LIVE FROM THE 2-1-5, JESSA JORDAN REPORTS ON HER LIFE AS A BLACK ANARCHIST STRIPPER DURING THE 2016 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION IN PHILADELPHIA.
By day I bend light and arch limbs as a fine art nude model, but by moonrise nearly every Thursday and Saturday you can find me twirling and twerking in a popular dive bar in South Philly.
The beginning of my week is usually spent planning modeling work and performing administrative upkeep for my NSFW subscriber content app, JessaJordan.findrow.com. It’s also my chance to center myself. Lately I’ve been splitting time between my budding lifestyle T-shirt company, BrownGirlParty, and the local autonomous research collective, Praxis. With three weekly meetings to organize various Praxis projects, I completely ignored the Democratic National Convention’s first day.
The DNC swept across Philly weeks before any delegate—super or otherwise—shuffled onto a city sidewalk. Stylized Democratic Party donkeys representing each U.S. state and territory popped up from the Museum of Art to City Hall. Banners rode the midsummer breeze along Market and Broad Streets, while large posters advertised tickets for “PoliticalFest” in all subway stations and bus terminals around Center City. But the bus marquees proclaiming “Welcome DNC” were the real beginning of the end to me; overnight nearly 400 Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) buses changed their displays to reflect the impending convention that descended on our little metropolis on Monday, July 25th.
With its all-star roster of celebrities, politicians, pundits and protestors, the DNC caused an uncomfortable spike in the police presence downtown. It’s normal to see a few cops riding a SEPTA train car at rush hour; that Monday I noticed at least one officer posted at nearly every entrance of the Broad Street-line train as I rode home from a photoshoot in the afternoon. That’s anywhere from three to five cops per car, a series of blue and black uniforms peppering the sea of civilian faces on orange and chrome trains. For those who still have the privilege of feeling calm—or even reassured—around the Big Boys in Blue, this may seem to be a nonissue; what’s wrong with a little more safety at a time rife with social tension and political instability? But it had little to do with safety. It was more a warning for those interested in political action: Assemble at your own risk.
I was already pretty aggravated that the group RideDNC had used a photograph of me taken at last year’s Philly Naked Bike Ride for an article written about them on Metro.us. Their idea of protest was a large assortment of bicyclists riding around Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park (aka FDR) near South Philly’s Wells Fargo Center, where the convention was held. I hadn’t authorized the use of the image, and I didn’t particularly support their type of liberal, passive action. I’m an anarchist, so any movement working toward anything short of completely destroying all current political systems is irrelevant.