Tom Morello Performs at Re-Opening of America's Only Unionized Strip Club

After a year-plus strike, the Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood re-opened with the appearance of an additional star

Photo via @tommorello on Instagram

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Aug 28, 2023

Tom Morello is not simply in a band called Rage Against the Machine. The guitarist has always been one to put his money where his mouth is, musically and politically speaking, and his latest showcase of solidarity saw him perform at the re-opening of America's only unionized strip club.

The Star Garden Topless Diver Bar in North Hollywood, CA, finally re-opened last Thursday (August 24) after over a year of its employees striking in protest of the termination of two dancers and heightened safety concerns in "a room which is regularly full of belligerently drunk men who push our boundaries."

They began picketing last spring following the presentation of a petition to the club's management demanding that their fired colleagues be reinstated and ensuring that nobody would be terminated for standing up for themselves in dangerous situations with customers, as well as implementing policies to protect further sex workers' safety and privacy.

In May 2023, the strippers unionized as Equity Strippers NoHo within the Actors' Equity Association after a unanimous vote. Their contract is still under negotiation, but the club's management recognizes the union, and they're returning to work in an interim agreement.

"It was a night of radical unity and radical rump shaking," Morello relayed on Instagram, while clips of the impromptu performance showed the musician playing his solo track "Hold the Line" from 2021's The Atlas Underground Fire. He also led a call-and-response chant of, "When I say 'union,' you say 'power!'"

A post shared by Tom Morello (@tommorello)

As you'd imagine, this is not Morello's first rodeo; he did a surprise sidewalk performance of "This Land Is My Land" on the WGA/SAG-AFTRA picket line in Hollywood earlier this month. The writers' and actors' strikes have resulted in the delay of blockbusters like Dune: Part Two and the Emmys being postponed.

Watch news coverage of Star Garden's re-opening below, which saw support from the United Mine Workers of America, the union Morello protested on the frontlines with in Alabama last year. As Billy Bragg recently put it on "Rich Men Earning North of a Million": "If you form a union, you'll soon find / That working people are all of one kind."


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