Funny Money

When Robert Frank developed his Wall Street Journal column "The Wealth Report" into the non-fiction book Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, there was only one place for him to learn about serving the newly affluent: the Starkey International Institute of Household Management in Denver. "Starkey is really at the center of Richistan," says Frank. "You have an explosion in the number of people who need a housing staff, so there is huge demand among today's new rich for Starkey graduates."

Richistan's account of Starkey, like many other media reports on the school, fails to hint at the student and staff discontent detailed in the August 9 Westword story "At Your Disservice." There's a reason these complaints may have been overlooked in the past, says Frank: "People turn to Starkey because they consider the school and its owner, Mary Starkey, to be the expert in this field. But at the same time, these families have no other frame of reference."

Frank will discuss Starkey and Richistan's other locales during a reading tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. For more information, call 303-322-7727 or go to
Thu., Sept. 20

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner