"This is as Real as It Gets": A Stripper's Crusade to Improve Dancers' Working Conditions (Salon)


The good folks at Salon just caught up with Elle regarding her adventures with legislation, the state capitol and all sorts of things regarding the Erotic Muses' crusade to improve entertainer's rights. Peep deets:

The ubiquity of strip clubs in Portland, Oregon - a state with some of the most powerful free speech protections in the country - means a few things: first, that the city rivals Las Vegas with the sheer opportunity it offers to engage in the sex work economy; second, that there's plenty to be done about the state of strippers' rights. After all, in this world, free speech protections might afford more strip club operators to set up shop and stay in business, but they certainly don't result in safe or sanitary conditions for strippers, for whom stigma and discrimination are intimately connected to the line of work.

New efforts by a coalition of strippers, social workers and professional lobbyists aim to change all that, though, through the unprecedented move of lobbying the state legislature directly. Their ultimate goal is to improve safety standards for Oregon's live entertainers, a task that could turn out to be tougher than it seems in the face of the state's First Amendment protections.

The group, which was organized by the National Association of Social Workers, is fighting for legislation that would, at minimum, require all live entertainment venues - not just strip clubs - to display signs indicating performers' rights. The coalition is also attempting to establish an anonymous hotline, staffed by industry veterans, that would allow strippers to call and ask questions, get information or report abuse.

Elle Stanger, a Portland-based stripper who has worked in the industry for half a decade, is a member of the coalition and one of the measure's most outspoken proponents. Her advocacy wasn't borne of her own negative experiences; in the years Stanger has worked at the Lucky Devil Lounge, she's been managed with the utmost professionalism. But, she told me when we spoke by phone on Thursday, it's not like that at every strip club in Portland, or around the country.

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

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