Pimp My Drink

Can you trust your bartender?

By Mara Zepeda
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 31, 2007

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Sex pistil: Naked painted ladies from Dallas say thank you to Philly bar staff.

The alcohol industry has a monomaniacal focus on pushing new or relaunched products. One of its favorite tactics is to turn bartenders into "product ambassadors" who are "thanked" with freebies and promotional tat for introducing customers to new or obscure brands.

Like Tuaca (tu-wakka), a 70-proof Italian liqueur. Heard of it? Probably not. But Tuaca is out to change that, one painted nipple at a time.

Last week the Trocadero was smothered in Tuaca signage in preparation for the Body Art Ball. Hosted by Tuaca, the ball is aimed at bartenders who are showered with free booze, cab rides, snacks and entertainment. It's also a not-so-gentle reminder to keep up the good work.

"The ball, like Tuaca, is hard to describe and explain," says Todd Allgier, Tauca's U.S. brand manager. Actually it's not all that hard. Tuaca is a syrupy-sweet brandy liqueur flavored with citrus and vanilla. And at the ball, body artists paint almost-naked dancers to make them look like they're wearing clothes, fur or flora. Then the dancers perform as different characters to thumping beats and feel-good classics.

Fifteen near-naked dancers buzz about the Troc preparing to be painted. Body artists use the curvaceous, chiseled flesh (most of it flown in from Dallas) as canvas, and transform each dancer into a "human work of art."

"I think Tuaca's sponsorship is brilliant. People are more into body art than they realize, and personally, I predict that it'll be really big," says artist Kelsie, as she paints in the hibiscus pollen on a sheathed areola of Amy--a former dancer for the Dallas Mavericks who's being turned into Mother Nature.

Allgier says the show isn't about using sex to shill booze. "Really, it's not as sexual as it is high-energy and artistic."

Allgier also says there's a noticeable upturn in sales after the ball comes to town.

So this evening Philadelphia's loyal bartenders, the guys you rely on for booze advice, are "thanked" by two women--one sporting painted-on blue jeans and a lace-edged corset, and the other in cutoffs (complete with exposed front pockets and ass fringe)--doing an interpretive dance to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Flesh rhythmically undulates, jiggles and flops.

Who would've thought a brandy liqueur based in Livorno, Italy, would be paying ballroom dance teachers from Dallas to pimp their drink to Philadelphians? All in the name of art, gratitude and brand loyalty.

Globalization comes in many forms, and tonight it's spray-painted and wearing pasties.

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