Bikini Baristas & The Miss USA Pageant
April 21, 2009

It seems women in bikinis are causing quite a stir these days. Sometimes folks just can't leave well enough alone. An interesting trend has emerged out in the Pacific Northwest of lingerie and bikini-clad baristas. If this trend hasn't found its way to your neck of the woods yet, I imagine it's just a matter of time. That is, unless you live in the south because Southern folks don't play that mess. Seattle is known for bringing Starbucks to the world, but even Starbucks has competition these days. Instead of Starbucks, many morning commuters have often opted for locally owned, roadside drive through coffee stands. Smaller coffee stands have that hometown feel where you see the same barista every day and they know your ordering habits. What if one day you pulled up and your barista was sporting what I like to call "bedroom attire?"

A huge number of privately owned (read: mafia-owned) espresso stands centered on this business model have been opening up across the Pacific Northwest. With catchy names like "Bikini Baristas" and "Cowgirls Espresso" these new coffee stands have made it quite clear they aren't selling coffee. They are selling sex. What started out as women in bikinis has now become women in full out lingerie, thongs and all. The reader boards outside these establishments read like the ones outside the strip club or the peep show "Something hot is cooking inside!" or "Meet the new barista, Candy - weekdays, 5pm-close." The clientele these businesses are after is of course, largely male, and in my opinion, largely unethical.

These types of establishments open up a hotbed of issues and the legality is entirely questionable. Selling sexual images under the guise of coffee should require some sort of licensing just as strip clubs and other "adult entertainment" joint must obtain. Seeing these girls strutting around in plain sight of children is indecent exposure. I also worry about the safety of the young women involved. Most often they are under age 20, and while no one forced them into a negligee at gunpoint, these girls are being put at risk by this business model. Flaunting their goods on a daily basis to men, many of whom lack self control opens up a door that is not easily shut. With no security and only one girl working a shift at a time, what happens when someone shows up one winter evening wanting more than just a double tall nonfat latte? It is common knowledge that the sex industry is a magnet for all types of other crime.

As these coffee stands become more rampant, there are some citizens who aren't keeping quiet on the matter. This is why we need to pay attention to our state government with the same level of scrutiny we use on a national level. People who are smart know how to use legislation and their local city and county officials to build a society with standards. Just last weekend, my husband a group of others showed up to protest a coffee stand that recently opened up outside the entrance to a daycare facility. The local news arrived to cover the story and one angry parent who had the audacity to actually marry her beliefs with action got that espresso stand shut down in less than 24 hours.

I highlight this issue for a few reasons. We live in an age where the morality line is drawn in the sand and the tide is in if you know what I mean. The vocal minority of Americans get very uncomfortable with the notion of a hard line of "right" and "wrong". There is a tendency to adopt an "anything goes" mentality under the guise of liberty and freedom of expression. Scantily clad baristas are what we get when we continue in moral ambiguity. I am curious to know if those in other parts of the country could ever imagine businesses like this popping up?

Speaking of bikinis and moral ambiguity, the Miss USA competition took place this past weekend and much of the talk is not of the winner, but instead of Carrie Prejean, Miss California. Fox News (and a million other media outlets) reports:

When asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, whether she believed in gay marriage, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, said "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
A little wobbly on her stance, but she got it out and that's what counts. And now the furor has begun. I absolutely love it! The Miss USA organization's executives have released statements of "embarrassment" regarding Prejean's comments. No big surprise there. The Miss USA pageant is owned by Donald Trump--a model of morality if I ever saw one. What's more, it's widely-known that the biggest contingency of pageant fans is homosexual men. You can imagine the hubbub her comments are causing.

Why folks are shocked though is beyond me. Pageants contestants are known as being some of the most conservative around. I'm not sure what the big deal is. The woman was asked a question and she answered it the same way the majority of Californians (Black, White, Hispanic, you name it) did this past election when Proposition 8 was on the table. She's entitled to her opinion right? Despite what Hollywood leads us to believe, Prejean's opinion is actually widely held my many Americans--including many of those who voted for President Obama. And what business does that question have in a pageant anyway? Miss California should've gone all Mike Huckabee on Perez Hilton's behind (channeling pre-election Republican candidate debates when Huckabee was asked if he believed in evolution), she SHOULD have said the following (my words, not hers):

"It's interesting that question would even be asked of someone competing in the Miss USA pageant. I'm not planning on shaping this country's legislation or running for public office; I'm asking for the opportunity to be Miss USA. But you've raised the question, so let me answer it. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve and the institution of marriage. A person either believes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, or that it's not. And the basic question was an unfair question because it simply asked in a simplistic manner whether or not I believe in my view or yours. But let me be clear. I believe in marriage and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and should not be redefined as anything else. That is my view and it might not be yours. I don't think that my view would make me a better or a worse contestant for Miss USA. But I'll tell you what I can tell this country: if they want a Miss USA who isn't willing to stand for what she believes, I'm sure there's probably plenty of choices. But if I'm selected as Miss USA you will have selected someone who believes in those words 'God did create' and in the words of Martin Luther, 'Here I stand I can do no other.'"
Oh well. In my dreamy world that's what would've happened.

Previously on this topic:
- The Cultural Relevance of Pageants

And because I think he by far performed the most beautifully, masterfully and articulately in all the debates combined, period, here is the clip of Huckabee's response to the Evolution question:

Posted by Ambra at April 21, 2009 12:22 PM in Current Events ,Marriage ,Politics ,Sex/Purity
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In total agreement with you (surprise surprise). I love your dream response - I think you should run for Miss USA.

i remember that debate and have never been more proud of any candidate before or since...great clarity, simplicity, and forcefulness...and probably one of the reasons he didn't get the r. nomination

Although I am a bit more liberal in my beliefs I agree with YOUR response to the question wholeheartedly. Also very glad to see you writing again!!

James I so agree. That had to be one of my favorite debates to date. Personally I think the art of true debate is sorely lacking. Most of the presidential debates on both sides were very plotted, contrived and carefully orchestrated by campaign staff--Not true debates.

The only people who benefit from the espresso stands are the owners and the patrons.

I'm in Seattle but since some baristas are wearing more than you would see at the beach I can see why they would have a hard time with restrictions.

To me it seems like the clothed baristas make more money than the barely clad ones.

As for the Miss America pageant more women need to speak their minds and stand their ground like that.

Interestingly, because this girl stood up for what she truly believes, she is now far more widely known than the winner of this pageant. I don't even know who won. But it seems like she comes out the winner, in the end.

..and btw, are those 'girly' espresso stands really owned by the mafia? Or did I fall for a gag? It never occurred to me that they were behind this.


Welcome back!

I sa the picture and was expecting a fasion critique.

Good poits.

Ask a Stripper: You're absolutely right. When my husband was protesting he found out from the neighboring casino (such a lovely neighborhood this must've been) that the owner of the espresso stand doesn't even PAY the girls. They're only allowed to collect tips but aren't on a payroll. Just wicked. I actually don't fault the girls as much as the owner. He's the one getting the big payday. When that particular group protested in Seattle they spoke with the barista beforehand to let her know their beef wasn't with her but with the owner and that it was nothing personal against her. The last thing those girls need is another shot of low self esteem.

Michelle: I wasn't kidding! I really do think a lot of these shady operations are run by the mafia. They control the unions here in Seattle and word is a lot of these espresso stands can be traced back to dirty money.

Hank: Happy to surprise and not comment on fashion!

All: Sorry if commenting is a bit slow and wonky or if it won't let you post. Once you press submit the uptake is about 5 seconds which is WAY too long. I'm trying to figure out what the dealyo.

Yes, yes! Thank you for the Huckabee clip. I knew I voted for the right man in the primaries! I was going to compliment you on your brilliance in the dream speech, but I see the credit would be due to Mr. Huckabee. That said, you are brilliant for the way you have presented the whole argument about the moral fiber of the nation sliding into oblivion. Well said!

I'll pass on passing judgment on bikini clad women serving coffee (hello Hooters?) but I think you're wrong about the South. Spend a little time down here and you will be astounded at the number of strip clubs. Texas, Georgia, and North Florida must have more than other regions combined.

Having spent most of my life up North, I found it amazing that the South could have so many churches AND strip clubs and adult video stores. This is purely anecdotal but in my experience you find less strip clubs in the "Godless" North than you do in the Bible Belt South. Odd.


I've never for once found the South to be morally superior than the North. I think Texas probably has more strip clubs per square foot than anywhere else besides Vegas. What you don't find in the South however, are strip clubs under the guise of common businesses. In the south they're all outloud about their sin and they do it big :-) And yes I think Hooters counts. that place should be shut down too. At least Hooters has established itself as a somewhat credible business and isn't failing to pay its employees. Also take note, the bikini baristas has now morphed into lingerie baristas...thongs and all.

To your point about finding less strip clubs up North, that's simply because everything is done in secret up's that passive aggressive way.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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