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Regine's Last Stand

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She pulls open the heavy door to her walk-in humidor and starts reciting the engraved names off hundreds of locked boxes: "Michael Caine, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, George Hamilton, Matt Dillon, August Busch IV, Wilt Chamberlain. Last night, all of them come here," she says, kicking off her brown suede pumps to do a little cha-cha in stockinged feet. All? "All! It was crazy!"

But tonight is a little less crazy. Tonight, the club is full of young men in shiny Armani jackets with their arms looped around blonde dates, spooning caviar and smoking cigars. They have not been to any of her clubs in Saint-Tropez or Paris, but their parents and grandparents have told them stories about watching Brigitte Bardot samba the night away at Regine's club in Monte Carlo, about the sets Julio Iglesias would start at 2 A.M. in the São Paulo Regine's. "I don't care what they are doing out there with this Super Bowl," she says. "Rubirosa, one of my great lovers, taught me the savoir-faire of the nightlife: People want to see you, let them come to the club to see you -- with their money. You never go to another club."

So that means that, tonight, she will clink snifters of the club's infamous "Drop Your Pants and Forget Your Name" punch and lead a table of eight in the chorus of LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade." All around her, customers speak rapidly in the Romance language of their choice: "I'm fluent in five languages: French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Spanish," explains a ruddy-faced 25-year-old investment banker from Rio, chewing on a Cohiba. "Yeah, right," jokes his friend, the son of a Greek shipping magnate, spearing a piece of salmon. "More like Drunk, Wasted, Blitzed, English, and Cell Phone."

Tonight, there are no friends like Charlie Chaplin or Gene Kelly to sweep Regine across the floor in a tango, no magnums of Moët to share with Aly Khan or toreador El Cortebez, no Niarchoses hanging around for impromptu spaghetti feasts cooked up around 4 A.M. en plein air at the Monte Carlo Jimmy'z, no scrambled eggs with caviar prepared at dawn for princesses of Monaco made ravenous by hours of dancing the twist.

All through the night, Regine pops up throughout the club, smiling, dancing, air-kissing, pouring champagne. But at 4 A.M., she disappears. A gray-haired manager pulls me outside, toward a running black Jeep with tinted windows. "I am only going home because of you," says Regine, pulling her legs into the car as though they aren't connected to her body. "Every other night, I am still crazy."


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