Sunday, July 11, 2010

'Club Girls'

A dishy front-page tabloid piece at LAT, "On Celebrity Scoops, 'Club Girls' Kiss and Tell."

Pretty young women who freelance for celebrity media outlets move in the A-list inner circles and get exclusives. But is it ethical?

Britney Spears wanted to slip into something more comfortable.

For much of 2007, the pop diva had been on a jag of increasingly erratic behavior: shaving her head, attacking paparazzi with an umbrella, a stint in rehab. And at a party at the exclusive West Hollywood nightspot Winston's, Spears was acting out again. She downed some vodka, befriended a barmaid and convinced the woman to switch clothing with her in the club's restroom — all the way down to her undergarments.

Celebrity obsessives know these details thanks to a reporter who said she witnessed Spears' wardrobe swap and supplied her account to a British tabloid, creating a worldwide gossip sensation. "I was in the bathroom when they exchanged clothes," the reporter recalled. "I was by the bar and heard everything the bartender said about it: 'She loved my bra and wanted to switch with me.' I was like, 'This is brilliant!' "

A statuesque former model who now works for a major American celebrity magazine, the woman spoke on condition she not to be identified for fear of blowing her cover as a so-called "club girl," a glamorous breed of covert reporters who infiltrate Hollywood's VIP sanctums to write celebrity exposés for the tabloids.

A well-established yet seldom-discussed fixture of A-list Angeleno nightlife, they have good looks and air-kissy access beyond the velvet rope that enable them to eavesdrop on celebrities, send surreptitious text messages and snap iPhone photos in pursuit of gossip gold.

"I always say, it's living like a call girl without the sex," former club girl Suzy McCoppin said.

Well, not exactly.

A onetime Playboy pinup who worked as a nightclub reporter for Star magazine for three years before getting "banned from every club in the city," McCoppin said she once sold a story describing a weekend tryst with British pop star Robbie Williams to the London tabloid News of the World for $40,000. She embodies the kind of club girl who goes beyond reporting the story to becoming the story.

"A lot of club girls want to be famous," said Evan Matthew, a former senior reporter for Star magazine who also recruited nightclub reporters for four years. "The hope is, being a club girl will get them closer to the celebrities. And they'll become an actress. Or they'll start dating a celebrity" ...

LoVe It To DeAtH!"