NYC strippers are striking to protest scantily clad ‘startenders’ with huge social-media followings — here’s a look inside the battle

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Starlets NYC

    New York strippers are organizing a strike to protest discrimination in the industry. One issue: A new wave of bartenders – known as “startenders” or “bottle girls” – have started taking away tips, sometimes even snatching money off the stage. Startenders have risen to prominence in the last few years with the rise of Instagram, where they command huge followings.

New York City strippers are speaking out against what they say is unfair treatment at the hands of club promoters and managers.

With the rise of “bottle girl” bartenders in the city, dancers say they’re dealing with unfair treatment, including insufficient pay and racial discrimination, The Washington Post reported. According to strippers, bottle girls – who often are just as scantily clad as strippers – are given preferential treatment and hurt strippers’ profits, sometimes literally taking dancers’ cash off of tables.

About a week ago, strippers organized under the hashtag #NYCStripperStrike to shine a light on these issues.

Here’s how bottle girls rose to prominence in recent years – and how they play a role in the recent strike:


Clubs began to hire startenders as Instagram became more popular.

It’s a heavy lifting type of night #SeductiveSaturdays #Starlets

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While strippers have been club mainstays for decades, about five years ago club owners began hiring attractive women with sizable social-media followings to serve as bartenders.

You can't even talk to the bish she fuckin with bosses & shit ????????

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Source: The Washington Post


Many of these bottle girls have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. And some of these followers will show up to clubs just to see the bartenders in person.

@yellowdol #TrapNuns #StartenderSundays #Starlets

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Often, clubs will have the startenders dress in matching, skimpy outfits and promote their appearances on social media.


In theory, the main difference between the two is that strippers dance while bartenders serve drinks.

???????????? #MogulTuesdays ???? #Halloween ???? #Starlets ⭐️

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At a club like Aces, dancers will strip on the stage while bartenders will serve drinks at the bar.

#CashOutThursdays #Starlets ⭐️

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However, strippers say that increasingly scantily clad bottle girls are also dancing, basically fulfilling the same role as strippers — to the other workers’ disadvantage.

Aces tour last night stadium DC

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Strippers pay a “house fee,” typically at least $50, to preform at the club. Bartenders don’t pay fees, but they also rely on tips.

Share a tip with your sisters on how to increase stage tips ????I'll start: eye contact and personality are more important to some dancers than pole. I work on my splits more than work aerial dancing. On the floor, you are face to face with customers. On a pole, you are many feet away. Do your fancy moves if you know em, great way to pull people to your stage, but it isn't necessary to beat yourself up trying to learn. I'd have probably made the same amount of $ in my career if I ever learned a single trick, maybe even more! Floor work and eye contact is where you get your $20, $50, and $100 tips in one neat bill not to mention that's also how you sell VIP from stage ???? Some dancers and clubs are rain clubs. Some are VIP clubs. You have to work the way that hurts your body least and builds your soul most, so if you looooove pole rock it, if you looooove floor, rock that, but keep your eye contact and personality entertaining either way! Stacks by @rachellenaesterline. Tell us your stage hacks in the comments, let's grow together.

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Source: The Washington Post


A New York City stripper who goes by the name Panama professionally says that strippers’ pay has plummeted since the rise of bottle girls, dropping from thousands of dollars a night, to roughly $400.

Laughing to the Bank

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Source: The Washington Post


“Bartenders tell customers not to tip us,” dancer Gizelle Marie told The Washington Post. “They block us from the customers while we dance or they are sweeping our money off the stage.”

#tbt before I went under the knife ☺️❤️ team natural #nycstripperstrike who sees the gut ????????‍♀️

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Source: The Washington Post


Gizelle has been one of the ring leaders in the stripper strike, especially on social media.

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She and others argue that the rise of bartenders has fed into issues of racism in clubs. The strike organizers argue that strippers are more likely to be black or dark-skinned, while bartenders are more likely to be white.

#Repost @survivetheclub ・・・ Survive the Club stands in strong allegiance with the @nycstripperstrike. In my 16 years in this industry I have seen countless acts of racism and aggression towards women of color; the darker a woman's skin is the more extreme the mistreatment, not just by customers but by management with many clubs having an unspoken "limit" for how many WOC they are willing to hire. It's disgusting that we have been divided into "black clubs" and "white clubs" but for many WOC the division has meant a legitimate check and I applaud that come up SO much. "Urban" and "black clubs" put a lot of cities on the map, made celebrities and millionaires out of women who had the drive to make it happen, and purchased so many round the world vacations, childcare, mental health access, university degrees, investments, and other power instilling magic for brilliant hardworking entrepreneurs. That's fucking resilience. That's making amazing things out of ugly situations. The women who have been entertaining you the past 15 years at adult establishments started a real movement that has been referenced in every song of 2007-2017, made headlines, and topped the patriarchy so effectively that babes like @iamcardib are more respected than the president of the United States. #nycstripperstrike Will do the same thing: fight for representation, justice, and for their faces to be seen and voices heard. Women of color deserve fair treatment in the workplace and an opportunity to make the same money as any other woman in our industry. Stripping comes with an extreme stigma, and the economic come up I've witnessed so many women experience has been worth that stigma for many of us. To have that threatened by any other club employee who doesn't pay the same house fees or bear the burden of that stigma is more than unfair, it's unfathomable. If you want to strip, pay your dues. No bartenders stealing stripper money. Get. In. Your. Lane. Photo: Julia Noni

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As the strippers’ strike has gotten more press, some celebrities have started to speak out on the topic.


“The bartenders are the new things right now … They don’t even hire black bartenders in New York City strip clubs, which is sad,” rapper and former stripper Cardi B said in a recent interview.

It’s annoying

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Source: BET


“Personally I feel they should drop both titles ‘Strippers and Bartenders’ because it’s all the same s— now,” DJ Kay Slay said in an Instagram post, emphasizing that racism remains a major issue in the industry.

I see the ladies beefing in NY Now, Dancers vs the Bartenders. Smh… We all have to just face the fact that it's a new day, It was a time where bartenders were only allowed to serve drinks and didn't wear the same attire as the dancers. The ladies did not change that rule the clubs did, And social media made it where some promoters ( not all ) will use popular ladies who never bartended in their life, to bartend at their events an most of all use their IG celebrity to make their fans come out on their nights! New Day! Customers like new shit everything changes , so now it's a matter of dancers and bartenders having to get their fans to come spend money on them in order to eat, fair is fair I get that also. But here is the Fukery, What I do understand and acknowledge is that there is RACISM against black woman in most of these NY strip clubs! It has been going on for a while now it didn't just start? At some of my events when it's celebrities in the VIP I have to grab the black women by their hands and pull them into VIP. My last event this security clown would not let a black dancer in VIP, I told him it's my event let her up there , this fool told me no, I told him you getting paid tonight because of me let her up, he still shook his head, Now we was about to get on his skull , but I wasn't about to fuk up my own event, so I had to get a manager to check his dumb ass, then I removed his stupid ass from his post!! So if that's the argument that's being pushed as far as racism, then I have to agree, They don't let black women on stage when it's big money in the building or VIP, Unless you have built a name for yourself, So knowing this everyone needs to step their game up a notch an get it right!! Or try another state because this is how they playing, but it shouldn't be the ladies beefing with each other because it's not the ladies who set the rules!! But as far as telling women because they bartend they not supposed to eat, it's a new day , not saying it's the way that its supposed to be, but times change an ppl can do what they want with their club.. Personally I feel they should drop both titles "Strippers and Bartenders" because it's all the same shit now!

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Strike organizers have been quick to emphasize that they aren’t trying to demonize startenders — they’re trying to improve the lives of women working as strippers and take on club promoters and managers.

Lay low and boss up!!

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“We want [bartenders] to do their job and we do our job and the promoters do their job and the club owners do their job. Let’s set some rules and regulations down for everyone,” Panama told Broadly.

Piles around the bar for the dancers #CashOutThursdays #Starlets ⭐️

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Source: Broadly


“Forget about it being a strip club,” Panama said. “We’re still being discriminated against as black women in the workplace in 2017.”

Source: Broadly