All was calm in the lesbian barkeep community. If the owner of, say, the Clit Club needed a favor, then the owner of Meow Mix wouldn’t hesitate to help. And if someone had an especially good night going, the others would try to stay out of the way. It was a friendly kind of capitalism.
Then a stranger rode in from out of town, a stranger who could not bring herself to understand the lesbian barkeep’s code. She goes by the name of Caroline Clone. Her competitors say Ms. Clone thinks up sneaky strategies to hurt their business so that she can have more for herself. They have accused her of the following: passing out fliers in front of their clubs, stealing deejays, copying elements of their logos, trying to buy mailing lists from employees, even dispatching the Fire Department to a rival club.
Ms. Clone denies it all.
“This is just rubbish,” she said in her tart English accent. “In any business there is a certain amount of jealousy. Does Wendy’s say that McDonald’s is a great product?”
Had Ms. Clone been working in the straight world, her allegedly ruthless behavior might not be perceived as anything more than business as usual. But in the Manhattan lesbian community, her way of luring business stands out like a T-bone at a vegetarian dinner.
Ms. Clone makes her living by charging customers to enter her raging dance parties. The parties go by the names Wow!, HerShe Bar and Lover Girl. With the regular events, Ms. Clone probably reigns over more lesbian night life than anyone else in the city.
A lesbian party promoter who goes by the name of Karen said Ms. Clone’s Wednesday-night Wow! gatherings would definitely cut in on her Wednesday-night Crane Club parties on the Upper West Side. “She sees when people are having parties and tries to do them on the same night,” said Karen. “We’ve lost thousands of dollars because of her, and that’s not fun.”
Karen and the other barkeeps and club owners know each other and are at least friendly, if not friends. They boast of appealing to different segments of the lesbian population in terms of age and music preferences so as not to take each other’s clientele. “It’s like apples and oranges,” said Minnie Rivera, co-owner of Henrietta Hudson in the West Village. “That’s why we promote each other, and that’s why everybody’s doing well.”
Brooke Webster, owner of Meow Mix in the East Village, talked about how she can rely on Ms. Rivera and her business partner, Lisa Cannistraci, in emergency situations. “Lisa will call me for a deejay, and I’ll call her when I need a plumber,” she said.
They also say that money isn’t their primary concern. “The end-all to me is to have a place for women in the community to go,” said Sue Martinez, co-owner of Julies and Martinos on the Upper East Side.
Many of them play softball together, too. But Ms. Clone works to make money, not friends, and she sees nothing wrong with that. “I guess because I won’t play the game, I’m an easy target to these people,” she said. “I don’t play softball or care to.”
In person, Ms. Clone is energetic, confident and aloof. She won’t say where she’s living–”with a friend”–or give her real name, though she admitted that “Caroline Clone” was for business purposes. “Like Cher,” she said. When on the job, she calls people “darling,” shows off her tongue ring when she speaks, makes sure her go-go girl is shaking her booty on time and generally presides over her parties with the confidence of Rick in Casablanca .
Ms. Clone has been in Manhattan for three years now, and her rivals have gotten used to her. “She hit town in a storm and now it’s kind of evened out and she’s just part of the scene,” said Sophia Terzo, manager of Crazy Nanny’s in the West Village. “But she was a hard pill that everybody had to swallow.”
The Chat Room
Ah, the ol’ Internet chat room! Where else can people of different ideological and geographical backgrounds gather to exchange their innermost thoughts in real time? On line, our identities are not fixed to our physical appearances or our real names, allowing for discussions that get somewhere close to (dare we say it?) the Truth. Spend a few moments with us now as we eavesdrop on a randomly chosen site…
Zorro: He’s just posing as a marxist but really he is a mere libertarian, a la furedi
Flapchop: helloooooo anybody wanna “chat” wif me ha ha ha
Engels: i see your point but i think you’re wrong–he’s actually presenting a necessary critique from within–that was allowed, last i checked–the old orthodoxies must bend a little, no?
Flapchop: i have gas
Zorro: i see where you’re going engels but frankly i’m weary of the idea that we’re all suddenly post-ideological… what does that mean, really? it means nihilism, it’s just one more cliche
Flapchop: im not nobody you assholes talk to me please!!!
Baku: hey zorro, hey engels–just got out of class–remind me–why am i teaching 19 yr. old sons and daughters of the haute bourgeoisie again?
Engels: I think it has something to do with getting a paycheck baku much as we might not like to admit it
Flapchop: boom! you dead sucka
Baku: lol, engels, how could i forget that central fact?
Doody: doody doody hey it’s me doody! is this really a commie chat room? die pinkos
Engels: which brings me back to my point Zorro and forgive me if it’s “post ideological” but the end result of our project is to make *everyone* a member of the bourgeoisie–our work comes to nothing if the fellow watching the monster truck show does not *unthinkingly* agree with us–in other words, yes, socialism should be *sexy*
Doody: flapchop where ya from?
Flapchop: boringville!!! where u from?
Doody: You know that guy phil hartman–i just heard he pulled an O.J.–went nuts and killed all these people–weird huh?
Flapchop: im going to bomb my school
Zorro: point taken, engels … but i hope our goal isn’t to make *everyone* a shopkeeper … don’t forget: being bourgeois means being small-minded as well as middle class in my oh-so-humble opinion
Engels: Sorry Zorro but i find your comment itself to be small minded–it belies a certain contempt for the masses …
Flapchop: karen will die, a certain teacher may see blood where his mustache was, i made four bombs with fertilizer glycerine methanol lysol glue
Zorro: Would you IDIOTS please find a chat room more appropriate to your own infantile interests?
Baku: Remember our rule Zorro: don’t address inane chatter
Zorro: sorry baku yer right… and Engels, I find your words to be the intellectual equivalent of such rantings… “contempt for the masses”?–i get enough boilerplate crapola from my undergrads, i don’t need to hear it online
Flapchop: eat my shorts perfesser
Engels: Maybe you should *listen* to your undergrads Zorro–by the way, that’s an idiotic handle you’ve got there–”Zorro”? what, you’re going to save the day with your phallus?
Zorro: Oh, please–”Engels”–as if you’re in his league!
Baku: I’ve never seen you two cyber like this–if you want to trade invective please do it by e mail, not in this space–i’ll come back when things cool off… buh-bye
Doody: see ya later losers lemme know when you get lives
Engels: I should go too… spending way too much time in here
Flapchop: i’ve killed animals what’s wrong with that??? nothing!!! the dead things feed the live things so nothing is really dead
Zorro: Looks like it’s just you and me, Flapchop
Flapchop: Smell my finger dumbass