The stripping industry has women from all types of diverse backgrounds, it creates individuality, strengthens positive relationships within the club and brings new perspectives. When I asked to interview Maya, she was considering quitting the industry, a few days later, Maya quit. I asked her if she would like me to change the questions, she declined. Her struggles outline the difficulties our career choice can present and the impact it can have on our daily lives. Here is her story;
Currently you are a stripper?
When you asked to interview me and asked me these questions, yes I was a stripper. But in a very intense and quick, turn of events, I left only 3 days ago.
You’re also incredibly religious. Tell me about your religion?
I grew up in a very loving Christian family. There are a lot of ideas that people have about Christianity, if I could describe my upbringing and approach it in one way, I would say that I am spiritual, not necessarily religious.
Has stripping changed any of your beliefs?
My beliefs haven’t changed since I stepped into the industry a year ago, and neither have many of my moral stances for that matter, I certainly have found that I have learnt to listen and interact better with people that have complete opposite opinions on things that I am quite passionate about. I’ve learned to love the person on a deeper level for who they are and genuinely agree to disagree and not think any different of them.
You’ve made a lot of close friends within the industry. How have you found people’s reactions to discovering you are Christian?
At the start of my stripping journey it was incredibly difficult… I was sort of a unicorn in the stripper change rooms, and not always in a good way. There were a couple of girls that would throw me to the sharks (or this was my interpretation and how I felt being put on the spot) because a lot of my views were not popular at all in such a liberal industry. Since then, I’ve build really beautiful relationships with a handful of the girls and it’s become a really nice dynamic. I’m like their little gem, with a gentle soul, in such a cut throat place. I think some find is sort of refreshing.
Do you tell customers your religion? What are their reactions?
I have opened up to a lot of customers about it, mostly because my ‘money maker’ is creating what the customers think is a deep connection. When really they pay me to listen and talk to them.
I have had the odd occasion where a customer has found out, and felt like they were hurting me by having me with them in such a vulnerable situation and wish me all the best but don’t feel right to give me money to dance for them or even sit with them in lingerie. It can hit home a little too much and suddenly, I’m not a sexual fantasy anymore.
Do you find religion helps you feel more certain and moral correctness when you’re faced with challenging situations?
It does and doesn’t. You would think in the first place I wouldn’t have started stripping because of the strong morals that I had, honestly, I started the work out of financial desperation, but then came to learn it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. I have had to build a whole persona, to be able to deal, sometimes I get a little too deep in that persona and forget who I really am during the shift, which is really confronting for me. I do know how to draw the line and not question it for any amount of money.
Recently, you had an pregnancy scare. You were forced to think about abortion. What was your views on abortion and has that changed since this experience?
This was one of the views that were ill received in the change rooms. The way I explain it is that I personally don’t agree with abortion, and I won’t debate and try and fight to make my views known and received. I know that I haven’t been faced with a terrifying situation that a lot of women have, and I like to think what I would do in that scenario but I understand that you never really can know unless you’re in the thick of it.
Luckily the pregnancy scare wasn’t the be all and end all for me, even though it was with a man I had no interest in being with long term, but it was over quick enough that I didn’t have to take too much time mulling over the option of terminating that potential pregnancy.
Your family is incredible close and religious which I can imagine can be really tough since they don’t know you are a stripper. How has stripping impacted your relationship?
This is one of the main reasons I just left the industry. The thing I struggled with most wasn’t the exploitation and degradation I experienced on a regular basis. That was part of my journey and I was prepared to handle that. My honesty and integrity is very important to me and I felt like I was faking a relationship with my family because I got so good at lying. I’d had enough of that and after reconnecting with them recently, (I came out of a really bad relationship that isolated me from them) I wanted to do everything I could do get them back on a very deep and real level.
Clearly you’re struggling to balance the double life. Are you thinking of quitting?
I think I’ll leave this question as it is, instead of asking you to change it as you know what’s happened this past weekend. I struggled so much with it and I felt it was tearing me down as a person and I so desperately wanted to quit but kept finding financial reasons to stay. I had endless excuses like ‘another bill to pay’, ‘I need more money behind me before I should stop’, ‘I need to find a well-paying job before I can leave.’.
I had a pretty bad run in with management where the financial exploitation of the management was all too much. I took it as my push that I needed, packed my bags, and walked out, never to return. It’s petrifying because I don’t have the kind of back up I was hoping for, but I know it was the right choice for me.
What do you think would happen if your family and fellow church members found out you were a stripper?
It would sadden them. They wouldn’t disown me, but they would never understand why I felt the need to start and why I didn’t have more ‘respect’ for myself. I won’t even go into the ‘respect’ argument between people in the industry and the people that hate the industry. I’m in the middle of it and am not sure of what I even think at this point!
If you could do anything with your life (and money wasn’t a problem) what would you do?
Honestly what I loved about stripping was it gave me the freedom, both financially and time wise, to do and explore what I wanted.
Right now, I’m so ready to settle down. I’m getting a little clucky. As far as a job, I haven’t figured that out. I don’t want to be tied down to a 9-5. I’ve done it for years and it sucked the life out of me. As long as in my life, I’m building connection and maintaining relationships and supporting and loving people that I love, I will be fulfilled. The rest is just the small stuff.
Though, secretly, I would love to be an aerialist and perform one day. Baby steps.
Thank you Maya for your open and honest answers! By speaking out about your struggles, you help other women in similar situations. Best of luck to your future endeavours!