I was working at a children’s gym coaching gymnastics, but had higher aspirations in life. A friend of mine convinced me to attend an open interview with her for a job with United Airlines, if we were both hired we could travel the world together. We made it through the application process, including a trip to United headquarters in Chicago for a final interview. We were then offered the job via telephone calls, so I quit working at the gym. My friend was immediately sent to Chicago to start her training, but I was not. It was close to the holidays and I now had no income so I decided to try to find temporary work.
I remembered once in a dance class that I had taken in college that a girl said she danced for tips at a local sports bar. This intrigued me - dancing for money - so I drove over to that bar to pay the manager a visit. He asked me to return the next day for an audition. I was a little dismayed to find out that I was expected to wear a bikini or bra and small thong underwear. I actually had to go out that evening and purchase my first thong, which then lead to learning how to shave the delicate bikini area; all this just for an audition. Being in the financial state I was in it seemed worth the effort.
I auditioned the next morning before the bar opened. I danced to Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. The manager liked me; he said I moved well, and put me on the schedule for later that week. He also informed me that I would need more than one “costume” for my dance shifts. I purchased a few more bra/thong combinations, some high heel shoes, and a bag to carry it all in. I was all set.
I arrived early for my first shift. I wanted to have time for a “shot of courage” before going onstage. The bartender introduced me to the regular customers. The stage area was empty, but there were people hanging out, shooting pool etc. I watched wide-eyed as the other girls danced so nonchalantly around the pole. They had some very interesting dance moves that I had never seen before, but they acted bored.
Soon it was my turn on stage. I had entered the dressing room feeling incredibly nervous. The dancers were all in various stages of undress, which took me by surprise. There was a toilet in the back of the small room and each time someone had to go, they just did, right there in front of us. It was a rude awakening. They all seemed nice enough, a little distant, but not rude or mean. I put on my “costume” and went to the jukebox to choose my first song, Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crue. I somewhat confidently made my first stage entrance only to have my knees give- out as I looked up and saw every single person in the bar, staff included, seated around the stage. They were whooping and hollering - giving me a good old fashioned “welcome to the business”. Somehow I made it through that first dance… and many more to follow.
Although the events in the book are personal, this isn't my story; it's our story. We've all been there: shamefully sucking-in our tummies to impress others, or using our sexuality to advance our careers because our intelligence or talent come second. Chapters from the book will be released in no chronological order, organically pouring out of me as emotions and memories resurface. Thank you for being here. —Kristen