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Michael Conniff Headshot

Con Games: Playboy Mansion Is My Domain

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Los Angeles--Maybe someone from the DomainFest confab was painting the town red, but most of the minions in the we-shall-know-thee-by-thy-URL world were far too preoccupied with the naked ladies in paint at the Playboy Mansion here in Holmby Hills to give a good goddamn.

The existential question: are painted girls actually naked or merely part of some surreal cover-up?

Any scribe without domain portfolio might be tempted to see a slam-bang metaphor here for the domain industry as a whole, all dressed up yet somehow in need of a haberdasher. For years it has been more than enough to own a domain, deposit Google ad revenues every month, and flip a few here and there like flapjacks. People at the Playboy Mansion the other night count domains the way Hugh Hefner once counted Playmates: more is better and boy oh boy does size matter.

When you meet a domainer, as we are called, you trade business cards and see if yours is bigger than theirs--and theirs is almost always bigger, even if you've got a thousand of the suckers. Frank Schilling, for example, is a man admired by all in the domain industry for his approachability and the several hundred thousand domains that grossed him $20 million per year in the good years, according to legend. He sold 250 domains in 2010 to the tune of $7 million "without trying too hard." He is the Hugh Hefner of the domaining world, the man who got in early and continues to play the game better than anyone else.

Hef--the Frank Schilling of the skin trade--was, in fact, in the building in Holmby Hills, 84 years old and holding on for his next wedding to a gal 60 years his junior. He lives here in the Playboy Mansion but a conference of randomized domainers was not enough to bring him down the stairs and onto the stoned patio poolside. Had Hef made the trip within his own manse he would have seen his hired hands in various modes of undress: the painted girls, the girls in lingerie, the girls without lingerie but with nipples plastered--and the Playboy bunnies who looked fully dressed in ears and rabbit tail compared to their lesser contemporaries.

Within the first hour at the Mansion a good dozen of the girls in paint or lingerie were ploughed, bombed, blotto, stinky, and/or shit-faced, literally tittering on their high-heels poolside, the heels a metaphor for the only clothes they had not taken off.

I finally found the right metaphor at the end of my evening, whilst on a tour of the grounds that led to Hef's arcade and poolroom. In the back was a replica of the back of the car where he first got laid replete with mirrors everywhere you looked to complete the picture of a lair. I checked off my bucket list and headed for the hills. Just like the domain industry, there was no there there.

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