At the beginning of 2016 I began work on what would become Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present, the first book in the Paid To Dance series.
It was an idea that I had entertained for a number of years beforehand, but now with the completion of the writing of my debut novel, The Wilted Rose, I was ready to move on to this new project.
I had started scribbling my early ideas and notes several years earlier. Originally, what is now the first and second book in the series were going to be one book, with the true stories of dancers featured in what is now Stripping Past & Present, inserted at the beginning of each chapter of Asha’s Story. However, at some point I decided to keep those stories and Asha’s Story separate.
At the beginning I had the contacts of forty dancers, but knew this would be far too many. As unique as each story would be, they would start to all sound the same. It would be simply overwhelming for the reader, who would likely lose interest anyway. So I narrowed it down to twenty. Still, as I compiled them into the manuscript, I felt it was still too many, and narrowed the collection further down to just fourteen.
For Part One of the book I conducted extensive research into the history of exotic dance, and discovered that exotic entertainment, in some form or another, had existed in cultures around the world as far back as Paleolithic times. From bellydancing in Ancient Greece and India, to the can-can dancers of the Moulin Rouge, tableaux vivants of the Windmill Theatre, American Showgirls and the Golden Age of Burlesque, and the Geishas of Japan, I learned that striptease had been prevalent around the world throughout the Ages, providing a pathway to financial independence for women.
For Part Two, modern day women share their candid stories of working in gentleman’s clubs in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, paying their way through university, funding world travel and even escaping homelessness and crime. While the stories share many similarities, each is so very different in so many ways, and it was truly fascinating for me to read the variety of backgrounds from which these women had come from, and the personal struggles they had overcome.
In Part Three, parents and partners offer intriguing perspectives of their loved one’s chosen occupation, and house staff share their experiences overseeing the operations of a real gentleman’s club.
I decided to include these contributions in particular because I wanted to create in the book a well-rounded insight into the strip club industry. I wanted to represent the various view points, from th people who work on it, to the people who consume from it, and give everyone who is involved in this industry a voice to share their perspectives. I was determined not to allow my own bias and opinions to influence the story; I simply wanted to provide the insights and the facts, and allow the readers to make up their own minds about how they felt about strippers and strip clubs.
I had originally planned to publish Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present on August 20, 2016, however in late June I found out I had been selected to appear at the Self Published Marquee at the Byron Writer’s Festival in Byron Bay on August 5th. This was a wonderful opportunity offered by the festival for independent authors to present their books at a writer’s festival. So the publishing schedule was moved up two weeks, and the month of July was a race to have the book finalised and copies printed and delivered in time!
On Sunday August 5th, I had a two hour session at the festival, where I was provided a table to display all of my books and promotional material. I had all of my books for sale, and Paid To Dance: Stripping Past & Present was also available to buy at the festival bookstore!
I was even given the opportunity to be interviewed on stage!
In Asha’s Story Parts I & II I had the opportunity to delve further into the experience of the dancer by focusing on the story of one dancer in particular. The character of Asha and her experiences are intended to encapsulate and represent those of many dancers, and her experiences were also an opportunity for me to include some of the stories and events from the dancers stories I could not fit into Stripping Past & Present.
Creating the Paid To Dance series has indeed been an eye-opening experience. Prior to announcing this new series and it’s first book, I was extremely nervous about how it would be received. It made me think: knowing what people know about their friends/family members/partners/work colleagues, how would people’s views change if they found out someone they knew had worked as a stripper? Would this one thing completely change their perspective of the person they already knew so well?
The feedback I have received about the Paid To Dance series has been nothing short of fascinating. Many were surprised to learn that dancers don’t earn an hourly wage, rather earn a percentage of tips and private dances. Others were taken back by the motivations behind the dancers, somewhat disheartened to realise that the dancers they had encountered themselves weren’t interested in them, despite their persuasive personas. It was just about the money all along.
In my next post, I will explore in more depth the history of exotic dance in cultures around the world. From old Hollywood glamour to classic pin-up charm, from sassy string bikinis to flowing evening dresses, every dancer has a unique way of expressing herself. The job is always challenging, often rewarding, and not one night is ever the same. As we delve into this fascinating collection of stories, let’s first look at the origins of exotic dance, and where it all began.
The Paid To Dance series is now available WORLDWIDE in paperback and Kindle eBook.
Paid To Dance: Asha’s Story Part Two is AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER in paperback and Kindle eBook for release WORLDWIDE on July 20th, 2018.