If you know me, probably the last thing you would ever expect would be that I’d dress up in a short skirt, put on fishnet tights and heels, a tight t-shirt, and go flirt with strangers in a bar for a few hours. But back a few years ago, that’s exactly what I did. For $25 an hour. And no, it’s not what you’re thinking.
I was a shot girl. And for a few months back in college, I thought it was the right thing to do. Sure, it’s not as embarrassing as taking my clothes off and dancing on a pole for money, but it’s no 9-5 desk job. Back when money was tight and my class schedule was grueling, I found myself clicking on the ever-dangerous ‘Talent’ section of Craigslist, looking for a way to earn some extra cash.
I decided to take a job as a “Promotional Model” for a company representing various liquor brands, from Segram’s to Ursus, to my personal favorite, Captain Morgan. I say personal favorite, with a tinge of irony, because on those particular nights, we got on those fishnet tights, wore knee-high boots, and were given a skintight red lace-up leotard to wear under a short black skirt.
I remember the first time I wore that uniform. It was actually my first night ever working as a shot girl. Myself and a group of about four other shot girls met at one of the busiest bars outside of Lambeau Field on a Green Bay Packers game day. We all gathered to walk into the beer tent, our arms weighed down by huge amounts of flashing beaded necklaces with the Captain Morgan logo. And then, I remember the catcalls.
From the moment we stepped out of the car, whoops and cheers followed us everywhere we went. Now, being a somewhat shy person from a fairly small town, it’s safe to say I’d never had this much attention from guys, well, ever. The other girls on my team smiled and waved, because this was probably about the millionth game they’d worked, but I was understandably not used to it. I’m generally the type of girl who, when I wear a dress, I’m pulling it down to make sure I’m not showing off too much. And here I was, parading around in a slutty outfit, and encouraging guys to buy themselves rum and cokes. And I’d signed up for it.
One time, my coworker and I drove about an hour into middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin to find a tiny bar where we were promoting Segram’s for the night. It was Halloween, and we would be showing up to judge the bar’s annual Costume Contest. Now, usually when we showed up for a gig, it’d be a college bar flooded with drunk guys who were overly eager to participate in some stupid promotional games. But on this particular night, when we walked into the bar, it was filled with a bunch of old townies, who it would soon be clear, gave no shits about shot girls.
We walked around for about a half hour, going up to people and handing out slap bracelets and asking how their night was going. Nobody really engaged. But finally, one of the townies took pity on us. She was dressed as Raggedy Ann with a voice like she’d been smoking for 30 years. She put her arm around us and drunkenly asked what the hell we were doing at a townie bar, to which we answered we really weren’t sure. But as the night went on, and the drinks kept flowing, their distain slowly faded.
When it came time to judge the annual costume contest, they cheered us on. It was actually pretty endearing watching those locals who had probably been going to that bar their whole lives have such fun dressed in some dollar store Halloween garb. My favorite part of the night was probably when the unrecognizable old couple, complete with walkers and elderly sweaters, won the contest and ripped off their masks to reveal they were everyone’s favorites– “Tim and Angie from down the block. They really fooled us, didn’t they?”
The bar tender ended up passing around an empty pitcher when the end of the night rolled around, and those townies filled it to the brim with money for our tips. We smiled and took it to the back, where we started packing up our things. Sadly, our smiles were as fake as my coworker’s boobs, because we knew we couldn’t take their money. It was in the company policy that shot girls couldn’t accept tips, no matter how big or small. So, although our awkward night had turned into a rip-roaring good time with a pitcher full of bills, we were forced to leave it behind with a note saying “Thanks, but we can’t accept tips!”
That job only lasted a few months. Because although I was making a pretty decent amount of money, I just couldn’t take it anymore. The attention from the slobbering drunk college guys and creepy sixty year old drunks was getting to be too much. But my days as a shot girl sure taught me a lot. Namely, to always accept tips.