It seems to be a murky legal question: Can the City of Bonney Lake (or other jurisdictions) prevent half-naked baristas from exposing their wares to passers-by when they lean out of coffee stands?
Bonney Lake officials have been grappling with the issue since being deluged with complaints about Cowgirls Espresso and Hot Chick-a-Latte, where coffee is dispensed by scantily dressed young women.
The dispute could be settled by a little common sense and respect.
Cowgirls Espresso doesn’t deserve to be lumped together with Chick-a-Latte. Its baristas wear bikinis, which some people may consider inappropriate but are nevertheless everywhere in sight at public beaches and swimming pools. These days, some bikinis are more modest than some prom dresses.
Chick-a-Latte’s another story; its baristas put far more of their assets on display. They’re part of a national trend of coffee stands using near- naked women to sell sex – er, espresso.
Washington law forbids indecent exposure. A person is guilty of such “if he or she intentionally makes any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.”
Only a judge could determine whether “obscene” applies to the display of 95 percent of a barista’s breasts.
But parents do feel “reasonable affront or alarm” if they happen by and their children get an inadvertent eyeful of a woman who’d look right at home on a strip club stage.
Whatever the law says, the pasties belong in the clubs or some other private setting, not on public display. In Bonney Lake and elsewhere, the problem could be easily solved with a modicum of discretion.
A stand might install some kind of small wall, for example, that would let customers ogle to their heart’s content without sharing the view with the rest of the world.
A minor problem? Perhaps. But American culture gets coarser by the year. The trend doesn’t need more help from espresso stands.