Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nancy Reagan made me a Stripper

“I want to be just like her when I grow up!” Was my thought about the girl with the punk rock fringe haircut sitting at the table in the front of the Assembly Room at Piney Branch Elementary School. She was brought in by the DARE program to give a talk about the dangers of Drugs and Alcohol and scare all of us 5th graders away from the idea of doing drugs. You know the program…it was the one that Nancy Reagan started in the 80s to keep kids from doing drugs. The one where they brought cops into the schools with trays full of drugs and showed us how they were ingested, what they did, and what they looked like…and even what household items that you can get high off of and why you shouldn’t do it. When all we heard was….”wow, you can get high off that?!”

My elementary school called an assembly this day, and we all groaned. Everyone hated assembly’s because it usually meant that we had to listen to some boring old person drone on about something so boring we couldn’t bear to keep our eyes open. Even though we hated them, there still was something exciting about getting to leave regular class for a bit though. This assembly was the same as all the rest. A woman was introduced to us, “This is Leslie, and she’s going to talk to you about her life.” I looked at the front of the cafeteria, which also doubled as the theater for school plays, so it had a large stage in the front with the kitchen in the back. Leslie was sitting at a table in front of the stage. On the table there were pamphlets for D.A.R.E. I knew at that moment we were going to have a lecture about drugs.

This one was a little different though, Leslie wasn’t an expert, or a cop, or a scientist… she was an actual ex-junkie. And she was there to tell us first hand how bad drugs are. She told us about how she started out just trying drugs occasionally and then…it lead to her running away from home, and fending for herself on the streets. To survive…she had to work as a stripper. (Cue the dramatic music). I stared at her, in awe. She was so beautiful, cool, and when she was 15 she was on her own and working at a strip club and trying lots of drugs.  I could tell that all the other kids in the room seemed either horrified at her story, or incredibly bored. I seemed to ignore the stories about her overdose and life on the streets, and all I heard is that she was a stripper…and she was beautiful! I couldn’t wait to be a punk like her, try drugs, and most of all to be a stripper.

My mind was obsessed with the idea for a long time. My Barbie’s were strippers for a least a month. But I kept my scandalous dream a secret. I didn’t even tell my best friend! I just waited. I knew the day would come, I just had to be patient.  

As an adult I think about this and think how strange. That a 10-year-old girl would have that kind of reaction to what was obviously a scary story. I just thought that stripping sounded amazing. And you forget when you’re all grown up, how mature you can think as a kid. I knew I couldn’t be a stripper at that moment because I was too young, I also knew that I couldn’t tell anyone. There’s no way that my parents would understand that their 10 year old daughter had dreams of being a stripper when she grew up. They would have brushed it off to some weird thing that their little girl said, or found it disturbing and I would have gotten a lecture about it. When in reality, I knew that someday I would be a stripper, and that there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. I knew at 10 years old that you didn’t have to be a junkie to be a stripper.

This was the exact moment that I decided to be a stripper. And 20 years later, after spending countless years thinking about it and dreaming about it, when the time was right I did it. I just want to say, thanks to Nancy Reagan for making me the best stripper I could be! I owe it all to you.


  1. I just found your site and what a mirror!
    At the same age as you, I lived in West Hollywood. Used to peek at the covers of the men's magazines, had a bf whose mother worked at the "The Pink Pussycat" where Lenny Bruce's mother, Sally, gave classes in stripping as it was also a strip club. It never entered my mind to do anything else, except for a brief venture as a "wife", which is another story for another day. After that fell apart, I went to work in NYC as a "dancer". The best camaraderie I've ever had were with those women. A veritable clan we were.
    I love your painting hints and look forward to more of your writings.

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