Talk is cheap. Silence can get expensive. The New York Magazine article ‘Rachel Uchitel is Not a Madam‘ by Lisa Taddeo is the talk of the town and spot on. For an outsider to gain such access and insight is amazing. As the story developed, club moguls called me to get the story on Lisa. I made it clear I was talking to her and I felt in my bones she could be trusted. Most opted not to chat with her but there were many who did. The result is a story that, in my opinion, properly describes the conditions in bottle service clubs that led to the Tiger Woods scandal. It was great to hear Rachel’s side of things. When Lisa told me she was talking to her, I realized that this piece was going to be real. Whether Ms. Uchitel was paid to be quiet is subject to much speculation. I actually don’t care. Consenting adults can do what they want, say or not say what they want, as long as they let the slobbering public have a peek once in awhile. The Uchi-Woods scandal is the tip of an iceberg that could take down the Titanic, the 6th Fleet and half of Clubdom, if it exposed all the other gents doing the exact same thing. The most unforgivable thing Tiger did was to make me feel sorry for him.
When I walk through a serious club and I see the Arab business types or the real estate heirs or the celebrities, I don’t write about it. First of all I don’t do gossip…much. Secondly, if I did, I wouldn’t be considered a ‘friend to the club’ when I came through. It’s not that I’m gagged, but there is an understanding that the thing that real clubs are selling is more than booze, music and accessibility to fine looking loose women. The most cherished commodity is confidentiality. The big spenders must believe that their free spending on not so free women and seriously expensive booze will not be all over the gossip rags tomorrow. That’s the reason a Brittany Mendenhall or a Justin Ross Lee get into broohaha’s every so often. They’re often considered loose cannons and therefore a danger to a system which supports a global network of nightclubs.
Nightclubs are no longer the sole domain of guys like Rick from Casablanca or dudes like me. The lone wolf with a dubious past, a quick one-liner and access to the important guys and dolls, now works within a corporate structure which precludes them (and me). The high price of bottled booze pays for impossibly high rents, insurance, legal teams and the salaries of door people, promoters and bottle hosts who bring in the money guys. In Casablanca, the Peter Lorre character gives Bogie the important papers even though he knows Bogie despises him. What Bogart has is his word. The word of the proprietor today is one of the fundamental things that still apply as time goes by. The married baller, broker or lawyer must leave the club knowing that what has transpired will not be revealed. What happens in New York nightclubs must stay in New York nightclubs.
Lisa Taddeo got it right. The part about trusting the girls… the proven temptress, the ones who will not talk was so well put:
“To be a girl who is trusted, you need a track record of having slept with famous men and not talked about it. It’s an unwritten résumé. Talking about anything that goes on at the clubs is called “burning the athlete” or “burning the celebrity.” Privacy is prized invaluably in an age when the National Enquirer performs police-quality stakeouts and the video capabilities of cell phones have turned every banquette kiss into a YouTube trailer. It’s a wonder celebrities think they can get away with cheating, but if they do, it’s because of people like Uchitel. People who understand the value of future returns”
Right up front in her title block she says:
And the bottle girls who work at clubs are not prostitutes. As Tiger Woods’s very public escapades through the 21st-century courtesan economy suggest, it’s all much more complicated than that.
There are plenty of hot girls you can pay for. These women advertise quite openly in magazines and online. Every so often, someone’s locked up with a big show in the papers to let you know it’s still illegal. Society’s shocked when a powerful man is caught with his pants down and socks still on, but we all know it’s happening every day. Tiger just got tanked. It could have been a lot of people. The hookers have their charms, and the more you pay, the more considerable they are. Former pimp to the scene Jason Itzler (who also contributed to the article) was the genius who realized that most men figure they’re always paying for the sex in some way or another. He advertised the girlfriend experience (GFE),. This meant his girls made their ‘Johns’ feel like they weren’t hookers but their fantasy girlfriends. Jason made a killing.
There’s an old joke about the difference between sex in NY and LA. In NY, you ‘get some’ after dinner and a movie. In LA, you skip the movie. This is funny because, like most jokes it has some truth in it. Buying a hooker is simple and easy. The Johns who buy the booty nowadays often want it to seem more like a natural relationship. The club bottle experience is direct competition to the pimps and madams. The spender sees his love, talks to her, whispers in her ear and it’s done. He can actually leave the experience feeling in his very small heart that she likes him…a little. In a sense, it’s a new form of romanticism. The John gets the illusion of being loved for being himself and success makes him the stud attracting the babe. His triumphant mind is always working, and figures it costs him the same money as the call girl. The added value is that his ego (that ever present commodity with successful men) is satisfied that he didn’t have to pay for it. As for the girls, they’re just connecting or having fun doing what you do when you live in New York and, “John is so nice”. In a few years they’ll grow too old to be relevant to these fellas, but the hope is by that by then, they’ll finish school and get a great job with a connection they’ve made, or marry rich or move back home with loot and the hot ex-model boyfriend. Lisa had it right, it’s as complicated as any machine with thousands of moving parts and dreams can be .
I caught up with Lisa and asked her what she came away with. She answered, “It’s easy to denigrate the bottle waitresses. It’s easy to be high-horsed about anything that’s less 9 to 5 than what many of us think ‘normal’ is, but the truth is that nightlife is its own microcosm with its own set of rules and morals and good times or bad times. Like PR or fashion design or any other, I came away from my research intrigued by the world, but no less respectful of its moving parts.” Great job, Lisa.