One woman is on a crusade to reform Portland, Oregon's strip club industry by suing evil club owners who put making a profit before paying women fairly to take off their clothes and wiggle around on a pole. Solidarity forever!
Meet Zipporah Foster, profiled by Willamette Week last week. She's a 28 year-old single mother and a stripper who's had enough of skeezy club owners stiffing (ahem!) her and her co-workers. Foster is filing lawsuits against a brace of Portland strip joints in protest of two widespread—but totally lame—practices: 1) not paying strippers an hourly wage by classifying them as "independent contractors" instead of employees (as such, most strippers work for tips only) and 2) charging dancers a "stage fee" for the privilege of working the pole. (In Portland, Willamette Week found fees as high as $50 a night—pretty high when you consider a nightly take of anywhere from $40-$200.)
Now, Foster, AKA "Mocha," is fighting back in the name of naked ladies everywhere:
Foster, who goes by the stage name "Mocha," insists strippers deserve to be paid like any other worker. She and other dancers around the country are beginning to take a stand, and a handful have successfully sued for back wages...
"A lot of dancers, because they [club owners] try to make you feel low about what you're doing, they [dancers] don't have knowledge that this is wrong," says Foster...
So far, Foster is suing Exotica International Club for Men in Northeast Portland, the Safari Showclub in Southeast Portland, and Stars Cabaret & Steakhouse in Beaverton, seeking a total of $165,500 in back wages and lost stage fees. None of the clubs has settled, and the Exotica suit is now set for trial in February.
Could Mocha V. Exotica International Club for Men be our generation's Roe V. Wade? Imagine how bummed Supreme Court justices will be if the case sets some important legal precedent which they'll have to cite in all their decisions from now until infinity. ("As was found in Mocha V. Exotica International Club for Men...") Commenter Exsam points out a similar lawsuit has been filed in Indianapolis—which was certified a class action in January of this year.
Now, lawsuits are all well and good, but real social change requires direct action. Brown V. Board was an important step in the Civil Rights Movement, but all the white folks just dragged their feet until people took to the streets. Mocha needs to form a powerful stripper union which will incite strippers all over the world to come together in a powerful, sexy proletariat to wrest the means of production—the pole, the stage, the fuzzy boa—from strip club owners, raising from the rubble, like some 55 year-old contractor's reluctant hard-on, a new form of egalitarian strip club where lap dances are free and nobody fucking steals other girls' leopard print 5-inch platforms in the dressing room while they're out on the floor. (cf. the Lusty Lady, the world's first worker-owned strip club.) Organize or die!
(But, seriously, Mocha: You are awesome.)