It didn’t take long for the ambitious African-American beauty to learn. She signed up for a two-week course at ABC Bartending School on Sahara Avenue. “I got the bright idea that I’m going to be a Vegas bartender,” Turner says. But landing a gig as a bartender wasn’t so easy. She was referred to the bar manager at Al’s Garage in Henderson only to be hired as a waitress. “I never served food and never worked in a restaurant but my personality got me through because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” Turner says. “But once I finally got it, I was like, ‘Wait a minute! You’re telling me in one night I can make what I was making in a week working at Nike? This is too easy.’” And so Turner’s quest to get behind a bar and stack paper endured.
Now able to call herself a certified bartender, the 5’5’’ tat covered (think Quan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion, lots of lotus flowers, a dreamcatcher, the hamsa, a sparrow and more) 22-year-old applied for a job at Hooters Casino Hotel. “At this stage, school was done. It was too much and it was becoming a chore. I wasn’t enjoying it now that I got a whiff of the money,” Turner says. “I was pulling anywhere from $300 to $1,000 a night working outside at the (Hooters) pool as a bartender. I was the only one that was allowed to make my own drinks and serve them,” she says.
Her newly acquired expertise propelled her to new heights. Turner next went on to work for MGM Grand in several capacities—she served as a model/bartender at Rouge Bar, secured a spot at The Mansion, worked as a casino bartender and helped open Wet Republic in 2008. “You could not imagine how disgusting you feel after being behind a bar for eight hours in the middle of July in Vegas, serving hundreds of piña coladas and beer after beer,” she says. But that didn’t stop her from making a name for herself or from making money. After a bartending stint at Blush Boutique Nightclub inside Wynn Las Vegas, Turner returned to Wet Republic as a cocktail waitress the following year. “That’s when people started to know who I am,” Turner says. “Every girl in Vegas wanted to work at Wet Republic because we were pulling down crazy money. Every day was different but if you made five figures, as long as you tipped out, everything else was yours.” Cocktail servers at competing venues were barely bringing in $1,000 over the course of a weekend.Turner’s life became one big bash. “It was all about the fun. I traveled to New York, LA and Miami to party during the week and worked on the weekend,” she says. “That was my life. It was work and parties.”
In need of a change of pace, she headed southeast to Miami when Vegas’ pool season ended. “After all the money and the parties, I was burned out,” she says. But in 2009, she was offered a bartending gig at the Opium Group’s Mansion Nightclub on South Beach. “Miami was different from Las Vegas. Vegas was very corporate. You have to look a certain way—you can’t gain weight, you can’t change your hair and there’s just more structure. But Miami was completely laid-back. I used to climb up on the top of the bar pouring shots down somebody’s throat,” says the outgoing fun facilitator.
It was in Miami that Turner was able to experience a different type of freedom in the nightlife industry. And after three years at the notable South Beach club, she was promoted to VIP server [which translates to bottle service only, baby!]. “It all comes down to customer service. You’re building a relationship with somebody who trusts what you do,” she says. “The reality is, whether they’re a one-bottle client or somebody who is willing to spend $50,000, they just want an amazing experience.” To date, her repeat customers send her emails and even call to wish her a Merry Christmas. “I’ll get a client that’s like, ‘Hey, I’m in New York and I’m buying a bottle and it’s just not the same. Wish you were here.’ Somebody is at another venue thinking about the experience I gave them—it’s great,” she says.
And now she plans on creating a different kind of experience for others. “About a year ago, I went back to school to become a licensed aesthetician and now that I’m certified, I’m working on opening a salon here in Miami and one in Vegas,” Turner says. She’ll have her own organic skincare line, do eyelash extensions and more. “I live every moment and every day to the fullest. I enjoy my life and I’m living my life. A lot of people don’t live life. They just kind of exist,” she says. “I refuse to just exist. I’m going to embrace it, try my hand at it and I’m going to make mistakes, but at least I tried.”