The sexiest part of an affair is where it begins.
You know what the middle looks like, hotel-sheeted and ultimately routine, and you know the way it will end, but where and how it began is always a little surprising.
Historically, powerful men with slavering appetites have mainly acquired their girlfriends the way a pair of pants gathers lint—rather incidentally. Bill Clinton and his intern. JFK and his secretaries, his stewardess. Collecting a mistress in this way seems, as everything does in the past, more innocent. An abundant young woman wears a daring dress to the office party, and catches the president’s eye.
At the other end of the infidelity spectrum, there is the escort, the call girl. From Charlie Sheen to Eliot Spitzer, famous men since the dawn of arousal have valued the sex professional. She is discreet and it is a transaction and there is the added benefit of selection. The office intern might have caught your eye, but if you’d had it your way, you might have requested her trimmer around the center.
Within the unblushing batch of Tiger Woods’s alleged mistresses, about whom we now know nearly every freckled detail, there exist both extremes: ladies of convenience, like Mindy Lawton, the waitress who served Woods and his wife breakfast at a diner near their home, and high-priced call girls like Loredana Jolie Ferriolo, who had to Google the player to find out who he was.
Both methods of slaking the hunger have their pros and cons. Men like to hunt, and there is no need to hunt a prostitute. Men like to cheat without strings, and you can’t stop a civilian from falling in love. 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.
He met at least nine of the fifteen women in or around nightclubs: Kalika Moquin was a marketing manager at the Bank in Las Vegas, which is also where he met onetime cocktail waitress and full-time clubgoer Jamie Jungers. He met Julie Postle when she was a cocktail waitress in Orlando. Cori Rist at a nightclub in Manhattan. Holly Sampson met him through a mutual friend who is also a club promoter. These are not cases of eyes locking across a crowded dance floor. That’s not the way someone like Tiger Woods goes out. Instead, special introductions are made. Girls are brought into his orbit by nightclub managers and directors of marketing and promoters and waitresses and owners. They are selected and then delivered.
The most famous of Woods’s alleged mistresses is Rachel Uchitel, who occupies a position of power in this strobe network of girls and money and celebrity. As VIP concierge and director of VIP hospitality at Tao in Vegas and at Dune in Southampton and at the Griffin, Marquee, Stanton Social, and Pink Elephant in Manhattan, she was the ambassador of client desire.
Her job was born out of the culture of bottle service. The concept of paying for a whole bottle of alcohol and sitting at a table originated in Europe and grew a tail in the States in the early nineties, at New York clubs Life and Chaos. But it didn’t stick until 2001, when bottle service became the new way of gaining entry into a world that had previously not been for sale. You no longer had to be an Andy Warhol descendant to party at a place like Bungalow 8; you could be Joe Banker or Joe Banker’s son with his father’s credit card. And the staffers changed, too. Cocktail waitresses evolved from out-of-work actresses into Penthouse Pet–level creatures who sparred with their co-workers for client gratuities by expanding their breadth of service. Their take-home pay skyrocketed from $300 a night to $3,000 banner shifts. With the volume of VIP clients growing and the number of tables quadrupling, the need for organization spawned the creation of the VIP host, someone who could be trusted with the biggest clients.
In Las Vegas, at the Bank, Woods’s club of choice, a host would meet him at the door and walk him to his table on the second or third floor. From his perch high above the dance floor and flanked by superstar friends like Michael Jordan, Woods could look over the balcony and say, Oh, that table of pretty girls there, bring them up. The nightclub has become a smorgasbord. All you have to do is point and ask.