Real Housemaids of New York Exposes Manhattan’s Grimy Underbelly

Every few weeks, I fantasize about having a maid. What if instead of sweeping up cat hair and nacho dust I went to the movies? And what if, when I came back, everything was pristine? Heaven! I don’t think I’ll experience this luxury any time soon, but for hundreds of New Yorkers, the fantasy is a reality. And for nearly as many New Yorkers, their reality involves sweeping up that cat hair and nacho dust. And sometimes, some much, much grosser shit.

Meet two such New Yorkers. Maids “Rag” and “Sponge” are here to tell the Upper East Side’s filthiest secrets from their experiences cleaning up after those secrets. In their podcast, “Real Housemaids of New York,” the pair tell all, from urine-caked toilets to dog shit-smeared walls. And not just the Upper East Side, but “everywhere that’s subway accessible––sorry, Staten Island.”

“Rag” happens to be a (very clean) friend of mine, (but I’ll never, ever reveal his identity) so I took the chance to ask him a couple questions.

How long have you been working together as maids?

We’ve both been in the biz for a little while but we’ve only worked for the same company for about 6 months. We both started out working for a different cleaning service and then graduated to this more elite, more expensive service.

What inspired the podcast? Have you collaborated on any maid-related projects in the past?

As a maid, you encounter so many crazy situations every day. we both have endless stories to tell and our girlfriends were sick of hearing them. We have talked a lot about different possible projects and formats but the podcast came most naturally to us. In the past we’ve worked on a failed pilot for a web series called “Greater Boston” that was never picked up. As in we never picked ourselves up.

Why a podcast? Why not just another droll blog?

At work, we are both podcast addicts. As many funny stories and clients you encounter, there’s also a deathly boredom that comes with cleaning apartments. Our favorites are “how was your week” with Julie klausner and “You had to be there” with Nikki Glazer and Sara Schaeffer which probably inspired us to get started. We started as a Twitter and thought we would expand to a normal blog but the podcast format is just conversational and fun and came naturally to us.

Do you each have maid specialties? Like are stoves your big thing? Or carpets? or dishes?

Rag: My personal specialty is the GENERAL TIDY. Like, say for instance you have a pile of scarves and magazines and shampoo and earrings and make up: I will take that pile and make it look like a display window at Crate and Barrel. It’s all about the angles.

Sponge: I don’t like to brag but I’m one of the uncredited songwriters on the song “Dirrrty” by Xtina Aguliera. My speciality is cleaning an extra dirty apartment with NO FEAR. I’ll be honest, I can’t make the best hospital corners when making a bed, but I can degrease a wall and throw out the condom wrappers after.

What would you do if your boss found your podcast? What would she do?

This is something we have considered a lot.

Step 1. Cry
Step 2. Fear for our lives.
Step 3. Fear for our bank accounts

Our boss is very…strong. It could make life very difficult…. We are currently accepting ideas for creative suicide pacts.

Do you have any big plans in the coming podcasts?
Definitely. Of course more wild stories, and every day we come up with more ideas for special guests, countdown lists, man on the street interviews and advice. We listen to podcasts every day and it keeping it fresh is really important to us. We’ve all gone through a “Savage Love” podcast phase and come out of it never wanting to hear his voice again.

Do you have any nice stories about being maids? Has anything really wonderful happened as a result of your being a maid?

Nope! A nice maid tale usually ends with a good tip, so check back with us around the holidays. I wish I could say I’ve cleaned for some high powered publisher who then discovered us and published our book but most of the time people are either pleased or they’re not. Some people give big HG TV reactions to the final reveal but an hour later our rags and lavender oil are just a memory…

How has your own cleanliness changed since you started maiding?

Rag: In some ways a lot and in other ways not so much. I am much more tidy now. But I am definitely still a BIG dust bunny. It kind of depends on how I’m feeling about work. Some times I just want to leave work at work and never clean my apartment again. Other times I find myself cleaning without even realizing it. I sleep clean, drunk clean, and sex clean.

Sponge: Yes!! I was a sloppy chick, and actually still am, but have learned some tricks on how to keep it under control. Truth squad: I still get ketchup on my shirt almost daily, but my apartment is cleaner. I honestly hate the feeling of bustin booty to clean a fabulous Gramercy condo to come home to a dirty apartment so I scrub-a-dub-dub more often now.

So whether you listen to hear some salacious stories about some fabulously wealthy semen, or whether you listen to make sure they’re not talking about your fabulously wealthy semen, you’re probably going to listen. Me? I’ll be listening while I clean up that cat hair and nacho dust. (Photo: Walknboston/Flickr)