The Story We See - 2015

Human Decorations

Lauren Leonhardt
by Lauren Leonhardt
Many young models come to New York City for the opportunity to live in the United States. Although the city seems to be brimming with beautiful, successful models, the city is a highly competitive place. Some models find that they cannot support themselves, but when there’s a will, there’s a way. The young women can live in New York City rent free, but there is still a price to pay.
Promoters offer free housing for these girls, in exchange for their services as “decorations.” The girls literally stand around tables at nightclubs to add to the atmosphere, and perpetuate the idea that there are many young, attractive women in the nightclub. But the girls are not there to have fun—they’re standing in the clubs as an exchange for their rent. The promoters are paid by the nightclubs for the number and level of attractiveness of the girls. The taller, thinner, and prettier, the more the promoters earn.
There are young women who are also paid to go out. They do not live in promoter apartments; instead they choose when they want to work. Depending on the situation, girls can make anywhere from $50 to $200 a night. They stand in nightclubs from 12am to 3am. Occasionally they are invited to late dinners with wealthy clients, and show up to the clubs with the men paying for the table, bottles, and human decorations. Sometimes they dance and drink, but for the most part, the promoter girls are terribly bored and tired.
Average club goers are usually unaware of this situation, but that’s the whole point. Nightclubs want to seem exclusive and popular, at whatever the cost. Girls as young as fifteen can get into nightclubs with promoters; as long as they fit the image that the club wants to convey, the age of the girls doesn’t matter. These young models often show their metro cards because they don’t have any form of ID. Although the girls aren’t asked to do anything but stand at the promoter’s table, men often approach the tables to talk to the attractive decorations.
Nightclub managers and promoters want the human decorations to dress up and look beautiful, but the models see partying as a side-job. They wear jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers to the clubs. As long as they’re over 5’8” and attractive, they can get away with anything.
The girls in nightlife who rely on promoters for living arrangements (or risk living on the street) party with the wealthy clients who spend upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars on tables, bottle service, and alcohol. This large disparity gives light to the fact that nightlife is not nearly as glamorous as it seems.