7/22/2014

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Field Notes

All atwitter over a stripper and a pol

All atwitter over a stripper and a pol
Lynsie Lee in a photo she posted on her Twitter page.
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Lynsie Lee, a single, working mom in the Portland area, found herself Wednesday in the national spotlight.

A graduate of Reynolds High School, Lee went to Mt. Hood Community College where she studied philosophy and geology. She’s also smart and funny, which has attracted more than 10,000 followers to her Twitter account.

Her activity there – some 40,000 tweets - also brought her to the attention of a woman making a documentary about Twitter, Follow Friday.

Also in the film are such notables as Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed and Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark and candidate for the United States Senate.

Lee and Booker tweeted back and forth, sometimes flirtatiously and on Wednesday that became national news.

Why?

Perhaps because Lee is a stripper at Casa Diablo here in Portland, which bills itself as the world’s only vegan strip club.

Or, maybe, as Lee herself tweeted on Wednesday, because “the media is inept.”

Lee, who is far from shy, was surprised at the amount of attention she was getting.

“Honestly,” she told KATU. “I mean the exchange happened months ago. I think it’s rather silly.”

Though she did concede: “It’s pretty fun, though. I love the instant notoriety but really a single man flirting with a beautiful woman isn’t much news.”

Lee said she had not known Booker before they were both in the film but is glad she does now.

“He was adorable and I was attracted to his compassion,” she said. “I agree with most of his political stances and his genuine love of humanity and animals.

That, she said, led her to flirt-tweet with him.

@CoryBooker the west coast loves you (by west coast, I mean me):),” she tweeted him in February, prompting him to respond:

“The East Coast loves you and by the East Coast I mean me.”

“Well now I’m blushing,” she wrote back.

“It’s only fair,” he responded.

She had made the exchange public months ago when she got into a somewhat facetious Twitter feud with another follower of Booker’s over who would get to be First Lady if he ever became President.

For whatever reason – see Lee’s speculation above – Buzzfeed decided Wednesday that this was big news and ran a big takeout making it seem much more than it was.

“I don’t want 15 minutes of fame, not this way,” she said. “I want it through my nudes, duh.

“If all this prevents me from being Cory’s First Lady when he’s POTUS I will seek revenge.”

And while she already had quite a following before Wednesday, it was still a lot to deal with. There were countless requests from reporters that she handled, mostly with humor.

When one reporter from a national publication asked her to follow him so he could DM her, which she did, and then he never reached out to her for his story, she shamed him on Twitter.

The reporter then reached out to her and updated his story.

Lee, meanwhile, is taking it all in stride.

"I guess the most surprising thing to me about all of this is that media can't seem to find anything more important to write about," she says. "I just think that there has to be more important stories out there."

She’s getting ready to return to work Thursday, hoping all the publicity will bring more customers to the club where she has been dancing for three years.

“It’s where I began,” she says. “Have never worked at another Portland club. We’re like family. My boss thinks we're going to have a packed club tonight. I'm kind of happy-scared."

Lee says stripping had not been a goal. It was after college, and she had a two-year-old and had ended up there as a customer and “loved the atmosphere. And soon I was making enough money to pay off my student loans."

She says that while her daughter knows that she dances for money, she’s too young to try and understand some of the finer points of her job.

Lee doesn’t have any regrets about what’s she’s been up to – and really why should she? She’s a big fan of Booker’s and has been using her recent spate of publicity to make sure people know how to donate to his campaign.

She’s added hundreds of followers in the past 24 hours. I suspect many will probably stay as she tends to live up to the promise on her Twitter bio. (You'll have to look for yourself since - we're not publishing it here. Be warned there are explicit images.)

A spokeswoman for Booker’s campaign dismissed the story, saying the most shocking thing about any of this is that there’s a Vegan strip club in Portland.

Booker brushed off the exchanges with Lee on Thursday, reiterating that he communicates with "thousands of people" on Twitter. Booker said he doesn't care what people do for work and the "puritanical judgment" of Lee was "over the top."

Booker said he talks to everybody and has no plans to stop, the Associated Press reported.

"You guys might have some prurient interest," he said, "but at the end of the day this is about extending kindness to folks."

Being in Portland, I would say that’s not all that shocking.

What is shocking is that we’re paying this much attention to some somewhat innocuous tweets that were sent months ago.

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