COUGAR HUNTING - PROWL INTO N.Y.C.S HOTTEST SCENE: OLDER WOMEN, YOUNG GUYS; CAT FANCY HITS N.Y.C.
18 April 2006
New York Post
(c) 2006 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.
SHHHH. Be very, very quiet. Were tracking cougar. Urban cougar. Felinae metropolitanus.
Ah! Theres one now, down at the end of the bar. Aint she a beaut, mate? About 45 years old and a real ferocious hellcat, she is.
Well just wait till she leans in for a sip and then . . .
"Hi there, would you pass me a napkin?"
Ah, crikey! Shes pouncing on the bait! Somebody hit her with a tranquilizer dart. No, better still, get her another cantaloupe martini.
Its dangerous business, tracking a cougar - a sophisticated species of female who seeks the pleasure of younger males. These are 40-ish women who have no qualms about picking up - or getting picked up by - the same boys they sent off to bed for being naughty when they were babysitters.
Men their own age? Theyve been there, done that, collected the alimony.
In what might be the most happening scene in New York dating, cougar hunting has taken on the popularity of big-game sport. Visit Soho House, Lenox Room or Ava Lounge to see cougars in their natural habitat - strappy heels, cleavage, a little too much makeup and a glint in their eye.
Think: Demi Moore and boy toy Ashton Kutcher, or Nicollette Sheridans conniving Edie Britt on "Desperate Housewives," or Kim Cattralls tramptastic Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City." While were at it, lets throw in half of the older women in spinning class at Equinox gyms on the Upper East Side.
Web sites charting the phenomenon, like gocougar.com and .urbancougar.com, feature an Urban Cougar of the Month and even subcategorize saucy women under 40 as "pumas" and those over 50 as "jaguars."
Cougars are often divorcees or career-driven women who want to avoid the entanglements of a relationship. Theyre financially independent and enjoy feeling young and hip, so theyre turning the tables on the tradition of older men scooping up trophy babes.
"I definitely see this trend among older women because they have such full lives," says Sheri de Borchgrave, who wrote a sex column called "Bedroom Baroness" for Cosmo until 2003. "Rather than work on a relationship that might not go anywhere, its better to go younger and friskier. Women get the athletic sex and, lets face it, guys get the easy sex."
De Borchgrave says life is imitating art, as shows like "Sex and the City" and "Desperate Housewives" have removed the stigma of oversexed older women.
"They can be wonderful mini-relationships to revive the older woman and to give the younger guy a break from the really tedious hunt for a life partner," de Borchgrave says. "Its not a teacherstudent relationship. Its the opportunity to have a no-nonsense approach to the bedroom."
In New York City, where urban cougars are an indigenous species, The Post set out to see what happened when we dangled fresh meat in front of the local wildcats. We sent handsome, 24-year-old smooth talker Ben "Cougar Bait" Rodriguez out last week to hotel bars and happy hours around Midtown.
"People do tell me regularly that I should be a model, but I think its an idiotic pursuit," says the fit, 6-foot-1 Rodriguez. Hes half Mexican and half Norwegian, so hes got that tall and dark thing going on. And his work in catering and hospitality gives him plenty of practice.
For setting his cougar traps last week, Rodriguez revealed the strategy: "You dont approach women, you just make yourself conspicuous. Go near them and look out the window, or sit at the bar alone with a book." Any book in particular? "Doesnt matter."
Urban Cougars No. 1 and No. 2 - Meet the Fawners:
"Oh, my God. Youre gorgeous!"
"Are you a model? What do you do? You must be a model."
"No, youve got to be on a soap opera!"
This affection downpour began after Ben merely slid into an open space at the bar at Del Friscos on West 49th Street and reached across for a stirring straw. Thats when the fawning Mel and Nanette, two successful and buttoned-down 40ish women who work in media, suddenly turned into the Coors Light twins.
They begin rubbing his arm and tossing back their hair flirtatiously.
"I think hes Latin American," coos Mel.
"No, I think hes maybe Italian," says Nanette, batting her eyes.
Later, after saying goodbye, Ben quipped, "I told them models are shallow, and they just laughed. They didnt care
about my answers. They just wanted me to be stupid."
Urban Cougar No. 3 - Kicking It Old School:
Del Friscos is a perfect cougar trap - loaded with successful older women on the prowl.
Ben hangs out at the bar and fiddles around with his iPod.
"Hi," says another cougar, this one a Chardonnay-clutching human-resources exec at a cable TV network named
Judy. Shes early 40s. "What are you listening to?"
"I like lots of things," answers Ben. "Rock, jazz, rap."
"Oh, I love rap," says Judy, overselling it with too-youthful enthusiasm. "I was at this cool new club, Bed, awhile back as part of this rap summit. Everyone was there . . . P. Diddy . . . and, um . . . another guy."
She strains to think of another hip-hopper.
Who was it, "Q-Z" or "Jay-Tip" perhaps?
"I think so. I think it might have been," she says, even though those rappers dont exist. "Are they the ones who did that video with Aerosmith?"
Urban Cougars Nos. 4, 5 & 6 - Time Out Room
A few hours later, Ben swings into his favorite downtown dive, Doc Hollidays on Avenue A, for a quick break from the hunt. The two foxy older women behind the bar - Sabina and Joanna - serve up cans of Pabst plus a little wisdom on the cougar phenomenon.
"Hey, its great dating young guys," says Sabina, whos in her mid-30s and likes her men a decade younger. "They dont have any hang-ups, theyre just looking for fun, theyve got great bodies. "Plus they all hang out together in groups. So if you meet one, suddenly youre at a table with about five good-looking guys." The other bartender, 35-year-old Joanna, says: "Youve got to take them back to your place, though, because theyve all got roommates. You dont want to swing into frat-boy central. "Also, you dont want them too immature - like, any guy who orders a Long Island iced tea or some stupid new shot like liquid heroin. " A cougar at the next bar stool named Diana chimes in. A jazz singer who goes by the name Perez, its common for Diana to be approached by younger guys after her gigs.
"Theyre all about T&A and MTV," she says. "They dont know anything about jazz. One actually asked me to sing him to sleep sometime. Like a lullaby. That was a little weird.
"But the real problem is he was into video games. Thats a deal-breaker."
Ben finishes his Pabst, and its back to the hunt.
Urban Cougar No. 7 - You Look Like a Million
Ben saunters up to order a drink at the swanky Pen-Top lounge on the roof of the Peninsula Hotel. "How many floors do you think there are in this building?" asks the flirtatious Ronda, a nearly 50-year-old wife of a Texas millionaire, breaking the ice with a question nobody really cares the answer to. Apparently, Rondas husband is either at their mansion in Dallas, at the ski house in Colorado, or possibly at their fairwayside spread in Northern California.
In any case, hes not here at the Pen-Top lounge - but his credit card is.
A few rounds of Lemon Drops later, and Ben is giving her a foot rub.
"Oh, arent you a darling," she says, "But you know what, I like Southern boys. I want to mess up your hair a little bit. Make it not so slick." She tousles Bens hair, thankfully managing not to snag either her wedding ring or diamond-encrusted Rolex in his gelled black locks.
"And untuck your shirt, too," she says, pulling out his Oxford and sneaking a peek at his abs. "Feel my abs," she says, pulling his hands to her taut midsection. "Pilates and fly-fishing."
A young hottie from Long Island named Jordy slyly sneaks in next to the ladies man and starts making conversation. "Dont I know you . . . you look familiar?" she asks, stealing Bens attention from irritated older woman Ronda. Uh-oh. Its about to get catty in here.
"I just love your bracelet," Ronda quips to the flirty 21-year-old whos obviously trying to steal her young trophy beau. "Oh, thank you," answers Jordy. "I got it for my Sweet 16."
"Really," says Ronda, facetiously arching an eyebrow. "Are you 16, dear?"
Rrrrrrowr! Catfight! The young girl turns and walks away, licking her wounds.
Its a law of the jungle: Dont ever get between a cougar and her prey.
Know your cougar breeds
Top cats -These cougars are the top of the food chain - classy, rich, pampered and ultra-hot. Find them at hotel bars in the Peninsula or Essex House. Think: Ivana Trump, Jerry Hall (right), Sarah Ferguson Slut cat -These cleavage-bearing, twicedivorced alley cats can be found shooting pool and chain-smoking Parliamants at dive bars on Monday nights. Think: Janice Dickenson, Kim Cattrall (inset left) Euro cat -These sultry and sophisticated foreign felines have the olive skin and sexy Spanish and Italian accents to match. Cage these cougars with a few salsa-dancing moves. Think: Isabella Rossellini, Catherine Deneuve (left)
Buff cat -These gravity-defying fitness fanatics have the bods of women half their age. Keeping up with them is a workout, and were not talking about the gym. Think: Madonna, Demi Moore (right), Jane Fonda Rock cat -Spot these downtown rock n rollers by the badass tattoos and leather jackets. Theyre ferocious in the sack, plus have stories about partying with The Stones. Think: Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett -COUGAR: Diana Perez, 43; HUNTER: Ben Rodriguez, 24 [Christian Johnston] -Ben Rodriguez chats up cougar Judy at Del Friscos restaurant. [Christian Johnston] -Jerry Hall; Kim Cattrall; Catherine Deneuve; Demi Moore. [EPA; WireImage (2)]