• Marketing Department

Instagram models using a new app to exchange posts for free food, beauty treatments, yoga classes

As if being hot wasn’t already unfair for the rest of the population — now the beautiful people can trade their looks for free restaurant meals, concerts, fitness classes and beauty treatments.

Billed as a “model’s passport to everything,” Neon Coat is an app that lets models leverage their social media followings with businesses willing to give away goods and swag for the exposure.

Joey Bats Cafe owner — and single guy — Joseph Batista says that since signing up, there’s been a windfall of comely catwalkers strutting into his Lower East Side spot every day to claim two free pastries and a beverage.

“In exchange, they’ll hang around and share a story [on Instagram] about the space,” he said of the typical outcome, although a post isn’t mandatory.

As soon as his daily six allotted slots for freebies are made available to the model community at 8 p.m. the night before, they’re instantly snapped up, said Batista.

“People hanging around the space is always good. Having attractive people is even better,” said the 39-year-old, who’s been using Neon Coat since he opened this past summer. Though he initially used the service for free, he now pays $200 a month for the privilege of using the app.

It’s even a draw for slack-jawed passerby.

“You see two attractive girls sitting in the window and guys are curious,” Batista said. “[They’ll] grab a pastry and sit next to the models, hoping to strike up a conversation with them.”

Neon Coat co-founder Dan Berger said the app has gained steam since its 2017 launch. It now has 3,600 agented models with a total reach of 100 million Instagram followers who pay nothing to join. More than 100 businesses participate, including Taralucci E Vino, Bagatelle and Hunt & Fish Club.

“It’s been growing exponentially,” said Berger. “We get eight new members a day,” he said, adding that “models and brands come to us.”

Typical offerings include a comped dinner with a drink, heavily discounted haircuts and free yoga classes.

For Berger’s business partner, former model Larissa Drekonja, the service is a way to help underpaid models get on their feet.

“A model’s life is very lonely — you’re pretty, and people think you make millions of dollars,” said the Slovenian-born Drekonja of the unregulated industry.

Dominyka Bernes, a 35-year-old model from Brooklyn, posts about her twice-weekly Neon Coat jaunts to yoga classes and lunch spots to her 3,000-plus Instagram followers. Last month, she and seven friends celebrated a comped birthday dinner at Cleo on Park Avenue South complete with octopus, branzino, and wine for the table.


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