Fortune’s Marcia Vickers got all tarted up in a slinky black dress and her sexiest heels to attend, uhm, a conference on start-up hedge funds. So what kind of folks go to these things?
I first noticed Claudette, six feet tall in stiletto heels and sporting fire-truck-red lipstick and a five-alarm personality. Word spread she had "$50 million to invest from clients in the Middle East."
Then there was Henry. He ran an astrology mutual fund. If, say, the moon was eclipsing Uranus, I'm guessing that might mean switching from stocks to pork bellies. He was going to use the same strategy for his hedge fund, which would- - duh! - be easier to market than a boring mutual fund.
Hanging out by the doughnuts were two guys, both in their late 20s, who had cut their teeth at the same bucket shop on Long Island years ago along with "93 guys doing ropes of cocaine" under the tutelage of a Mob guy with "a missing pointer finger." They fondly recalled phone sales scripts they used in pump-and-dump schemes, e.g., "Your mind is like a parachute - it only works when it's open!" They were both starting "black box" funds.
Then I chatted with Mark, a gung-ho kid in his early 20s who was starting a "complex derivatives fund" with "a friend from MIT." He says that after reading George Soros's book The Alchemy of Finance, "I was hooked on trading!" He then admits he hasn't traded anything. Ever.
Poor Marcia. All dressed up and no one to hand her $20 million to invest. At least it looks like we didn’t miss much by skipping the conference. Last time we met a hot chick with “money from the Middle East” we ended up nearly getting our asses kicked by Lebanese kids with lots of ecstasy to sell.
Start your own hedge fund [Fortune on CnnMoney.com]