I live on a reasonably nice street that some might mistake for West Hollywood, but is officially still Hollywood.  Despite it not being at all ghetto, I found myself texting the following directions to someone picking me up the other day: “Make a left on Sunset, go 3 blks west, left again at the stripper club.”  I was referring to the most noticeable landmark in the immediate area, The Seventh Veil, named after the most famous stripper in history, Salomé, who was also left what has to be the most lavish and unusual tip in history: the head of a saint.

Across the street from The Seventh Veil on Sunset is the twenty-four hour Argentine restaurant Bossa Nova, which is handy when I’ve been working late and I’ve forgotten to eat and need a beef fix.  I was in there the other night at around one in the morning scarfing down a fat-bitch Bossa Burger when the most stunning young woman with long hair and the lithest of bodies walked in and sat down at a table by herself not far from me.  Had she been her male equivalent—a gorgeous, strapping young buck—I would have leaped up and engaged him in conversation, to hell with having knocked over my table in my haste.

She ordered a glass of red wine and some food, which pleased me because she didn’t look like she ate very often, and I’ve been prone to fatherly surges of concern for the young, anorexic and underdressed lately.  And that’s what puzzled me most: Why this girl, who had no need to advertise her beauty much less exaggerate it, was dressed so “whorishly.”  Her hyper-tight skirt barely covered her ass, and her high-heel shoes made her legs look like the most unsubtle of advertising slogans for a porn site.

She drank half her glass of wine, picked at her food, had the rest wrapped to go, then stood up and teetered out—rather gracefully, given the precariousness of her footwear—to a waiting cab.  Every man in the restaurant turned around as she passed, and the security guards outside didn’t take their eyes off her even after the cab had pulled away.  I guess the purpose of her outfit had made its point.

One of the few who seemed utterly unfazed by her was our mutual waiter, André.  I still haven’t made up my mind if he’s straight or gay; he’s some sort of Eastern European, and doesn’t perform masculinity in the American way.  “Was that a stripper from the club across the street?” I asked him.

“I dunno,” he shrugged.  “I can never tell around here.”

Having lived in Hollywood as long as I have, you would think I’d be used to this by now, but I am forever being visually mugged by vulgarity, and surprised every time.  Hollywood can be inordinately trashy, especially on the weekends, when the streets outside the clubs turn the neighborhood into a tribal mass mating ritual that looks like an adult film version of Comic-Con, just wall-to-wall hookers and their pimps.  Rather than just shaking my head and muttering, “Breeders… tsk, tsk,” I find myself again seized by that fatherly instinct to run over and protect these poor exposed girls.  Throw a blanket over them, or something.  Or at least offer them an arm to steady themselves; few seem experienced enough to walk in fetish footwear.

Who knew I’d go so fundie Muslim as I aged?

You would think that this overly sexualized look would be limited to places like L.A. and Miami, which are established Meccas for exhibitionists, but it isn’t.  On Wednesday, I was invited by a producer of mine to the opening of the Del Mar racetrack in San Diego, and it was very much the same scene, except now the women were wearing hats over their hookerware.  Most egregiously, many of them were way past the age where they should be accentuating their breedability with such skimpy outfits, and not within the proximity of skittish thoroughbred horses.   I admit to having had my own SoCal shallow moment when I said to myself, Well, at least none of them are fat.  Having to bear witness to outrageous displays of obesity is one of my major concerns when venturing outside a major American metropolis.

Women at the Del Mar race track

Women at the Del Mar race track in 2010. Hemlines have hiked since then.

As we pushed our way through the throng to our seats, I must have said something about all of the exaggerated enhancements, both sartorial and cosmetic, because my producer said, “Just wait till we get to the after party.  That is a real scene.”

And so it was.  Like a blinkered racehorse, I tried to focus on the graceful women we were with rather than most of the others at the party.  “These look like people they make reality TV shows about,” I commented at one point.

The hooker look has been with us for almost a hundred years now, since the Flapper Era that emerged just after World War I and women’s fashions changed for good, from variations on ways to conceal the body as much as possible while enhancing certain aspects, to revealing as much as possible while staying within the limits of decency.  According to Wikipedia, the word “flapper” might have originally have been a slang term for a prostitute, just in case anyone thinks I really am becoming an old Muslim and being overly prudish by bandying around the word ‘hooker.’  Actresses like Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and silent-era Joan Crawford built their careers on being flappers, while F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anita Loos, who wrote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, popularized them in prose, almost to the point of fetish.  Coco Chanel defined the flapper silhouette, which is still sent down the runways by Herr Lagerfeld every season, although what was once seen as suitable only for young women in the 1920s is nowadays mainly for dowagers.

Kim Kardashian

Off with her head!

“I can’t talk about mini skirts,” the designer Rick Owens said in an interview a few months back, as if he were the survivor of some major trauma that he hadn’t worked out with his therapist just yet.  The irony is Rick is from Southern California, where the fault line for the hooker look runs deep.  I can only imagine that is one of the reasons he lives and works in Paris now; even if French women are known to go through their mini-skirt cycles every so often, it is done with that certain je ne sais quoi called stylishness that is for the most part utterly lacking in the States.

There is only one person to blame for the relentless hooker look: Kim Kardashian.  It’s just crazy that this living sausage of vulgarity is so influential that I have to read things on my Twitter feed like, “So tired.  Going to bed.  Good nite everyone! (retweeted by Top Fashion Tweets).”  There seems no way to switch her off.  If she blinks, they retweet it.   She’s the Marie Antoinette of our times, followed from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed.

Maybe it’s time we brought back the guillotine, too.