What a hoot

Men pay women to be nice -- it's the oldest trick in the book

Rating: NNNNN

It’s good, clean fun. You could bring the whole family here!” NRight. I can just imagine. “Mommy, why are that woman’s boobs so shiny?” “Because, Johnny, she’s had implants, and the skin has been stretched so tight it makes her absurdly large breasts look shiny. Now, sit up straight and eat your chicken wings.”

Welcome to Hooters — “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined,” as their slogan goes.

I’d say it should be more like “Welcome to Hooters — where men can be pigs and the waitresses won’t give them a hard time for it.” And where the waitresses’ outfits give ‘tacky and unrefined’ a bad name.

Health hazard?

Watching the girls constantly pick their bright-orange 70s-style satin shorts outta their asses while serving food, I can’t help wondering if it might be a health violation.

We’re at the new Hooters in downtown Toronto for the final round in the Miss Hooters Canada contest when a customer shares his “fun for the whole family” take on the place.

Eight hopefuls from across Canada are here to strut their stuff, hoping to make it to the Miss Hooters World competition in the Bahamas on June 21.

If you’ve somehow managed to live your life oblivious to the phenomenon that is Hooters, it’s a, um, restaurant/bar that was started by six self-proclaimed semi-intellectual businessmen from Clearwater, Florida, in 1983 that now has over 260 outlets around the world, and its own magazine.

According to The Hooters Saga printed on the back of the menu, the concept was simple: “What else brings a gleam to mens (sic) eyes everywhere besides beer and chicken wings and an occasional winning football season. Hence the name Hooters.”

There’s a lot of this nudge-nudge, wink-wink dumb humour here.

In fact, the place seems to go out of its way to let you know that they’re fully aware of the stupidity of it all. Signs like “Caution, blonds thinking” and “Hooters waitresses are flattery-operated” are just part of the Fun! Fun! Fun!

Extreme flirting

The friend accompanying me is an actor struggling to be a waitress at a fairly snooty uptown Toronto restaurant. She’s well aware that a little flirting and a slightly more revealing outfit can up your earnings.

Hooters merely takes the concept to the extreme. Contrary to popular belief, however, you don’t have to have big hooters to work here.

“In fact, some of the smaller- breasted women do better,” a manager type tells me. “They often have more personality.”

And granted, aside from the one shiny-breasted woman who tells me she got implants because her boobs disappeared when she lost a bunch of weight, there is plenty of boob variety. Along with a lot of long, blond hair. In fact, contrary to most restaurant policy, the girls here aren’t allowed to wear their hair tied back.

“It’s easy to find beautiful women,” the manager continues. “But we need women with the right attitude, because — let’s face it — men are pigs, and you gotta be able to deal with comments like ‘Nice tits’ or ‘Nice ass’ all night and be able to joke about it.”

He admits that while it wasn’t hard to hire for the suburban Hooters in North York and Brampton, it was hard to find women willing to play the game in downtown Toronto. In fact, opening at all in downtown Toronto proved difficult. “The National Action Committee on the Status of Women tried to keep us from opening.”

Still, we have to admit, the waitresses we talk to seem pretty damn happy about their job. In fact, the enthusiasm in the place is a little eerie. Even one of the more cynical ones, the bartender who’s putting herself through law school, says she got over the cheesy outfit and the geeky men once she was on the floor with all the girls in the same boat.

“When I first put on the outfit, I sat down and decided I was never gonna stand up,” she laughs.

At least they get to wear comfortable footwear — white socks and tennis shoes.

Three young, decent-enough-looking guys at a table next to us proceed to give me their philosophy on Hooters.

“It’s like walking into a Maxim magazine,” they say. “It’s a totally non-PC environment, and you don’t get grief for looking at women. You can come here and talk to the girls and you don’t get attitude.”

In other words, they’re basically paying women to be nice to them. One of the oldest tricks in the book.

It’s time for the contest. I move to a table where two older latino women are sitting. Turns out they’re the aunt and mother of Jessica, one of the finalists.

“How do you feel about your daughter being a Hooters waitress,” I lean over to ask. “It’s nice, she likes it,” is all I get back.

We all settle in for the competition, a benefit for Covenant House. At least it’s for charity. Six male judges are asked to score the women on a scale of 1 to 20 in each of three outfits, the Hooters uniform, clubwear and a bikini.

Hot pink

Out come the girls (and they are pretty much girls, ranging in age from 19 to 23): Jessica whose favourite animal is her pet iguana Diana, who loves the colour hot pink Bobbi, an uber-blond whose name, our loudmouth, bad-joke-cracking host for the evening points out, would spell “Boobi” if you added an “o” and took out a “b” (yeah, I know, it’s not spelled right, but who cares?) Olga, who made her way from Poland to the Hooters in the West Edmonton Mall Jennifer, who still hasn’t had her first date Sarah or Megan (or was it Jennifer), who walks like she has more than a bad pair of shorts up her butt.

Questions are put to the contestants — things like “Should women get breast implants?” — and after the bikini round comes the moment everyone is waiting for.

Despite my assumption that Bobbi, with her big blond hair and perky smile, would be a sure hit with this crowd, the vote seems overwhelmingly to be with Jessica, the only non-white woman, and curvier and spunkier than the rest.

As one guy puts it, “She’s got a big ass, but I like her.”

And the judges agree. One of the golf guys tells me, “She has charm, carries herself well and is a little exotic. She’s one of those girls I wouldn’t have access to in my private-school upbringing.”

There ya go.

The final moment. Mom and Aunt are holding hands in anticipation. I find myself caught up in the moment. Jessica wins! Mom puts her hand over her mouth in disbelief and joy. Jessica is thrilled. I hope she gets to take her mom with her to the Bahamas.

From Hour Magazine


Hooters. Bah. That’s nothing. Just think–here’s what they could have called themselves.

(Hey, they started it….)

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