The daytime during Pebble Beach car week is all about seeing the cars. But the nights are all about exclusive parties and events for well-to-do customers, celebrities, journalists, and other members of the glitterati.
On Friday night, the hottest ticket was to the party Jaguar was holding to introduce the XJL Ultimate. Oh, it was co-hosted by Playboy. Of course, I've got a ticket.
(Full Disclosure: Jaaaaag wanted me to attend their Playboy party so badly they flew me to Pebble Beach, put me up in a gorgeous hotel on the water, wined me, dined me, sent me to all the awesome events, and chauffeured me all weekend... and they sent me to a party with real live Playboy bunnies. I lead a tough life.)
Having Barney Stinson suited-up for the occasion, my party arrives in a chauffeur driven Range Rover just before 7 PM and the first person I see is a man with the most obvious facelift ever. He would be less conspicuous if he had a scrotum on his forehead. Not a good start.
But then we enter the party to see a Playboy Playmate, Raquel Pomplun, who some of you may know as April's Playmate of the Month. She is in full bunny regalia and taking pictures with anyone and everyone.
That includes Mr. Facelift and also Ian Callum, Jaguar's charming design director.
I speak to her briefly, and she is incredibly nice. And of course, I get the de rigeur picture everyone else is clamoring for. It is by far the most 'liked' picture I've ever put on Facebook.
Once I, uhh, calm down from the picture, I survey the crowd and grab a drink with Jalopnik frenemy Dan Neil of the Wall Street Journal. The party is partly sponsored by Belvedere Vodka, so we drink Sea Breezes together (not that there's anything wrong with that!), make progressively more off color jokes, and look out at the yachts with helicopters on them that the glitterati park in the bay.
But then, something else catches our eye. Last season, Jaaaag was a key part of the plot on Mad Men, which made it a lot less surprising when Christina Hendricks, who you may know as Joan Holloway on the show, arrives to the party. Adrien Brody (and his swell goatee) follow Ms. Hendrick and a few minutes pass till Wyclef Jean arrives, who immediately gravitates to the band and stands with a friend dancing.
While Wyclef dances and looks like he is having fun, I spot him leaving the party at 9:30. Christina and Adrien both made a big splash when they entered, but then keep to themselves for the rest of the night. I see Christina with a few people sitting upstairs for most of the night, while Adrien sticks to drinking with his entourage of one.
Celebrities at these events tend to just show up, have a drink, and then depart. Their presence is enough to earn them whatever they're paid and give events like this some sort of cred that carmakers desperately seek. There are exceptions — Will Arnett is fucking awesome — but the more famous you become the less desire you apparently have to listen to autojournos blather on about unimportant nonsense.
The same can't be said for the bunnies. Their handlers are constantly trying to move them about the party to get people into the photo booth or near the XJL. The problem is that every time they try to get them somewhere else in the house, a couple of balding, suited men come by and ask them to pose for a picture. The girls, to their credit, don't refuse pictures from anyone.
Oh, there is also the XJL Ultimate there. But there are Playboy Bunnies sitting on an XK-RS. I know which car everyone is actually interested in.
When the celebs stop arriving, everyone enjoys the band, the scenery, and the risotto bar. There are three different types of risotto.
This party showed me just how smart the people at Jaaaag are, but also where they're lacking. They certainly know their clientele: Middle aged to slightly older men that still feel young at heart. The Playboy alliance gives Jag ties to the sexy '60s while still producing some of the most modern and avant garde looking cars on the road. It's a brilliant move and will certainly serve them very well amongst men.
But what about women? Playboy isn't really the way to tell women you're a forward thinking, diverse brand. Instead, the event made me feel that women, like the cars, are objects to be looked at. The presence of Joan — who was treated as material to be bartered for business in the last season of her show — just reinforced this feeling.
Of course, Pebble is still dominated by men and the male heavy crowd at the party loved every minute of it.
Photo Credit: Getty, Travis Okulski