The Sexy Stewardess Stories of 'Coffee, Tea Or Me?' Wouldn't Fly Today

A Pacific Southwest Airline flight attendant poses on a plane; the cover of the 1976 Corgi Books edition of 'Coffee, Tea or Me?' Sources: (San Diego Air And Space Museum Flickr Archive; Book Cover Club Flickr Group)

A book like Coffee, Tea or Me? could only happen in 1967. We've lost something in the evolution of the flight attendant, from the servile stewardess: sex appeal and intrigue. Flight attendants today (or air hostesses) are career men and women, performing their professional duties without the expectation that they are to be ogled, flirted with, poked or prodded. And that's a good thing.

But air travel gained a steamy mystique in the '60s and '70s. There were all sorts of ideas and trends in the ether -- sexual liberation, female independence, skin-baring groovy fashion, tell-all memoirs -- that combined to fetishize the flight attendant profession and uniform. Flight attendants were perceived to be beautiful, free and easy, and air travel itself had a glamorous, romantic, sexual appeal. People dressed up, and drinks were on the house. For a fantasizing public, the memoir Coffee, Tea or Me? by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones told us what we wanted to hear about these supposed temptresses of the friendly skies:

It's all true. All of it.

Except it wasn't. Coffee, Tea or Me? captured the steamy mystique of the stewardess profession while also turning out to be a notorious literary hoax.