The Sin City VIP service that seduced Tiger Woods

The art of adultery has been incorporated in the business models of Vegas clubs

On any given evening at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, a long queue will stretch from the floor of the casino to the entrance of a nightclub called The Bank. There, crowds of fashionable punters wait patiently in line, sometimes for hours, for the opportunity to set foot on its glass-cased dancefloor, which is occupied by acres of cleavage and overhung by endless chandeliers. It is the City of Sin's "most desirable, cosmopolitan nightclub," according to promotional literature, which grandly adds that "like its namesake, the Bank [is] a sanctuary for all things precious".

Every now and then the expectant crowds will part so that a headset-wearing hostess can march through, accompanied by wealthy men who are known in the industry as "whales". They are ushered to a cordoned-off area overlooking the main arena, where they are brought extortionately priced drinks and assigned a "mood advisor," whose duties include plumping up the cushions and offering, with the words "blondes or brunettes, sir?" to drag willing young women off the dancefloor to join the party.

Tiger Woods was a whale. In fact he was one of the biggest and most coveted (a blue whale, perhaps?) in a multimillion-dollar industry that stretches from London and Ibiza to New York, Miami, Dubai, Vegas and any number of global "party towns". And it is testament to the success with which the VIP nightclub scene quietly facilitates the indiscretions of not just Woods, but scores of other actors and sportsmen, that the scandal which prompted him to quit golf "indefinitely" to concentrate on being "a better husband, father and person" took so long to emerge.

For the five years of his married life Woods kept his spectacular philandering secret from the media and his wife, Elin, who has just bought herself a home on a private island in Sweden and is reported to be planning to seek a divorce in the new year. He was also able to keep it from many of his closest associates, including his caddy, Steve Williams, who told a newspaper in his native New Zealand that he had no knowledge of Tiger's "indiscretions".

We must presume that word never reached the corporate sponsors who are suddenly wondering what to do with their soiled investments in the once squeaky clean star. Last night global consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture announced it was ending its sponsorship of Tiger Woods, saying the golfer was "no longer the right representative" after the "circumstances of the past two weeks." Woods still has Nike's "full support," but Gillette said it was "limiting his role," Tag Heuer and Accenture have removed his image from promotional literature, and AT&T is "evaluating our ongoing relationship," with Woods.

Finally, what many pop psychologists, including the BBC's normally austere golf pundit Peter Allis called Tiger's "addictive sex problem" was hidden from the sponsors of major golf events. They are now coming to terms with having bought into an entire sport whose market value has dropped drastically. When Woods was injured last season, television audiences for golf events fell by up to 48 per cent. Whether he now stays out until March (returning perhaps, in the run-up to the Masters in Augusta) or seeks a longer lay-off, billions of dollars have disappeared down a tabloid sinkhole.

With this much at stake, and given the scale of his carousing, it seems unbelievable that Tiger Woods took so long to fall. In the era of kiss-and-tell, in a country where blogs and supermarket magazines compete, on an hourly basis, to lend credence to the unlikeliest celebrity rumours, it's difficult to comprehend how one of the most recognisable men on the planet can have managed, for five long years, to secretly maintain a harem of cocktail servers, waffle waitresses, beauty queens and pornographic actresses.

Until, that is, you lift the velvet ropes of the VIP nightclub industry, where Tiger picked up almost all of his birdies. Despite their decadent public face, venues like The Bank are able to attract celebrity clientele willing to flex black AmEx cards on $500 bottles of Belvedere vodka and $20,000 methuselahs of Cristal champagne precisely because they guarantee client secrecy.

Woods has so far been linked to 13 young women. But the surprising fact is that, even now, only eight have actually been named (the others have retained lawyers to keep their identities secret). Of those eight, just four have publicly confessed to affairs.

The most interesting women, however, are two of the four who continue to strenuously deny affairs with the golfer. One is Rachel Uchitel, the New York socialite who was the first of the alleged mistresses to emerge in the wake of the late-night car accident that set Tiger's downfall in motion; the other is called Kalika Moquin. She works in the marketing department of the Light Group, which operates The Bank.

In a remarkably astute article published early last week, which ought to now be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the sexual habits of the rich and famous, the US sports blog Deadspin claimed that the biggest misconception in the unfolding scandal is that Uchitel and Moquin were Tiger's full-time lovers.

Instead, the blog claimed, their primary function was to act as party organisers, securing his entrance to fashionable nightspots. They would also, as Deadspin put it, "provide women for Tiger during his globetrotting excursions to various tournaments, charity functions and private-jet weekends with his Fortune 500 party pals that he seemed to enjoy so much". For this, they earned retainers estimated at $15,000 a month.

The twenty- or thirtysomething women that Uchitel or Moquin allegedly provided for Woods were not prostitutes. They might be flown to Las Vegas (or Melbourne, where Uchitel was caught going about her business by the National Enquirer) and given free accommodation. But they are neither paid for their troubles, nor expected to sleep with a "whale" unless they particularly want to.

They are, however, required to be discreet, which is why so many have maintained a dignified silence, despite vast chequebooks being waved in their general direction.

In Britain, footballers and soap stars pick up women in high-street bars and pay for it in tabloid headlines. In the US, icons of sport and entertainment, from Elvis onwards, have instead paid people like Uchitel and Moquin to protect their lucrative reputations.

It's a valuable service. Last week, Ms Uchitel came within two hours of giving a press conference explaining her role at the office of her Los Angeles lawyer, Gloria Allred. When it was cancelled, at the last minute, many wondered if she had been compensated for her silence. But perhaps a different calculation was in play. Maybe, after years of earning vast sums to co-ordinate the exotic private lives of people like Woods, she simply decided that her market value as the world’s most famously-schtum celebrity party organiser was worth more than a single kiss-and-tell could ever provide."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence