People often get the wrong idea when they hear a girl works as a hostess as they conjure up images of girls in a gentleman’s club like a Playboy bunny. Often girls who are resting actresses, out of work models, or air hostesses who are on leave work as hostesses at parties and events on the side for extra money. It’s a few rungs below escort work, so is acceptable, although some of the outfits that are worn can be construed as suggestive, and weren’t comfortable at all.

I worked as a hostess for many years, and some were good gigs, and others were well, let’s say I was glad it was only a few hours of my life. Most dresses were nice, and others were too short and tight for a reason. The money isn’t bad, usually £90-£150 for an evening or a day, plus travel costs, and you get fed and watered. It helps pay the bills! The kind of events I worked at were generally sports events in venues such as Wembley, Ascot, and Silverstone, or exhibitions, and awards evenings and charity events. The job used to be simple; look good, smile, and make sure all the guests were happy and looked after.

Recently though, girls have gone a step further and some allowed a kiss, a photo with them sitting on a lap, but they did this because they wanted tips. I recall one event I did when girls from out of town did this, and they did it also to get extra gigs. The Bristol girls we would say were desperate in that they would drive at the crack of dawn to London for a gig, because work was scarce and to court favor with the client they were willing to put out a bit more. These are girls that can be blamed for this #METOO movement because they encouraged it. Some of us mentioned this to the agent and client who saw it as harmless, and a personal choice, but now they could probably see it was dangerous. The problem is men see one girl doing this and they expect others to do the same, so no, you lose that choice when you make that kind of behavior acceptable.

Most hostess duties include making sure guests have their drinks topped up,  to get special requests from the bar, or extra bottles of wine for them. You don’t serve food but make sure the catering staff serve dishes on time, and that if they need any information such as getting a cab, that you organize it for them. It’s like being the host at a party. I recall one event when I was horrified that girls were happily sitting on laps of men and kissing them, then a few men asked me to join in. I said ‘no’ and tried to look as busy as possible. They did it purely for tips, and some didn’t even get any and moaned that they had put out and got nothing, and so they were blurring the lines towards  prostitution. From then on, I was more wary of the girls I worked with (you don’t want a bad name), and also the agents who encouraged this or turned a blind eye to it.

The Presidents Club event was one I had never done (although I had been asked to work at it several times), mainly because all my friends warned me off it. Several had done the job because it’s in January when work is quiet and most girls are desperate for any work. All of them told me it was expected of you to sit on laps of the guests, and that it was a vile atmosphere and very seedy with drunk men groping you and you can’t say anything because the organizers expect you to tolerate it. Good gigs girls will hold onto, and each year they struggled to find girls because no one wanted to do the gig again. Hostesses were usually the pretty girls; the ones that were models but not quite supermodels, but the Presidents gig as it was known would take any girls because they were desperate. Simply no one wanted to do the job and the organizers and agents knew why.

Typically a hostess is at least 5 foot 6, the taller the better with long hair and no larger than a size 12 as the dresses don’t come any bigger, as the event provides the outfits so everyone looks uniform. There were always cries of girls fighting over an 8 saying they can’t wear anything bigger in an attempt to let everyone know how tiny they were. No one really cared, and usually the agent has the name of each girl on the dress when they are booked with their size to avoid fighting, that’s how good agents work.

I know that many of my friends in the industry are understandably angry that a source of income has been cut, as Formula 1 has announced it won’t use grid girls any longer. The simple fact is that when you work as a hostess, you know that you are being hired for your looks and that you will get men staring at you, and that some will try it on. It’s the same when you work as a model, and you learn to deal with it. Rape, and sexual misconduct is wrong, and needed to be addressed, but it says more about the behavior of the men. Girls don’t complain because they know they will get culled from the agent’s phone book, and most need the money. Agents talk up the job to younger girls who are less experienced in dealing with these situations, and clients use different agents all the time or several to get as many girls as they can. Some agents won’t take on certain clients if they have a bad reputation, because word does get around in the industry as to who is dodgy.

The wise among us chose the best jobs and stuck to those, and agents that made sure girls got a good deal and who looked after them as in their safety. Most of my agents made sure the client gave us cab fare for events that finished at midnight, and I always got a contribution for my cab there or girls got petrol money if they drove and parking paid. Those perks were diminishing as I moved away from hostessing to organizing events as clients cut back on expenses and hired girls who were willing to work for less, and also to put out a bit more to make clients happy. Sometimes it was more than flirting, and other times it was just playful flirting for the sake of it. Men would give me their cards, I don’t know why; it’s not as if I was going to call them and many were CEOs of a company and probably married with kids.

It was a choice to do these jobs, and many girls made a good living from it. With the #METOO movement I feel the whole industry will be under scrutiny and there will be fewer jobs available, and girls will complain that they won’t get tips. To me, the fault lies with the men who knew their behavior was inappropriate and thought they could get away with it, and the organizers of these events who turned a blind eye and even encouraged it because if the guests were happy it meant a better business contact or at a charity event they may donate more. The latter rarely happened because the guests were so drunk, and I worked at many charity and awards events. I’ve been the girl to hold up a paddle at a charity event, present awards to winners on stage, and the girl that did meet and greet when guests arrived. I had fun and I worked with my friends, but these days some events seem a few rungs away from escort jobs.

Things had to change at some point, the pay went down when the eastern European girls came to work for half the fee we demanded, and thus the standards dropped too as they were happy to put out, maybe to get a date or a tip as they had nothing to lose. I don’t blame them solely, as some British girls who weren’t that pretty and desperate did the same, but what I’m saying some girls encouraged this behavior so while the buck stops with the men and their choice of behavior (whether drunk or not), if girls stopped the men kissing them or refused to sit on their knees, then perhaps things wouldn’t have escalated to the level it has?

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