Last Call: Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Big Apple Cafe
14200 Trinity Blvd, FW
Skin Racket

The running joke around the Fort Worth Weekly offices is that bikini contests are clubs’ last-ditch efforts to reel in customers. The successful joints, staffers say, don’t have to resort to paying young attractive women to parade around half-dressed. Only the sinking ships do.

While this may be true, it’s only half the story. The other half involves the contestants themselves, and that’s a whole ’nother ball of bikini wax.

After a few weeks of extensive research, Last Call has discovered that there are about two dozen young women capitalizing on the desperation. They usually work in threes, like terrorist cells whose idea of “world domination” wouldn’t offend even the staunchest conservative, and they typically divvy up winnings equally among placing participants. “Several times, they actually split the money,” said Randy Martin, a popular bikini contest emcee. “In the envelopes we hand them, the money is all split evenly.”

Of course, not just anyone can hop on stage. “Girls come in who really don’t belong,” said Grapevine’s Sarah Cockrell, a frequent contestant. “When we go to the back to change clothes, they leave. We’re all like, ‘What were they thinking?’ I mean, they can still compete, regardless of what they look like. But ... .”

So, yeah, the same girls are winning the same contests just about every week — but no complaints here. The beauties in charge now — Sarah, Brandy, Jamie, Alex — can stay at the helm as long as they want. (What they do during the day varies. Some are nursing students, others schoolteachers, and many others are waitresses.)

But this isn’t to say that the work’s easy. According to a couple of the contestants, it can become awfully redundant. The venues change like the patrons’ faces, but in some weird way nothing changes at all. A Dallas shuffleboard joint one night. A River Oaks dive the next. Things, after awhile, start blurring together.

The only venue that rises above the two-piece tedium, according to Last Call’s scantily clad sources, is The Big Apple Cafe (14200 Trinity Blvd). A tiny sports bar in North Fort Worth, The Big Apple — during its Monday night contests — draws the best-looking of the ladies. The reason: $400 prize money for first place.

A recent Monday night there was proof. Six jaw-dropping goddesses: three blondes, three brunettes. A perfect dreamscape for all lovers of the idealized female form. The place itself could use some help, fitted in between two dry cleaners and dripping inside with generic frat-house party decorations. But who cares — especially when 75 percent of Cowtown’s finest are concentrated within an area no bigger than a glorified sandbox.

An interesting comment by Martin put everything in perspective. “Some of the girls wouldn’t dare work in a strip club, whereas the contest takes about 20 minutes. Now, granted, not all of them are going to win. But even if they did four contests and averaged $75 [per event], well, that’s not a bad paycheck.”

Other popular bikini nights are at Manhattan’s (Tuesdays) and Froggy’s Beach Club (Thursdays). l

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