By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The reciprocator: You gotta give to get. If you have a job in the industry, this is easy. DJs, waiters, promoters, bartenders, even people who work in fashionable stores generally get and give freely. But everybody has something to offer, whether through a job or social network. If not, just being a generous tipper with the right bartenders can be well worth the investment. The key to this approach is to be cool about it and never expect a free ride. "Give good conversation, dress interestingly, and travel with other interesting people," advises Piper.
The bullshit artist: "Name-dropping always helps," allows Pooch. "Align yourself with someone with a name and become his long-lost cousin or something." Rumi owner Alan Roth counsels budding name-droppers to read the papers to see who's being written about. "Look at the pictures in Ocean Drive," he says. "Remember the faces and go up and talk to them."
The smartest way to bullshit people about your supposed importance is indirectly. "The key is that important people are insulated," says Mylo Carbia, a screenwriter who lives and plays on the Beach. "If I want to have a good time in a club here, I'll have my L.A. publicist call ahead and say, 'Mylo Carbia will be coming to your club tonight and we just want to make sure she is taken care of.' They don't know me, but they know I'm someone from Hollywood. So I can sail in the door without waiting in line. If I were to call myself and say, 'Hi, I'm Mylo Carbia, a screenwriter, and I ...'" She rolls her eyes to indicate how impressed club staff would be with that approach.
The pretender: Try to convey the impression you're a big spender. This requires flashing cash around as if you're spending more than you are. If you're going to do this, make sure it catches the attention of the appropriate VIP handlers, promoters, or club owners. "Perception is reality," offers Buster. "Go with three buddies. Get money from them all at the beginning -- say $100 each or whatever. When you get to the place, tell the host, 'I'm buying a table tonight.' So you get the juice." Bring new friends with cash and ride those bottles for all they are worth. Eventually the club will start throwing you free drinks.
Invest a few drinks in stroking the right guys. With all the people cozying up to club owners and promoters, Roth says, sometimes just being friendly works. "Sometimes by accident, someone comes up to me and I assume I'm supposed to know them," he explains. "And all of a sudden I'm buying them a drink."
Come with an entourage, one that includes more women than men. Lee Williams, frontman for band the Square Egg (also a former New Times nightlife contributor and successful scene navigator), offers this piece of wisdom: Get a table in the VIP section and invite a large group of young women to sit there and drink your booze. "But don't make moves on them," he directs. "It is all for show. What you won't get from them tonight will come back tenfold."
The promoters notice you spending cash, the women appreciate not being made to feel like hookers, and the real VIPs will grab the check next time. Plus other women will gravitate toward you, and if you play it right, "the whole illusion sets you up to roam freely through the circuit. There will be a steady rotation of disposable women to choose from every night out and you start getting let into the clubs free even when not in the company of your high-rolling friends."
Promoters acknowledge this works. "The guy who always brings fifteen or twenty girls, or they bring big spenders, you want to make sure you take care of them," concedes Luca Fidenzo. "Maybe they look broke, or are broke, but you want them there. Taking care of these people is an easy way to have access to the type of clientele you want."
Adds Pooch, "The guy who says, 'Hey Tommy, I brought ten girls tonight,' this guy is like a promoter in a way."
The parasite: The pretender, however, is sometimes just another facet of the type of person everyone hates but puts up with because he serves an important social function -- sycophancy. "There are guys I know who exist by going out being mooches," Buster says. "They know a player with a table. But the mooches, slimeballs, and leeches are so necessary ... they complete the shallowness and the hedonism of the club scene."
"There are a lot of people who basically go out for a living," notes party planner and Miami Herald Advice Diva Tara Solomon. "There are wealthy men that it's very important for them to be seen with beautiful women. There are big spenders who love to treat people. And a lot of club parasites who look for the people who love to treat. It's a reciprocal arrangement."
Most of the restaurants and clubs have deals with modeling agencies that allow the models to eat and drink for free in return for serving as part of the décor. Tuesday nights at the Astor, the theme is lots of older men mixing with young girls. Tommy Pooch's table typically includes a random assortment of VIPs. One evening an unlikely group assembled that, besides the requisite beauties, included Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt, a hip-hop producer, a casino boat operator, and Miami Police Chief John Timoney.