Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Entering NYC's "Hawaiian Tropic Zone"

Although the outside is understated—there is no heralding signage, one shouldn’t be fooled. What lies within this Seventh Avenue restaurant is a male tropical paradise—the Hawaiian Tropic Zone.

I’m in town to moderate a panel on sex and decency in advertising hosted by the International Advertising Association. My hosts thought HTZ was the perfect place for dinner to set the tone for the following day’s discussion. And it was close to my hotel.

HTZ bills itself as "The Hottest Place on Earth." As one woman in our party observed, "it’s more like an upscale Hooters." Instead of tight tank tops and orange hot pants, however, the HTZ’s high-heeled wait staff wear bikini tops and sarongs, but not for long. Periodically the women walk along a catwalk above the bar as patrons clap and holler for the "hottest" contestant. Each table contains a small holder for ballots and pencils so patrons can vote for their favorite waitress.

Similar to Hooters, men are seen talking with each other, stealing a quick glance at the women as they walk by, or catching a highlight on Sports Center. Unlike Hooters, men can stare at a huge bank of monitors behind the bar as it showcases sun-drenched models. Judging from the number of customers, the place must be doing well. In a town of a thousand restaurants I suppose there is room for upscale food, drink and tropic-themed titillation.

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