After 23 years, the Valet Girls are handing over their keys to a rival company.
The all-female, Malibu-based parking service announced Tuesday that it was being bought by California Girls Valet Parking of Beverly Hills in a deal said to be worth about $400,000.
Combined, nearly 200 drivers -- mostly struggling actresses, models, and dancers -- will park the Bentleys and BMWs of the rich and famous at private parties, trendy restaurants and upscale hotels, often in uniforms consisting of bikinis, lingerie, camisoles, miniskirts or capri pants.
Valet Girls and California Girls Valet Parking are two of several local companies (Valet of the Dolls is another) that have meshed three hallmarks of upscale Southern California life: attractive women, luxury automobiles and the desire to avoid parking your own car, whatever the cost. In true Hollywood form, drivers are recruited using “casting calls.”
Student Erin Swan, 24, said she had donned numerous schoolgirl outfits since she started working for California Girls in September, making as much as $300 to $400 a night from her customers.
“They tip big and all I do is park their car,” Swan said.
Last month, California Girls Valet drivers were hired by a film producer in Encino to work while wearing lingerie and Santa hats. Over the years, Valet Girls parked cars at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 40th birthday party, the late comedian Bob Hope’s 90th birthday party as well as at events honoring Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and actor Dennis Hopper.
California Girls Valet is a subsidiary of West Coast Valet, a conventional valet service company started by former hotel manager Brad Saltzman in 2004.
Saltzman said he and his wife, Nancy, started the all-female business last summer after a rash of special requests from customers.
The company has plans to expand to San Diego, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and other cities, with 2006 sales expected to be about $3 million.
Patrick Quinn, director of special events for Z Valet, one of L.A.'s larger valet parking services, said that although he had some good female employees, most valet parkers in Los Angeles were men.
But the Saltzmans contend that clients clearly prefer to turn over the wheel to attractive models and actresses in skimpy outfits rather than “acne-riddled teenage boys in red vests.”
“Women are just better than men,” Brad Saltzman said. “Our employees are beautiful and sexy women, and we have found that both men and women are much more generous financially when it comes to women.”