“But Woods found a way to enjoy the best of both worlds in one type of woman, a Venn diagram of sexual satisfaction. Most of his mistresses lived in a nebulous in-between world. Not prostitutes, no, but just about halfway there. As surely as he has changed the game of golf, so too has Woods exposed the grazing ground of the halfway-hooker, and her natural habitat, the nightclub.” -Lisa Taddeo, New York Magazine
From a line of great New York Magazine nightlife articles – “Power Girls,” “Make Moves Blow Up Get Paid,” and many others like it – comes this week’s “The Half Hooker Economy.” Like an Egyptian magician, Tiger Woods has not only ruined his image, but has turned bottle service waitresses into “halfway hookers,” promoters into “pimps,” and nightclubs into dens of sin and inequity (monikers that will, for the near future, be enjoyed by the media, the haters, and the self deprecators). Years ago, at the dawn of the Meatpacking District, I attended a birthday party for a prominent member of the nightlife elite. There were about 75 people there and Tiger was in attendance with Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Charles Oakley, and Charles Barkley. All the boys were getting after it that night – girls, booze, whatever else – but not Tiger. Like an innocent school girl he sipped his drink in the corner. I almost wanted to shake him and say “loosen up dude, life is good.” Well, we all know how that story ended. I guess someone shook him a little too hard.
As illustrated in Lisa Taddeo’s article/dramatic epic, in New York Magazine (link below), there are definitely some bottle service waitresses who are all-the-way hookers, blowjob hookers, coke whores, and, the new label, “halfway” hookers amongst other things. But with that said, not illustrated, there are exceptions to this rule and many incredible women who have blossomed from the world of nightlife. I personally know many actresses, chefs, teachers, mothers, fashion executives and other professional woman who at one time or another needed the Lucci provided by their looks and Cucci to help achieve their dreams. Sadly, many times this is not the case, and the vices of easy money and fast living take hold. Innocence and potential are lost, like watching life on fast forward.
I have less of an issue with natural selection than with the question – why are we acting as if this is something new? All of a sudden we are stunned at the mere mention of wild antics, baseless materialism, and the needs of the male ego. We are largely a failed species doomed to repeat the mistakes of Studio 54 and create more complex problems, just like our former friend Tiger. Since the beginning of time, beautiful women have been using their sexuality, eyes, asses, and smiles, to manipulate powerful men and separate them from their money. Helen of Troy was known as the “face that launched a thousand ships.” Her beauty brought about the Trojan War. If she moved a thousand ships, imagine how many Methusalem and Jeroboams of Dom P or PJ Rose she could have sold? Do I dare say that Rachel Uchitel is a modern day version of Helen of Troy? No, that would definitely be waxing poetic, but she is a far more appealing villain to look at, than say, Monica Lewinsky?
Rachel has always been nothing but cordial to me and even dated one of my friends. She was absolutely the best at what she did while she did it, although she was definitely known to be slightly unstable at times. As I learn more about her story, I am sure that the trauma of her loss in 9/11 greatly affected her everyday life, whether she knows it or not. Like the space-time continuum, this trauma has created an alternate Rachel, who has become the A-Rod or Michael Jordan, of the bottle service game. She just got the biggest contract in the history of bottle service waitressing – ten million dollars plus endorsements. In our screwed up society, Rachel is an undercover role model for the largest generation of gold diggers (GDs) ever to hit the streets. These girls don’t even know they are GDs; they are entitled and unrepentant, because they don’t know anything else. They grew up over 20 years of economic GO time, where bottle service, Bentleys, and Chanel ruled the world. Now things are changing and like Casey Johnson, whether they had the money or not, they are confused. They inevitably see a path to easy money and they take it, with little knowledge that they are giving up their soul and eventually will have to pay the price. The devil always collects.
A quick side note: amongst these GDs are tons of girls out there that aren’t bottle service waitresses or halfway hookers, but just hang around guys who purchase bottles and tables regularly. Does this make them quarter-way hookers or even three-quarter hookers? Is it better or worse that they are willing to hang out with guys who buy bottles and go home with them, opposed to serving them drinks and doing the same. What determines your level of “hookerishness” – whether you earn money, presents, or your intentions? Bottle service made pimps out of guys who otherwise wouldn’t get a second look, because of power and status. It makes me think of a Billy Joel lyric, “all you need are looks and a whole lot of money." Nowadays all you need is a table and a decent Facebook profile.
The problem for the nightlife and hospitality industry is that we will all miss bottle service if it ever goes away. Like an addict who drops his last hit in the toilet, we are destructing our gravy train. It is impossible to drive the kinds of revenues needed to support the clubs and all of their staff without bottle service, especially the way our spaces are currently built. Bartenders cannot physically ring in more than $3k to $4k in a night, so one table can easily surpass an entire bartender’s night of sales. I guess we could bring back the cover charge, but none of us want to spend years listening to people beg for comps, it just seems gauche and unsexy. I don’t think that bottle service is really going anywhere, especially in major markets. There seems to be plenty of wealthy men and boys, excited at the prospect of living big, even if only for a night. Having a table allows you a glimpse or taste of living the American Dream, without the work. I always say, being in this business, I would never buy a table, but make me a schnook sitting in the corner and my AmEx will fly out of my wallet into the hands of my “halfway hooker” (aka soon to be sister in law, mother of 3, or student at FIT).
When I was reading the New York Magazine article, I felt like bottle service and its excesses are the final frontier of a cultural 360. Rachel and Tiger are being nailed to the cross, until their eventual rebirth and salvation, her as an Extra correspondent and him as golf’s greatest ever. What does America love more than a comeback? The anger and blame of society’s ills has trickled down and we need victims, some deserving or some not. First we hated George Bush, then Wall St, then we loved Obama, now half of America hates Obama, and now we are overthrowing the privileged and eating their young. Tiger Woods, Lindsey Lohan, the list goes on and on. With its death rattle, the recession and cultural change is having dessert on bottle service and the lowly waitress. And then there was no one left.
So call them what you will, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this problem is new or you are any better than they are, they are just small time hustlers in the larger game of life.
CLICK HERE TO READ “THE HALFWAY HOOKER ECONOMY”
See you next time at Cocktail Hour, where more often than not one drink turns into ten and no one knows where and when the night will end.