The Date: Nov. 29, 2006
The Venue: The 16,000-square-foot Hawaiian Tropic Zone in Times Square
The Vibe: Loud music including "SexyBack" and "Promiscuous Girl," cliques of 20-somethings dressed like it was Friday night in the Meatpacking District, many copies of a January/February FHM featuring Vida Guerra's fishnet-clad ass with the coverline "Bottoms Up!"
The Freeloader loves a party at a Times Square theme-restaurant-cum-club as much as the next gatecrasher, so there was no choice but to check out FHM's blast crowning the winner of its "Tournament of Beauties." Turns out the 2006 victor is Diana Chiafar, a 21-year-old pharma rep who lives in Ft. Lauderdale and -- expanding the list of chaste magazine mascots (yes, we're talking about you, Jane) -- remains a virgin.
The friendly women serving drinks didn't wear much: heels and bright skirts and bikini tops, although they often sported navel jewelry or small-of-the-back tats, too. The guys serving drinks were monks by comparison: maroon shirts and black pants. Our hero for the night was the female server, attractive but not so rexy as some of the rest, who somehow escaped the bikini dress code and rocked the guys' uniform instead.
In the crowd, the dudes eyed the women and the women didn't seem to mind; at least, the Freeloader didn't see anyone get slapped. Considering the aggressive drinking going on, the party planners did the right thing by providing three hours' worth of abundant food, including BBQ chicken spring rolls (with cheese!), lobster dumplings, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and the "world's smallest beef Wellingtons."
Actual FHM bigs, including Editor in Chief Scott Gramling, made brief remarks from a walkway behind the bar but in front of a wall of screens showing Miss FHM videos and commercials from sponsors such as Jeep and Champs Sports.
(Budweiser Select also had a presence, but really, Anheuser-Busch has pushed that brand at so many events that the Freeloader wouldn't be surprised to see free Bud Select at a papal conclave.)
In any case, the speeches were hard to hear over the pumped-up crowd. The Freeloader caught something about FHM readership topping the 6 million mark (that got some applause) and the excellent qualities of the outgoing Miss FHM from 2005 (some cheers there, too).
The Freeloader couldn't applaud the swag bag, though. It contained the "Bottoms Up!" issue of FHM and a beard trimmer. Perhaps a few drinks had put the Freeloader in a maudlin mood, but the trimmer only served as a reminder to self: You never could grow a decent beard. Here's hoping Miss FHM wouldn't judge.