Desperate Times Call for Desperate Dinner Parties

Instead of a gravy train, this dinner party could serve up a heaping plate of disappointment–or three hots and a cot–for women who are getting drawn into it. 

Money is tight, things are bad, and women finding a nurturing circle of like-minded ladies who can help each other through these tough times sounds so warm, and cozy, and yummy, like a nice dinner with loving, kindred spirits. Women, beware, your “sisters” could naively, or cruelly, be preying upon you.

A creepy and illegal money making scam is making its way through Los Angeles, having already cycled through the Northeast and Midwest. Well, maybe it’s recycling back, because according to the the women who promote this fast-cash”empowerment” scheme by word of mouth through their friends, it began in Hawaii. In the 1970s. With a group of battered women. Who wanted to help each other out. And it’s all about women helping women, sisterhood, and getting rich. Oh and their lawyer has looked it over and it’s perfectly legal.

I first heard about this con game a few months ago when a friend started hinting about

an investment

she’d made, but it was a really cool thing, and it’s all women, and so powerful and beautiful, and maybe I would like to know about it, but it was really secret.  Having a hunch and never one to mince words and, I asked

What, some kind of pyramid scheme?

Dead silence. Eventually someone else came to me with the full pitch about the Dinner Party Game, also known as the Circle of Sisters or Women’s Wisdom Circle, which is one of the most reprehensible and corrupt concepts ever, playing upon women’s friendships and trust in each other. The basic story, which reeks of urban myth and cow manure, is that this has been going on for decades, beginning with a small group of abused women who found a way to support themselves and each other through


and it was all legal and laid out on paper.

This circle–see, it’s a circle, not a pyramid! Oh holy Temple of Ephesus, I barely passed geometry and trigonometry, but even I know a you can get a basic triangle out of a circle, pie slices, hello!–is a set up like a dinner party, with concentric circles–see, circles again, nice round lady circles, not those mean sharp boy-parts-shaped pyramids! In the first largest circle are the eight appetizers, next in are the four soup-and-salads, then the two entrees, and finally the single dessert who is the beneficiary of the money gifts the appetizers have paid given to join the this round table of deluded flakes and nuts. When the dessert gets her payoff, the entrees create two more circles where they are each dessert and the recruiting of needed, moneyed appetizers begins. Oh no, it’s not a pyramid scheme all.

How much? I asked out of morbid curiosity. I had no interest in participating because even though my math skills are bad, I knew this was a losing proposition.  And as my friend was pitching me, I was busy Googling key phrases and reading the news stories about arrests of other Dinner Party Game players over the past decade. She replied:

Five thousand..but you don’t even need to have the money for the entrance gift because some other woman who has reached the center of the circle will sponsor you, and then when you got to dessert, you just pay her back. That’s what happened for me, and some just moved up to dessert, so I went from lady-in-waiting to having a seat as appetizer. And you’ll make like twenty thousand dollars.

Okay, even with my tragic arithmetic,  I know that 8 x 5,000= 40,000–less the $5K back to your sponsor, and if you’re feeling generous another 5 grand to sponsor some other Patsy or Edwina,  leaves $30,000, so was I being conned somehow by my erstwhile friend and recruiter? Or was she just confused? And what if everyone was “sponsored” by pretend money–and what about the women who had invested real money–the whole thing stank last last week’s leftover stuffed cabbage.

Oh and there’s another catch, aside from the five large buy-in and having to recruit other “sisters” into the circle– never, ever telling your family or sig other or anyone except a pigeon woman you think you can trust and invite to participate,

because the power is in our trust and our sisterhood

(but more likely because most people would tell you the facts–that this is illegal and a scam): My friend also explained that I would have to attend weekly group meetings held in person or on a conference call, led by the dessert, where we’d share successes, talk about how to find potential new recruits, and apparently share New Age/Law of Attraction gobbledy-goop.  That latter squishy mind rot alone would have been enough to turn me off. The last thing I need is to waste my time with toilet tissue thought processes.

My basic grasp of exponential growth based on reproduction charts of unfixed cats and an episode of Dragnet, “The Pyramid Swindle” I saw as a kid made it pretty clear to me that for eight women eventually make it to the center and become dessert would take 64 new women drawn in, and the next phase would require 512, so if this had been going on since the 1970s, or even the ’80s, uh, that’s probably more women than there are on earth by now. Which is why it’s a con and scam.

And it’s illegal. It was illegal in 1968 when that episode of Dragnet was made, it was illegal in the 1980s when people were playing the “Airplane Game.” No matter how you garnish it with the fancy trappings of a dinner party (what a retro-housewife concept for a gulling that claims to give women freedom), dress it up with the bows and flourishes of “sisterhood” and empowerment, and then sell to one’s friends, to get their cash, be it five or five thousand dollars, so you can hopefully receive your “just desserts” (because that is the underlying message here, you deserve this sweet delight of money and everyone else is just fodder for your cash payout), it’s nauseating.

Eat, Prey, Love


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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.

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