Rikke's Angels

They're young, beautiful corporate headhunters for the high-tech industry. How have they survived the crash of 2001? Simple: By partying like it's 1999.

At happy hour on this gloomy day, Christensen is, predictably, networking. A group called the "Silicon Valley Vikings" is drinking together at Johnny Foley's on O'Farrell Street, Vikings being an obvious draw for a Scandinavian headhuntress; Christensen is dressed, predictably, in all black, with a see-through plastic strip the width of a stick of gum running up her long sleeves and over her shoulders.

The Vikings, however, prove a relatively small gathering, and it doesn't take Christensen long to exhaust the potential contacts in the room. Walking out the door, her cell phone rings. On the line: Netvein. The TecHunters have placed yet another controller there, which means a $15,000 commission check and a likely inside track on the handful of other openings at the company.

"Oh my God!" squeals Christensen, suddenly skipping down O'Farrell Street as she lets out a joyous, profanity-laced rant on one of the lowest days her industry has ever seen. "I'm so fucking happy!"

Because she's in a partying mood -- in spite of a burgeoning head cold -- Christensen drags Saunders out for more networking fun. Considering the events of the day, their eventual destination is a tad ironic: a party thrown by the San Francisco Society for the Advancement of the Internet, at the Beer Cellar, a dark dance club in a Sutter Street basement.

The joint is a little short on electricity. The dance floor is occupied by a single couple, doing something that looks like a butchered waltz -- to techno. At the end of the bar, two women in halter tops are all but screaming to be hit on, using freebie America Online and Netscape disks as drink coasters.

It's quickly evident that what is supposed to be a high-powered networking event is little more than a lethargic "meet market." But Christensen and Saunders remain on cloud nine, flitting about the bar, schmoozing, swapping cards. In her few less social moments, Christensen torments their male companion, one of Saunders' co-workers, interrupting every exchange he has with women by blurting out, "Hi, I'm John's wife."

After a bathroom break, Christensen and Saunders rejoin a pair of guys they'd been working on earlier, announcing their return with a pinch on the back from Christensen, who employs a kind of jokey gyrating as she saunters back into the chat circle.

All that energy feels a bit out of place in this room, though. And after a while it appears to wear on the headhunters. For them, after all, this has been a good day.

And there will be others.

"Let's get out of here," Christensen says, turning toward the stairs to the door. "It's kind of dead."

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