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March 30, 2010

RNC Fires "Voyeur" Staffer


A Republican National Committee staffer who accompanied a group of young donors to a bondage-themed West Hollywood club and then expensed the nearly $2,000 tab has been fired by the committee, POLITICO has learned.

RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay announced the firing in an internal committee email obtained by POLITICO.

“This was not an RNC sanctioned event and was not associated in any way with any RNC official event,” McKay wrote of the February outing to Voyeur, a West Hollywood club modeled after the risqué Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman movie “Eyes Wide Shut.”

The late-night excursion followed an official RNC event in Los Angeles for donors in its “Young Eagles” program, McKay wrote, stressing that neither Chairman Michael Steele nor any senior staff were aware of either the outing or the committee’s reimbursement of the cost.

McKay wrote that the fired staffer, who is not named in the email, “was aware that this activity was not eligible for reimbursement and had been previously counseled on this very subject. Accordingly, that staff person has been terminated.”

Everyone keeps calling it a "bondage-themed club," implying it's a go-go or sex club or S&M club.

I'm looking at the website. The decor is apparently modeled after Eyes Wide Shut, a sex-themed movie notable for the fact that the main character never has any sex in the entire film. Which underscores that "sex-themed" does not equal sex.

And looking at the website (sort of halfway safe/halfway unsafe for work), it looks like a genuine bona-fide upscale nightclub where you get drinks and appetizers. Just with a noirish, underground, fin de siecle sort of vibe.

Hollywood’s after-dark landscape will unveil a new dimension this fall with the debut of VOYEUR, an intimate lounge that will draw guests into a provocative enclave where art, festivities, and entertainment converge in a sophisticated setting unlike any other. VOYEUR brings to mind an elite, private gathering place of days past, where an exclusive mix of clientele will enjoy premium cocktails, food and revelry set against a stunning backdrop featuring live art installations, risqué photography and film elements, with impromptu performances.

Young entrepreneurs David Koral and Matt Bendik of Chosen Hospitality Group and nightlife veterans, Art and Allan Davis, will debut VOYEUR in the legendary space, formerly Peanuts, which housed one of the city’s most legendary nightlife parties of the 90’s, “Grandville”. Now, this team seeks to re-introduce and elicit a similar avant-garde concept by taking this seemingly innocent space and ambiance to the edge of corruption with elegance and eroticism.

“Launching Voyeur in one of the LA’s most famed venues brings a historical element that we wanted to translate aesthetically,” said Koral. “We’ve created a timeless design with an alluring, yet tasteful experience that will stimulate the senses.”

Koral and Bendik (former VP of The Light Group in Las Vegas) and The Davis Brothers (who launched The Gate, Chi, Dragonfly, The Lounge, and AD, etc.) have partnered with a team of seasoned nightlife professionals to oversee the success of VOYEUR. Nick Montealegre, one of Hollywood’s foremost impresarios, whose successful promotional background includes venues such as Teddy’s, Lobby, Les Deux, Crimson, and Hyde, will head VOYEUR’s marketing and promotions, while General Manager Michael Kassar, formerly of Spago Beverly Hills, plans to infuse a culture of impeccable service and operations.

VOYEUR’s signature cocktail menu includes sugar–free, all organic creations including watermelon jalapeno, blueberry mint and cucumber olive shots. Guests will enjoy simple, small-bite hors d'oeuvres from Chef Micah Wexler (formerly from Craft), including smoked salmon and cucumber tea sandwiches, prime beef sliders and a signature crispy shrimp cocktail.

VOYEUR designed by award-wining, architect and designer Mark Zeff (Hard Rock Hotel &Casino - Las Vegas, Sense, A Rosewood Spa at the Carlyle Hotel – New York), takes inspiration from the legendary lounge, Annabelle’s of London and the visually mesmerizing world created in Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed movie Eyes Wide Shut. Upon arrival, guests will immediately feel as if they’ve entered an underground sanctuary, with a noir backdrop and an understated atmosphere. Once through the exposed brick entrance hallway they will encounter massive metal sphere chandeliers with spiked lighting, black leather drapery with brass rings, green leather chesterfield sofas and reupholstered antique chairs with brass and bronze accents. Lining the inner walls are 1920’s glass casement windows from the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street, photography filmstrips from an erotic photo shoot are exposed as wallpaper in one room, while an old-fashioned photo booth allows uninhibited guests to create their own stills.

And yeah, there are a couple of pictures of throwback stag-film blindfolded naked women. Black and white, kind of semi-arty.

The club's description tells you all about its vintage Chesterfield green leather sofas. I don't see anything about lesbian bondage parties.

Actually, maybe it's a bit too much and too on-the-nose, but it looks kind of cool.

I'm supposed to be upset because the furniture has a Swedish Nudist Movie vibe to it?

This whole thing seems even stupider to me now than it did before, when I thought the place was some kind of bad-lesbian-punishment dungeon. In fact, it looks like it's just a somewhat-pretentious cocktail joint. I have an email out about to them now, but right now it looks like this place has as much to do with an actual sex club as "Jekyll & Hyde's" in New York has to do with transforming into a monster.

A themed club is like a movie set. It's not reality. Is this really the worst thing in the world, taking someone to a bar with decor inspired by a Kubrick movie?

By the Way: I saw a lot of the pictures the media used to illustrate this story were taken from gay porn websites which happened to include the word "Voyeur" in the name. Instead of, you know, actual shots from the place's website.

Hmmm... Looks like the "live show" aspect includes a bit of tasteful naughtiness:

Behind dank casement windows salvaged from the original New York Times building, there awaits a dark lounge filled with corset-backed chairs and antique sofas made from bounced-against headboards. Lithe women fuss with their lingerie behind glass, maybe, or they really enjoy the sax from the stage. (You might also see a beauty doing stretches on the trapeze net above you—she must be hitting the gym later.)

Still seems like it's "arty" type stuff, and not actual go-go or sex stuff.

About The Girls Behind Glass... Gabe points this out from a Yelp review:

There are topless "dancers" acting out S&M scenes throughout the night on one of the side stages, there's a half-naked girl hanging from a net across the ceiling and at one point I walked to the bathroom and pretty much just stopped dead in my tracks to watch two girls simulating oral sex in a glass case.

Ah... Okay, I seem to be wrong. I still think this is arty-dirty rather than really dirty, but it's dirty either way.

Still, it's a real nightclub, where, like, women go and people hang out and drink, not some sex club, as the media is definitely implying.

Either way, the story is oveblown and the media is struggling to turn a sex-themed nightclub into an actual sex club.

I don't really care, and will in fact go to this place the next time I'm in LA just to make sure there's no genuine funny business going on here.

digg this
posted by Ace at 09:21 AM

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