Tavern owner stands up for skimpies on sexism charge

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser

King River Tavern owner Sam James stands by her decision to defend the hiring of skimpy barmaids.

Having run the tavern since 2003, Ms James said she had always and would continue to have skimpies at her bar.

Not-for-profit group Collective Shout disagrees with the practice, saying it contributes to gender inequality by reducing women to objects for male enjoyment, and would like to see skimpies banned.

The push comes after an application by The Sixty30 in Merriwa, in northern Perth, to modify existing entertainment conditions to allow topless waitresses was rejected recently by the WA Director of Liquor Licensing.

Ms James said these girls were great, intelligent women, who were confident in their own skins.

“Our girls are beautiful young women who are multi-talented and bring a positive energy behind the bar, these girls work different venues and are switched on,” she said.

“I will always have skimpy barmaids in my bar, I don’t think it’s outdated or old-fashioned, I think it’s something that works. I have always found my girls are treated with the utmost respect from customers and if they aren’t, believe me they are out the door so quick and they know that.”

A Perth skimpy who works frequently at the King River Tavern, Skylar King, said she had been in the line of work for nearly three years.

“When I first started I had a lot of debt to my name, and I cleared that within a year,” she said.

“I was working in Kalgoorlie and recently moved to Perth, where I work at various venues, and come down here to Albany — I haven’t left because I love my job.

“Girls don’t do this work for no reason; they want to pay for something, get ahead or are studying on the side and most girls love what they do, no one is holding a gun to these girls’ heads, they choose the job they want to do and they do it.”

Ms King said it was a daunting start in the industry but she had been lucky to have a great support group of girls as well as plenty of bar work behind her.

“Bar work is no stranger to me. I used to work at table service at private functions, and I found wearing clothes was worse, more groping and closer contact with the customer, whereas behind the bar I feel safe and protected,” she said.

“Obviously any job has its good days and bad days, but if there is any issue the customer is out the door so fast ... I worked in telecommunications previously and I copped more abuse there than I ever have behind the bar.

“People stand up for me in here; I’ve had patrons remove other patrons because they care about me, because someone is acting out of line or nasty, that’s how much our customers care about us.”

Ms King said no one was forced to enter a pub with a skimpy barmaid and if they felt the need to criticise the practice, they should simply go to another pub.

“I think the comment that we are an object for men’s enjoyment is ridiculous and is a comment passed by people who don’t know us, just know what we do, that we wear underwear while we work,” she said.

“The adult entertainment industry is a lot bigger than skimpies and I don’t think it’s a practice that will go out of date any time soon.

“I see nothing wrong with it, we each choose to do the job we do and women that criticise that need to start supporting other women.”

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