Portland Strippers Fight for Their Rights

Entertainers looking for better working conditions
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2015 1:48 PM CST
In this Jan. 22, 2015 photo, stripper Elle Stanger poses for a photo in front of the Lucky Devil Lounge, where she performs, in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
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(Newser) – If you've got a fetish, chances are Portland, Ore.—apparently dubbed "Pornland" in some circles, per the Week—has a strip joint that's got you covered. But for every vegan strip club (yeah, that exists), there are others that are "dilapidated and not maintained," Elle Stanger tells the AP. Stanger is a stripper, and a vocal advocate in a nascent movement "to get these workplaces up to a minimum safety standard at least. ... You have entertainers that could injure themselves from broken glass on the stage, poor wiring with the sound system." They're not asking for the moon—adequate security, clean stages, solid poles, posters outlining dancers' rights, and a hotline where abuse could be reported—but they're taking the unusual step of working directly with state lawmakers and lobbyists.

They're also running right into the wall of Oregon's free speech laws, which, as the AP notes, "severely limit the regulations that can be imposed." It turns out that any laws passed can't pinpoint strip clubs, but rather must affect all "live entertainment" venues. Still, the strippers group has partnered with a social workers' group and have drafted a pair of bills that they hope will get a hearing this month, reports the Willamette Week. "Whether your job is sexual in nature, or not, does not determine how well or poorly you should be treated," Stanger tells the Willamette Week. "We’re all human beings regardless."

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