Very Important People

Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit

hardcover, 320 pages

Published May 26, 2020 by Princeton University Press.

ISBN:
9780691168654

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4 stars (2 reviews)

Million-dollar birthday parties, megayachts on the French Riviera, and $40,000 bottles of champagne. In today’s New Gilded Age, the world’s moneyed classes have taken conspicuous consumption to new extremes. In Very Important People, sociologist, author, and former fashion model Ashley Mears takes readers inside the exclusive global nightclub and party circuit—from New York City and the Hamptons to Miami and Saint-Tropez—to reveal the intricate economy of beauty, status, and money that lies behind these spectacular displays of wealth and leisure.

Mears spent eighteen months in this world of “models and bottles” to write this captivating, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking narrative. She describes how clubs and restaurants pay promoters to recruit beautiful young women to their venues in order to attract men and get them to spend huge sums in the ritual of bottle service. These “girls” enhance the status of the men and enrich club owners, exchanging their bodily capital …

1 edition

exploitation works best when it feels good

4 stars

interesting and multifaceted sociological study of the social dynamics and labor that goes into NYC VIP clubs, including motivations of each of the actors (girls/models, promoters, and to a more limited extent clients). reminds me of tressie mcmillan cottom’s writing on the hustle economy, in that it digs into why “girls” would want to participate in such a clearly exploitative system, which I think is both more satisfying and says something about all of our lives under late capitalism. four stars because it gets a little repetitive in that common academic way, but recommend