After a good 4 hours of playing around with different ways to get at the acursed slave cylinder, my 16v is back together.
For those who come after me, here what finally worked.
1. Remove the exhaust pipes from the car, but you can leave the headers.
2. Unfasten the heat shield that goes between the headers and the firewall. This will flop around and annoy you constantly unless you tie it up with a clothes hanger.
3. Unfasten the hard line coming out of the master cylinder where it joins the soft line which connects to the hard line going around the top of the transmission.
4. Using all the manual dexterity you possess, unscrew the two bolts connecting the slave cylinder to the bell housing. A 'Rachet Wrench' helped considerably.
5. Take the slave cylinder, with the hard line still attached, out the top of the engine compartment. I think we ended up with the slave cylinder down between the headers before the line had enough clearance, but trust me, it works.
We had to cut a wrench in half to reach the bleed screw after we put the beast back together. The most important thing is to remember that it can be done.
For sheer frustration, not even the oil thermostat comes close to this one-its like trying to bite your own ear off.