By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Listen up, ladies: The Ritz isn't some elementary, basal place for beginning gold diggers, nor is it for silly sorority girls looking for a rich boyfriend-this is for gold-digging experts. There is possibly no other restaurant in OC more decadent, and in Newport Beach? It just screams money. Stick to the bar area, which is teeming with wealthy professionals. Last time I went, I sat several seats from a pudgy gentleman in a dark-gray suit (probably in his 60s) who was being fawned over by three ladies in plunging necklines (probably in their 30s). Apparently, this trio wasn't enough for him; after eyeing us up and down, ol' Casanova sent my friend some champagne. Good champagne. Feeling threatened, his harem shot us dirty looks, but that didn't stop him from making kissy faces at me as I walked to the ladies' room. Lecherous, sure, and he would've been an easy target. Classier conquests are abundant, but a little more difficult to obtain if you don't want to share your sugar daddy with three others (which, seriously, is a little gross). 880 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-1800; www.ritzrestaurant.com.
The crowd may be intimidating, but wear your real diamonds and stick your nose in the air, and you'll fit right in. A rooftop bar above the Casa del Camino Hotel, Kya is a breathtakingly beautiful spot to have a drink. Besides the ocean view, the service is impeccable. I'd recommend this place whether you're gold-digging or not. The main drawback is that it's usually mobbed. I finagled my way in one night to find the only spots left were at a table behind two women who looked like the models in our paper's plethora of plastic surgery ads (if there isn't one on this page, I'm sure there's one on the next). They were discussing a mutual acquaintance, and I couldn't help but overhear.
"Did you hear he's finally getting a divorce?" one of them asked, sipping her martini. "His wife is trying to get the house in Dana Point."
"Really," her friend replied. She didn't sound surprised. "Let's give him a call to have a drink."
Yes! Call him! This was possibly the closest I'd ever get to actual gold-digging. One of them called, but he didn't answer the phone. She left a flirty message about getting a drink sometime and hung up.
"Oh, well," she said, "Maybe later."
Her friend interjected, "He's kind of short. And you know he isn't circumcised." My vodka tonic almost came out my nose.
"I know," her friend answered seriously, "But he did just buy a new Jag." 1287 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9718; www.kyarestaurant.com.
It was on the lips of nearly everyone offering advice about this little gold-digging endeavor of mine.
"Go to the Foxfire. It's a cougar den."
Perfect. For people who've never heard the phrase, a "cougar" is a woman of a certain age who likes to hook up with much younger men. Gold-digging isn't just for women anymore; there are plenty of young studs out there looking for a sugar momma, too. In 1999, Foxfire was named the best singles bar by The Orange County Register (take that for what's its worth), and over the past nine years, it's evolved into an infamous hook-up spot. I went one Friday night to observe the beasts in their natural habitat (it's hard to miss Foxfire's huge, flaming torches—"cougar-beacons," as one patron calls them). But be careful entering this wildcat's lair—they prowl in packs. I settled in a corner and observed four of them situated in the center of the bar. Each had long acrylic nails and unusually dark tans for January. The ladies were checking out a group of well-built young men of the I-just-turned-21 variety, targeting them like wounded antelopes. Although I doubt the guys minded too much, a wounded antelope never stood such a good chance of getting laid. Within a half-hour, they were doing body shots off one another. Magical. 5717 E. Santa Ana Canyon Rd., Anaheim, (714) 974-5400; www.foxfirerestaurant.com.
THE QUIET WOMAN
This place is for the undercover gold digger, a person who doesn't want to dig so obviously. But trust me, there is some serious wealth sitting on those bar stools. On the Newport Beach/Corona del Mar border, the crowd here lives in the area. You know those hillside mansions with the ocean views? Yeah—those people. It's a tiny place, perfect for getting to know the oil tycoon sitting next to you, or you can just sit back in the restaurant side of the room and scout your prey. And what did I observe? Each time the door opened, every pair of eyes darted that direction to see who was coming in. At one point, I accidentally made eye contact with some guy in his late 30s who wore an orange Lacoste polo and sported some tragically obvious hair plugs. I quickly averted my eyes, but he still came over and asked to buy me a drink. Damn it!
"No, thank you," I told him, raising the still-full beverage I was already holding. He lingered around making small talk and finally asked if I'd like to see his powerboat sometime. Was he speaking innuendo? I'm not sure, but I pointed to my fake plastic wedding ring and lied, "Thanks, but I'm married."
"Hey, babe, that's no problem," he leered. "I'm married, too." 3224 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 640-7440.
Known as the "Backwards K" to locals—or, as one beautiful buxom blonde regular calls it, "God's Waiting Room"—Kelly's on Naples Island attracts those who still have some vigor left in their golden years. This is the perfect place to pull an Anna Nicole (the marrying-a-millionare-old-guy part, not all the other stuff she did). Kelly's is frequented by men and women in the highest of tax brackets, patrons such as Porsche salesmen and former NFL players (excuse me—former Super Bowl winners). So what if they're older than your parents? Or your grandparents?
"Some of the cougars here are old enough to be saber-tooth tigers!" a potential digger tells me over huge vodka martinis (reason enough to go to Kelly's—the drinks are big and cheap). Looking around, I realize I'm the youngest person by about 100 years. But one thing that sets this dimly lit, cozy bar apart from other gold-digging hotspots is its unspoken code of discretion. The bartenders might sass you a bit, but they're tight-lipped regarding their customers' liaisons. For when it comes to slightly questionable social activities, nobody knows how to be discreet better than people who have been on Earth for damn near a century. 5716 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 433-4983.