Espressos Gone Wild in Shelton

City Puts Halter On Bikini Baristas

Lisa Claughron, 20

City of Shelton administrator Dave O’Leary has raised the alarm that an army of bikini clad baristas are plotting an invasion of our schools, parks, libraries, churches, day care centers, and residential areas. “We’ve got Pool…right here in River City! Pool–yes POOL. That starts with ‘P’ which rhymes with ‘T’ and stands for Trouble.” [Citizens begin to hyperventilate: “Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…”] -The Music Man-

Bikini-clad baristas are causing a stir across Washington state, where some love the scantily-clad coffee servers, but others have complained on moral grounds. Mind you, no such espressos stands have ever actually set up shop or applied for a license in Shelton, but one can’t be too careful when it comes to the slippery slopes of a moral dilemma.

Randi Dameri

Randi Dameri

An army of bikini clad baristas marching on our schools, libraries, and parks from their “sexually oriented espresso stands” according to Dave O’leary, City administrator. Thus, the City, alarmed by the lack of a dress code protecting us from such a calamity, seeks a ‘moratorium’ (akin to a black hole’s event horizon) prohibiting any such testing of the limits of personal expression under a Mayor who ran on getting government off the backs of local business.

If the City is going to impose a dress code on one business, perhaps it should impose it on all businesses (bars, restaurants, night clubs, health spas, gyms, theaters, dance halls, fashion shows) including patrons. A hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held @ 6:00pm, 3-18-13. Concerned citizens are urged to show up shirtless (male), or bikini clad (female/male)…especially if you’re young and attractive. The Mason County geriatric set could use some stimulation beyond oyster shucking. Could the espresso stand (or bar, restaurant, night club, etc.) have a large Video screen with bikini clad baristas on display?

“Moratoriums are legal.” -Mayor Gary Cronce- [They’re also a tool to manipulate the law/Constitutional rights…not that the City would stoop to something so devious.]

       Who Knew? 2005 Wasn’t Long Enough to Wake UP & Smell the Coffee!

bikini barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee drinks while dressed in scanty attire such as a bikini or lingerie. This marketing trend (sometimes referred to as sexpresso or bareista) developed in the Seattle, Washington area of the northwestern United States in the early 2000’s, and gained international attention by early 2007.

Jamie Smith, 20

Jamie Smith, 20

And how does the wage of a bare midriff compare to that of a fully clothed barista which might put the pacemakers in Mason County at such risk? Ever wondered if the motivation for wearing a bathing suit while pulling espresso shots resided in the paycheck?

A Craigs List ad for a bikini barista position in Everett offered the following tantalizing terms:

“Looking for a bikini barista in the Everett area. $9.00 per hour. Must have experience and great customer service. Needed all different days, including weekends. Please email me your resume along with pictures and phone number to get in contact with you.”

So…$9 an hour. Compare that to the average wage of a Starbucks barista: $8.64, according to (That drops to $8.33 if you filter for less than one year of experience). For 36 cents less you get to work while clothed? Given our chilly climate that seems like something of a no-brainer.

Ah, but there is the matter of the tip jar to consider. Yes, one bikini barista wage does not add up to a representative sample. It’s still, um, revealing.


Peek-A-Brew Espresso

Can City/Mason County residents take the strain? You can weigh in on this vital moral imperative on 3-18-13 by showing up in Shelton’s City Hall at 6:00pm…bathing suits optional. Medics for the infirm will be on hand.

Lisa Caughron, 20

Lisa Caughron, 20.

Espresso drive-through stands and coffee outlets are numerous in the greater Seattle area, and the exact inventor of the “bikini barista” concept is debated. The “Natte Latte” chain’s first location was opened in November 1999 by Mary Keller, and its employees began sporting pink leather hotpants in 2001. Next, in 2003, “Cowgirls Espresso” opened its first location in Tukwila, Washington. A few months after opening, as summer heat invaded the small 70-square-foot (6.5 m2) shop, owner Lori Bowden adopted employee suggestions that they start a “Bikini Wednesday” promotion. Sales took off, and other scantily-clad theme days soon followed. The concept of “bikini baristas” spread quickly, featuring attractive young women dressed in attire such as bikinis, lingerie, stockings, and heels.

The first round of international press attention to the trend occurred in early 2007. The international trend continued with the release of wildly popular song “Bikini Barista” from the Seattle pop-punk band Quickie. Competitors that have not followed suit have complained about the trend, and have also seen a drop in business.

Lisa Caughron, 20

The retail establishments which employ bikini baristas often adopt titillating names, including “Peek A-Brew”, “Grab n’ Go”, “Cowgirls Espresso”, “Smokin’ Hot Espresso”, “Knotty Bodies Espresso”, “Java Jigglers”, “Espresso Gone Wild”, “Java Girls”, “Sweet Spot”, and “Natte Latte”.

Lenea Campion, 20

Lenea Campion, 20

The phenomenon of bikini baristas has caused controversy and complaints from local residents. Undercover police officers in Snohomish County, Washington witnessed some baristas performing additional services for extra money, including letting customers touch them, photograph them or watch them lick whipped cream off each other. These statements have been retracted by the Everett, WA police department, as the police officer ‘undercover’ was a known customer and offered the said barista money. The Everett, WA police department was accused of purposeful entrapment.

In September 2009, five baristas at a Grab ‘n Go in Everett, Washington were charged with prostitution after police surveillance caught them stripping and performing sexual acts for cash. Other complaints included the stand’s very close proximity to preschools and daycare centers. In another incident, “Espresso Gone Wild” in Belfair, Washington was temporarily shut down by Mason County in August 2008. It drew the ire of some Belfair residents. Mason County officials [Tim Sheldon] responded to complaints on the July 30, 2008 meeting, by ruling the espresso stand is “erotic entertainment” and off limits in the Belfair area. The owners of “Espresso Gone Wild” in Belfair were being told that their baristas are violating an erotic entertainment ordinance. They were also told that their baristas need to cover up and clean up their act or the stand will be shut down permanently.

Kathryn Porter, 25

Kathryn Porter, 25

Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon says the owners of “Espresso Gone Wild” are welcome to open a coffee shop and compete with all the other coffee shops in town. Sheldon also says the owners won’t be able to “sell sex and coffee on the side.”


Randi Damery, 29, left, and Kaylee McKinlay, 18

Espresso Gone Wild” in Belfair, Washington was prohibited from allowing employees to wear pasties and their baristas now wear bikinis. Residents in another community have scrutinized a local stand and called for boycotts of companies whose employees patronize the establishments. In July 2011, the owner and three employees of Java Juggs in Snohomish County, Washington were charged with prostitution, with the police later releasing some footage obtained.

As a result of these complaints and incidents, some local jurisdictions have been considering and adopting local ordinances to regulate and control the activities of the stores.

Randi Damery, 29, left, serves customers while Kaylee McKinlay, 18, prepares drinks

When contacted Thursday afternoon on 2-21-13, Mayor Gary Cronce and City Councilwoman Dawn Pannel would not comment on what business had expressed interest in setting up an espresso stand at 5th St. & Railroad Ave. according to City Administrator Dave O’Leary. Other City staff would/could not comment or were unavailable, as so often is the case in the public sector. Mayor Cronce successfully ran on a platform of relaxing regulations to get City government off the backs of local businesses. His tenure, to date, has not born out this promise. A casual look in the downtown Shelton business district indicates, at the present rate, the Mayor’s promise will be irrelevant as there won’t be any backs for the City to ride.

Bikini Bar

Bikini Bar


The 1st 5 to 28 minute segment of the following video clip of the Shelton City Council public hearing regarding the no bikinia baristas moratorium might have been taken straight from THE MUSIC MAN scene where the scheming salesman warns the good River City folks of Pool Halls opening in their small town. Predictably (as here) the citizenry becomes hysterical as they begin to hyperventilate, “Trouble, Trouble, Trouble…!” The creeping paternalism in City government and patriarchal oversight is stifling. Unfortunately, no bikini clad baristas were on hand to rebut the straight laced pillars of Geezerville.

After citizens weighed in with their chaste hyper-morality, substituting it for even the most basic principles of individual liberty or Constitutional guarantees, Mayor Cronce (who successfully ran on a platform of removing municipal government excess from the backsides of business owners) can be heard boasting about his moral rectitude in promoting the “legal maneuver” when responding to the 2 City Council members expressing reluctance to adopt the role of a morality cop.

Council woman Dawn Panell hazards the opinion they may have acted too hastily when adopting the anti-bikini moratorium weeks earlier, suggesting a more considered or deliberate approach of adjusting the City’s ordinance would yield better results. Councilman Olsen seconds this view to no avail in the face of the Mayor’s obvious determination the anti-bikini moratorium remain undisturbed, practically gloating over its currency.

During the earlier public comment period (which Mayor Cronce closely limits to 3-minutes/person while urging citizens to voluntarily avoid even that level of ‘verbosity’), Tom Davis, a local dedicated political observer, emphasizes ‘values’ over the moral implications as he labels bikini barista espresso stands as “despicable” from the podium. Legislating ‘taste’ and moral dress codes had become the order of the day as residents who spoke unanimously condemned the practice of donning bikinis as work attire.

Nobody spoke out in favor of civil rights, individual liberty, 1st Amendment rights to expression (including dress standards), the right of adult women to be left alone by big brother/nanny, or in opposition to a tyranny of the majority in such matters as a City notorious for its interference with local business over the slightest of pretexts continued the pattern with apparent indifference to such legal proscriptions and trashing of 1st Amendment principles. The City of Shelton may be unconcerned about the air pollution its residents endure or the urban decay and abandoned buildings, the rickety infrastructure and broken streets…but it is more than willing to protect citizens against an army of bikini-clad baristas waiting to take over the town and corrupt our youth. The town that won’t provide public restrooms 24/7 because the homeless might use them, the Gateway to Industrial Blight, the downtown that looks like it never had a bath and can’t afford its own police force in a sea of vacant store fronts, stands ready to protect us from ourselves because that’s the limit to which its incompetence can aspire. It wants you to breathe sh*t, live in squalor, but not get too frisky in the bargain. Welcome to the underbelly of small town, America–at least in Mason County.

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5 Responses to Espressos Gone Wild in Shelton

  1. Amy Cunningham says:

    This is a fuzzy issue for me…I’m all for individual liberty, but I’m also pretty fond of health codes that require food handlers to be fully clothed. I’m against the Nanny State, but I’m in favor of laws that protect workers.
    And as a feminist…well, there the issue gets even fuzzier. These women are adults and it’s not my job to tell adults to behave themselves if their behavior is not affecting me. On the other hand, this REEKS of exploitation, and I feel a duty to stand firmly against the exploitation of anyone.

    • pinbalwyz says:

      Amy, the City would have been on firm ground if they’d passed an ordinance that prohibited requiring an employee to bare any part of their body unwillingly. Firing the unwilling or making it a job requirement could have been treated as sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. Many of these ladies appear more interested in the tip jar than feminist polemics. As adults, like you say, it’s their call. e.g. I don’t favor prostitution (though I sometimes have difficulty in distinguishing it from ‘accepted’ behavior), but State laws criminalizing it are an exercise in absurdity. Better to have decent jobs with salaries that can sustain a family along with an education system offering training/schooling in the same.

      The City, of course, never approached the issue from that side of the horizon because they’re kontrol freaks, not champions of liberty, civil rights, or public safety. This is the same crowd that welcomes Simpson (now ‘Green Diamond’) overtures to increase the poisoning of its residents through even more air pollution emitted in the heart of downtown. Shelton has already become the gateway to industrial blight on the Olympic Peninsula. So the City Council fiddles, lying awake at nights with visions of bikini baristas dancing in their head, while the town burns and residents choke on the smoke. Talk about priorities?–Shelton has become a joke.

  2. pinbalwyz says:

    James John Bell says:
    Min. wage has gone up to over $9 I believe so are the baristas being paid less, is that legal?

    Pinbalwyz responds:
    $18,000/yr or $8.65/hr as a Starbucks barista according to currently. I believe ‘training’ wages can be less than the minimum, and tips can be factored in as well. The point is, baristas work hard (clothed or otherwise), aren’t getting rich, and are adults–as are their patrons. The creeping paternalism coming from an incompetent City government is pernicious and disgusting to any American who believes in liberty. In this instance, it’s also comical. In an age when internet porn has become ubiquitous, where bikinis have become just another form of attire visible on just about any beach (if it isn’t too chilly), and violate NO laws, per se, Shelton’s passing a City ordinance targeting some specter of moral decadence served by baristas is more than I can stomach…and I don’t drink coffee, given my Mormon upbringing. The law is unconstitutionally vague (doesn’t properly define how much skin is lawful), discriminatory (singles out one type of business while ignoring others), and irrational (attempts to impose an ill defined dress code without any legitimate compelling interest by the state). It does not legislate against conduct/behavior (touching, solicitation, keeping body hairs out of the latte’) but dress which is lawful virtually anywhere else (gyms, pools, bars, theaters, busking for that matter). Arguably, bikini clad baristas may be in bad taste, but there’s no accounting for that, is there? This is little more than sour grapes by more conservative competitors and a geriatric set of City Commissioners without enough lead in their pencil or calcium in their spine. They do, however, offer a pre-made comedy shtick for Tina Fey or SNL. If we had more young people in Mason, I’d wish they’d organize a flash mob of bikini clad beauties and shirtless beefcakes invading Mayor Cronce’s jewelry store on Railroad Ave. and/or the City Council chambers at its hearing for public comment in March (3-18-13 @ 6:00pm, I believe, City Hall). Given Shelton’s general appearance as a town that looks like it never had a bath, vacant store fronts, dilapidated abandoned homes, apartments, and commercial buildings, it could use some eye candy.

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