Meet The Anonymous "Friends" Of Tabloid CelebsS

Meet the "club girl," which the LA TImes defines as "a glamorous breed of covert reporters who infiltrate Hollywood's VIP sanctums to write celebrity exposés for the tabloids." We'll define this as a job no kindergartner should aspire to.

Not to be confused with the "bottle girl," a club girl (they're never "women," which in this case is A-OK), the "club girl" is apparently a crucial part of the tabloid food chain, what the LAT's Chris Lee and Matt Donnelly define as "a well-established yet seldom-discussed fixture of A-list Angeleno nightlife, [who] have good looks and air-kissy access beyond the velvet rope that enable them to eavesdrop on celebrities, send surreptitious text messages and snap iPhone photos in pursuit of gossip gold."

So, who are they? They're described variously as "a onetime Playboy pinup" and a "former model." Basically, they're attractive people who frequent clubs, get to know bouncers and promoters, haunt the bathrooms, befriend C-Listers, and are paid $300 a night - plus more for exclusives. And while they're all good-looking and dressed to kill, it's a diverse group! As one insider tells the paper, "They'll have a redhead, an African American, an Asian, a lesbian...There are a lot of gay bars. And usually, those will get you exclusives." Shamelessness and "access" are apparently the main criteria.

And it's a symbiotic relationship: clubs like the press, obviously tabs like the scoops, and for plenty of aspiring talent, any PR is good. Indeed, "certain B- and C-list celebrities...knowingly partner with club girls, feeding them "exclusives" about their better-known pals in exchange for positive press." But, the piece asks, is the club girl's M.O. ethical? "I always say, it's living like a call girl without the sex," says one. But another, who got $40, 000 for an exclusive on her sex romp with a Robbie Williams and has sold exclusives on flings with Cristiano Ronaldo and Adrien Grenier, clearly has no problem with the sex bit, either. (She's also penning a memoir. We'd suggest Confessions of a person close to the couple.)

The piece, however, points out the obvious pitfalls of the job: you get "burnt out" and the unwholesome lifestyle - living in a club, basically - can lead to plenty of drugs and boozing. There are also other costs. I have a friend who used to do something very similar while trying to get a screenwriting career off the ground, and she emailed me, "You just start to feel...dirty." She added that, when she refused to deliver an exclusive on a "troubled starlet" (as the blind items would have it) to whom she'd become relatively close, she was dropped by her tabloid. "Not," she concluded, "a part of my life I'm proud of."

While undercover reporters are as old as screwball comedy (see: Picture Snatcher, recently screened on TCM and notable primarily for the thwarted dame's line "I'll make you love me and like it!") and old-Hollywood gossip columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons were notorious for planting moles, there's also something distinctly modern about this line of work. Like the doctors who don't treat celebrities and the paps who catch stars without makeup, the club girl seems emblematic of a time when no humiliation is too small, no claim too tenuous, and no detail not our collective property. That said, if stars stop thinking of velvet-rope clubs as safe havens, well, maybe there are worse things for the world. Also: the adventures of a morally conflicted club mole could make for a cable show we would watch. Just for the record.

On Celebrity Scoops, 'Club Girls' Kiss And Tell [LA Times]