Today, the Washington Post published a story about Quansa Thompson, a local exotic dancer who has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against her former place of employment, Georgia Ave. strip club The House. Thompson is suing over a widespread problem in adult nightclubs—-that owners illegally treat their nightly dancers like independent contractors instead of real employees, a practice which denies the dancers health benefits, an hourly wage, and—-
—-wait a second, are we talking strippers? Shake it! Sh-sh-sh-shake it! To hear WaPo‘s Paul Schwartzman tell Thompson’s tale, the real news here is that exotic dancers exist, and it is super easy to make jokes about them. Let’s start with the lede:
To hear Quansa Thompson talk of her life as an exotic dancer, to listen to her describe how men offer cash as she sashays, gyrates and jiggles the night away, is to evoke a thousand titillating thoughts, not a single one having anything to do with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
Paul Schwartzman, you are speaking my language. Because I’m the kind of guy who likes to scan the Washington Post for a little bit of jiggly-jiggly, you know what I’m saying? Hey, you know what really gets me off? A bunch of dudes crowding around a lady and throwing some cash at her while she “jiggles.” But you already knew that, since you’ve decided to frame stripping as a universally titllating experience, sure to overload the brain of any reader who might happen to pick up this newspaper. Man, woman, child—-we all believe this to be sexy. But less talk more jiggling:
That is, until Thompson brings up the Depression-era law, which she discovered last summer after being fired by her then-employer, the House, a den of prurient entertainment on Georgia Avenue NW. Thompson is suing the House in U.S. District Court, alleging that the club pays dancers no wages, but ought to under the law. The club has denied the charge.
All this legal speak is harshing my boner. This stripper wants a fair wage, you say? I’ll show her a fair wage . . . if she shows me her jiggly, am I right? High five!
By her own account, Thompson — or “Love” as she calls herself onstage — had to overcome a good deal of self-doubt six years ago, when she started dancing alongside a veritable conga line of statuesque beauties with show biz names such as “Wild Cherry,” “French Kiss” and “Wet.”
She learned to feel the music, to move her hips just so, to smile with enough mystery that men in her audience leaned forward, hands extended, fingers offering up $20 bills, fifties, hundreds. The high-rollers, the “ballers,” as she called them, “would make it rain,” literally showering her with fistfuls of dollars.
Fact-check time: One has to wonder how much time Schwartzmen spent observing the House technique. I understand it involves more than smiling. But I digress:
Yet Thompson said that aspects of the stripping life bothered her. The House paid her and the other dancers $20 for showing up each day, with the understanding that they could keep their tips after they paid the management a couple of fees: $20 to the DJ, $20 to the bartender. If a dancer was late to the stage, Thompson said, the club charged a $10 penalty. The fine for missing a shift was $80, even if it was because of an illness, which is what Thompson claimed when she didn’t show up for work one night last year.
And here we have the Obligatory Discussion Of Issues Not Directly Related To Jiggling. You know what this story needs? More stripper jokes.
Thompson found a lawyer, Philip Zipin, who, after some research, concluded that the House, like a preponderance of strip clubs nationwide, classified their dancers as “independent contractors,” as if they were plumbers, only without the tool belt (not to mention the shirt, pants and underwear).
Yeah! Stripper joke!
Yet there are strippers who don’t want full-time gigs, who prefer the freedom of floating from club to club. “There are advantages — the write-offs, for one,” said Lia Scholl, founder of the now-defunct Star Light Ministries, which counseled exotic dancers. “You can write off breast augmentation. You can write off mileage. They can determine their own schedules and be their own bosses.”
The disadvantages of being an independent contractor include being responsible for one’s own Social Security taxes and not being entitled to workman’s compensation. “If you fall off the pole,” Scholl said, “there’s no safety net.”
Wooooo stripper joke!
She’d be more than willing to return to the stage full time, if she were treated like a full-fledged member of the labor force, albeit one who awakes each day to get undressed for work. “It would be the best job,” she said. “People would have more respect for it.”
. . . aaaaaand really terrible stripper joke (“what’s the difference between a real worker and a stripper? Strippers get undressed for work!”) . . . followed the inevitable “But Seriously, Folks” moment. Even though it’s obvious from the entire tenor of this piece that the writer does not respect women who are employed in the sex industry, why not finish with a plea for everyone else to get serious about this issue? Because when it comes down to it, strippers are people, too, and—-ooooh. Jiggly.