The Not-Quite Madams

More importantly than what she did, perhaps, is what Ms. Uchitel made; it is this that gave her leverage in her relationship with Tiger, a leverage lacked by text-leaking and evidently heartbroken Jamie Grubbs, or Today-blabbering Jaime Jungers. (Indiscretion is a tactic of the disempowered.) Salaries depend on experience and what sorts of names are on a hostess’ contact list, but according to one nightclub owner, who paid Ms. Uchitel a commission whenever she sent clients to this owner’s downtown club, she did very well indeed.

“If you’re working for one club, you get a retainer of $1,500 to $2,000 a week, plus if the client spends over certain amount, you get a percentage,” said the nightclub owner, who requested anonymity to avoid being linked with the Woods scandal. “In Rachel’s case, she got smarter. She worked for a variety of clubs, and then it becomes 10 or 15 percent of what the client spends, and if it’s a celebrity, it depends on the caliber of celebrity. One celebrity could be worth a $1,000. Then if the hostess is with the client, it becomes something you call an ‘up-sell,’ where the client spends more money because the host is at the table with them.”

 

 ‘YOU TAKE CARE OF THEM’

Mr. Ancarola, the owner of Pink Elephant, cited even higher numbers: “Someone like Rachel can ask for a salary of, say, $3,000 a week. Or she could say, ‘I’ll take $500 a night and 10 percent on the tables that come in.’ So it could be commission or a salary. Then sometimes they say, ‘I have Mohammed coming in from Abu Dhabi and he’s been courted by other clubs. Can you give me an extra commission if I bring him in?’ And we say, ‘Yes, of course.’”

Tracy Hannah, a 31-year-old VIP hostess at Cain, which is on the same block as Pink Elephant, said hosts who are not on salary can make between $800 and $1,500 a night.“My parents have no idea what I do,” said Ms. Hannah. “My dad is from the Bronx and my mom is from Queens. They’re in their 70s, and I’ve tried to explain bottle service to them, but they don’t get it. They think I’m either a bartender or a doorman. But there are so many titles now that even I get confused—waitresses are called bottle hosts, promoters are called table hosts—it’s all gotten very vague.”

What is clear, she said, is that “the job is really about maintaining relationships. I set up dinner reservations, I come to dinner with them and walk them in myself so that there are no problems.”

Clients often are indistinguishable from “friends,” that blandly ubiquitous term of the aughts that now can mean anything at all. Next week, on one of her ostensible nights off, Ms. Hannah will attend a holiday party with a client, for example. “One time a guy asked us to go with him on a yacht the next morning to Malaysia,” said Mr. Longoria, of the Griffin. “And he wanted me to take my entire staff, all the waitresses.” They had to skip that one, but Mr. Longoria has accompanied clients on trips to St. Tropez and Cannes.

“I’ve gone to Europe, Bahamas, Vegas,” Ms. Hannah said—often in private jets. “And when you’re out, it’s all taken care of: dinners, nights out, shopping, the beach club. It’s great. A lot of time you have to organize these things, but other times they have other hosts in other cities, and you’re just along for the ride.” 

“You’re just like a celebrity because you hang out with them all the time, so you’re on equal ground,” crowed a drag queen hostess at M2 Ultralounge named Victoria Hilton, 30, whose Facebook photo shows her with Britney Spears. “I was just with the prince of Saudi Arabia, and he invited me to some prince’s ball! You take care of them, and they take care of you.”

For savvy concierges, when the saline starts to droop and enough cash is saved up, the goal is to open their own clubs, like former Lotus cocktail waitress and nightclub hostess Jayma Cardoso, a partner in Cain and GoldBar.

Romantic relationships, however, are discouraged—even if, like Ms. Uchitel, you seem to retain the upper hand.“Do you get propositioned? Yes,” Ms. Cardoso said. “But my first job was with Andrew Sasson of the Light Group, who would always say to us, ‘The minute you become involved with your client, you lose that client.’”

“You learn by watching other people,” Ms. Hannah said, “that usually that sort of thing ends badly.”