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May 05, 2010

Boobs and Breastaurants

Boobs and Breastaurants

By Elaine Viets Hooters1

All men are louts.

See enough TV ads and it’s easy to conclude that men are beer-swilling oafs. Don’t get me wrong. The lunkhead is not an endangered species. As for the metrosexual, the male who loves to shop, get manicures, decorate his loft and dress to perfection, "he isn’t out of the closet yet." That comes from my hair stylist, and he ought to know.

But in between there are many smart, strong men. Sometimes, the women of TLC forget that. We’re spoiled, since most of us are married to highly evolved men and the TLC male back bloggers are the cream of the crop.

My husband Don was smart and savvy when I met him and he’s stayed that way for the 40 years we’ve been married. So I was stunned when he had no idea what a breastaurant was. We’d passed a Hooters on Federal Highway and Don confessed he’d never been in one.

"I hear the wings are good," he said.

"Right," I said, serving up a side order of cynicism. "That’s why the parking lot is packed. All those chicken lovers. The KFC across the street is nearly empty."

"Will you go to Hooters with me?"

"No," I said. "I don’t go to breastaurants."

"What’s that?" Don looked puzzled.

I went into lecture overdrive. "A breastaurant is a restaurant where the big draw is not the food, but the servers’ mammaries."

"I guess feminists wouldn’t go to Hooters," Don said.

"The issue isn’t feminism. It’s equality."

"You mean equal pay for the waitresses?" he asked.

"That would be good, but I want equal sleaze for the customers. If men want to drool at young women in tight T-shirts and the women want to serve those boobs, that’s their business. Every woman doesn’t want to be a brain surgeon or work for world peace, no matter what she says in her Playboy interview.

"But what would I get at a breastaurant? I’ll be smeared with chicken grease and staring young, firm twenty-somethings. No thanks. You go alone, Don."

"I can’t. I’d feel silly."

Aw. He meant it. He was too shy to stare at the Hooters women.

That didn’t mean I was going to be his bodyguard – or is it booby guard?

And I know men like Don are rare. Breastaurants are supposed to be a recession-proof business, according to the financial blogs. Hooters is the front runner, but there are more chains, including Bone Daddy’s, Bazookas and Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks advertises "Eats. Drinks. Scenic views." Get it? Huh, huh?

Twin Peaks and Bone Daddy’s are located in Texas. Bazookas is in New Jersey. Location. Location. Location.

Let the Bubbas swill beer and ogle busty women. We need a reminder that not all men are oafs. I used Don’s Hooters conversation and created an imaginary breastaurant for "Half-Price Homicide." I called this place Beach Buns. (No, you can’t open a Beach Buns unless you pay me royalties.)

Here’s the scene with Helen and Phil from my new Dead-End Job mystery, "Half-Price Homicide" about Jordan, a breastaurant waitress:

"There’s no shortage of breastaurants in Fort Lauderdale," Helen said.

"What’s a breastaurant?" Phil asked.

Helen was glad he looked puzzled. "A place where pretty waitresses wear skimpy outfits, like Hooters. Beach Buns Bar & Grill overlooks an asphalt parking lot, but promises ‘a brew and a view.’ The view is Jordan in a bikini."

"She must save money on dry cleaning if that little bikini is all she wears," Phil said.

"Jordan says the leg and bikini waxes cost a fortune," Helen said. "Guys don’t like hair with their beer, unless it’s long and firmly attached to a female scalp."

"I’d like to go to Beach Buns," he said. "I hear they have good spicy wings."

"Margery had lunch there one afternoon. She said the customers were mostly married men old enough to be Jordan’s father. She never saw so many Tommy Bahama shirts. I think Tommy Bahama is the official shirtmaker for overweight adulterers."

"Nice slogan," Phil said.

"You can go to Beach Buns," Helen said. "I wouldn’t care." Half-PriceHomicide

"Will you go with me?" he asked.

"Not unless they add cute waiters in Speedos."

"I’d feel silly staring at scantily dressed young women," he said.

"That’s why I love you," Helen said.


Elaine is currently touring for "Half-Price Homicide." Check out www.elaineviets.com to see if she’s signing near you.


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Elaine, I feel like a refugee from another planet. I may need to visit a Breastaurant just for life research.

How come I never see any coupons for Hooters, like you get for iHop, in the monthly mailers?

I have never been in a Hooters, despite there being a few in our area. See, I don't like chicken wings and at my age and given my Wild & Misspent Youth, I've seen way more than my share of naked boobs. Also, I'm more of a booty man:)

Um, I don't know if there are still any of the clubs where guys dance for women . . . I've never been to one, and am not inclined to start now. There's a Hooters in downtown Santa Monica, but I think it is almost a bit lame to have a Breastaurant in a laid-back California beach town--the atmosphere outside and around the Hooters seems to be very yawn (but maybe that is a careful camouflage?).

Chippendales, those clubs are (were?) called. Haven't heard of 'em in a while.

Darn, why can't I edit my original comment before posting, instead of ending up with three comments . . . !
Holly, love the margaritas and Cinco de Mayo festive decor for Tartworld.

Cinco de Mayo!

Breastaurant is my new word of the day - thanks for the laughs, Elaine!

Never been to a breastaurant, but I do have to say that the woman in the photo at the top of today's post is very attractive. I would think that it would get uncomfortable dressing that way for a long shift of slinging burgers and wings, though.

I was in a Hooter's one time, only because I needed to interview someone and that's where he insisted on meeting. I was less than impressed, and it showed. He asked why I wasn't drooling, and I replied, "I grew up in Las Vegas." He got it, and that was the end of the discussion.

Oinker though it sounds, none of the waitresses in the restaurant that day bore the slightest resemblance to the young lady in the photo. Or to Nicole, of the Pussycat Dolls. Maybe I'd have felt differently.....

I think breastaurants flourish in the south. Down there, you have billboards advertising "gentlemen's clubs." (Talk about a misnomer!) Which we don't have north of the Mason-Dixon--at least, not many. (Billboards, that is. We do have a Hooters, but it's hidden behind China Palace.) But my eyes were opened driving my kids south to Florida once. Egad!

Breastaraunts violate one of “Rod’s Rules”. If you can multiply a woman’s age by 3 and she’s still younger than you, no gawking allowed. However, if you want to call yourself a feminist you need to let each women find her own bliss – and not sniff and turn up your nose at their choices.

How many of these “Hooter Girls” are just passing through? How many are making enough to say in college and get their degree in “Women’s Studies”? I know a woman who paid for her Ivy League 19th century French lit degree by working the pole summers in New Orleans miles from anyone who knew her.

How many of them know exactly what they are doing and are secretly laughing at the absurdity of life? Letting old men bask in the glow of their youth and beauty while paying the rent. Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humor? I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing the tips are better at Hooters than at IHOP or Waffle House

My daughter was a cocktail waitress when she moved to Jackson Hole. Three inch heels – which put her at well over six feet tall – a push up bra and a short skirt paid for two years as a ski bum. Today she is 33 and the Executive Director of the oldest non-profit in Wyoming with a seasonal staff of 56. The state Democratic Party asked her to run for congress this fall. Not bad for an ex-cocktail waitress a decade later.

We need to give our young women the chance to find themselves and not roll our eyes. To Karen of Ohio’s eternal credit she supported her youngest daughter’s decision to attend the least enlightened college in America, at least when it comes to women, The Citadel. You can still see “Save the Males” bumper stickers and T-shirts in Charleston. I had one of my “chats” with a jerk in a restaurant. Tough guy when he was talking to a hundred and ten pound eighteen year old female “Nob”; not so much when the 230 pound ex-bouncer with fire in his eyes asked him to repeat his smart ass remark.

I went to Sleuthfest this year and Holly -- she is at the University of Miami getting her PhD -- came up one night for dinner. Across the bar, a novelist and a West Point grad spotted the “Ring.” He had never met a female Citadel grad before and he literally sprinted over to meet her. He wanted to shake her hand because he knew what she had been through and wanted to pay his respects. Tough daughter; smart mom.

When alleged feminist start putting limits and being judgmental of other women you sound like, well, men.

Bone Daddy's? Seriously? Men are hilarious.

My husband has also never been to a Hooter's, and is not interested in going to one alone. Thank goodness. He did get a ear boxing with giant mammaries at his bachelor party, but that was 28 years ago. And when I developed some giant mammaries of my own during pregnancy he was terrified of them, so there you go.

Josh, you crack me up. Almost as much as Elaine does with her breastaurant description. :-) This blog makes me SO happy sometimes.

Rod, you're such a good pal. And pretty damned smart yourself. I remember your ferocious protectiveness of your girls, who have grown to be incredible women, and as bright as their brilliant parents.

You make a good point about the waitresses at these places using them as springboards. One of the benefits of our generation's hard-fought independence and equality is that these young women have the ability to choose whatever they want, including to flaunt their tight young carcasses if that's what they want to do while they can.

I do object to objectifying women, and am not too thrilled when women allow themselves to be objectified. We worked really hard so they didn't have to do this, and it does piss me off when they are so casual about putting themselves in exactly the position we tried to keep from falling into. But as my oldest daughter says, "It's their choice, Mom. That's the whole point." I guess so.

Cinco de Mayo! I forgot...thanks!

Karen--obvioulsy you;ve done a great job with tour daughter. If she can say "It's their choice"--that says a lot.

I guess I would only say..I hope they have the knowledge to make a real choice. Often people don't. ANd, just as critical, I hope they have the opportunites to make a real choice.

Rod, I wouldn't bet the rent on the tips being great at Hooters.

My father spent his 72nd birthday at Hooters. He proudly displays a picture of himself surrounded by a dozen of 20-somethings in their scimpy uniforms. He has a huge smile on his face. He is driven to Hooters (he can no longer drive because of his Parkinsons they believe was brought on by Agent Orange exposure)every weekend by friends and family. Letcher no. Happy former Special Forces Green Beret remembering being a stud, probably. Our family is considering how we could convince a few to attend his funeral when he passes.
For my son's 13th birthday, my father spirited away my son and the two of them hit all 6 Hooters in the Houston area and had the girls take pictures and signed their calendar for my son. Needless to say, he returned home from this day of bonding smiling and happy. Now a military man, my son received Hooters paraphenalia as reminders of home from my dad. Other people have spoons from all the states they visit. The men in my family has Hooters has Hooters.
Yes, we live in Texas.

Harley: Maybe I'll get me one of those Jerry Seinfeld "Man Bras" and do some research.

Went to the Hooters here once...I'm not sure why but it was probably out of curiosity. Chuck and I had the nicest server--I believe she was a psych major or something at UI, but she for one DID get a nice tip, partly because we could hear her over the barrage of sound---music and laughter. Hooters is definitely not a place for quiet conversation...I couldn't hear myself think! We've not been back, mostly because the food was just ok and (I thought) overpriced, but then I wasn't interested in the view :o)
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Ole!

When the district manager for my company comes to town, he likes to stay at a Hampton Inn that's a little farther away. But the one down the road doesn't have a Hooters right across the street.

I have never been to one, although I do love chicken wings.

I worked at seven or eight restaurants over the course of nine years, both in Lincoln, Nebraska and New York City. It's how I put myself through school. What I found was that people tip more at dinner than at lunch, and tend to tip more when they drink, but on the whole, big tippers are big tippers and cheapskates are cheapskates.

At one restaurant, in my teenage years, I had to wear a low-cut French maid uniform and my main problem with that was the bow in the back, which had to be starched with liquid starch, ironed, and then tied by the (male) shift manager--franchise regulation. The whole thing was creepy, but I was over the moon at having landed the job. I didn't make nearly the tips that I made several restaurants later, where the uniform was white shirt, black vest, and pink man's tie. Go figure. Ultimately, it was all about how easy is the uniform to throw in the washing machine and how easy is it to work in? The problem with having a lot of skin exposed was that there's more places to get burned--I've collided with everything from pots of coffee to cigarette ashes.

Most of the time, a job's a job and I don't see anyone here rolling their eyes or sniffing at what people do to make the rent. It's what makes Elaine's Dead End Job books so endearing and readable.

I was a cocktail waitress, too. Wore a German dirdle skirt with a ruffled, low-cut blouse. Looked absolutely ridiculous. Most of the patrons were my father's business acquaintances who averted their eyes.

Oh, Lord. Rod in a man bra. Now I have to wash my mind out with bleach.

When I was in high school I waited tables at a local diner, in Hamilton!, Ohio (yes, the exclamation point is a part of the name, or at least it was, the only possible way to make the dump sound exciting). Since our hourly pay was 85 whopping cents, all tips were vital to our lives, and I quickly learned to stay the heck out of the way of the older waitresses, who wouldn't think twice about elbowing the teenaged twerp out of the way. One of the waitresses drove to work each week from Corbin, Kentucky, which is about six hours away.

The worst day was Sunday. I had to be there when the cooks got in so I could roll #^%&$ silverware (no tips), then I waited on the counter (for virtually no tips) until it was time for the after-church crowd, who mostly came for the luscious fried chicken. Then I was the hostess, which meant, yep, no tips. At least I got a free fried chicken lunch afterward. My grandparents almost always came in, and sat in Minnie's station. Minnie, who was one of the ones who didn't hesitate to strong arm me out of the way. She sure did flirt with my grandpa, though.

I always, always tip generously, especially to breakfast waiters. They have it rough.

Yes I have been to Hooters. More than once. The burgers are just ok, and the service is friendlier than some other places. The girls are flirtatious, but if you do not want to meet Bubba from out back, don't touch.

My last trip to Hooters was to St. Louis' newest one, right in front of a middle school. For a time, the principal's daughter was a Hooter's girl. The orange hot pants are paying for college.

We had a neighbor who was an "entertainer" at at "gentleman's club." She graduated college with zero debt, she averaged $500 a night working. One of my classmates in college was a male stripper. He paid cash for St. Louis U. We were having drinks in his room one night. He started to clean out his "work clothes." There were about six hotel keys (real keys in those days) and a wad of papers with phone numbers on them. Men aren't the only ones who are pigs. Especially after a few drinks.

Never been to Hooters. Hubby swears by their "wings" I'm pretty sure it's their "breasts" that are the draw, not the wings.

Anyone see Undercover Boss sepisode with the Hoosters' CEO? What a douchbag. Totally clueless. One of the managers (a woman) highlighted in the show had progressed from waitress to manager. Had the best staff. Most motivated staff. Best restaurant. He decided she was overstressed and moved her out of her job into one "not so stressful for a mother." I swear. Then one of the managers was sexually harassing the waitress. Making them do horrible stunts to get off early. MADE THEM. They had no choice. Said HORRIBLE things to them.This guy got "counseling"...NOT FIRED!!! He should have been fired on the spot. The CEO was proud of how he handled both of these situations. Really? The sexually harassing boss keeps his job and the woman gets "demoted" to a less stressful job? Good lord. This guy convinced me that I should NEVER go in this place. The last thing I want is to support him in ANY WAY.

Dropping in at TLC to say hello before I head for a radio interview and then drive to Columbia, Mo.
Alan P, Rod and Karen in Ohio all make good points.
Alan, when I did a TV story on male strippers, the women were terrifyingly bold -- but only in a group.
Rod, I hope I didn't sound like I disapproved of the women. I know good jobs are hard to find. But Karen can explain to you that women my age worked hard to be taken seriously at work and not hit on and patted down. And we see these jobs as a step backward from the gains we made.

My DH went to Hooters for a business lunch.
I asked him about the girls and he told me that at that time they were dressed in peasant style blouses and he said they were not very provocative.
We've been to Las Vegas many times and talked to the showgirls at the Reno Hotel as they were starring in a new show production. They were extremely tall, and of course costumed and made up to the hilt.
Being a friendly person I didn't feel threatened by their beauty but wondered at the hard work it took to dance every night.
A male group, Thunder Down Under was performing in Vegas too. The women standing in line were all enthralled.
A nude show Girls, Girls, Girls was a show that we took in but the Blitzkrieg lighting was a little annoying. These girls are artists but I say what a way to make a living.

Elaine: Because of your generation these women have so many more options than back in the Dark Ages when we were young. I saw a brilliant piece on the first African American to play sports at, I think, Syracuse University. They bring him in and he talks to the incoming freshman Black students athletes about having to stay in different hotels and eat and different restaurants and these kids today don’t believe him. Times change.

Personally I have a lot of respect for the lady working at Hooters to pay her pre-med tuition or Karen’s daughter going straight into the belly of the beast like The Citadel. Different battles; same warrior instincts you guys had. They are the future of feminism and not the trust fund bunnies getting their degree in “Gender Studies” at Wellesley while weeping to Sarah McLachlan songs and waiting for someone to say the wrong thing so they can be offended.

The world would be better served if more women had this, “Bring it on” and “Is that you’ve got attitude?” Basically, we need more Tarts and fewer scolds to take feminism to the next level.

Cyndi - seriously?! I can't watch many reality shows, so I've never seen Undercover Boss, but I am spreading the word on that SOB.

I have watching the weekly documentary AMERICA ABOUT US and they have only begun to talk about a woman's role in history.
What struck me as almost hilarious at how they touted the fact that women were so happy to start working in the textile mills to contribute monetarily to the household while their husbands had either been killed or away at war.
The work these ladies were in engaged was near slave labor.
Modern day celebrities commented on the power these women would later wield.
Rosie the Riveter was dragged out of the home to do menial work only to be sent home after the war to do more menial work.
Cooking, stripping, dancing are all near drudge work.
If a women rises to an intellectual pursuit so much the better.
However, a girl has to do what a girl has to do sometimes whether it is deemed noble or not.

I know of at least one acupuncturist who paid her way through $80K of medical school as an exotic dancer. As much as it represented a tough determination and sturdy independence, she had a year or two of self-esteem, self-management 'turnaround' to begin feeling and acting like (deportment as much as comportment) a physician once it was no longer necessary to deal with the night scene for a living. When I look at my still-growing-because-of-interest medical school loans, her path doesn't seem like the worst choice in the world.

What do you know - there is a Hooter's in Vancouver. I have never been, obviously since I didn't know there was one.
I have seen female and male strippers and would not want that job, ever. Too hard of work in too many creepy places. While I have had some menial jobs, none of them involved being an object. Even when I taught aerobics and even then it was in a women only gym so walking around all day in tights & a leotard was no big deal.

So it's okay to demean yourself by working at certain establishments if you are only doing so on your way to nobler things? If a woman is working at one of these places to pay the bills and support herself and her family perhaps, and that's all she's doing, working for a living, it's not as okay?

You can be demeaned around a board room just as strongly as around a pole.

And why the shot at Wellesley College? It's a damn good school.

Good points, Ramona.

Since we are discussing women making their way in the world via exotic dancing, stripping & such, I'll tell you about my friend "K".
K was a widow with two young daughters who found a way to make very good money: She became a professional dominatrix. She worked 3-4 days a week and averaged about a grand per day. Paid her house off in 6 years, eventually put both daughters thru Ivy League colleges and retired by the time she was 45. Well, mostly retired.

She told me many interesting things about her trade. Most customers were wealthy, conservative Republicans. None ever had sex with her. All of them were very sick and twisted puppies.

I'm all for women making their way in the world by whatever means it takes. If that means taking advantage of male obsessions and primitive urges, well, there ya go.

I hardly know where to start on this one - so many good comments.

I'm all in favor of women doing whatever they choose to do for whatever reason they choose to do it. I would like for women to have options other than allowing their bodies to be objectified, because I believe that it keeps that culture alive to the detriment of us all - men and women alike. It's part of the reason, I think, that women are still underrepresented in many important arenas of power, still harassed on the job, and still, on average, underpaid and underemployed relative to their comparable male counterparts.

I also worry about young women who still believe that their self-worth is tied up in the ways in which their bodies are perceived by men, rather than in how they feel about themselves. I don't have a lot of experience in this arena, just enough to know that the issue is a real one.

And yes, women can be pigs, too. But the culture-wide impacts of a long history of women objectifying men just don't seem to be as strong as vice-versa, if that makes any sense.

OK, fire away :)

ROTFL. Thank you, this was just what I needed today. I can't wait to read the book, but then you always manage to amuse and entertain me.

Wellesley is a fine "Women Only, Men Need Not Apply" college. The Citadel was a fine "Men Only, Women Need Not Apply" college. Don't storm the gates of one while defending the sexism of the other.

Not to get crazy off-topic or anything, but I found this website interesting:

It discusses a 2004 study of student experiences and achievements in women-only colleges vs. co-ed colleges. Just in case anyone's interested.

Some women are cursed with good looks and extra endowments.
I learned of this early on in high school where a very mature girl with an early developed persona and body came to our all girls school. She wanted to study and learn and at the coed school that had attended was constantly ogled and hit upon.
This became a life lesson to me because at least she had the courage to pursue higher learning and not to become a victim of her good looks.
It is always a two edged sword and some take the easier way out at times to avoid pursuing higher goals.
Women and men can support the higher ground for young ladies and see them through the tough times.

Kerry, it's not crazy off-topic. It's taking the topic to a new level and maybe another blog.

Wellesley and the Citadel do not seem truly analogous to me. It's more complicated than that. But I can't expound on it because I have to take the kids to piano and gymnastics.

Harley, I've had kids attend both Wellesley and the Citadel, and you're right--it's more like comparing apples and oranges. The Citadel is not only a formerly male only school, but it has the military component, as well, which is fairly essential to the school. After all, they are considered the militia for the state of South Carolina. Wellesley welcomes men nowadays in cross-registration programs with other schools; they just attend individual classes, rather than living on campus. It's more like College of Charleston than the Citadel, except more cerebral.

Note to Rod: As part of Robin's deal with Olin she also attended some classes at Wellesley, Brandeis, and Babson, via the cross-registration program.

Gee, Ramona, I didn't even notice Rod's mention of Wellesley, because what I thought he was getting at was a certain type of privileged, perhaps spoiled, individual who could afford to focus at length on topics, feelings, etc. that those of us who have had to make our own way in the world might well dismiss as a 'trust fund bunny' (whether that is fair or not is a different topic). But you could fill in the name of nearly any school, so I didn't read a slap at Wellesley.
My comment about the individual using exotic dancing to pay the way to other things wasn't a dismissal of the way anyone else makes their living or how long they choose to do so, but focussed on the way that that particular individual experienced the need to develop new views of herself and new behaviors accordingly, moving from one arena of work to another. It goes both ways--I would quite likely experience quite a transition and challenges to my self-esteem if I were to move into the world of exotic dancing and leave my Chinese medicine practice behind--the learning curve would be substantial.
I'd like to hear Harley's thoughts on Wellesley/Citadel . . . .

Laraine: That was the point but the choice of Wellesley was no accident. Pampered students at a single sex college delving into sexism is just too delicious to ignore.

Funny, Rod, but I didn't see anywhere in Wellesley's literature that being "pampered" is a requirement for acceptance. You know for a fact that every young woman there comes from a family with means? That those families spoil their daughters? That none are on scholarship? That none of them work as cocktail waitresses or pole dancers to pay their tuition? That every single one is "delving into sexism" and if they are, that is somehow a bad thing?

You dissed 2,300 female college students. It's not okay to do so, just because they're richer than you are.

I am tired of being late to the party, another great entry Elaine!

I haven't been to a Hooters, but accidentally went into a Bone Daddy's thinking it was just a barbecue place. I was with a friend and our two girls. We walked in and walked right back out. I will never forget it.

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