It started when I was a senior at an all-girls Catholic high school in Cleveland. I had been doing competitive ballet and wanted to try go-go dancing, with a bikini on. So I tried it, made $150 per gig, and really liked it. One of the girls there said that I should check out stripping. I told her there’s no way in hell. I thought strippers were like porn stars. But she talked me into it.
So, during Christmas break of my senior year, I told my mother that I had gotten a catering job and tried stripping at the club where my friend worked. I was scared, but I immediately enjoyed it. Plus, I was 18 years old and walking out of the place with about $500 for six hours of work. That was more money than I had ever seen before. I kept it in a pillowcase under my bed.
Then, one day, after the break, I got called into the principal’s office at school. They had website pictures of me hanging out at a nightclub, and the person who sent them in said that I partied and stripped. If I started crying and asking for forgiveness, they would have let me stay in school. Instead I told them they could kiss my ass. I was 18, wild, and a bitch, earning what I thought was a ton of money. My mom was upset, my father was out of the picture -- daddy issues! I moved into my own apartment, got my high school diploma at a public school, married a tattoo artist, and kept on dancing.
I loved it from the start, but it could be hard. Early on, I’d sometimes go into the bathroom at work and cry. Those were the nights when I’d be on stage four times, walk around the club practically naked, and nobody would buy a dance. You feel like a cow at a meat market when nobody wants steak. They’re all eating chicken, and I’m like, “What the fuck?” Plus, you’d get some unusual guys. Wearing silk shorts to a strip club is an Ohio thing. I remember seeing a guy in the shorts, and saying, “You’re not wearing underwear.” I didn’t give him a dance. It was just too much.
You learn what to look for, though. I figured out how to recognize within three minutes of meeting somebody whether or not it will be worthwhile to spend time with him. If his arms and legs are crossed, that is a bad sign. If he doesn’t offer me a drink: bad sign. And you learn from your mistakes. I accidentally left my locker unlocked once and somebody stole the $300 jeans that I wore to the club. It was the middle of an Ohio winter and I left work with no pants on. I needed gas but was wearing a g-string and boots. After driving home, I walked through the snow like that to reach my front door. My then-fiancé was waiting for me. It could have been hot if I hadn’t been so pissed off.