Way back in the medieval dinosaur days of June 2008, BlackBook started an innocent interview series focused on personalities in the nightlife, dining, and hospitality industries called “Industry Insiders.” By way of (at the time) purely coincidental circumstances, the first person we interviewed was a VIP hostess named Rachel Uchitel. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?
I certainly didn’t think much of the interview at the time. Other than servicing rich folks and celebs in New York and Vegas, Uchitel’s main interesting backstory was her status as a 9/11 widow. That gave her a certain counter-intuitive gravitas, if only in the mind of the observer (Uchitel herself was past talking about it much). Her Q&A was fair to middling and generated mild traffic at best.
What a difference a sexually indiscreet year makes! In late 2009, Uchitel became the central Other Woman in the Tiger Woods scandal d’amour. Since we have decent SEO and Uchitel has an unusual name, our otherwise blah profile of her was, for several days, the top Google result for interested searchers. The sudden surge in traffic broke our server into tiny, squealing pieces. After applying forty rolls of virtual duct tape, we managed to get everything back online again. And while other media outlets hounded us for comment and perspective on a woman we seemed to know more about than anyone (we didn’t), I remembered that I still had Uchitel’s email address and cellphone number.
Home for the Thanksgiving holidays, I left her a message, largely as a goof. I had zero faith she would even remember our conversation, much less respond. Instead she emailed immediately, asking me to call her back in ten minutes. Thus we managed to run the first actual quotes from Uchitel since the scandal broke.
I talked to her for about half an hour. She had not yet lawyered up, but had obviously been schooled a little about what she could and should say. In sum she denied everything, while slagging the various girls who were ratting her out about the affair with Woods. She encouraged me — mysteriously, without really saying anything specific — to check into their sordid backgrounds, to question their motivations for selling their stories, and so on. Afterward, she emailed trying to get me to take down the original story: “a pr girl in vegas wrote all that for me and ow it just looks bad take out of context [sic all]”. I said, hells no (watching our rising site analytics with my other eyeball). Poor Vegas PR ghostwriter girl. Then Uchitel wanted to change the coquettish picture from the original post to a (slightly?) more wholesome image of her sitting on steps with dogs: “can u change that picture at least in the new article.. that is a more scandalous pic that the one of me and the dogs … stick with the dogs one . that one looks like the part they are trying to pin me as.”
I didn’t believe her at all. I suspected she had in fact slept with Woods, and her ex-friends were indeed selling the scandal, though it probably wasn’t quite as juicy as the scandal-sellers would have their buyers believe. The choice details of uncontrollable sexting and flaunting her Woodsian prospects to one and all seemed a bit crazy. But people having sex with celebrities sometimes do crazy things.
Regardless, here we are now, and Uchitel has a bit part in the fourth season of a reality show that’s pretty far down the ass-end of even that disreputable scale. She’s certainly making bank off her notoriety (she’s on the “rehab” show as a “love addict,” which apparently hasn’t yet made it into the DSM). So it doesn’t look like she’s particularly interested in distancing herself from the spotlight, or her tawdry place in it.
More to the point, last month Uchitel “broke her silence” about the Tiger Woods affair in an interview with the Daily Mail. Widely characterized as Uchitel’s moment of finally copping to the romp and related silence-buying financial settlement, in strictest technical terms, it is neither of those things. None of Uchitel’s quotes actually have her admitting to the affair or the payoff; the closest she comes is voicing regret about an affair with a married man. “That could be an affair with any married man!” argues Uchitel’s lawyer in my head, defending his client from Woods’ lawyers in my head, since the latter would naturally want their hush money back if Uchitel actually admitted to anything in public.
But it would be beyond naive to doubt the affair now, or the money Woods paid for an extremely abstract level of plausible public deniability. Let’s just come out and say it, shall we? Rachel Uchitel slept with Tiger Woods while he was married. Then she lied about doing so, to me and everybody else. Then she got paid to be very slightly quiet about only the very central point of what is, by now, the obvious truth to everyone.
And I just want to say to Rachel — thank you very much for lying. You played your part expertly and much more methodically than Tiger’s other paramours. You get to have it both ways! Woods paid you very, very handsomely to keep “quiet” about something that’s openly acknowledged worldwide, and you can leverage that for TV parts and god knows what other opportunities. Furthermore, I can point out your lies, and Tiger Woods’ lies, by omission or otherwise, secure in the knowledge that both of you have a vested interest in grinning and taking it. Because if you challenge anyone who calls you out for lying, you jeopardize your financially constructed alternate reality bubbles.
So please don’t think I take umbrage at your lies. Quite the contrary! In addition to the generous traffic bumps your story provided, it’s a relief when a source brazenly lies to your face, because then you don’t feel at all bad about mocking their previously private communications. In other words, once you bullshit me, all bets are off (and on the record). And I absolutely don’t endorse the frothing horde of judgmental prudes and golf fans who wanted to torch you for being a whore or other such 18th-century peasant clamoring. After all, one of the other interesting pieces of content I … happened across during all this is a stash of topless photos of Uchitel, and I ain’t running those.
Anyways, I can’t imagine any of this will much trouble Uchitel, as she can always stop up her ears with wads of Tiger Woods’ money. Perhaps Celebrity Rehab can also help her get over her addiction to fibbing.