The Joaquin Phoenix Moment

He’s won the Globe. He’s won the SAG. He’s probably gonna win the Best Actor Oscar for Joker, too.

Not bad for a guy who, not a decade ago, had quit acting to focus on a rapping career, of all things, while sporting black sunglasses on a full face o’ scraggly beard and wearing $3,000-dollar fucking suits, per his own descriptive once upon a time…in Miami Beach. It happened late one night 11 Marches ago. Late on a Wednesday night. After midnight. Well after midnight. Because all good things and nothing good happens after midnight in the 305.

Joaquin Phoenix made an appearance at LIV the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

Willem Dafoe, Joaquin Phoenix & Casey Affleck, Martin Haro. Miami Beach, 3.12.09
Once upon a time…in Miami Beach. LIV, 3.12.09

A young, yet mysterious entourage trailed him everywhere. Leading them was his then-brother-in-law Casey Affleck, whom I suppose now probably has or had the opposite shot of moi, of the pic above 👆🏽👆🏽👆🏽, somewhere in his digital library. They were filming, snappin’ everything, quietly hyping shit up. All for the documentary I’m Still Here. Which was marred in post and scandal, if memory serves, and later factored in Affleck’s #MeToo moment.

Anyway. Ingrid Casares was there with some friends. Willem Dafoe, in town for the Miami International Film Festival, held court as well. I was there because Us Weekly had asked me to check it out, so I grabbed a friend and we went to the club to wait and see what would shake. People thought that the guy needed a shower and wondered whether he was doing a Geico commercial. “He looks like a fancy caveman!” a partygoer said.

At around 1 a.m., the production crew started to set up a few cameras on and around the club’s stage. Half an hour-ish later, Affleck captured a moment between Phoenix and Dafoe in a skybox near where we’d been hanging. The Gladiator star clutched a bottle of water and smoked a cigarette during the visit, after which everyone cleared out, and he sat on a couch, looking down on the crowd all pensive and shit, with Affleck grabbing some close-ups.

Finally, around 1:50, he finally made his way to the stage, took the mic, and opened his mouth to rap-sing. Or som’in’.

Joaquin Phoenix, Martin Haro. Miami Beach, 3.12.09
MC Phoenix at LIV. 3.12.09

Dude was barely audible and fairly incomprehensible.

As he wrapped that ditty up, he started to call out someone in the crowd. Next thing he’s yelling out “Bitch!” and dropping the price tag on his suit, acting all heckled and shit. And then, he jumped off stage and into the crowd like, ready to throw down. Security rushed in behind him, and the crowd chanted, “Joaquin! Joaquin! Joaquin!”

And then, performance over. Phoenix was taken backstage, and the DJ played M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.”

Pure theatre.

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