My excellent Conversation with Ashley Mears

Tired of lockdown, pandemic, and rioting?  Here is a podcast on some of their polar opposites, conducted by “a bridge and tunnel guy” with an accomplished sociologist.  Here is the audio and transcript, here is the summary:

Ashley Mears is a former fashion model turned academic sociologist, and her book Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit is one of Tyler’s favorites of the year. The book, the result of eighteen months of field research, describes how young women exchange “bodily capital” for free drinks and access to glamorous events, boosting the status of the big-spending men they accompany.

Ashley joined Tyler to discuss her book and experience as a model, including the economics of bottle service, which kinds of men seek the club experience (and which can’t get in), why Tyler is right to be suspicious of restaurants filled with beautiful women, why club music is so loud, the surprising reason party girls don’t want to be paid, what it’s like to be scouted, why fashion models don’t smile, the truths contained in Zoolander, how her own beauty and glamour have influenced her academic career, how Barbara Ehrenreich inspired her work, her unique tip for staying focused while writing, and more.

Here is one excerpt especially dear to my heart:

COWEN: Let’s say I had a rule not to eat food in restaurants that were full of beautiful women, thinking that the food will be worse. Is that a good rule or a bad rule?

MEARS: I know this rule, because I was reading that when you published that book. It was when I was doing the field work in 2012, 2013. And I remember reading it and laughing, because you were saying avoid trendy restaurants with beautiful women. And I was like, “Yeah, I’m one of those people that’s actually ruining the food but creating value in these other forms because being a part of this scene and producing status.” So yeah, I think that’s absolutely correct.

And:

COWEN: I have so many naive, uninformed questions, but why is the music so loud in these clubs? Who benefits from that?

MEARS: Who benefits?

COWEN: I find the music too loud in McDonald’s, right?

MEARS: Clubs are also in this business of trying to manufacture and experience what Emile Durkheim would call this collective effervescence, like losing yourself in the moment. And that’s really possible when you’re able to tune out the other things, like if somebody is feeling insecure about the way they dance or if somebody is not sure of what to say.

Having really loud music that has a beat where everybody just does the same thing, which is nod to the beat — that helps to tune people into one another, and it helps build up a vibe and a kind of energy, so the point is to lose yourself in the music in these spaces.

And:

COWEN: Let’s say you sat down with one of these 20-year-old young women, and you taught them everything you know from your studies, what you know about bodily capital, sociological theories of exploitation. You could throw at them whatever you wanted. They would read the book. They would listen to your video, talk with you. Would that change their behavior any?

MEARS: I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so. They might not be too surprised even to learn that this is a job for promoters, and the promoters make money doing this. Most of them know that. They didn’t know how much money promoters are making. They don’t know how much money the clubs are making, but they know that they’re contributing to those profits, and they know that there’s this inequality built into it.

…in this world, there’s a widespread assumption that everybody uses everybody else. The women are using the club for the pleasures that they can get from it. They’re using the promoter for the pleasures they can get from him, the access. The promoters are using the young women. The clients are using the promoters.

The drawing line is when there’s a perception of abuse. People have a clear sense that lying about being exclusively romantic would be a clear violation, so that would be abusive. But use is okay. Mutual exploitation is okay.

Definitely recommended, a unique and fascinating episode.  And again, I strongly recommend Ashley’s new book Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit, one of my favorite books of the year.

Comments

"the economics of bottle service": is that a humdrum Americanism with which I am unfamiliar, or a very lewd comment?

You need to get out more. You've dated yourself.

So it's a lewd comment is it?

Hi there, this weekend is pleasant for me, because this point in time i am
reading this impressive educational article here at my residence.

I'm not sure the term is American in origin. I would assume clubs everywhere have it available.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle_service#:~:text=Bottle%20service%20is%20the%20sale,mixers%20of%20the%20patron's%20choice.

Thank you. It's a form of conspicuous consumption, then. So, indeed, lewd.

"Mutual exploitation is okay." I get it, and I get why Cowen is impressed with Mears. Economic lessons can come from strange places, and this is one of them. Exploitation. Now that's considered an offensive word in many quarters. Like discrimination. Those are just words, whose meanings have become entangled with politics - they don't mean what most people think they mean. It's not without a little irony that economists, who are the world's worst wordsmiths, would actually use these words correctly based on their historical intended meanings, but then resort to gibberish in their published papers. Every time I see the word heterogeneity I cringe. Now, exploitation and discrimination, not so much. [For those who miss the point, "exploitation" means the action of making use of and benefiting from resources (e.g., the "exploitation" of natural resources), but it has come to mean the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from his or her work. The "exploitation" of a beautiful woman means making effective use of her beauty, but has come to mean treating her unfairly to benefit from that beauty. I favor "exploitation" just as I favor one who practices "discrimination" in choice of art, food and wine, and beautiful women.]

Is it exploitation to pay Paris Hilton thousands of dollars to attend a birthday party, or to visit a club? Do you think lesser of Ms. Hilton because that's her occupation? What about a beautiful woman who is paid $50 to go to the powder room? Would you think lesser of her? What if she ends up marrying the the person paying her the $50 and he ends up being the President. Is that mutual exploitation okay?

There's a business to hire white guys to attend a product launch parties in Taiwan.

> Would you think lesser of her?

No. First meeting sex is hot. I've heard.

You might want to reign in that old man rampant sexism. Women are free thinking people who have agency and get to make their own decisions. It's not up to the old guy to inform them which behavior is socially acceptable and which behavior is "exploitation".

This was so well played. The categorical warning about hypocrisy among "academics who look at this and hold their nose" comes early.
Then when Tyler earnestly wants to make it clear that he's never been to one of those places she lets it pass the first time.
The second time she lets him have it: "Well, then you’re in a different kind of club, Tyler. You’re in, but just with a different kind of high-status showing."
Not much you can say to that but "touché".

When did "bridge and tunnel" start referring to New Jersey instead of the other boroughs?

...around when Brooklyn became hip

I'm not following the research here. Is she saying that smoking hot young women seem to like wealthy older men? And that wealthy older men seem to like smoking hot younger women? And that they can somehow can scratch each other's itch?

Huh.

I mean, I've seen this in movies since forever. But I had no idea it actually went on. And yet, here's research saying it does.

I have seen it in the wild at social events. Sweet young things jostle each other to get the attention of old rich guys, and old rich guys' eyes light up when a beautiful woman walks into the room.

There is apparently at least one website that matches up sugar daddies with attractive young women who would be too poor otherwise to attain college degrees. Some of them (the women, not the men) have been willing to appear in interviews -- look at me! -- for news outlets.

Everything is transactional.

Oh, I get it. So this is how a gross guy like Harvey Weinstein was getting action. "Harv, if you want me to do this you are going to have to pull your belly up a little higher so I can get in there"

Yeah this is one of those books about something everyone already knows. But can we blame Cowen for wanting to fluff up this very attractive author? It's the same old story, Cowen's turn. And there's nothing wrong with it. But the book's thesis is banal.

+1 - there were some interesting anecdotes about her own life but otherwise all the research into the club scene seems obvious to anyone who's so much as walked by one of these places. I'd be curious to know more about the non-obvious psychological cues they use to keep men excited and spending money on bottle service without letting the excitement die down. is sitting with a handful of women you have nothing in common with that exciting? I wonder if club owners/promoters run experiments

You guys should actually listen to the audio. She delving into how these interactions function and the weird eccentricities of it. Not the obvious items, which are indeed obvious. It's obvious that the author is highly intelligent.

What a snotty little trash comment parading as intelligence.

"I'm not following the research here. Are they saying that money can be exchanged for goods and services? And, that people will produce goods to sell in exchange for monet? And, that it might be a mutually beneficial exchange?"

Oh well, that's all obvious, so nothing else to say there. That's the whole story. Definitely not worth doing research on. We all know this, nothing left to illuminate or understand.

Give me a break.

Next, the music will not only encourage nodding to the beat, but people will start snapping their fingers. If they aren't squares, daddy-o.

I laughed. +5 i.p.

And the beat goes on....

First rule of hot chicks: they may dumb and/or naive, but it's in the way most young people are dumb, but they know exactly what they are doing.

I am with Tyler on this one. You go into one of these clubs that are way too damn loud to do anything but pretend you can understand what each other is saying, paying too much for everything while pretending to enjoy it, paying hot chicks to pretend to be into you, and eventually you ask yourself why? what's the damn point? And then you realize that if you are asking that question, then you are not the target audience.

True story: I met my (model) wife through friends and it was customary—then and now—to go to loud clubs. So we did. We learned quickly, in two dates, that we both hated the clubs. She wanted to study linguistics and I wanted to study history. So we did.

Anyway, good interview.

God of Thunder, but he hates loud noises. Get a new domain, buddy

So if I don't have enough money to get invited to parties where women are paid to attend and pretend to like me, I can give this woman money for her book, so that she can describe what it would be like to have women get paid to pretend to like me?

When will these clubs start using a laugh track?

older men light up when see hot young chicks; who'd a thought given all the Low T commercials on the TV! Maybe they popped a Viagra before heading to the club?
Hard to want to listen to any Prof. of Gender Studies....

It’s a market of mutual services not “exploitation”. I hope her experience will guard her from the intrinsic ideological views taught in Sociology school.

I agree. Her language about "use" and "mutual exploitation" applies needlessly negative labels to what sounds like a non-coerced exchange between free individuals.

That said, I have little hope that anyone who has decided to be an academic sociologist within the past 20 or 30 years will be guarded from the "intrinsic ideological views" of that discipline. Sociology these days is, from what I can tell, almost thoroughly given over to the Marxist idea of seeing trying to find exploitative power dynamics in almost every human interaction.

Bottle Service is only one ride on the carousel. Once you've passed muster in the club, you may get recruited to one of various next steps. For example, be a Yachtie. Watch out for those that want to have you slide down that bottle-service liquified slippery slope to be a Dubai Porta-Pottie. There are a few Dante-esque stops on the journey, and participants are theoretically kinda free to hop off if they choose.

"Having really loud music that has a beat where everybody just does the same thing, which is nod to the beat...."

Epidemiology and public health seem to work the same way. Then a different song comes on.

Having really loud music that has a beat where everybody just does the same thing, which is nod to the beat — that helps to tune people into one another, and it helps build up a vibe and a kind of energy, so the point is to lose yourself in the music in these spaces.

There's a large and growing literature on dynamics of Keeping Together in Time – the title of a 1997 book by William H. McNeil, a short one he regarded as one of his most important. I put that process at the center of my 2001 book on music, Beethoven's Anvil, where I called on the neurodynamic research of the late Walter Freeman and many others. You might want to look at Uri Hasson and Chris D. Frith. Mirroring and beyond: coupled dynamics as a generalized framework for modelling social interactions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Vol. 317, Issue 1793, May 2016:

Abstract: When people observe one another, behavioural alignment can be detected at many levels, from the physical to the mental. Likewise, when people process the same highly complex stimulus sequences, such as films and stories, alignment is detected in the elicited brain activity. In early sensory areas, shared neural patterns are coupled to the low-level properties of the stimulus (shape, motion, volume, etc.), while in high-order brain areas, shared neural patterns are coupled to high-levels aspects of the stimulus, such as meaning. Successful social interactions require such alignments (both behavioural and neural), as communication cannot occur without shared understanding. However, we need to go beyond simple, symmetric (mirror) alignment once we start interacting. Interactions are dynamic processes, which involve continuous mutual adaptation, development of complementary behaviour and division of labour such as leader–follower roles. Here, we argue that interacting individuals are dynamically coupled rather than simply aligned. This broader framework for understanding interactions can encompass both processes by which behaviour and brain activity mirror each other (neural alignment), and situations in which behaviour and brain activity in one participant are coupled (but not mirrored) to the dynamics in the other participant. To apply these more sophisticated accounts of social interactions to the study of the underlying neural processes we need to develop new experimental paradigms and novel methods of data analysis.

I excerpt a bunch of these articles under the labels coupling and synchrony, which also capture some of my own thinking on the subject. For example, here's a recent post on rowing, We Got Rhythm...and We're Synched! The magic of the bell, swing in a racing shell, a cornerstone of Athenian democracy.

You might also take a look at a slender volume by a young economist, Michael Chwe, Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge (Princeton 2001). It's not about sychronization, but, as its subtitle suggests, about closely related matters.

A lot of interesting-sounding ideas in there. They might be related to yet another one (or maybe they cover exactly this): the universal importance of music to humans. It's as instinctive and natural as language.

From those titles and your descriptions, maybe music is one of the ways that humans achieve coupled dynamics? That would give us a social and evolutionary explanation for music's universality.

I still hate loud music at parties and restaurants though. I actively avoid them. And like Tyler I never go to those clubs.

P.S. At the moment, with 27 comments so far, this post has attracted an unusually high quality of comments -- and even more so an unusually low percentage of the usual stupid trolling comments. Not what I might have expected, given the topic of the post. Maybe the loud music from those clubs, emanating in even just a virtual sense, has put the commenters into synchrony?

... the universal importance of music to humans. It's as instinctive and natural as language. ... That would give us a social and evolutionary explanation for music's universality.

Yes. That's what my book is about. I can't take credit for the idea, but perhaps I've explored it more extensively than most. Darwin, and before him Rousseau, believed that music and language have been preceded by a kind of proto-music in human evolutionary history.

Don't go to those clubs, either, but, as a musician, I have played at various bars and clubs, weddings too, and opened for Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King. Nothing like it when people want to party and the band is hot.

Interesting stuff, although at this point I've only read some of those posts on the web, not any of the books. A couple of observations:

Even the more simplistic neural alignment models might explain what's missing from recorded and from online performances of music and plays, compare to live ones: being in the audience with those other humans and getting neurally aligned. (And this could be yet another aspect of why online education is inherently inferior to face-to-face, where the class will be largely united in engaging in learning activities.)

And I believe it was in one of those blog posts that you wondered about "swing" or "the music of the bell" occurring in sports contexts other than crew/rowing. I suspect that most basketball players (or really teams) have experienced something like that, certainly Bill Russell wrote about it in _Second Wind_ and possibly also his earlier book _Go Up for Glory_. He did emphasize that it's a rare event, and generally cannot be predicted nor reproduced.

I don't row, but I can believe in swing for rowers. But I'm less convinced that the basketball experience is the same thing as swing or music of the bell. Instead it might simply be that the team has several sequences where it succeeds at what it's attempting to do: make the right cut to the right place at the right time while a teammate make the right pass resulting in a smooth score, etc.

I mainly played Ultimate frisbee and we certainly did experience some rare sequences like that. We could claim that we were in the swing, but I think in reality it was a combination of two things: by luck we succeeded in a long sequence of attempted events -- and equally important, the other team was trying to stop us but did not succeed. So of course everything felt like it was flowing. But if the other team had played better defense, our flow would've been stopped. (The other team however can't play just plain crummy defense, then it'd be like beating a team of 12-year olds, no swing or flow there, that's just beating an inferior team.)

Personally my best moments didn't involve those moments when the team felt the swing, but instead were inwardly-focused: I'd run hard and after maybe 30 minutes I'd notice that I was tired and sweaty -- but also so energized that I looked forward to running just as hard for another 90 minutes because it just felt so good to be playing hard and running as hard as I could.

And this could be yet another aspect of why online education is inherently inferior to face-to-face, where the class will be largely united in engaging in learning activities.)

Here's a post at Language Log reporting empirical evidence that might help explain so-called Zoom-fatigue as the result of time lags introduced by very small network delays. There is a body of research suggesting that people involved in face-to-face conversation are synchronized to a common pulse at the the level 10s of milliseconds. Network induced time lags may make that more difficult.

I don't row, but I can believe in swing for rowers. But I'm less convinced that the basketball experience is the same thing as swing or music of the bell. Instead it might simply be that the team has several sequences where it succeeds at what it's attempting to do: make the right cut to the right place at the right time while a teammate make the right pass resulting in a smooth score, etc.

Alas, this sort of thing is very difficult to investigate. High speed video may well capture the phenomenon, but, since it is apparently so rare and unpredictable, it's all but impossible to capture on tape (or flash memory, or whatever).

I learned it all from first my 3 transistor radio under my covers in bed, then driving late nights home from work in the 50s, 60s, 70s where the only radio was the fire and brimstone evangelicals going on and on about "the beat, the beat" leading to hedonism and damnation. If they didn't say so explicitly, they were talking about jungle music which was bad enough when non-whites played it, but much much worse when white men played it, and white girls and women thought it was pure as white could be.

Few clubs can rock as hard as a down home storefront church with a good preacher and a kick-ass band. Elvis Presley got his stuff hanging out in the back of a black church. Ray Charles caught hell when he took gospel out of the church, gave it secular lyrics, and took it on the road. When we – The Out of Control Rhythm and Blues Band in upstate New York – opened for BB King when got to meet King after the show. Who was there to see him? A lot of middle-aged church ladies in large hats and flower-print dresses.

One of the deep ironies of America's cultural history is that Duke Ellington perfected his so-called jungle style while performing for an exclusively white audience in Harlem's Cotton Club in the mid-1920s. A different brand of white folks got their rocks off by burning jazz records in public displays.

My happiest, most relaxed, least insecure moments happen the couple times of the year when I am set down among plants, rocks, and water, able to turn my head 360 degrees and know there is no one within a mile, perhaps five miles (well, except the dude who just left me, saying he'll be back in an hour or so).

So those of us who prefer to keep in our own heads, and are repelled by the shared euphoria or fugue-like experience of loud music, being numbed to thought, or whatever - are outliers?

Today I am trying to understand other people. I just noticed y'all. You got my attention with all the smashing and shooting.

These days I do most of my hiking and backpacking alone. Not so much to avoid human beings, although avoiding crowds is certainly a major goal. But I usually don't bother to find a friend or hiking companion to go with, because that way I can go where and when I want, and at the speed that I want, and there are no disagreements to resolve, except my own indecision about whether to take the high trail or the low trail.

Different strokes?

I'm pretty much of a hermit myself. But I do have fond memories of playing with a seven piece band rhythm and blues band squeezed into a corner of a biker-bar in Schenectady, New York.

My husband claims there is nothing more fun than making music with a group, but it's an outlet decidedly not open to those of us not blessed with musical talent!

I don't even enjoy listening to, or rather watching, live music, particularly indoors. The dreaded Groupmuse evenings at my friend's house combine my discomfort with freezing my attention on the strenuous efforts of the musicians with being squeezed into a small space where one cannot easily move away.

I recall my US Army experience as an enlisted man undergoing medical assignment training in Texas.
In June, after dinner, men and women were filtering back our barracks when I noticed excited groups of smiling African and Caucasian women giggling as we walked. They were following a very attractive Caucasian couple holding hands. There was an air of excited expectation that was contagious as we walked. As we arrived at the barracks the couple romantically embraced. All eyes were on the couple as women let out a collective breath. The couple parted and moment was over.

Near the end of the movie 'The Lady Eve', a young, attractive Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck embrace as people around them look on with excited approval. Preston Sturges understood our romantic human nature.

Barbara Stanwyck as Jean Harrington: "I need him like the axe needs the turkey."

Those observations, combined with Bill Benzon's, seem to apply to dances as well. Many movies have a scene where there's big dance floor but at a certain point the crowd parts so they can concentrate on watching a specific couple (movies from "Saturday Night Fever" to "It's a Wonderful Life"). For that matter most wedding receptions feature this.

It's not the same thing as watching a couple of ballet dancers on stage. On the dance floor the audience is simultaneously the performers and vice-versa. Some people are there so they can dance. Some are there so they can watch other people dance. Some, probably most, are there so they can do both.

It's more participatory than music. Musicians will jam with each other, and often some of them will get to solo while the others listen in appreciation. But unless we're at a band camp, the musicians are just a small part of of the group, most other people in the room are not musicians and won't be performing. But at a dance, they very well might.

Yes, dance and music are obviously closely related. There are cultures where the word for music is also the word for dance. As for those down-home churches I mentioned above, members of the congregation do not sit primly by while the band rocks out. They shout and holler, swing and sway, some of them play the tamborines they're brought so they can participate in the ceremony.

I've been deeply involved in the electronic music / nightclub subculture for 30-some years. Tyler, your rule about not eating at restaurants full of beautiful women can also be applied to music. If you want to hear amazing electronic music and experience genuine community, skip the clubs that are full of beautiful people and dig deeper for the underground ones that have no dress code, no VIP section, no bottle service. Those are the club nights that exist for the people who are deeply into the music. They are also places where women can go out for a night of music and generally feel safe without sleazy dudes following them around, i.e. they're not meat markets.

In DC, Flash or U Street Music Hall would be a good starting point.

In Fairfax, you are fortunate to have Transit, one of the country's longest-running underground electronic music nights. It's a weekly thing at a bar (The Auld Shebeen) so it's not exactly a club, but it's also a good entry point into the culture and place to hear underground music.

Hah. There are no sleazy guys at Flash or U st. Music hall? All of the drunk gentlemen there remain gentlemen (Flash is open till 4am) after midnight?

...experience genuine community...

Music/dance at its best.

Wrong thread, XJ578/3-1

Do better or risk deletion.

My name is not XJ578/3-1.

"In Fairfax, you are fortunate to have Transit, one of the country's longest-running underground electronic music nights. It's a weekly thing at a bar (The Auld Shebeen) so it's not exactly a club, but it's also a good entry point into the culture and place to hear underground music."

Thank you for pointing this out, Flex. I live three blocks from the Auld Shebeen, have been there many times, and never knew about this. Something underground and hip, in my own quiet neighborhood!

Perhaps now sometime I will go and instantly de-legitimize the scene by my thoroughly unhip presence.

It's called prostitution. Just an indirect form of it. Unless these old rich men are gay, they're not there to increase their 'status' or for the ambience or for the bad food or the excessively loud, unpleasant atmosphere. They're there for sex. The women are there to sell sex at the right price.

Club promoters are basically pimps. Their goal is to corral as many young attractive women as possible, and then sell access to this supply at a high price by restricting entry. The music is too loud, the atmosphere dark and unpleasant because the old rich men who made it inside aren't looking for conservation or music. The music and dark disorienting atmosphere obscures or covers for a lack of connection between the men who are allowed inside and what they're after, the young women. Alcohol and drugs do the rest.

I kind of expected MR to be full of incels. Judging from the comments, I wasn't let down.

Tyler and Ashley sittin' in a tree...

Judging from her photographs, this is no run-of-the-mill good-looking woman. She is not just beautiful "for a sociologist". She is a true and essential beauty, surpassing any quotidian measure. In a world where beauty is currency, she is Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.

If women with the bodies of boys who have gotten their height but not their shoulders is your thing.

She's what you'd call a 'handsome' woman. She looks like a fashion model i.e. she has that androgynous, boyish appearance that fashion models have.

Incidentally, does Tyler ask her about that in the interview? About why female fashion models are androgynous? One theory is that the designers and stylists tend to be gay and prefer that appearance themselves.

I am wondering how this interview took place. Did Tyler and Ashley go to some restaurant with actually good food so that Ashley could ruin its reputation? Was this Tyler's way of getting to hang out with an especially beautiful woman?

As it is, given the current situation, it was probably done at a distance by some means and not in any restaurant, sigh. Oh well, maybe when the pandemic is over.

And as for "exploitation," the late Joan Robinson who should have been the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics but did not and was also quite beautiful in her youth declared, "There is only one thing worse than being exploited, and that is not being exploited."

I must admit that I had not heard that Joan Robinson quote before, only it's Wildean antecedent. Typical Robinsonian pithy wit. Or witty pith.

I haven't had time to watch the Mears video yet, some commenters seem to be making knee-jerk comments about what they perceive to be Mears' knee-jerk critique of "exploitation". Other commenters are saying, and Tyler's quote at the top seems to support this, that Mears has a more nuanced view of "exploitation". But I'll need to watch the video to find out.

I liked the Conversation. Thanks as always for putting it together. It reminded me of the movie Almost Famous. Although I guess Penny Lane, and maybe rock groupies generally, were less directly sought after and/or manipulated by promoters?

“The great philosophical question used to be: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Now the great philosophical question is: “How am I being used and am I okay with it?’”

-Marc Maron

Someone above mentioned yachting....

https://www.crazydaysandnights.net/search?q=yacht&max-results=8

Some quick comments as a man who sometimes goes to clubs:
1. I don't think pretty girls hanging off me in a club adds to my status - everyone knows they aren't there for you.
2. Objective of being in a place with attractive young women is hopefully to have sex with some of them.
3. Downside of these girls for long term relationships is not that they are "not serious". Concerns are more:
a. Hard to tell if they are interested in you or just your money
b. Concern that they will dump you for the next guy who spends more money on them.
c. Concern about whether they are amateur (or even semi-pro) prostitutes
d. Concern that while you are dating them they will be still going out to the clubs and perhaps cheating on you
e. Concern that they are rather high mileage if you care about that

Bottle service in Texas at least, when I was there, meant a place that wasn't licensed to sell the hard stuff, but they could serve it to you (provide ice and glasses for example) if you brought your own (they charged for serving, of course).

Getting your strip club information from an academic is the hard way (not that there's anyhing wrong with doing things the hard way.) It's also likely to be mixed with pretentious jargon and self-promotion and politics. Better ways are (1) get a job in a strip club, or (2) join a discussion forum for strippers/cam girls.

Bottle girls are not strippers.

They are both more and less accessible than strippers. They sit with you and drink and chat if the music isn't too loud, so you have a real opportunity to make a pitch to them. But they are far less likely to be outright prostitutes - I would not suggest offering them $100 for a blow job.

At one point she mentions the cliche "rich people are thin bc they can afford gyms and better quality food while poorer people can't so they're more overweight" and I'm really tired of hearing that. It's completely wrong. You can eat healthy and cheap and stay thin simply by eating simple foods and controlling the amount you eat. The real problem is that richer people in general are higher agency/higher iq and poorer people are lower agency. And that is what leads to both lower income and less control over diet, thus being more overweight.

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