Landa Lakes (back left) and her crew perform at the first Rally the Troupes social justice burlesque show in Oakland, at Mills College.

A man dressed in jeans and a t-shirt kneels on the ground, his hands held at an awkward angle by the chains that bind him to a drag king who is standing behind him wearing a sharp suit. Like a marionette, he is forced to bring his trembling hands to his face and smoke. The scene unfolds next to a 4-foot cardboard replica of a cigarette, as Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” blares from the speakers.

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