A new wave of bartenders, known as “startenders” or “bottle girls”, have started taking away tips, and sometime taking money off the stage from strippers, causing a rift in the industry.
Startenders have used social media, especially Instagram, to build massive followings in the last few years, causing New York City strippers to speak out against what they say is unfair treatment at the hands of club promoters and managers.
With the rise of “bottle girl” bartenders in NYC, strippers are complaining that they are dealing with unfair treatment, including insufficient pay and racial discrimination, according to The Washington Post.
According to the striking NYC strippers, bottle girls are given preferential treatment, hurting strippers’ profits by literally taking what was once deemed “stripper cash” off of tables.
Last week, strippers took action and got organized under the hashtag #NYCStripperStrike to shine a light on these very important New York City social issues.
Here are some examples of how bottle girls used Instagram to beat out their stripper colleagues, and cause the recent NYC stripper strike…
Many clubs have the startenders dress in matching outfits, and promote their look on social media.
@soooraven tonight with #Startenders @imericamonique_ @superstarjess @imonce @millz24_ @leezahhhh @eva.d_rabbit @bando__tine @_.gennnc @allaboutang @say718 @kimbellamatos @yellowdol @patriciahazell #EyeCandyWednesdays #Starlets @kevstarboss @martymar718 @kingofstripclubs__ @thatniggamike718 @starletsofny
Wealthy Wall Street finance types are going to need to find a new way to entertain their wealthy asset-management clients – at least for the time being – because the strippers are going on strike.
The source of the dispute is a simmering dispute between New York City dancers and a growing cohort of Instagram-famous “startenders” who wear outfits that are almost as revealing as the strippers’ outfits, but also promote the club on social media – bringing in a loyal following of customers – while also serving drinks.
The club owners, not wanting to lose the revenue that the bartenders are bringing in, have stood idly by while the bartenders’ influence inside the clubs has grown, while the strippers, who typically pay clubs a house fee to dance, are seeing their nightly earnings dwindle.
The result? One stripper who spoke to the post said she used to make $1,000 a night. But now she’s pulling in closer to $400.
“No dancer in New York City is making $1,000 a night anymore.”
According to the Washington Post, the stripper strike quickly gaining more support…
Panama is a stage name and she declined to provide her real name. She is for real, though, said Mona Marie, the owner of a New York dance studio where many dancers train called Poletic Justice. And, she says, so are their mounting grievances, so much so that some of them have declared a stripper’s strike. It’s unclear how many dancers are participating and what the impact on the clubs has been. The strike is about a week old.
This isn’t your normal labor dispute between employees and employers. It’s between bartenders and strippers, on the one hand, and between strippers and club promoters on the other, who tend to side with the bartenders because, after all, it’s the bartenders who they believe are bringing in the customers via social media.
According to Zerohedge, the advent of photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat has violently disrupted the business of being an exotic dancer. To compensate for the drop in their nightly take at NYC clubs, the dancers now travel more because they can earn more money at clubs down South, or clubs in smaller towns where girls from fresh faces can earn more money.
One stripper said that because of the club owners’ indifference, many of the best dancers skip NYC altogether…
A dancer named Gizelle Marie is one of the strike organizers. “The [New York City] bartenders tell the customers not to tip us. They block us from the customers while we dance or they are sweeping our money off the stage while we dance,” she told The Post. Several videos taken from inside different clubs posted on Instagram appear to support her claim.
Gizelle Marie says most customers can’t tell bartenders apart from strippers anymore because they all basically dress the same and “the club promoters and owners encourage the behavior.”
Gizelle Marie got the idea to mobilize the NYC Strippers Strike after she traveled to Washington last month to dance at a club during Howard University’s homecoming.
“I made a lot of money. It made me think to myself that a lot of the great dancers aren’t dancing in New York anymore. They moved away to other cities to work or they just completely stopped,” Gizelle said.
Within a couple days, she posted the word on Instagram and 30 strippers gathered last week at Poletic Justice in the Bronx for a meeting.
Panama said, “The dancers used to be the most respected in the club, and now it’s like the dancers are at the bottom of the barrel. And the dark-skinned dancers are all the way at the bottom of the barrel.”
The strippers on strike are demanding a reduction in house fees and that black dancers also have the opportunity to be hired as bartenders…
In the past, the dancers have mostly been silent about their issues out of fear, she said. “People were in fear of losing their jobs if they spoke out. A lot of these women have other careers, are parents, are putting themselves through school so that fear factor absolutely played a part in it.”
They want their house fees reduced. They want bartenders to pay house fees, too. The black dancers want the opportunity to be hired as bartenders. And they want the bartenders to stop stealing their money.
They wish as well that management would stop pitting the strippers and bartenders against each other. The dancers believe everyone can work together harmoniously if rules are established.
“All we want is respect at the end of the day,” Gizelle Marie said. “If it doesn’t change by us going to the owners we’ll take further matters legally.”
Club promoters’ reaction to the strike ranges from indifferent to hostile…
Club promoters are not sympathetic to the strippers’ demands. Sean Simmons, promotional director for Aces New York, said the strike is “nonsense.” He said there is no racism in the nightclubs and that he employed “all ethnicities” as dancers and bartenders at his club before it was shut down a couple months ago.
“The whole industry itself has changed,” Simmons told The Post in a brief phone interview. “Some clubs are bartender-driven, but that’s just because the bartenders are beautiful women.” Simmons said that there should be rules and regulations between dancers and bartenders, but said, “Nothing will come from the strike.”
Despite club promoters’ reaction, the stripper will continue to keep fighting…
“No matter how people perceive your work environment, a work environment is a work environment and everybody needs to be respected and treated equally. If there’s something you can do to help or change your establishment, you should do it.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.