Just a block from the New York Stock Exchange, a coarse experiment in American capitalism is underway. A high end shoe-shine shop has opened in a pricey location. The target customer goes out of his way to patronize the shop. On his way, he passes several traditional shoe shine vendors who can shine his shoes equally well for half the price. What compels this customer go out of his way on a busy day? Well, maybe it’s the fact that the shoe shiners are attractive young women in skimpy outfits. Welcome to Star Shine of New York, the newest American business founded on the premise that sexual arousal trumps common sense in the American male.
The initial success of Star Shine proves the transferability of the Hooters business proposition (men will pay extra for an ordinary product when it is delivered by a hot babe) into other industries. Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising: Barber Babes of Brisbane has thrived in Australia for several years. (A similar barbershop opened in Portland, Oregon in 2010 but did not last.) There are a number of businesses across the U.S. that will send a crew of cute girls to wash your car for a premium fee. Dozens of hotels feature sexy women in skimpy outfits as their principal marketing lure. So Star Shine only slightly widens the continuum of legitimate businesses that cater to American men happy to pay extra for titillation. Certainly, Star Shine, Hooters, and their ilk are less extreme than porn, less harmful than prostitution, and the women choose this employment without coercion. A reasonable “no harm, no foul” argument can be made in defense of these businesses. Nonetheless, their success in the 21st Century is a reminder that even fifty years after the start of the so-called Sexual Revolution, there is still something unreformed and primitive within millions of American men. // Michael Adelberg