Dirty Money: Memoirs of a Stripper
by Erin Louis
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Having spent over 20 years in the exotic dancing industry, I have grown tired of the typical ill adjusted, drug addicted stripper story. Contrary to the reigning stereotype, I offer a candid look at my own adventures in the industry and how it has affected my life. I present my memoirs as a rebuttal to the talk show depiction of exotic dancers as chemically challenged, poorly disguised prostitutes with severe daddy and body image issues. Starting with my childhood, I recount the experiences I had and what led to my choice to become a stripper. I recall the funny, sad, and sometimes gross moments in my career. I try to answer all the questions most people ask me once they've had a few too many drinks and finally give in to their curiosity about my naughty job.
I decided to write this after playing the “should-a, could-a, would-a, game” for many years. Did I make a bad choice? Should I have gone to school to be a lawyer or doctor, instead of a stripper? According to many TV doctors, strippers are mal-adjusted, prone to addiction, and have many underlying psychological issues. That most, if not all dancers have no chance at a happy life and are more likely than not doomed to live a life of failure and bad relationships. I may not be the picture of mental health, but I have managed to avoid the typical pitfalls of the adult entertainment industry. And while there are many dancers who live up to and perpetuate the stereotype of a stripper, there are a few who manage to live well-adjusted lives, free from pimps and drugs. I wanted to write my story to tell it like I saw it, and at first to defend the profession. As I wrote and remembered my different experiences, I felt less defensive of my own choices. But I also realized that some stereotypes are based in reality. There are many who do fit the generalization. There are many women who are taken advantage of and exploited in this profession. There are many dancers that are not healthy or happy. Although this occupation can be hard and damaging to some, can it be a viable option to the mainstream job? For me, it was. I think with the right frame of mind, it can be an alternative to sitting in an office or some other mindless job. I think it can offer the freedom to not be part of the mainstream rat race. To not have to be angry at the world while sitting in traffic daydreaming about how you would like to harm your oppressive boss. It can give you the opportunity to be independent and free from the burden of structured employment. It must be understood that the choice to be a stripper will come with harsh judgment from others. It could end relationships and cause all sorts of problems in your life. While I am comfortable with my own choices, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to become a stripper without having a really good idea of what it entails and not only the criticism that comes with it, but the dangers that exist within the industry. The reality of it is the very fact that it is taboo to work in the adult entertainment industry is what makes it so lucrative. If nudity was socially acceptable, we wouldn’t need strip clubs. As our society becomes more and more accepting of human sexuality, the need for clandestine trips to the strip club will become obsolete. The industry will have to go farther and farther to be exciting, and in my opinion will eventually implode. I think some of this has already begun to happen. With so much of sex work going online, the industry has become diluted in a way. Although it has allowed many entertainers to avoid the possible in person exploitation of some malicious club owners and staff. So maybe that's a good thing? In the last few years, I noticed that women on TV are wearing six-inch platform shoes on their daytime talk shows. The reaction from the strippers was to go up to eight-inch platforms. As the trends that started in the clubs become acceptable in the mainstream, the industry will have to go farther and farther to separate themselves from those women, until we get to the point that women are wearing nothing but pasties on the local news. We're all born naked. It is society that sexualizes it and shames those who dare to embrace it. Sex and nudity are natural, the shame is not. As it becomes normal to see Disney child stars dancing on stripper poles and the average housewife taking pole dancing classes, the actual stripper is becoming more mainstream and less taboo, and yet the criticisms persist. I think the point behind my story is that people are going to judge under even 11 the best of circumstances, and it is important to look at the actual person, before coming to the conclusion that they are rotten, damaged, or all-around bad people. Most of the names and places have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
Erin Louis is a former adult entertainer with three non-fiction books about her life as a stripper, and is a columnist for Only Sky Media. She’s written and published several short fiction stories. Erin has had a lifelong love of horror and dark humor.