Tourist Profiling

Stephanie guiding the Sex and the City tour.Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Schweitzer
Illustration by Kagan McLeod

The Cabdriver
49, originally from Sri Lanka

How many of your passengers are out-of-towners?
Thirty percent.

From where?
A lot of British, Brazil, and China.

Who are the best tippers?
The English.

The worst?
The Indians. The French tourists, even though we are very friendly with them, and we were telling them which restaurants, giving them a real tour, like you should go to this place, and they totally agreed, but finally, when they were getting off, no tip. That everybody knows.

Do you have a favorite customer?
I picked up a couple from England, they come in every year now, and they always call me whenever they come here. He was very good fan of Chelsea football team in England and me too. So what he did was he send me a jersey and a hat from England.

Who are the worst?
Not real tourists. Some out-of-towners coming for the weekend, from New Jersey and Long Island. When they’re drunk, they want to get four or five people inside, they want to smoke, they want to listen to music. Some drivers have been beaten up too, by customers, but not from the tourists. The tourists are very scared to do something wrong, because they are tourists. They behave correctly.

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

The Central Park Hot-Dog Vendor
38, originally from Bangladesh

How many of your customers are tourists?
Forty to 60 percent. On Saturday, Sunday, maybe 100 or more.

What do they buy?
New Yorkers buy Gatorade and water. Tourists buy hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream.

Do you ever work outside Central Park?
No. In the winter, I drive a cab.

The Exotic Dancer
25, dancer at Club Cheetah and NYU law student

How many of your patrons are out-of-towners?
Probably 40 percent. From the end of October to the beginning of January, we get a lot of vacationers. But all year round, we are loaded with out-of-town businessmen! Yay!

Are they difficult? Is language a problem?
Language isn’t so bad. We have girls from all over the world in the club. I can usually find someone to communicate. But some people think the club is a free-for-all and need to be reminded of the rules.

Is one nationality worse than others about that?
I don’t want to single out anyone, but there are a few countries which seem to breed smelly, cheap, groping guys. We hate them.

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

The Waitress
63, has been a server at the Carnegie Deli for 23 years

How many of the people you serve are out-of-towners?
Ninety-nine percent.

Any one country that sends the most?
It used to be England, but lately I’ve noticed many more French tourists, Australians, and of course we do get a lot from Brazil.

What do they order?
Corned beef and pastrami. They just love it. That’s what they’re here for.

Do you have any favorite customers?
Deborah and Andy, they’re from England, in North Devon. They used to come three or four times a year. Eventually I became friends with them. Every year they used to bring me to England, and when they came here, they came to my house; they were at my son’s wedding. I haven’t seen them in a while. The last trip I went with them, they took me on a surprise cruise to Tahiti.

The Tour Guide
31, grew up in the Midwest but has been a Sex and the City tour guide for seven and a half years

How many of the people on your tours are tourists?
Ninety to 95 percent.

What nationalities do you get?
I’ve had everything from Japan and China, lots of Aussies, lots of Brits. But I’ve also had lots of people from Africa and South America.

Do the customers cause problems?
The hardest part is the clash of tourists with New Yorkers. There’s this typical eye roll that you sometimes see. I understand that you’re trying to get from point A to point B and we’re in your neighborhood, but in general the people I have are quite lovely and are here because they love New York.

Have you had any problems with the customers themselves?
Because Sex and the City is all couture, sometimes people come on that tour thinking it’s something it’s not. It is a bus tour; it’s very clear it’s a bus tour. It’s not VIP access to the top of the Standard Hotel.

Any favorite customers?
I had a couple get engaged on my tour. It was shortly after the second movie came out. They were a gay couple from San Francisco. At the end of the tour I asked them, in front of everybody, which one was going to wear white. And one of them raised his hand and said, “Like a virgin!”

Any least favorites?
The worst are not the out-of-towners, though I’ve noticed that when Australians are not happy you just have to fix it. But I’ll get these groups of women from Long Island who think they know everything already. Often they’ve gone for drinks before so they’re tipsy, and they’ll continue to drink at the stops along the way, so by the end they’re fairly wasted, a bunch of rambunctious 40- and 50-year-old women yapping among themselves in their furs.

Tourist Profiling