EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 5, 2010

Are Bikini Baristas Getting Too Steamy?

Allegations of Prostitution, Erotic Shows Leveled at Some "Sexpresso" Stands

  • Play CBS Video Video Bikini Baristas Now Online

    "CBS News RAW": While some cities in Washington State are cracking down on the "bikini baristas," one new shop has installed 6 video cameras to stream live on their website.

  • Video Steamed Over Bikini Baristas

    An espresso stand where the baristas wear bikinis has some residents of Bellevue, Washington imploring their city council to shut it down down.

  • A barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, just outside the city limits of Everett, Wash.

    A barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, just outside the city limits of Everett, Wash.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP)  Coffee shops in the Seattle area introduced "bikini baristas" three years ago, hiring attractive young women to serve up steamy espressos and lattes while wearing as little as a G-string and pasties.

But cities are now taking a closer look at the "sexpresso" stand craze after police investigations revealed that some baristas were serving coffee with a side of something not even legal at many strip clubs.

Five bikini baristas in Everett, north of Seattle, are accused of charging up to $80 to let customers fondle or photograph them as they put on erotic shows - sometimes in view of passing traffic. They face court dates on prostitution charges this month.

In images so graphic that officials were reluctant to release them under public disclosure requests, undercover officers photographed them spreading their legs while wearing crotchless panties or licking whipped cream off each other's exposed pubic regions. While such acts may not constitute traditional prostitution, authorities say they met the legal definition of engaging in sexual conduct for a fee.

Photo Gallery: Bikini Barista Controversy
Watch: Residents Steamed at Bikini Baristas

"This is not Malibu Barbie standing at a coffee stand selling coffee," said City of Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon. "We had citations for prostitution. That's totally different."

The bikini barista trend emerged in recent years as some espresso stands sought to stand out amid the heavy competition for coffee business in a region that is home to Starbucks.

There are now dozens of such shops in the region, with names like Brewlesque, Twin Perks and Java Juggs. They're typically stand-alone shacks along roadsides or in parking lots, often noticeable for their come-hither signs - "some like it hot," for example - and a long line of pick-up trucks at the window.

The bikini shops have always stirred up controversy, with some cities threatening to shut them down unless their employees covered up. But communities have changed their laws in recent months in response to growing complaints that the bikini baristas aren't actually wearing bikinis anymore.

Snohomish County north of Seattle last month began requiring coffee stand employees to wear at least the equivalent of a bikini or face regulation under adult entertainment ordinances. That would mean tougher zoning restrictions and rules requiring customers to all be adults.

The city of Lynnwood has updated its laws to require employees to wear more than pasties and a G-string, and Yakima in central Washington directed its city attorney to draft similar laws. Everett still allows pasties, but has clarified that drive-through businesses are public places, where the caressing or fondling of the genitals or breasts is considered lewd conduct and can be prosecuted.

Bill Wheeler, who runs four Grab-N-Go espresso stands in the Everett area, said the new ordinances and negative publicity generated by the charges against his employees has cut his business by about 80 percent, and he has let go one-third of his staff.

"You have a bunch of church groups that got together and decided they just don't like women in bikinis," he said.

But at Java Juggs just outside Everett city limits, barista Jade Layng insisted business isn't down since Snohomish County started requiring the equivalent of a bikini. Employees there still make $100-$150 in tips during a six-hour shift, she said.

"We just wear lingerie, or bras and panties instead of pasties and thongs," she said. "We have a lot of regulars. They don't really care too much."

© MMX, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Add a Comment See all 29 Comments
by bsmi021 February 8, 2010 8:08 AM EST
Dose anyone understand that they are getting alot of FREE advertisements ( good for them) but for all you people saying this is wrong need to start with all the ads in the flyer's and TV for all the underwear ( Victoria's secret) is much worse just walk through any mall!
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by frogger581 February 7, 2010 1:03 PM EST
Arent there safety issued to be considered? Steam burns are still very dangerous...
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by tensai13 February 6, 2010 10:18 PM EST
These girls are just trying to make a living but it is sad that we have to resort to this sort of sexploitation.
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by NinthSt78 February 6, 2010 5:03 PM EST
If we can see through the china when held up to the light, and if it has a nice ring with the spoonful of sugar, it might be time to look at the bottom of the cup and saucer to make sure it says 'Made in USA'.
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by NinthSt78 February 6, 2010 4:44 PM EST
Along as the right places stay covered, and the patrons leave their tips on the COUNTER, things should be all right. (A dash of Amaretto in the coffee is usually worth a larger tip.)
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by rosamundi February 6, 2010 4:16 PM EST
One step closer to "Idiocracy"?
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by djconklin February 6, 2010 11:51 AM EST
>Hey, you gotta love capitalism at its finest! Seems the only ones complaining are the bible thumpers and the homely overweight housewives. Make mine a double shot expresso with hazelnut.

It all depends on your family values--some have none.
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by voxpopulus February 6, 2010 9:10 PM EST
A girl in a bikini is no threat to my family.
by HB1234100 February 6, 2010 1:14 AM EST
B-live: Actually if the baristas are licking each other's exposed pubic area in view of passing traffic this is a lot worse than Hooter's. Before everyone accuses me of being a prude let me just say I am from New Orleans, and I am very used to nudity, strip clubs, etc. I agree with ddaryl1: zoning these establishments is important. If I am on Bourbon St I fully expect to see nudity, but I don't want to see a strip club across the street from a local elementary school. All of the comments about this story focus on the rights of the customers and employees at these shops, but the people making the comments seem to completely disregard the rights of the residents in the areas where these "coffee shops" are located. Zoning laws are in place for a reason, and despite what pythoncharlyten may think they were not invented so that "some idiot conservatives... can tell the rest of us how to live."
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by national1942 February 7, 2010 1:16 AM EST
You are completely disgusting...especially you're descriptions.
by run2jazz2 February 5, 2010 3:39 PM EST
This is not news nor a big deal. When I was in Tampa, Florida some years ago their were women selling hot dogs on the side of the road in bikini.

They were hated by wives of the husbands who would stop there to get a hot dog and the small business owners who did not think of the idea first.

If I want to stop and have a coffee with an attractive woman given it to me, I see no problem with it. Like anyone who goes to Hooters goes for the food?
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by babooph February 5, 2010 12:21 PM EST
Do we have special rules for the beach-maybe if the had a little sand...?
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