Last summer I rode with high-school classmate John and his biker crew—a bunch of ex-military, construction-worker Harley riders. We ended up at a Tilted Kilt down in Jersey.
Are you familiar with Tilted Kilts? It’s a restaurant chain that exclusively employs a number of 20-something girls, most of whom are probably saving money for an attempt at a Hollywood acting career, by waitressing in outfits featuring minuscule plaid skirts. These would be your “kilts.” They tilt when the girls put beefy burgers and fries on the table in front of beer-drinking bikers.
And so, we were waited upon by intoxicatingly attractive girls wearing next to nothing. Now, I have 40 years of meditation-honed powers of concentration—I’m good. But it’s a wonder none of the men ran their bikes into telephone poles or off bridges afterward. I was reminded of an old Ohio Players lyric: “You are a bad, bad Mrs., in them skin tight britches, runnin’ folks in ditches, …”
The power of the Tilted staff is prodigious. It slaps grown men silly with desire. I thought, “Somebody’s going to make a movie about Tilted Kilts soon.”
And sure enough, we now have the boobsploitation movie “Support the Girls.” And it’s really quite good. And not because it’s full of pretty girls. (And did you get that the title is a bra joke?)
The Double Whammies
The Double Whammies is the Austin, Texas, breastaurant where the story takes place, and it’s basically about a day in the life of restaurant manager and den mother Lisa, played by Regina Hall, in one of the better acting performances you’ll see all year.
The day kicks off like most restaurant managers’ days do, with Lisa crying in her car. Very realistic. Female restaurant managers are always crying prior to shifts (probably the male managers too). Lotta stress in that job.
Then, it’s new staff orientation time: Food and beers are given suggestive, seductive names, and the girls, who are basically bait (it’s likely the most blatant example of America’s advertising adage that “sex sells”), are instructed on how to flirt with the customers.
Ultra-bubbly Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) explains that customer arms, hands, and shoulders should be readily touched—but don’t ever squeeze.
Why not go all out, you wonder? Why not act even more like they’re in a strip club, since outfit-wise they’re already halfway there? Because this is a family establishment! Don’tcha know. What I do know is that if I’d spent a couple of family meals in a Tilted Kilt when I was 10, it would not have boded well for my life. America is currently rampant with sex-addicted males.
Up next is Lisa having to deal with Danyelle (rapper Shayna McHayle in an ultra-louche, insouciant, slinky, career-making role). Danyelle’s a single mom who had to bring her sick son to work because she has no child care possibilities. Her deadpan, New York drag-queen-y delivery is hilarious.
The crisis thereafter involves the banging noise in the ventilation pipe situated right above the money-safe in the manager’s room. Cops liberate a young man who’s stuck up there. Why’s he stuck right above the safe? Lisa’s good with recognizing faces: Might this young man be one of the dishwasher’s cousins? That self-same dishwasher who happens to know the safe’s combination?
After that is the shouldn’t-be-doing-this-kind-of-thing-on-company-time carwash/fundraiser by the girls, doing the classic, all-American, sudsing-sponging-hosing of cars, in short shorts. They’re washing cars for Shaina (Jana Kramer), who got arrested for (finally) punching out her abusive boyfriend.
Lisa intends to provide Shaina with bail money from the carwash cash, but gets caught by the big boss Double Whammies owner, Cubby (James LeGros).
Cubby’s a classic narcissistic road-rager, and now the film gets into the upper-management nuts and bolts, with Cubby and Lisa having a holler fest in Cubby’s jeep, while towing his boat, while chasing another road-rager. Cubby’s got a “diversity” policy, regarding things like not having too many Latina or black waitresses working the same shifts.
This film is a star vehicle for Regina Hall, and she crushes it. What’s especially impressive about her, besides every note ringing true and lived-in from an acting point of view, is that her character is that rare person who clearly discerns right from wrong without hesitation. She is imbued with a natural, un-self-righteous righteousness in the midst of this morass of mild moral turpitude, wherein young women’s objectified bodies are used to sell food. By the way, can we just take a minute here and call it what it is? American breastaurants are a form of trafficking-lite.
Lisa manages the following stress on a daily basis: organizing the ever-shifting shift schedules (which are constantly broadsided by child care, bad boyfriends, and lady troubles). She’s got to keep the bossman happy. She’s got a depressed husband (Lawrence Varnado). She’s responsible for hirings and firings, inventory, and the never-ending counseling of young girl drama—like having to fire the white waitress who broke the no-tattoo rule and got herself an enormous tattoo of Stephen Curry (a black basketball player). “But I work in a sports bar!” Clearly, she thought it was a good career move.
‘Ain’t That America’?
Or rather—ain’t that what America’s become since Hugh Hefner’s bunny ears and tails kicked it all off? Being curious about just how many of these restaurant franchises we have in America, I did a quick search and turned up: 1) Hooters, 2) Redneck Heaven, 3) Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, 4) Twin Peaks Brewing Co., 5) Bombshells, 6) Ojos Locos, 7) Chulas Sports Cantina, 8) Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, 9) Show-Me’s Restaurant & Bar, 10) Mugs ‘N Jugs, and 11) The WingHouse Bar & Grill.
You definitely won’t find these places in, say, Germany. Although one could argue that Munich’s Hofbräuhaus’s stein-serving, dirndl-wearing, busty young female employees probably started this whole trend.
“Support The Girls” takes on sexism, racism, diversity, labor versus management, exploitation, objectification, and the encouragement by corporate America of turning young women into semi-whores. But it’s got America dead to rights in a way that’s funny and doesn’t preach.
Most regulars who frequent these eateries probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether trafficking-lite restaurants contribute in any way to the well-documented destructive spiral of male-female relations in America. To them, this dining option is all in good fun. John’s Harley-Davidson crew certainly thought so. My younger self would have raised a beer to that too.
‘Support the Girls’
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Starring: Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, Shayna McHayle, Dylan Gelula, Zoe Graham, Ann McCaskey, Brooklyn Decker, Lawrence Varnado, Jana Kramer
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 24
Rated 3.5 stars out of 5