Naked City

Bikini panhandler walks the beef

Justice (or something) prevailed last Thursday, April 14, as 25-year-old Stephanie Bryan avoided paying a $180 ticket when her citation for "solicitation in a roadway" was dismissed in municipal court. Bryan, local media hounds may recall, was the unemployed blonde who, along with a friend, hit the streets in a bikini last July when she lost her job with a Buda trucking company. The idea, she said, came from her stint cocktail waitressing at a strip club. "There are people who are driving around during the day who don't have time to go to a strip club," she said. "Maybe they have a dollar they want to give to us, rather than stick it in a dancer's G-string."

Maybe so – Bryan says the women were making "good money," with the driver of one car even giving them $80. She said she'd considered going out again, since she's lost two other jobs since July. But panhandling, Bryan says, is not all a walk in the park. In addition to the "harassment" and the risk of again running afoul of the law, there's the competition with other panhandlers.

For example, at the intersection of Burnet and U.S. 183 – by far the most lucrative, Bryan recalls – another, more discreetly clad panhandler confronted them, and eventually called the police. "She said, 'I guess you don't know how it works, but we rotate the corners and this is my corner today,'" Bryan said. "We were like, 'You're right. We don't know how it works, but go away. You're scaring us.'"

Sitting in the municipal courtroom on Thursday, and waiting for her chance to defend herself by playing for the judge the Fox 7 "7 On Your Side" segment featuring her case (she arrived equipped with her own VCR), Bryan railed against the injustice of her being ticketed when other panhandlers go on begging freely. ("I guess it's okay to panhandle if you look like you need it, and we didn't look like we needed it.") Then, she looked up and noticed an older woman in beat-up clothes on the other side of the courtroom. "That's her!" Bryan exclaimed. "That's the woman who called the cops on us!"

Bryan was even more excited a moment later, when her case was dismissed. She collected her VCR and her can of Dr Pepper and headed down the crowded court hallway, chatting with her sister as they maneuvered through the crowds of less fortunate, less chipper defendants. "Man, that woman was weathered," she said of her adversary. "You could see she'd been through a lot. Hated everyone – bitter, mean, calling us all sorts of names."

The women wandered outside into the sunny afternoon.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Stephanie Bryanpanhandling, Stephanie Bryan, bikini beggar, panhandling

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