The Ugly Truth


Photos by Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan

Gretchen Alfonso has two feet on the ground - unless she’s at work. The 30-year-old from the Bay Area (she lives in downtown San Diego now) recently landed a gig at the new Coyote Ugly Saloon in the Gaslamp, where she tends bar... when she’s not dancing on top of it with her coworkers, just like in the movie Coyote Ugly. The 2000 film was based on the original Coyote Ugly Saloon, which founder Liliana Lovell open in New York in 1993. Today, Lil’s Ugly, Inc. operates more than a dozen locations, and Alfonso seems jazzed about working at the newest one.

PacificSD: Did you have dance experience before coming to Coyote Ugly?
Gretchen Alfonso: I was a break-dancer and love to freestyle. I also do go-go dancing in L.A. and San Diego.

What was the hiring process like?
Scary and so nerve-wracking. There were so many girls trying out, and I didn’t think the owner, Lil, liked me at all. She made me break dance in cowboy boots.

Why were you selected?
My dancing, and I’m awesome. How has the training been? Exhausting. We’ve been practicing nonstop, for 8 to 10 hours a day. You have to learn quick or you’ll never keep up.

What excites you most about being a Coyote Ugly bartender?
You can be who you are at Coyote Ugly; it’s not stuffy. Everyone is an individual, and it is super fun. You can also act like a badass, even if you aren’t.

What’s the uniform?
Be comfortable in who you are, and show off your best assets.

What’s the hardest part of the job?
Making sure you don’t slip and fall off the bar.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
I get to dance on a bar and feed people booze; that’s tough not to love. I also love being loud, obnoxious and putting on a show.

Have things ever gotten really ugly?
I kicked someone’s drink [off the bar] at our Grand Opening. Oops! Plus side: the glass didn’t break.

Coyote Ugly
820 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp