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Saturday, June 11, 2022


by Jennifer Elise Wang

The picket line on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood has been loud, energetic, flamboyant, and... costumed. The strippers from Star Gardens have organized for their protection and become a cause célèbre for other organizers and unions across the country. —People’s World, June 6, 2022

When your roommate is a stripper,
You discover who makes
The teeniest thong
You can legally get away with
And that 7-inch Pleasers
Are not too bad to walk in.
When your roommate is a stripper,
You start going to the gym more,
Not to have her body exactly
But to have the same gluteal control
In order to twerk along with her
In your at-home dance parties.
When your roommate is a stripper,
You see the stacks of 1s,
But not the 5s, 10s, or 20s
She has given to the house and staff.
When your roommate is a stripper,
You stop laughing at jokes about her job
Because her colleague was stalked
And another was threatened
While the bartender laughed
At the image of her possible demise.
Every night, it’s a flip of the coin
As to whether she’ll be assaulted.
When your roommate is a stripper,
You learn about misogynoir,
Labor rights and union-busting tactics,
And that it’s always “sex worker”
And never “prostitute” or the other word
That sounds more apropos for fishing.
When your roommate is a stripper,
You get advice on how to set boundaries
While still smiling at the customer.
When your roommate is a stripper
And getting ready for a night of picketing
While you’ve come home after overtime
And drink a beer with some Tylenol
For your Carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis
And blink away your dry eyes,
You realize you are selling your body too. 

Jennifer Elise Wang (she/they) is a lab tech, burlesque dancer, drag king, and poet. She won First Prize for Open Poetry in the 2018 On My Own Time Art and Literary competition and has been published in The Gunpowder Review, Jerseyworks, and R2 Rice Review. In her free time, she likes to skateboard and volunteer at the animal shelter.