Speed Reads

Eyes Wide Shut

A female reporter went undercover at a men-only London charity gala, and her report shocked Britain

Last Thursday night, Britain's Presidents Club Charitable Trust held its 33rd and, as it turns out, final annual charity event for "worthy children's causes" at London's Dorchester hotel. The charity event is open only to male guests, with about 360 men from the top tiers of business, sports, and politics attending, served by 130 young female "hostesses." On Wednesday, the Financial Times shocked Britain with its undercover investigation of the event, attended by reporter Madison Marriage posing as a hostess. By Wednesday night, two children's hospitals were returning the donations in disgust, event chairman David Miller stepped down from Britain's Department of Education, and the Presidents Club charity said it was closing down.

In her article, Marriage walks through the process of becoming a hostess: Only "tall, thin, and pretty" women need apply, and successful applicants were told to wear black underwear, given tight black dresses and corset-like belts to wear, made up to look "smart" and "sexy," warned that some of the men would be "annoying," told they could drink, and sent out into the sea of handsy black-tie A-listers. For up to 10 hours of work they were paid £150 ($215) and £25 for a taxi home. Hostesses told Marriage they were groped and had men repeatedly stick hands up their skirts and proposition them for sex; one man exposed his penis, and a sexagenarian asked one woman if she was a prostitute.

Marriage told The Washington Post that she was also "propositioned and groped and received some very lewd comments" but did not want to include that in the article. "I genuinely felt incredibly sad and upset by what I had seen, the fact that the upper echelons of our society are operating this way in 2018," she added. Read more of the disheartening details at the Financial Times, which has put this article outside of its paywall.