PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A cross-country flirtation between a U.S. senate candidate from New Jersey and a Portland stripper has already made headlines across the nation.
“If I had a different job and he was friends with me, nobody would care,” said stripper Lynsie Lee.
Lee works at the vegan strip club Casa Diablo in Portland. She and the Newark, N.J., mayor — Cory Booker — “met” online while filming the independent film “Follow Friday” — a documentary about Twitter.
The film follows real person Erin Faulk on “an 11,000-mile 42-day journey across the United States, meeting and interviewing 140 of the strangers she listens to every day on Twitter,” according to IMDb.
KOIN 6 News interviewed Lee in 2012 while that documentary was being filmed. Lee was not at a loss for words then, and is certainly not at a loss for words now.
She said she and Booker have never met in person but remain friends on Twitter. They often share direct messages — which are private.
But their cross-country flirtation is now making headlines because Lee took a screen grab of an exchange and posted it to her public profile. She calls this whole situation both hilarious and silly — an example of social media run amok.
And that was the crux of “Follow Friday”: Would you even like those you follow on Twitter if you met them in real life?
Lee is not hiding from a thing. When her Twitter flirting with Mayor Booker was first posted by BuzzFeed online, her response was “so what?”
“We’ve done nothing wrong,” Lee said. “We’re both nice people; we have different careers obviously, and the media is just trying to find something to grasp.”
Booker is not married. And there was the exchange about how, if he ever became president, she has dibs on being his first lady. She also shared on “Twit pic” of her holding a signed campaign photo of Booker.
“If you’re looking for that kind of shock factor, that’s gonna make news,” said Jennette Lovejoy, a University of Portland journalism and media professor. “And we’re gonna click on it because were interested … What politician, and what stripper?”
Lovejoy talked to KOIN 6 News Thursday about the evolution of tweets from personal or private messages to national headlines.
“It has some keywords that’ll always make news: strippers, politicians and attraction, right?” Lovejoy said. “And use of social media, perhaps inappropriately but we’re not really sure.”
Booker has more than 1.4 million followers and is considered an early Twitter adopter. According to the Associated Press, he uses the social media site constantly, engaging followers from New Jersey and around the country.
Lee knows it’s all happening because she’s a stripper. But she says she enjoys her job just as much as posting — and flirting — on Twitter.
“I took it as flirting,” she said of her exchange with Booker. “He just took it as being kind to me.”
Lee said she doesn’t want to hurt Mayor Booker’s political career. Booker is running for the New Jersey senate.
She also said this is not a publicity stunt.
“Every single person who saw the headlines wanted to know what the content of the tweets were,” Lovejoy said. “And when they read the content of the tweets, I’m sure every single one of us is disappointed.”
That said, when Lee next takes the stage at Casa Diablo, the owner of the club she works at says they expect the place to be packed.
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