Club Panopticon

Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon is a favorite topic of Postmodern philosophers such as Michel Foucault, but why not make it a favorite of contemporary celebrity culture, too?

I don’t know if they’re just trying to make us feel better, but lots of celebrities complain about losing the privileges of anonymity: the ability to go out, unnoticed, and people-watch, for example. Club Panopticon is the answer to their prayers, and those of people who want to go out, where celebrities will notice them.

The club is arranged in a circle design, like the prison. If money or building design is an issue, it can be cut in half and made semicircular. The room has a high ceiling, but is not well-lit. The walls are perhaps rough brick, or painted with a thick coat of dark red paint.

Around the outside of the circle are semiprivate booths, thick high walls between them. Preferably, if the booths have windows, they are small and darkly-tinted. In the center of the circle is the bar, which extends all the way around the club. Behind the bar is a mirrored tower, which looms over the booths.

Inside the mirrored interior tower is the private VIP bar, for celebrities only. They come in through a private entrance, perhaps through a basement parking lot with its own elevator, and are unseen by the club’s regular patrons. The other patrons know that they’re there, because they’re investors in the club, get in for free, and it’s reported in tabloids, but not ever because they’ve been seen there.

The mirrors of the central tower are one-way mirrors, so that the VIPs can look into all of the regular booths, which have microphones built into tables. The celebrities can see and hear the patrons, who can only see each other, not the VIPs or the other customers. The central lounge has its own bar, its own drink specials, and a special conviviality among its regulars.

Celebrities get the pleasure of being ‘normal people’ with each other, and with eavesdropping on actual regular people. Non-VIPs get to go somewhere relatively exclusive, and have the frission of knowing that famous people might be watching them at any or every moment. This, plus the privacy of the main room’s seating, should breed a culture of somewhat extreme attention-getting behavior in the booths — drug use, pornographic acts, and so on. Whether or not the denizens of the inner circle are paying attention is their business, and only their business.