid. They come to us. The convention organizers will ask, 'What the hell are my guys going to do during the evening?”’

The service manager, who is just as interested in obtaining that company’s convention business next year as he was this year, may then pass on the business card of a favored escort service, suggest a few hookers directly or indicate a place where the conventioneers might try their own luck. “When I’m asked,” he says, “I always suggest the Forge. There’s more body contact in that place. Most guys come back with something from the lounge there.”

Then there are the streets. Over in Miami, on Biscayne Boulevard between 79th and 163rd streets, it may not quite match New York’s “Minnesota Strip,” but it has become a kind of combat zone on wheels. Beginning with the evening rush hour, one sees dusky ladies in hot-pants and halters constantly cruising the sidewalks, many of them mere girls but already hardened pros.

This is the world of $20 head jobs in the seat of your car, or $30-$70, plus the price of a room, for a full fuck in one of the seedy elephant’s-graveyard motels. It is high-risk territory: If the fuzz doesn’t get you, the pimps can. But it has its attractions. Sally, a 21-year-old from Nashville, has apparently found her niche. “I won’t quit,” she says. “It’s more than a habit. Only it does get crowded down here in the winter. But why work the fucking freezing streets of Chicago when there’s Miami?”


GAYS

If it weren’t for Anita Bryant, you probably wouldn’t know that Miami is home to one of the larger homosexual communities in America (usually estimated to be fifth largest, after New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington). Until the spirit moved the orange-juice queen to fight gay rights on her home turf in 1977, there was only passing interest among Dade County straights in the growing gay world in their midst. Gays, like many other Miami immigrants, lived happily if obscurely in the sun and sand and nobody bothered them.

Anita changed all that. One of her great achievements was to galvanize the gays of Dade County into a political force. “People began to relate to each other in more than a social way,” says Bruce Fitzgerald, editor of the Miami-based Blueboy, the largest homosexual magazine in the country.

A gay-rights political war chest of $350,000 was not enough to keep on the Miami lawbooks a new ordinance banning employment and housing discrimination because of “affectional and sexual preference.” Two Miami television stations (channels ten and seven) refused to sell commercial time to the gays, even though they had enlisted actor Ed Asner, who did spots suggesting that if you repress gays, think what could happen to Jews and other minorities. The spots blatantly appealed to Jewish memory of anti-Semitic housing covenants that kept Jews out of many Miami Beach hotels until 1947. On polling day, June 7, 1977, the gays lost badly: 208,504 to 92,212.

For all the ballyhoo, gays are not a conspicuous part of the Miami landscape. Even Coconut Grove is less obviously gay than certain neighborhoods of Atlanta and Washington.

Club Miami on Coral Way, the city’s largest gay bath, claims no fewer than 9000 members (it costs only five dollars to join but three dollars to eight dollars per visit thereafter). Owner Jack Campbell, who has 40 such clubs around the country, says his clientele includes “a lot of married men who come by in their spare time.” Other gay watering holes include the Hamlet Bar in Coconut Grove, the Cactus Lounge on Biscayne Boulevard, Uncle Charlie’s Downtown disco in Miami and The Copa in Fort Lauderdale. Key West, the acknowledged capital of laid-back, has been a gay haven for years. It is only three hours away by car.

The Metropolitan Community Church, organized in 1968, has 100 signed gay members. One gay synagogue (reform), Congregation Etz Chaim, claims 40 members after four years; many more attend their services. Gays, like other Miamians, are involved in all kinds of recreation; there are at least two gay motorcycle clubs. There are always well-kept bikes parked in front of the Hamlet in the Grove.

Some ugliness has crept into the gay scene. Miami has in the past two years rapidly become one of the capitals of open male prostitution, primarily young boys (“chickens”) hanging on street corners while older men cruise the area looking for a $20 blow job. The male-prostitution scene on the sea wall near the Cactus Lounge at 21st Street and Biscayne Boulevard has become so intense that female hookers who once worked the area have shifted farther north. In a recent ten-part television series, channel-seven reporter Carmel Cafiero discovered that many of the boys are runaways who are literally living on the streets (some keep a blanket and pillow in the bushes nearby) and offering their bodies for subsistence money. A state-government report showed that three of four teenaged prostitutes in Florida today are males.

Summary: How, finally, should we characterize Miami? At times it seems like a suburb of New York, by way of Atlantic City, in search of Las Vegas. The night life is sufficient, if not sophisticated. The moral climate is like the physical one: warm, relaxed and sensuous. Miami is the model for the American dream: It’s where you go if you’ve earned a vacation and it’s where you retire if you’ve lived the proper life. It’s a good place to get it on.


Editor’s note: Sex in America is a major research and reporting task with one goal. playboy wants to determine the sexual temperature of the country’s major cities. We are curious about the quality of life and love in the various regions of the nation. Our curiosity is in part prompted by the 1973 Supreme Court decisions on pornography. In Miller vs. California, the Burger Court ruled that sexual matters were no longer the concern of the national Government. Henceforth, all obscenity cases were to be determined by local community standards. Never mind that no one knew what a local community standard was or where one could be obtained. In the five years since the Miller decision, not much thought has been given to that elusive creation of the Court. playboy has decided to take up where the Supreme Court left off. If sex is not a guaranteed freedom for all, then can we at least create a map of the safe zones? Our teams have investigated Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and New York in an effort to determine the local community standards of those cities. We will publish those reports in the forthcoming months.