A young philosopher by the name of Alicia Keys described the great city of New York as a "concrete jungle where dreams are made of." Confusing grammar aside, she was right. New York is the place to make your greatest dreams come true. And for a certain group of young women, that dream is to be invited to the Hamptons.
If you've ever walked around New York City at night, you know who I'm talking about. They are the tall, slender, unsmiling nymphs hobbling along in five inch heels as they make their way inside those bastions of poor adult behavior we call nightclubs—or "hotspots" if you're Page Six. I would see these girls and wonder: What's going on in their minds? Are they having fun? What are their stories? Their dreams? Their deepest concerns?
Former "professional pretty girl" Kristin Huggins answered all these questions and more in her essay for New York Magazine, "My Summer As a Professional Pretty Girl in the Hamptons," where she recalls one fateful summer spent near the beach as a prop for insecure rich men who pay for attention from beautiful women.
Like any true hero, Huggins battles preconceived notions of what we believe a "professional pretty girl" to be.
I guess it started at church, a Sunday at Resurrection Williamsburg back in 2010. I spotted Galina's blonde head bobbing high above the crowd of off-duty bartenders and bloggers and musicians. She's the churchy type — homeschooled and genuine, with sloppy makeup.
Galina* and I had first met at a "Models for Christ" meeting.
Her allegiance to Christ, while wonderful, is never mentioned again.
This tale of frivolity and a two-way street of exploitation is both informative and provides important advice for living and thriving in New York.
"After dinner," Galina says, "we go dancing." 1 OAK stands for One of a Kind, Elise explains on our way to the club. "If you ever have to wait in line," she instructs, "just go home."
And if you ever thought that the Hamptons was just a stretch of towns on the tip of Long Island, you were wrong. The Hamptons is the Narnia of New York—a place where only someone as powerful as a club promoter can lead you through that exclusive wardrobe.
"You'll like the Hamptons," Elise says outside Sephora on Broadway one day. "Ricky is great." The Hamptons are special, I learn. You can't just show up; you have to be invited. Elise says she needs to take my picture to show Ricky, who'd quit work as banker for a career as a promoter. I put my hands on my hips, and Elise snaps with her phone.
But even if you have been bestowed something as valuable and life-affirming as an invitation to the Hamptons, if you are a "professional pretty girl," you will still be forced to sleep like a freshman year college student.
The several rooms below are for the "visiting angels," as he calls us, with rows of twin beds, and stiff pillows for each head.
Also, hedge-fund managers give the best fashion advice.
Jason, a hedge-fund manager, looks me up and down. "Your body is amazing," he says. "Except your butt," he adds. "It's the bikini. You need the Brazilian cut."
As if all these nuggets of wisdom weren't enough, we learn it truly means to feel like a special, special princess among peons.
I'll always remember the night I spent dancing next to Avicii. I felt special.
This great tale does not leave us without a profound moral lesson.
I still go out, but it's different. It no longer feels like I can't get hurt. Elise and I drifted apart. Sometimes I see James, Lips, or Eric at Finale. Or I'll see the girls at Dream Downtown hotel. We share knowing glances. It's like the bond of fellow POWs; it's too painful to reminisce, but it's reassuring to share. We're all Facebook friends. But now, if I go to the Hamptons, I just pay.
I'm not sure why Kristin Huggins felt like she couldn't get hurt, because those stories strike me as literal prime examples of situations in which a woman could find herself in danger.
Secondly, it's probably best to never compare yourself to a prisoner of war unless you have been a prisoner of an actual war. And exactly what is so damn painful about willfully agreeing to let creepy rich men buy you bottles of Grey Goose? If that is the decision you felt was best for you, then more power to you. Everyone knows how these arrangements work and if consenting adults want to use each other in order to feel special, no one is stopping them. But maybe let's not with the melodrama? It is, after all, just the Hamptons.
Image via Shuttershock.