The Place: Trader Vic's in the Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 274-7777.
Atmosphere: A kitschy, postwar bar; Disneyland meets Beverly Hills swingers. Light-strewn canoes, the original cartoon-festooned 1947 menus (almost every drink is described as "lethal") and flaming drinks served in plastic shrunken heads ("yours to take home").
Serving Up Style: Serious-faced waiters in classic white shirts, black pants and Polynesian-patterned cummerbunds set drinks on blue fire and wield pu-pu platters. Bus boys wear blue Hawaiian-Polynesian shirts and furrowed brows. The maitre d' signals people to their table in a crest-adorned blazer.
Customer Themes: Barbie-doll clones wear polished, glowing tans; arched, plucked eyebrows; pink frosted lipstick; French manicures, and cleavagy blouses or dresses in pastels. Dorm/sorority girls wear embroidered vests, blazers--or sequined dresses, as if they were dressed for the Emmys. European girls teeter around in six-inch stilettos, black hot pants or leather miniskirts and oversized, eccentric hats.
The men vary in their dress from the frat boy/car salesman look (cashmere sweater vests over T-shirts, jeans and loafers) to the sugar-daddy-for-Barbie look (square-shouldered light blazers, open shirts, big fat cigars) to the naughty English schoolboy look (dark blazer) or the seedy English was-a-rock-star look (purple, chest-hair-revealing shirts and pointed boots).
Hair Apparent: Barbie dolls wear their white-blond hair straight and shiny, usually parted in the middle and tumbling to their shoulders; dorm-sorority girls wear puffed, feathered, inflated 'dos.
Frat boys wear short, conservative coifs; English schoolboys wear dark, glossy bowl cuts; seedy was-a-rock-stars wear graying, split-ended manes to their shoulders.
Accessories: Tiny white rhinestones sparkle from trim bracelets, purse straps, belts, necklaces, rings, shiny shoes--and in any way that draws attention to all of the amply displayed, puffed-up cleavage.
Cardinal Rule: If thou art cultivating a glossy tan, thou must monitor it during bathroom-break intervals, inspect it in different lights, and compare it to the hues of other Trader Vic's denizens (i.e. "Are you tanning your face? It looks different in this light.").
Overheard: First person: "Smoked salmon on toast! Mushrooms on toast! And crab legs on toast! That's the English menu!" Second person: (pause) "I don't want toast." First person: "I'm joking."
Parting Statement: "I remember the days when you could pick up a Laura Ashley dress for $14, but you always left your Ashley dress at my house for free."