BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge native Stormy Daniels joined a number of other exotic dancers Sunday at the Louisiana state capitol to protest a new state law that requires strippers to be at least 21 years old.
The law, authored by Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, passed the legislature unanimously in 2016, but had been held up in court challenges. A lawsuit claimed it was too vague and infringed on strippers' First Amendment right to expression, but a federal judge ruled that the state could begin enforcing the law last month.
“Not only is the law unconstitutional, it’s f----- sexist,” Daniels said on the capitol steps. “How such a law could get passed in this day and age is absolutely mind-boggling and insulting to every female out there, whether you work in the adult entertainment business or not.”
Daniels is best-known for her alleged affair with President Donald Trump. She said when she performed in Baton Rouge, most of her colleagues were LSU students who stripped to pay tuition.
Johns said his law, signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, aims to curb sex trafficking, which many associate with strip clubs. The protesters at the capitol called that association a misconception.
“I’m basically a glorified therapist,” exotic dancer Bex Crow said. “I just happen to wear a g-string and stilettos to work instead of a polo.”
Many of the strippers said they feel “empowered” by their work, not threatened, exposed, or exploited. The dancers spent almost two hours pleading their cases through bullhorns on the capitol steps.
“I think it’s them trying to control us and muscle their way through a world that isn’t theirs to be involved in,” Crow said. “I know how much dancing has meant to me. I will do anything in my power to help fight for other people’s power within that world.”
A number of women said that stripping kept them from more dangerous jobs during times of vulnerability by providing stable, lucrative income in a workplace with staffed security and bouncers.
The law requires that “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” in establishments that serve alcohol must be 21. The protesters expressed concern that this law targets female strippers and could exclude male strippers because male breasts are generally not considered explicit.
“It eliminates the right of an adult woman to freely choose her occupation,” Daniels said.
Johns' law made national headlines in 2016 when then-Rep. Kenny Havard offered an amendment that would have required strippers to weigh less than 160 pounds and be younger than 28. Havard withdrew the amendment, calling it a poignant joke about unnecessary government regulation.