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Hollywood Hooters Responds to Bikini Contest Critics

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Earlier this week there was some controversy about the City of LA co-sponsoring a Hooters Bikini Contest at the Highlands whose proceeds would benefit local animals.

LAist was lucky enough to be able to reach Natalie Lynch, the Marketing Coordinator of the Hooters of Hollywood. After a lengthy telephone interview we followed up with the following email interview that can be seen after the jump (with more pictures of those adorable kittens).

Hooters Hollywood is located right across the street from the Mann's Chinese on Hollywood Blvd. and it's Charity Bikini Contest will be held on July 13 in the Hollywood & Highland complex.

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LAist: Has the Hollywood Hooters and the City worked together before?

Lynch: We donated our time and wings at a appreciation day for the police and fire fighters of the Los Angeles area. We also have participated in events held by The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

LAist: Has there been any problems between Hooters and the City since you guys opened up across the street from Mann's Chinese?

Lynch: None what so ever.

LAist: If the city did not approach you about the event, do you know how they became involved?

Lynch: Every year each Hoooters location has the option to host a bikini contest. When planning ours this year we decided to make ours a charity event as many Hooters locations often do. I had previously searched animal services for possible volunteer events and had sent an e-mail to the LA Animal Services volunteer department. When we decided to make our contest a charity event we pitched the idea to them. They were not hosting the event or planning the event, that was our department. All that was asked of LA Animal Services was that they accept our donations.

LAist: Approximately how much money has Hooters raised for charity in the last year or two?

Lynch: [Click here for] info about money raised through HOOCEF (Hooters community endowment fund) but that doesn't even include events like this where we give the money straight out of the restaurant and its not sent to corp Hooters.

LAist What do you say to the critics who complain that Hooters feeds into the objectification of women?

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Hooters: Personally this is the best job I've ever had. The girls that work here are not just hired for there looks but there is a personality that personifies the Hooters concept. We are the All American cheerleader, the "girl next door." Never before have I had employers who care as much about my happiness in the work place or felt that my opinion matters as much as is does at Hooters. I have worked for Hooters for over 4 years in 3 different locations and plan to continue my employment for quite some time.

LAist: In your opinion is it ok to be sexy for a good cause?

Lynch: I don't understand how this is any different that one of these scantily clad pop stars donating proceeds from calendar sales. Would they turn down money from a Raiderettes fundraising event? Miss America is a humanitarian but there is a swimsuit portion to win the crown. If the problem was that the city shouldn't take money from a bikini contest we would understand more... but the things being said make it sound like we are second class citizens and our money is no good.

We (not just Hooters of Hollywood, but all 350+ Hooters locations in the US) donate time and money to charities everyday. We support Little League teams, sell shamrocks for the MDA and host golf tournaments to help out good causes. Its outrageous to question our commitment to the community.

LAist: We were raised to be careful calling young women "girls" - Is it politically incorrect to call your employees Hooters Girls - or is that PC standard lifted in your establishment?

Lynch: I have never known there to be any improper stigma related to the word "girls" when referring to young ladies. I'm a girl you are a boy... it's a fact. It's science.

LAist: Are all of the young women in the bikini contest local LA residents, or do people come in from out of town to compete.

Lynch: This event will have girls from Long Beach, Santa Monica, Pasadena , West Covina and possibly others. We send out an invitation to all of the LA Hooters locations. This just in: I just was informed we have a girl from FL who is coming to compete because of all the fuss being made. So not only do we have all of LA invited we also now have girls from other states participating

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