Erotic entrepreneur, educator, and award-winning burlesque performer Goddess Briq House has wanted to start a bikini coffee stand franchise for years. The executive producer of Quink Social Club and Sunday Night Shuga Shaq, the only all-BIPOC burlesque revue in the Pacific Northwest, wanted to challenge the stereotypes of a bikini barista stand and create opportunity for her communities in the process. Now, thanks to some divinely inspired alignment, the vision is closer than ever. Goddess has secured a coffee trailer, and she just needs some more funding to make it happen. A GoFundMe campaign was launched for the business at the end of March, and so far has collected over $3,800 of the $18k goal.
Briq’s interest in starting a bikini coffee business came about naturally. She typically frequented bikini coffee stands to support the workers, but one thing was glaringly obvious: “I never saw anyone who looked anything like me or any of the people I love, and that was sad to me,” she said. “ I just realized it’s a completely missed opportunity. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to drive through a bikini barista stand and see folks of all types of ability, of all types of shapes, of all types of sizes, of all types of shades, there’s no reason why that’s not happening. Other than of course it’s not the goal or priority of folks in ownership.”
Challenging the norms of who has access to bikini coffee work—notably white, thin, and able-bodied women—Briq is carving out employment opportunities where BIPOC, queer, trans, and disabled people can serve coffee, and have their bikini- or lingerie-clad bodies celebrated at the same time. Additionally, sex-based workers have been put in impossible situations during the pandemic, Briq explained. A lot of these workers weren’t able to apply for unemployment or government assistance.
“My people are suffering. I am suffering. Right now it’s all about creating a pandemic-proof business so that regardless of what happens, what phase we’re in, whatever’s going on, me and my community will always be cared for and provided for,” she said. “This is about financial security . . . this is about giving folks lots of skills and setting everyone up for success.”
There was an influx of sex-based workers at bikini coffee stands during the pandemic, said Sam I’Am, a performance artist with a background in sex work and drag, who made the same career change. “It was just an easy transition for all of us strippers who are wearing bikinis all day anyway to learn how to serve coffee,” they said.
Working at a cisgender- and hetero-owned bikini coffee stand requires a certain kind of presentation, one that the owners determine. As a nonbinary person, Sam had to edit their identity to fit the job. They wore pasties, concealed their top surgery scars, and covered up a “they/them” tattoo. Dreaming about launching their own bikini coffee trailer where they could be fully themselves, Sam eventually purchased a Cargo Mate trailer last November. The trailer had been used as a coffee stand in a previous incarnation, and the build-out would be minimal.
Goddess shared queer and kink-positive communities with Sam, and at an event in February congratulated them on the trailer acquisition, sharing her own vision of starting a bikini coffee business. The conversation was filled with mutual admiration and support.
Sam’s plan changed, however, when a change in family structure necessitated their moving to California. Around that time, Briq reached out to Sam to see if Sam’s tiny home would make a suitable coffee stand. The tiny home wouldn't, but the Cargo Mate would.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god I forgot, but I’m actually selling that bikini stand, would you want to buy it?’ It was just perfection,” Sam remembered. “I wanted to see this dream come alive that a bikini barista stand could exist that was inclusive of identities and bodies and genders.”
What Briq had been manifesting for years was given a tremendous jump-start with Sam offering a low-barrier payment plan as well as business counsel and mentorship. While the trailer has most of the features needed for an espresso stand, like a service window and barn-style door, some retrofitting is in order. The GoFundMe campaign will help cover these additions and purchase necessary essentials like a generator, refrigerator, and an espresso machine. Briq also wants to provide coffee training and education for herself and her staff.
In addition to equipment, retrofitting, licensing, and education, funds will also be invested in security as well as legal counsel. Sam was quick to point out that a bikini barista stand can be a tricky business to operate depending on where it is. (“There’s the law, and there’s the Karen Law,” they pointed out, referencing a recent lawsuit against an Everett bikini coffee company.)
Once the work on the trailer is complete, Briq would love to have a home base, and the ability to travel for festivals or events as the city begins to reopen, adding that it would be a dream come true to vend outside of Storm games. Goddess also intends to sell only ethically sourced coffee and food from BIPOC-owned companies. Her vision of challenging the typical ideas about what a bikini coffee stand can be while employing her community has given her hope in a year of dismal outcomes for performers. “Creating these opportunities for my community, that’s what’s going to pull me through,” she said.
People who donate to or share the GoFundMe campaign will “be creating a safe space, a beautiful space, and a sacred space. Their investments will not be forgotten. They will definitely be rewarded and appreciated,” Briq affirmed.
Donate to and share the GoFundMe here.