THE HOT DOG GIRLS.
Once upon a time, a hard working and hard-bodied pack of women known as the hot dog girls ruled the streets of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Seeing as though our nation is celebrating its independence day this week, I can think of no better time than now to do my part as an American and share a little history about the hot dog girls. If you agree with Uncle T that sun-kissed-sizzling skin and a steamy hot dog are a beautiful match made in heaven, please continue to read.
A couple years ago, a 55-year old woman named Valerie Workman spoke to the Tampa Bay Times about her hot dog ‘slangin days. She reminisces and tells wild tales from the streets — while sharing photos, newspaper clippings and her ancient T-backs (thong bikinis) from the early 1990’s when the streets of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Largo were scattered with hot dog carts. Valerie claims to be the first hot dog girl.
Valerie spent years as a third-degree blackbelt and then transitioned into the exotic dancing world to support her family. After her fun at the clubs was over, she destined to be her own boss and the idea of selling hot dogs on the side of the road was mentioned to her by a friend. She shopped around for a cart, found the perfect chrome weiner-wagon and the future was set.
Valerie stocked up on wet ‘weenies, napkins, chips and condiments. She got her license and started boiling her dogs right in the cart, underneath an umbrella in the hot sun.
According to Valerie, her friends soon followed her lead on the new venture and carts started popping up in areas where there was good traffic. Hungry drivers on break, curious tourists and random wanderers loved to stop at the girls with the hot dog carts. Many would pause on the side of the road just to get a photo.
While Valerie claims to be the first, it’s been well documented in newspapers at the time that the hot dog girl phenomenon was widespread throughout many parts of Florida.
Competition among the girls became a thing and girls were disovering the tricks to the trade in the art of selling hot dogs. For example, T-backed vendors brought in significantly more profits than vendors with regular bikini bottoms. In Fort Myers a woman named Sarah Linksi reported that she could earn nearly $700 in just 16 hours per week at a cart her boyfriend bought for her. She made an average of $125 on busy days with a regular bikini that covered her bottom, and about $200 a day when she went to work in a thong.
While droves of onlookers were enjoying the satisfying combination of tanned long-butts and the smell of frankfurters, this new phenomenon started to cause controversy with some of the locals and conservative types. You have to remember, these were the days of thong-bikinis being banned across local beaches. Crackdowns ensued and the some of the hot dog girls faced scrutiny and fines. Some say the T-backs also were so distracting that they caused car crashes.
“The hot dog vendors wearing tiny thong suits look naked from a block away and not much different on closer inspection. Watching them has caused quite a few drivers to forget the basics of automobile safety,” reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1993. “Gawkers have drifted through red lights, roamed across traffic lanes and become mindless of the cars in front of them.”
“I guess they should have kept their eyes on the road,” said a hot dog girl named Anette in 1993.
During the height of the era, tension between rival hot dog girls was becoming aggressive. Turf wars over sidewalks and territories got so intense, at one point a huge fight broke out over a cart that moved into another girls’ location. In the daylight hours the girls rolled around in the dirt, kicking, screaming and hair-pulling. Eventually the girls were sprayed with mace to stop.
The brawl would lead to “Hala the Hardbody” and “Sizzling Cindy” agreeing to face off on July 5 outside of a liquor store for a mud wrestling event called WEINERMANIA 1. A $500 cash prize was on the line.
The radio station Q105 hosted the event which was captured on a VHS recording. Almost 200 spectators showed up for “the fast food fight of the century”, with refreshments provided such as “muddy Mary” drinks and breakfast hot dogs.
From what I’ve gathered, “Sizzling Cindy” was victorious in her match and declared the weiner. But spirits were high at the end of the event and WEINERMANIA 1 would end up being a nice button at the end of the hot dog girl era. *There was no WEINERMANIA 2*
In the years to come, the hot dog girl lifestyle became harder and many girls were banned from participating in their craft. Valerie Workman sold her cart for $7,000 and went back to exotic dancing.
The sunshine state gets a bad ‘rep these days for a number of things. But let it be known that we here at the Land of TNUC will always be indebted to Florida for being the epicenter of classic strip clubs. female mud wrestling bars and now thankfully, the hot dog girls.