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July 8, 2016 (California Pizza Kitchen 11:22 a.m.)

I often wonder if when I ended my dancing career in November 2013 if the industry sucked (money and enthusiasm wise) or was it just me? I was forty-three. I had been stripping for twenty-one years. I wasn’t jaded, but I certainly wasn’t an ingénue either. The thing is, I was there and I could see that no one else was banking. The stage, the dance count, the sloppy drunk dancers—we tended to get more buzzed when things were slow. For the record, not all strippers drink. I was sober for the first half of my career, but for those of us who do (did), it happened like that. When it gets tough, vodka eases the pain...until you’ve overdone it, then you risk sliding into sad town. The other thing is, during some of these bad shifts, I was often the one doing better than most—which still didn’t amount to a rap video caliber of a paper storm. But I see girls posting photos on social media with loads of cash and declarations of why they strip. Are dancers still making that kind of dough on a regular basis? I talk about the industry and how much it changed (especially from 2003 until I flushed all my vanilla body spray down the drain), and how down hill it had gone, but maybe that was just my experience. Perhaps I was seeing it through muck-colored glasses and didn’t even know it. Where are these magic clubs? I know Los Angeles is historically a bad place to strip: too many clubs, too many girls, and most clubs take 60%, so maybe it was a local issue. I remember in my early years at Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre the older women (older! They were probably only in their mid to late thirties, but that felt ancient at the time) were constantly complaining about the money. Maybe I was in that stage during my last two years? But if that were the case, wouldn’t I have seen everyone else making mad cash except me? I know I wasn’t as cutthroat near the end. I was too cavalier. I often brokered dances for women I didn’t know, when it could have been mine. But major money is either in the club or it isn’t. Spend any length of time as a stripper and you know when it’s a good night or not, including those nights when you’re off, but everyone else is doing well. Men definitely started making comments near the end about me not being young. They never guessed my actual age, but they thought (or knew) by the way I carried myself, and the conversation, that I was in my “thirties” and not twenties. This worked in my favor most times, but I also think it cost me a couple as well. Also my body was changing and with it, my confidence. Confidence is a major factor in that hustle. But it’s not just the money, it’s the general lifelessness in the clubs that I’m also talking about. Without that incredible enthusiasm and men with money to burn, how are girls still making that big money?

author's note: it was a thousand degrees the day of this shoot and as you can see, I was a sweaty mess.

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