Mystery: Who Is Behind Site That Posted Fake Rosewood Prostitution Bust Story?

If you missed it over the weekend, take a moment and read Pete Delevett’s story about how a fake blog post about a prostitution bust of venture capitalists has put a damper on Cougar Night at the Rosewood Hotel. Just take a moment and re-read that last sentence. It brings together a string of words that reporters dream about their whole careers.

Prostitution. Venture Capitalists. Cougar Night. Bust.

Which is why, at least for a moment, people were so willing to believe the story might be genuine when it appeared on a mysterious new Web site called: Silicon Valley Pasquinade. The headline was just too delicious: “Rosewood Hotel Prostitution Sting Snares Top VCs.”

But quickly, people note that “pasquinade” meant: “A satire or lampoon, especially one that ridicules a specific person, traditionally written and posted in a public place.” And so it was.

But the mystery remains: Who is behind this site?

As for the moment, no one seems to know. And the site itself offers few clues. According to a search for the domain’s owner, they have decided to keep that information anonymous. So much for that.

And the site itself doesn’t offer much help, either. The site is built on Drupal, an open-source content management system. While it’s not incredibly complex to install and use, it’s harder than basic blogging platforms like WordPress.

The content itself it also haphazard, ocassionally funny, and at other times sloppy and full of typos.

For instance, there’s a story of Netflix deciding to open stores where people could rent and dropoff DVDs. The stores would be called “Netbuster.” Netflix + Blockbuster. Get it? Netflix opening stores? Almost, but not quite funny.

Then there is “Twitter Ups Character Limit For Premium Users.” Ho, ho. The author has a bit better idea with: “Larry Page’s Voice Found at Redwood City Bar.”

Most bizarre of all is “Page 2 Girl” Q&A with someone named “Danielle Dortmund, 24, Developer Recruiter for Google Mobile.” It features such almost-funny fare as:

SVP: Turn offs?
DD: Crying after sex (Eric S. you know who you are), 4am booty calls from a hackathon, and socks with Birkenstocks.

Yeah. Okay.

The site overall has a half-hearted feel to it. And it probably would have languished as somebody’s unknown hobby if not for the Rosewood Hotel story, which hit the viral jackpot. Of course, it scored not because it was funny. But because it seemed potentially likely to be true.

For now, we’ll just have to wait to see if the author steps up to write a sequel. Or whether they just fade away.

If you have any thoughts about who might be behind the site, share them in the comments below.


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  • Chris Nunez

    It’s obviously somebody who doesn’t like the kind of culture that’s been created in what used to be called the Valley of Hearts Delight. Now it’s called ‘silicon valley’ with a lot of young folk with too much money, and not enough common sense. So, that could be a whole lot of us! That’s what I think Chris! Oh, and somebody with a sense of humor who knew they’d get some publicity from the folks at the Merc.

    • Ray Lambert

      Ummm a Cougar is: older women (40s to 60s) who date younger men.

      At the Rosewood Cougar Night both men and women are old and butt ugly…
      So it’s not a real Cougar night, just a bunch of old women looking for some VC funding.

  • I had the Merc’s world-class research director, Leigh Poitinger (@lpoitinger), do a public records search on two of the names associated with the Pasquinade site: Connie Nestlebush, whose byline is on the Cougar Night arrest story, and Lowell Rodman, whose name is on a couple of the other stories (and whose name is attached to the @svpasquinade Twitter handle). She came up with bupkis. I tracked down an email address for Nestlebush via Google, and also sent a tweet to Rodman, and still got bupkis. So, just who they are and what their motivations are remain anybody’s guess.

    Like I noted in the story, the Pasquinade site hasn’t been updated since their cougar story posted a month ago … this after an intial flurry of postings in early July. Also, unlike those earlier stories, the cougar-bust post is written fairly straight; about the only clues that it’s not a real story are the names (Chief Wiggins sorta suggests Chief Wiggum from the Simpsons; William Phelps, the pseudo hotel manager, was the name of a famous 17th Century Puritan, which could be coincidence or a really in-the-weeds inside joke). So I kinda suspect the story was written to spike Cougar Night, which it seems to have done … at least for now. Will be curious to hear how turnout is this Thursday.

  • Kit

    Probably the KGB.