Dec
28
2010

Diaries of a cigarette girl: Part 5

—Chelsea

Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.

Working as a cigarette girl is only partially about selling cigarettes. It’s much more about selling yourself. A Peachy Puff is a product, and when a customer buys a pack of cigarettes from her, he’s also buying her company. It’s a form of very short-term, platonic prostitution. This is where it came in handy to be witty, funny, and exciting, because these things were the real wares we were peddling, much more so than the packs of gum and the disposable lighters. But this could cause some confusion about the role of a Puff as well; we were propositioned often, if not nightly.

I can’t tell you how many times people tried to pay me to party with them at someone’s house after the bars closed. I remember one guy drunkenly trying to convince me to come play a late-night game of tennis, with complete sincerity. But sometimes, people were looking for more than just friendly company. Once, a man with a thick accent and an old-fashioned pinstripe suit and hat pulled me over to sit next to him. He wrapped his arm around me, telling me that he wanted me to come back to his hotel room with him. “I have a jacuzzi in my room,” he offered. “You don’t have to take all your clothes off, just wear your panties.” He pulled out a huge wad of hundred dollar bills—more than I had ever seen in my life—and waved it in front of my face, saying “Don’t you want this? Take it.” I quickly removed his arm from around my shoulders, smiling nervously, and hurried off.

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Dec
21
2010

Diaries of a cigarette girl: Part 4

—Chelsea

Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.

The Peachy Puffs were a motley bunch of tough, loud, beautiful, shit-talking night owls, who would do almost anything for an easy buck. And by easy I mean, not requiring 40 hours a week behind a desk, a Bachelor’s degree, or getting out of bed before noon. These girls were hustlers. The maximum amount of money in the shortest amount of time was the goal, and many also took work as alcohol promotion girls, models, gogo dancers, and drug dealers—as long as the pay was in cash and under the table. The turnover rate was high, as the job can be intense. Many girls quit after one or two nights. But there were some stalwarts who became my nightly companions.

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Dec
16
2010

Diaries of a cigarette girl: Part 3

—Chelsea

Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.

Despite my novice status as a drinker, alcohol quickly became my fuel, pushing me through the insanity of each night as a cigarette girl. I knew nothing about cocktails so I usually asked the bartenders to make me something they liked themselves. The beautiful brunette tending bar at the upscale dance club on Broadway made me an ultra-sweet concoction in a martini glass called a Purple Hooter; the friendly, scruffy-faced guy at the dingy sports bar made me a SoCo and peach schnapps atrocity called an Alabama Slammer. The geeky bar-back who clearly harbored a crush always greeted me with two shots of Fernet, one for me and one for him. And the aging, chubby queen behind the bar at my favorite gay dive made me a large juice glass filled to the top with his secret recipe for a Vanilla Cosmo, which he refused to reveal. I didn’t know what I liked, so I would try just about anything. I never had to ask for a drink, as bartenders tended to have some affection for the cute Peachy Puff girls, and offered booze freely to us. I enjoyed the camaraderie I felt with my fellow night workers, and they, along with the drinks they shared with me, were my only comfort during each night of stressful, fast-paced, disorienting work.

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Dec
09
2010

Diaries of a cigarette girl: Part 2

—Chelsea

Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.

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Dec
02
2010

Diaries of a cigarette girl: Part 1

—Chelsea

Guest writer Chelsea regales us with her first forays into the wild world of booze in this multipart series.

As a teenager I was shy, awkward, and lonely. I devoted most of my free time to solitary pursuits: writing to my pen pals, listening to records in my room, watching my favorite Japanese soap operas. Socializing was not my strong suit and I was rarely invited to the parties and high school dances where most kids experience an assortment of Firsts: first date, first kiss, first swig of beer, first bitter puff of someone’s cigarette. Hearing my peers talk of their typical adolescent antics was like listening to stories from another time and place, completely foreign and without context. Needless to say, I did not drink, ever.
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