• Girl-on-girl make out sessions and online misogyny credited as “good marketing”
• Does this indicate a future New Zealand where affluence is the only key to cool?
I sidle up to Lad X, a young man seated in a booth sipping an overtly masculine drink. Lad X and I are attending a weekly event at the Roxy called Houseparty because - even though there is no house and, as of yet, no party - why not? It's past midnight on Wednesday night (student night) but it's still too soon for him to venture on to the dancefloor. I introduce myself and cut to the chase: does he come here often?
Yes, he tells me, he does.
I've found a live one. Lad X appears to be one of the disciples of the "The Fulltimers Society", an all-male gang of predominantly students in their early 20s - and the hosts of tonight's event. They united/were recruited if they had A) ever modelled or B) were widely connected in the nouveau-riche Auckland social scene - the latter applying to the likes of the Prime Minister's son, Fulltimer Max Key.
I casually venture my next question. So, Lad X, what do you think of The Fulltimers?
He casts a sideways glance at the boys and buckets of Veuve, each flanked by girls in gravity-defying dresses.
"You don't want to know what I think of them," he scoffs, "they're a bunch of arseholes."
This throws me off guard. Surely if he dislikes The Fulltimers Society so much, he wouldn't come to their parties where, by definition, Fulltimers will surely be?
He leans back and shrugs - he doesn't have an answer. Nor does he need one. It makes even more inherent sense to him than the illegible words scrawled down his sleeves. He comes for the girl-on-girl make-out sessions, the inflatable beach balls, red cups. He comes to be one of the young men pointing their finger guns down the camera lens.He comes to see if the way "The Fulltimers Society" present their parties on social media is true to reality. Lad X comes because, although he'll never admit it, maybe he can be one of them.
By cultivating an image of affluence and, perhaps most importantly, exclusivity a group of 17 boys created a business from partying. When asked about the role social media played in The Fulltimers' success, founder Victor Green admits it was imperative. The boys initially formed as a secret Facebook group, created a logo and the name stuck, officially launching at Tyler Street Garage in March last year. Often more than 1000 eager attendees affirm their presence with a mouse click on a Facebook event page.
But with the fans come the critics, like attendee Lad X. Despite what their social media presence suggests, The Fulltimers as a group aren't hugely popular. Their apparent elitism and promiscuity mean they are often addressed in homophobic slurs - both on and offline.
Original member Tyler Christie says the boys are often abused by hecklers as "Fulltimer faggots" when out in public.
On the Fulltimers' Facebook page Josh Hill writes:
"Great place for the homosexual community to gather and have a good ol' time together."
Man-of-the-people Green says the Fulltimers are just a regular group of guys trying to show everybody a good time. He blames the "haters" on kind of exacerbated tall poppy syndrome - suggesting the critics are made up of those that would never be accepted into the Fulltimers ranks themselves, so they resort to taking the club down a peg - an "if you can't join 'em beat 'em" mentality.
So, should this display youth entrepreneurial spirit be admired? Or does it indicate a wider problem among New Zealand millennials? Where, in accumulation of followers and likes, an individual's value lies in an insta-exhibition of wealth or beauty and how many believe you have it?
In not so many words, that's why I too am here. To see if the Fulltimers - and their events - live up to the online hype.
Despite their reputation for superficiality, Mr Green says "The Fulltimers Society" references each member's "fulltime" dedication to their studies and professional life.
Although Mr Christie somewhat gives up Green's PR savvy game.
"Victor told me not to say we just f*** bitches and get money," he laughs, referencing the lavish lifestyle alluded to in Junior M.A.F.I.A and Notorious B.I.G's 1995 hit, Get Money .
However seem to "get money" they do.
On account of their self-made nature, The Fulltimers Society claim to be vastly "less-pretentious" than the likes of Auckland's YaYa Club - a group of wealthy Auckland youth who throw large scale parties. Singer Lorde called the club an "embarrassing hot mess" after announcing a culturally insensitive ball theme that encouraged attendees to come as "Intriguing geisha twins" or "seductive sari queens".
No, unlike the YaYa club, the measure of The Fulltimers' success is not the bottles on bottles of Veuve Cliquot or yacht parties - although those never hurt - but their aforementioned social media notoriety. Max Key alone has almost 18,000 Instagram followers. This reach has elevated their status so much that Tyler Street Garage, Roxy and Ebisu have all employed the Fulltimers as event organisers to entice new patrons onto their premises.
Tonight at The Roxy, the event is surprisingly...well, dead. Post last call middle-aged co-workers watch on as a teen female lies on a couch emitting no sign of life. She's had - according to Mr Christie - "too much fun" and is a far cry from the up-for-anything girls I had been promised from a Facebook photo of two young women in the throngs of passion (with an innuendo-laden caption to boot) from last week's Houseparty.
A sporadic attendee of Fulltimer events who asks not to be named, affirms she too has been asked on multiple occasions to kiss her female friends for the camera. She assumes this request has never been proffered to any of the Fulltimers themselves.
In essence, this proved the difference a pushy photographer and a little social media narcissism can make in cultivating a make-believe male utopia. So, what do The Fulltimers have to say about their online objectification of women with two bottles of Moet at the holster?
"It's all a yarn," says Victor Green.
"That's just good marketing," says Tyler Christie.
Lad X certainly seems to think so.
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