In New York, the current clubs for the rich and famous and those who want to meet them are 1Oak, Avenue, Provocateur, and SL. Rose Bar and Boom Boom Room don’t do bottle service and are thus considered on the outskirts of its culture, though the latter, with its notoriously tough door policy, is the most exclusive late-night venue in town. Greenhouse, Juliet, Tenjune, and the rest are middle-of-the-road. Former hot spot Marquee is virtually off the radar for the cool crowd, having been all but replaced by its owners—Noah Tepperberg and former Uchitel beau Jason Strauss—with Avenue. Clubs have a short life span, and generally the owners of one that’s gone stale will open another instead of revamping the old, keeping the old one around to make money off the people who couldn’t get in when it was hot.
On a recent Thursday night around 2 a.m., 1Oak is packed. The tables, U-booths near the D.J., are spotted with candles and spired with bottles of Grey Goose. Under the jaundiced glow of the spotlights, there are hands on rears and girls in small dresses and men in shiny striped shirts. They have carefully chosen their clothes and they have spent time in front of mirrors trimming hair from nostrils and tonight is about sex and status and supply and demand and have and have not. After Jay-Z and Lady Gaga have had their third and fourth plays of the evening, thumping up from the floor comes the Kings of Leon, their song “Use Somebody.” The general-admission crowds dance, and the table crowds dance a little more woodenly, a little more entitledly, with their finger pads on their tables. The promoters are dancing with the models and the waitresses are dancing with the bottles and everybody finds a place on the floor.
The floor people, they are just to fill the place up. The celebrities and the athletes and the tycoons are the ones for whom this world is zealously designed. A rung below in after-work pinstripes are the money guys, the Deutsche guys and the Goldman guys and the no-name hedge-fund guys—the “whales”—guys like that one over there in a Boss suit and John Lobb shoes, standing beside the table that cost him $3,000. Standing very close to it, like a Little Leaguer who wants to steal second but has never done it before. This gentleman’s not dancing, but he’s thinking about it. Soon Beyoncé will call all the single ladies to action and they will channel toward him in a centripetal swoosh.
“I got invited to the Masters to host a radio show,” says Uchitel. “They offered me a house with a private chef.”
The women. Models at the top, near-models who have not made it yet—who have done a catalogue, maybe—are a step below, straight-haired and Louboutin-heeled, tanned and bored and exacting. These girls usually arrive with a promoter, someone hired by the club on a freelance basis to bring in a certain group of people. Indeed, nearly every job at a club is about bringing people in. There are hipster promoters who only bring in hipsters and model promoters who only bring in models, and some promoters daylight as male models. “There are mosquitoes, rats, gnats, leeches, agents, and then you have promoters,” says Steve Lewis. “A promoter is a glorified pimp. But then, everyone’s a pimp.” Some promoters don’t even refer to models as models. Lewis will often get texts that say, “I’ll be rolling deep with about a dozen hookers.”
Next in line are the cocktail waitresses—in the nightclub glossary, they are also called bottle waitresses, bottle girls—carrying Grey Goose and Cristal high above their heads. If you buy two or more bottles at once, they will sometimes deliver them with sparklers. So if you’re paying $2,400 for two $30 bottles of vodka, now the whole room will know. The models or near models will see the fireworks and float over, moths to green light. The bottle girls are so tired. You can tell when the sparklers light up their faces. Bottle waitresses don’t get excited for two bottles and a sparkler. Try ten bottles and a black AmEx.
Rachel Uchitel wants to make it very clear that she is not, nor was she ever, a bottle girl. “I don’t even know how to open a bottle.” These women are commodities, the type of girl who, in Uchitel’s opinion, might just as easily have wound up working in a strip club. “They know what they’re getting into,” she says. “They tell you up front, that they’re staffing model positions, like the shirtless guys outside of Abercrombie. And there are contracts about appearance.” No matter how beautiful, the bottle girls are told that there are thousands of girls waiting to replace them. They see them on the street. They see them in their clubs.