Ross: Why are there no speedo barista stands?

Oct 28, 2022, 7:57 AM

The owner of several infamous bikini barista stands in Everett has pleaded guilty this week to two felony charges, promotion of prostitution and money laundering, in the hopes of getting out of a lengthy jail sentence. (MyNorthwest.com/Stephanie Klein)

(MyNorthwest.com/Stephanie Klein)

There’s still another issue to discuss concerning the recent court ruling on Everett’s dress code ordinance for baristas. Yesterday I talked with Former State Attorney General Rob McKenna about the court order that stopped Everett from using its dress code ordinance to force female baristas to wear something more substantial than a bikini.

He explained that this ordinance was tossed out as discriminatory — because it only applied to clothing worn by women. But even if the dress code was illegal, tossing it out does not allow toplessness because even without the dress code ordinance, there is still a perfectly-legal lewd conduct ordinance.

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And under that ordinance, even though Everett cannot require the baristas to wear more than a bikini, it can still prohibit anything less than a bikini.

But wait a minute — so the dress code ordinance was tossed out as discriminatory because it only applied to clothing worn by women, but the lewd conduct ordinance — which was not tossed out — is okay?

Even though, once we move above the waist, the definition of lewdness changes based on sex?

“Yes, because the lewd conduct ordinance refers to the female breast,” McKenna said.

So there still could be topless male coffee in Everett?

“There still could be, there’s still hope for those people that hope there’s a market for that,” McKenna said.

And that seems to be the key distinction. Even in these gender-fluid times, the free market has decided there is no unseemly consumer demand for topless male coffee preparation — or topless male anything — and thus, the law doesn’t care.

“I’m a big believer in market forces, Dave, and I believe if there really were a market for speedo baristas, then we would be seeing it,” McKenna said. “These are very entrepreneurial folks who run these stands, so if a woman or a man wanted to start a speedo barista stand, they could try it, and maybe the market would respond and confirm that choice. But so far, they haven’t done that, which tells me they don’t think there’s a market for it.”

That’s kind of sad, I think.

And yet it reveals a fundamental truth. The free market — is us. And the most direct way to discourage businesses from unseemly conduct — is for the free market not to reward it.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Why are there no speedo barista stands?