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WILLISTON, N.D. — Sex sells. So does coffee. Combine the two in a town overflowing with sleep-deprived single men and you’ve got one hell of a winning combination.
So discovered Nyssa Gray, 26, a pink lipstick-loving, bleached blonde from outside Seattle who opened Boomtown Babes Espresso a year ago. Housed in a bubblegum-hued shack in the shadow of this oil boom town’s busy airport, the coffee kiosk isn’t known for its espresso. Boomtown Babes is renowned — or notorious, depending on who you ask — for its skimpily dressed “babe-ristas.”
The men in town have made sure Gray’s business venture is a success.
Nyssa Gray paints Boomtown Babes Espresso, her lingerie-style coffee stand in Williston, North Dakota, an eye-catching bubblegum-pink hue. (Photo: Courtesy of Nyssa Gray)
Over the past several years, thousands of self-described “roughnecks” have flocked to this once-sleepy agricultural town to try and strike it rich in the oil fields. City officials say that there are now four men for every woman living in Williston. But local residents estimate the real ratio is closer to 50:1.
That’s thanks to the “man camps,” rows of trailers that house oil workers on the outskirts of town. Though the man-camp residents don’t officially factor into the city’s population, the temporary settlements make Williston one of the most male-dominated parts of the country. North Dakota as a whole is now one of just 10 states in the union where men outnumber women.