‘When people are spending a certain amount of money, they think they can have anything they want’: Bottle service girls lift the lid on New York nightclubs after dark
- Bottle service girls are paid minimum wage, but big tips mean they can earn $150,000 per year
- Many have to follow strict rules about weight and appearance, and deal with customers who offer them money for sex
By Catherine Townsend New York Post PUBLISHED: 11 July 2013
Stefanie Ross, 28, confesses that she has been asked for everything from cocaine and sex to pizza throughout her nine-year career.
‘I think when people are spending a certain amount of money, they think they can have anything they want,’ Ross told theNew York Post.
Bottle service girls – the women who wear skimpy outfits and pour bottles of booze with a 2,000per cent markup for bankers, athletes and celebrities at tables – occupy positions of power in nightclubs.
Cocktail waitresses have always been around, but during the boom years of the Noughties nightclub owners changed the rules: Suddenly, you no longer had to be ‘cool’ to get into a club – you could buy your way inside.
Thirty-two year-old Mariya Dekham says that, at 20, she earned $150,000 to $160,000 annually – and claims she once received a $15,000 tip from a customer in addition to the included 20per cent gratuity.
Club kids: TheSix co-founder Mariya Dekham (left), pictured with friends, has years of experience working in the nightlife industry
The competition is fierce, and being eye candy is definitely part of the job description. The girls tell the paper that uniforms vary from LBDs to lingerie, and some clubs even enforce strict rules about weight and appearance.
But for young women who live to party, the perks can be worth the hassle.
Seeing celebrities like Madonna and Leonardo DiCaprio are regular occurences, and Dekman says she once saw a notorious party boy spend $300,000 buying Cristal for everyone in the club.
In exchange, however, the women have to put up with sleazy behavior.
Unlike bartenders, they don’t have a physical barrier between them and drunk customers who want to get tactile after a few tequilas.
Many have been offered money for sex. At one club where Ross worked, a man said he would pay her $5,000 to leave with him.
‘My boss said he’d take the money if I were interested,’ she explains. ‘I said no.’
But as the explosion of EDM (electronic dance music) brings 80s and 90s-style megaclubs back to the city, some believe that the days of big-bucks bottle service is ‘over’.
The New York Post also recently reported that in clubs like Marquee, there is a movement toward a more egalitarian environment where a $30 pre-paid ticket gets clubgoers access to the same superstar DJ and massive dance floor.
Ross and her partners – Dekham, 28-year-old Alexandria Murphy, 29-year-old Christina Donato and 30-year-old Ivanka Naydenova – are using their experience to create a new all-female nightclub company, TheSix.
So far they have hosted a series of ‘One Night Only’ parties in NYC and at high-profile events such as Sundance, Art Basel and SXSW.
Even in clubs where bottle service is still rocking, TheSix founders explain that the party is over shortly after hitting 30.
‘This industry is not generally friendly to older women,’ says Dekham, who recently gave it up because she felt ‘like a dinosaur’.
‘There’s a point when it becomes very clear that it’s time to move on to another career.’