"RENT GENUINE BEATNIKS," said the ad. "BADLY GROOMED BUT BRILLIANT (MALE AND FEMALE)." It appeared in the Village Voice, parochial journal of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, and it represented an occupational sideline of Voice Contributor Fred W. McDarrah. The U-rent-a-hipster bit began as a joke earlier this winter, but when the first ad drew more than ten replies, McDarrah began to operate for real.

McDarrah advertised beat lecturers, fund-raisers, photographic models, reciting poets (fees: $25 to $50 per evening). While more response came, not all clients were acceptable. McDarrah' turned down an interested trio of amateur photographers who wanted to improve...

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