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Ethnography

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A Fannypackahontas Bought Her Outfit for $24 in Trinkets

Species: The Fannypackahontas. Etymology: A Fannypackahontas takes her fashion cues from a tribe that is clearly not her own (unless of course she's actually one-sixteenth something or other); she steals her look and style from Native Americans, making her a latter-day Peter Minuit. (Haven't these people suffered enough?) Distinguishing characteristics: Fannypackahontases wear, well, fanny packs, a trend that should never have been resurrected. Unlike your grandmother's nylon sack, however, this one is all leather and sterling silver, even with studs, baby. The unfortunate placement of the fringe is intentional: Fannypacks worship one other idol, and that is Samantha from Sex and the City. The blonde hair, the come hither stance, the completely sheer top (and that is a top, not a dress), the exposed nips — this girl knows what she wants and, damn it, she wants it now. We should note that these women do have one thing going for them: great shoes. Known locales: Kokopelli, loading up on more bangles; Rodeo bar. Diet: Dakota bison burgers, anything with cactus in it, peyote. How to approach: "So, what's in your pack?" Of course, you probably don't want to know. Endangerment status: At risk. Remember what happened to the Lenape? —Amina Akhtar

A Corey Keeps Dreaming a Little Dream

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Species: The Corey Etymology: Coreys, named after eighties stars Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, are a confused mash-up of the decade that refuses to die — much like their namesakes' drug habits. Distinguishing characteristics: Coreys always travel in packs of two and divide themselves along the H/F line: One is a Haim (left), the other a Feldman (right). Notice Haim's short curly hair, super-skinny legs, and piercing eyes. Feldman, the larger of the two specimens, is the wilder one. His hair is more unkempt, his wardrobe even more confused: leggings, boots, bedazzled cropped jacket. The two Coreys can't keep their clothing genres straight and instead try to pay homage to their one good decade. Known locales: Luca Lounge, hoping to get a glimpse of the real deal; Coney Island, hunting for vampires. Diet: Blow and booze (pre-hab, natch). How to approach: While Coreys may look intense, they're actually very sweet and affable. Haim is generally the nicer of the two. But to win Feldman over, just talk about him. All night. Endangerment status: At risk. Three words for you: Death by stereo. —Amina Akhtar

Gypsy-Tramp-Thieves Want to Turn Back Time

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Species: The Gypsy-Tramp- Thief Etymology: Gypsy-tramp-thieves ill- advisedly take their wardrobe cues from Cher. From vintage Cher, it's true, but from Cher all the same. And you can't turn back time. Distinguishing characteristics: GTTs relive the glory days when Cher was still paired up with Sonny. Remember when Cher dressed up like a fortune teller on the duo's variety show? A GTT does. The silver bandana, puffy shirt, and Crayola-red lips can attest to that. A GTT lives in a world of fantasy, where high-waisted shorts seem a good idea. The superfluous belt adds a hippie flair — and unnecessary attention to her hips. GTTs' great secret, of course, is that though they can't style worth a damn, they do have great pieces. The shoes? We love 'em. The socks? Really?

A Norma Desmond Is Still a Star

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Species: The Norma Desmond Etymology: Norma Desmonds are aging performers whose time and has come and gone. They're still big; it's the nightlife scene that got small! Distinguishing characteristics: Normas are often surrounded by a crowd of older cougars — the comparison makes them look younger — and Viagra'd men who hang on their every word. They know how to play it up and show off their best assets — usually their legs, in a too-short dress. The hair is an unnatural hue that recalls Carrot Top. The first thing a Norma Desmond will tell you is that she’s in an upcoming film with a major star. IMDb will disagree. Known locales: The Pen-Top bar at the Peninsula; the Stone Rose, mingling with other ladies past their prime. Diet: Normas keep it old-school: Valium and Benzedrine. How to approach: "Are you in movies?" is the best way. Normas love to be recognized; their lives depend on it. Without some attention, they wilt. But once you get them talking about themselves, they won't stop. Run. Fast. Endangerment status: Slim. You might end up face-down in the pool, but she'll always be ready for her close-up. —Amina Akhtar

Mall Singers Could've Been Something Else

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Species: The Mall Singer
Etymology: Mall Singers make a desperate bid at coolness by trying to emulate more "hip" eighties styles — and failing, much like the ultimate mall singer, Tiffany Renee Darwish.
Distinguishing characteristics: Mall Singers, also known as Tiffanies, glom onto overly trendy concepts — in the case of the specimen at left, hot-pink tights, big silver belt, tunic top — and yet fall short of hitting their mark. They sport denim jackets in an ode to their leader, whom they last saw in Dayton, Ohio, in yes, 2006. Confused, Mall Singers have no real identity of their own and instead have it formed for them. (Think pre-fab boy bands.) The shoes? A last-ditch attempt at asserting their own style — and a cry for help.
Known locales: Culture Club; Winnie's, belting out Tiffany's greatest hit.
Diet: Who has time to eat when there are albums to promote?
How to approach: Mall Singers want nothing more than fame. Ask about their last appearance and they'll happily sign autographs, or talk for hours about Tiffany's hair. It's! Just! So! Pretty!
Endangerment status: Fragile. She thinks she's alone now. —Amina Akhtar

The Misshapen Are Party Kids With Day Jobs

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Species: The Misshapen Etymology: The Misshapen are ardent followers of pin-thin spinners Leigh, Greg, and Geordon, but they have one fatal flaw: day jobs. Distinguishing characteristics: Misshapens will always sport at least one terribly cool item. (In the sample at left, it's the overcoat.) But look closely and you’ll notice the perfectly pressed Dockers (a gift from mom, no doubt), and the sweater with a button-up underneath. It's workwear disguised as party gear, and, come 5 p.m., the shirttails rip right out. Misshapens are chameleons, not masters of the craft, but, gosh darn it, they try. Their greatest asset is their hair. In day hours, it remains carefully combed back; as night falls, it is artfully mussed. Known locales: Don Hill’s, Ruff Club at Annex, skulking around Leigh’s MySpace page hoping to be added as a friend. Diet: Vodka, Adderall (gotta stay thin, kids) How to approach: Unlike their idols, the Misshapens have yet to master a cool, cold façade. In fact, they’re as easy to talk to as a puppy dog. Friendly, smiling, pleasant … damn, it’s all a sham! Endangerment status: Er, are those fifteen minutes up yet? —Amina Akhtar

The Party Monster Is a Resilient Organism

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Your guide to the species of the nightlife habitat. Species: Party Monster Etymology: Party Monsters are leftover, aging club kids who can't quite wash away the glitter. Distinguishing characteristics: Spandex, and lots of it. Also lots of makeup and Manic Panic hair dye. Let’s not forget the vinyl, faux-exotic-skin leggings and Joan Collins shoulder pads. But, still, don’t let the saucy eye makeup fool you: This isn’t Limelight, circa 1996, and these aren’t Michael Alig’s boys. They could be, though, and that’s the beauty of Party Monsters. Known locales: Room Service, haunting the halls of NYU's Palladium dorm, looking for the ghosts of club kids past. Diet: White wine, vodka tonic (no calories if it's clear, bitches), Ecstasy. How to approach: Party Monsters are very friendly, and very keen on flattery. Compliment their hair, makeup, crotch bulge, or even pit stain and they’ll rub up against you like a kitten. But be warned — one wrong look and you may end up strangled to death. Endangerment Status: Moderate. Most of the population long ago evolved into regular grown-ups. There are now additional threats from the oh-so-confusing Gay Hipster. Skinny, pale, and unwashed, you just never can tell… —Amina Akhtar

A Tubbs-and-Crockette Can Actually Pull Off a Boxy Blazer

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Your guide to the species of the nightlife habitat. Species: Tubbs-and-Crockette Etymology: Specimens rock the Miami Vice look — and, remarkably, get away with it. Distinguishing characteristics: Though males are more often sighted than females, the rare female Tubbs-and-Crockette is occasionally spotted with its telltale plumage: pastels and an oversize blazer. Though men in such attire rarely achieve the look they want (fierce, drug-lord busting, gun-toting hotness), women are more successful. Notice the white pants, the pale pink button-up, and the boxy fit of the jacket. The specimen in the photo, however, suffers from one mutation: Her lack of loafers worn without socks. Known locales: Running along the waterfront, looking for drug boats; the Diner Diet: Mojitos How to approach: Fierce creatures, Tubbs-and-Crockettes are terrifying to behold. Tread lightly — they could be packing. But after sending over a cocktail or three, you'll get off with a smirk. If you ask nicely enough, she may even frisk you. Endangerment status: Fragile. In the immortal words of their leader, Sonny Crockett: "You want to be dead? Bang, you're dead." —Amina Akhtar

A Guide to Recognizing Your Partygoers: A Brenda Walsh Is Best Avoided

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Your guide to the species of the nightlife habitat. Species: Brenda Walshes Etymology: Hipsters attempting to dress like the 90210 character. Ironically, of course. Distinguishing characteristics: Brenda Walshes derive all their power from blinding people with tacky accessories. Examples include denim vests, like those last seen on George Michael circa Wham, and brown chapeaus, in homage to both the Amish and John Hughes's flicks. A typical pièce de résistance, however, is the wallpaper-like floral explosion tights, which at first glance give the appearance of lesions. Known locales: Lit, Drop Off Service, the Bedford Mini-Mall. Diet: Sex on the Beach. Also ironically. How to approach: Brendas are a very dangerous breed. As their famous fictional counterpart so gloriously demonstrated, a hello can quickly lead to a catfight. Warning signs include eye rolling, sighing, blowing of the bangs, crossing arms, and, most dangerous, the raise of one eyebrow while pursing the lips. Whenever possible, avoid Brendas all together. Endangerment status: Fragile. Easily replaced by a more attractive Kelly Kapowski. —Amina Akhtar

A Guide to Recognizing Your Partygoers: Introducing the Lady Sovereignettes

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Your field guide to the species of nightlife habitat. Species: Lady Sovereignettes Etymology: Mini-clones of their idol, British rapper Lady Sovereign. Distinguishing characteristics: Easily identified by their high side ponytails, Lady Sovereignettes are unofficial parts of any rapper's army of pint-size wannabes. Often seen sporting large gold earrings or fake diamonds, shod in white Adidas sneakers (like their famous leader), and wearing oversize white tees with tribal designs, and, unadvisedly, leggings. Known locales: Fulton Street Mall, Hip Hop Karaoke at the Knitting Factory. Diet: White Castle slyders and Doritos. How to approach: Though they appear to be threatening, Lady Sovereignettes are quite docile and harmless. They front well, but give one a good head petting and she'll be purring like a kitten. Don't try to touch the ponytail at first, however — a savage scratch will be in order. Smile, say hello, and compliment her loud shirt before any attempt at touching. Endangerment status: With their leader proving insufficiently popular to dominate in the wild, these creatures will have to change their camouflage to survive. Likely to morph into Amy Winehouse imitators within three months. —Amina Akhtar