In case you missed it, the epic Twitter tale of Zola, a stripper from Detroit who went on a wild ride that started after driving to Florida, has had folks speculating for days.
From memes, to jokes, to even a fake trailer, stories likes this were made for the Internet. While Zola, aka, Aziah Wells, first relayed the crazy story of murder, prostitution, and attempted suicide — over the past few days, the other stars in this epic have also been telling their sides of the story.
Jess, aka “This White Bitch” spoke out via Complex, claiming that Zola was actually the one selling for sex for money, and that she had nothing to do with that aspect of the story. Her story has largely been disproven, by both her ex-boyfriend, and others that claimed to have known her and Jess.
Who exactly was “trapping,” a term for selling sex in stripper lingo, remains a hot point of debate. Some fans think Zola isn’t telling the entire story, while others feel that she is culpable for taking part in the exploitation of an abused sex worker.
But, according to a reporter for The Washington Post, who spoke to many of the characters in the tale of Zola, as well as law enforcement, the story is mostly true, and Aziah King was also a victim.
In mid-March, 2015, 20-year-old Jessica Swiatkowski said she went for lunch at a Hooters restaurant in Roseville, Mich. Swiatkowski, the single mother of a baby girl whose father had recently gained sole custody, was living in the Detroit suburbs with her boyfriend of one month, Jarrett Scott, and Rudy, a longtime friend.
To pay the rent, Swiatkowski had been dancing in Detroit clubs, she said. She, Scott and Rudy were actually planning a weekend trip to Tampa, where she could make better money.
When Swiatkowski heard that Wells, her Hooters waitress, also danced, she invited her along. It was sudden, but Rudy — who booked dancers for clubs — said the pay was good.
“Rudy was making trips to Florida and back, saying ‘look how much money you can make,’” said Scott, Swiatkowski’s boyfriend. “Go work one weekend, make 15 or 20 or $30,000. That was the plan.”
As the article continues, we also discover the real identity of “Z” aka Rudy, a.k.a Akporode Uwedjojevwe. It turns out that while he’s probably not a murderer, he’s definitely a sex trafficker — who Jess was working in concert with. According to accounts from other young girls, Jess would lure new charges for “Z” by befriending them under false pretenses.
Even though Zola clearly embellished several parts of her story, it turns out that some of the juiciest and most insane parts of this tale are still true. The verifiable aspects of her story give a glimpse into a world that traps and victimizes thousands of young women all over the United States. As many have pointed out over the past few days, most women who end up entangled in sex trafficking don’t get a funny story and a book deal out of it. A strangely positive aspect of this situation is that it’s opened a new dialogue about sex trafficking in America.
Regardless of how I might feel about some of Aziah King’s life choices, I’m still rooting for her. And I hope that she continues to be able to take full ownership of her story.