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Celebrities Accused Of 'Yachting' In Hollywood — And What Being A 'Yacht Girl' Really Means

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woman on a man's shoulders partying

It’s easy to be envious when seeing the Instagram photos of young, carefree celebrity women seemingly having the time of their lives on yachts floating in exotic waters and in the VIP sections of the most exclusive clubs.

However, rumor has it there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to these ‘yacht girls’ and their extravagant lifestyles.

What is a yacht girl?

According to Urban Dictionary, a yacht girl is “an attractive young woman who finds ways to get access to luxurious surroundings by being available to wealthy men.”

For example, you may follow a woman or two on Instagram who always seems to be partying or vacationing somewhere expensive (notably without ever showing who she’s actually with). This is a person you could potentially describe as being a yacht girl.

And it’s not just those Instagram models and wannabe stars that are considered yacht girls. As you work up the wealth chain, you may be surprised to recognize some celebrity names synonymous with yachting.

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What is 'yachting' in Hollywood?

In Hollywood, the term yacht girl essentially means a woman who works as an escort for high-end clientele, not just on yachts but for any social event.

While the practice has only somewhat recently gained mainstream notoriety, if you think back on the many tabloid photos of models and actresses on yachts from years past, it appears to be something that's gone on in Hollywood “for 60 years,” according to Elie Nahas, who ran a Beirut-based modeling agency before being arrested on charges of running a prostitution ring in 2007.

In 2013, "The Hollywood Reporter" ran a feature describing this so-called yachting during the Cannes Film Festival.

“Every year during the festival there are 30 or 40 luxury yachts in the bay at Cannes, and every boat belongs to a very rich person. Every boat has about 10 girls on it; they are usually models, and they are usually nude or half nude,” Nahas told THR.

At the end of the night, each woman would receive a “gift,” a generous amount of money that the client would put in an envelope for her.

And while many of these women were self-proclaimed local prostitutes and escorts, the Cannes Film Festival is, of course, known for its celebrity attendees — and it’s rumored that celebrity women trying to fast-track a name for themselves in Hollywood become yacht girls, too.

“Women installed on yachts in Cannes during the film festival are called ‘yacht girls,’ and the line between professional prostitutes and B- or C-list Hollywood actresses and models who accept payment for sex with rich older men is sometimes very blurred, explains one film industry veteran,” Dana Kennedy wrote for THR.

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Some women in Hollywood have accused their celebrity peers of being yacht girls.

A 2017 blind item (celebrity gossip that doesn’t outwardly name the celebrity) allegedly written by a struggling actress describes being lured by another actress into the world of yachting:

“The actress I was talking to made it sound super easy and that she only had [sex] a few times with guys while yachting and that it was mostly partying and being arm candy,” she writes, explaining that eventually she agreed to try it for $25,000 upfront, but admitting that the experience was less than glamorous.

Blind item readers guessed that Canadian actress Vanessa Lengies wrote the blind item and further surmised that it may be one of the Glee actresses Naya Rivera or Heather Morris that introduced her to yachting. None of these claims have ever been substantiated.

If you believe the rumors, it would seem that yachting is a rite of passage for women hoping to “make it” in Hollywood, and even some celebrities we now consider A-List are thought to be former yacht girls.

In an excerpt from her 2021 memoir, “My Body,” Emily Ratajkowski details being paid $25,000 at the start of her career to go to the Superbowl with now-disgraced Malaysian financier Jho Low, who "‘just liked to have famous men and women around,’” she explains her manager told her at the time.

She writes about attending the star-studded Coachella on someone else’s dime, having drinks paid for at clubs, and attending afterparties with Oscar-winning actors before actually becoming a celebrity herself.

One could infer from this recollection that, in order to be able to tell these stories, Ratajkowski was herself a yacht girl. “My Body” suggests as much, and in it, she subtly gives away the identity of another celebrity woman who yachted alongside her.

Ratajkowski describes watching as Low gave shots to a Victoria’s Secret model. While she doesn’t name drop, Ratajkowski gives just enough information for readers to figure who that model likely was.

“Now she kept her eyes locked on him as he took his shot, throwing her head back dramatically as he did, only to quickly toss the alcohol over her shoulder,” Ratajkowski writes. “When he faced her again, her eyes sparkled and the famous dimples appeared on her cheeks.”

   

   

Low has since become a fugitive wanted for allegedly running an international money laundering scheme, and in 2017, Reuters reported that model Miranda Kerr — known for her dimples — was being ordered to return “diamond pendants, earrings and other jewelry worth about $8 million” that Low allegedly gifted her to government agents.

In 2017, Ratajkowski also posted a video on Instagram potentially outing Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber as yacht girls as they danced aboard a yacht during that year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Many people have also accused Meghan Markle of yachting (but then again, what haven't people accused Markle of at this point).

People have pointed to an old photo of Markle on a yacht as proof that she’s a former yacht girl.

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Another old blind item also suggested the former actress was available to “rent.”

"If you see B actress post scantily clad photos of themselves on Social Media, this is often a Comm to [them] that this person is available to ‘rent’ for a weekend of ‘yachting,’” the tweet says, including a photo of Markle in a swimsuit.

Markle’s close friendship pre-Harry with actress Priyanka Chopra has naturally led some to guess that Chopra once yachted as well.

Another actress that faces endless rumors of yachting is Russian actress Irina Shayk, which according to THR, is par for the course as the outlet writes that yachting your way to stardom happens with “disturbing frequency,” particularly when it comes to foreign-born actresses.

According to THR, who claims to know “of at least one now-prominent actress who made her first connections on a Cannes yacht and quickly landed her debut role in a U.S.-shot movie,” such as with Shayk’s 2014 film “Hercules,” it’s “a red flag any time you see a foreign-born actress with no credits suddenly make her way into a U.S.-shot movie.”

Of course, when it comes to yachting in Hollywood, all of these claims appear to be unfounded.

These rumors make for good gossip, whether you’re talking about low-level social media influencers or high-profile celebrity actresses.

However, nothing is proven, leaving us to wonder any time we see a photo of women on a yacht.

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Micki Spollen is an editor, writer, and traveler focused on relationships, news, and pop culture. Follow her on Instagram.

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