I promised myself that I wouldn’t comment on the Tiger Woods drama. Let Blondie deal with that, right? Because at the end of the day, guess what? A maderized Tiger and his boo will still be making more money than the celebrity cormorants who dedicate the sacred ink to finding out what type of tampons Julia Roberts uses - and us, their devoted followers. (Maderized is a wine term describing when the wine has been exposed to a long period of oxidation and usually heat. With the exception of Madeira, this can cause the wine to, well, stank).
Tiger’s not thinking about me or you, so why spend quality sipping-time commiserating the pangs and woes of married women who at the very worst, drown their sorrows in a sea of Dom Pérignon-stained, Egyptian cotton pillows. But, my friend - Heaven just wouldn’t let it go, our conversation as uninspiring as the 2006 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Petite Sirah we were sipping. It’s not a bad wine. It was like a rhythm-less lap dance - dry, no energy. But then I read the New York Magazine cover story entitled “The Half-Hooker Economy,” and suddenly the Tiger drama got more interesting.
The story is about the bottle service culture and the women and men who define it. Money-drenched men like Tiger go into certain clubs and lounges and get to be treated like Old Testament kings with their lustrous concubine services. Bottle girls (a.k.a Half-Hookers) are like VIP hosts and are expected to treat their clients with sommelier-meets-stripper style. In some cases, these ladies even sign confidentiality contracts. I wonder what’s in those contracts: I solemnly swear not to talk or write about or make any miscellaneous income as a result of discussing the mole at the tip of “Blank Celebrity’s” penis.
“They push Champagne because it goes faster than vodka, and they steer them away from Veuve/Moët and toward Krug/Cristal,” writes Lisa Taddeo, regarding one of her 26-year-old Bottle Girl-interviewees who is using the fake name - Kim. “Kim was making between $1,000 and $3,000 a night in tips.”
The article goes on to talk about “Bottle Hookering” where Kim says she makes upward of $1,500 a night and that she didn’t even have to sleep “with him.” Then, there are special services like a $100 for a handy, $150 for a BJ, $200 for doin’ it. Kim, however, charges $400 for a bottle of Grey Goose, $300 for Veuve and $700 for Cristal. Is that with or without a BJ?
Then, there’s the story about a Bottle Girl going to Haze in Las Vegas and getting a $30,000 tip on top of the automatic 20 percent gratuity. This bottle service client’s bill was $182,000. According to Kim, a girl can make up to $100,000 a year, working just three nights a week. (Wonder what our local South Beach Bottle Hoes are making?)
I know some of you are passing judgment right now, snarling in your wretched cubicles and offices, wondering why the hell you have a Master’s Degree and bust your ass to pay for a house you barely get to sleep in. Me, too.
I’m in sommelier school right now, and I have to admit that when I read this article, I felt really sheepish. Am I ever going to make $30,000 in one night without offering my client a “BJ” with the 1956 Château Lafite Rothschild? (The sommelier is the dude or dudette you see in a high-end restaurant or wine bar, mulling over wine lists, opening bottles in that forensic scientist-sort of way. Some of you have felt brushed off by the sommelier. Some of you are intimidated by the sommelier’s grapy, intellectual prowess. And yes, some are socially constipated. But, they’re just people. They fart and bleed like the rest of us. And believe it or not, they work hard. It is impossible to capture the 7,000 year-plus history that is wine in one lifetime, let alone in one mind, and yet, the sommelier is expected to know it all).
And yes, half-hooking has its down side. Who wants to flirt with a clammy, blotchy, Gollum-meets-Woody Allen-esque client much less let him touch you? But what about the trips, the financial freedom, the late mornings, the three-hour yoga sessions?
Heaven tells me it’s not worth it, takes her last sip then staggers off to her stagecoach that will take her to an ugly, overpriced, doorman-less condo where she won’t get any sleep because she’s worried about her boss (a bottle service refugee) who cleverly brushes up against her ass accidentally on purpose - for free.
A dame, a bottle and a story.