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My mom was a stripper most of my life. And no, I don't mean she stripped paint off walls. She was the kind of stripper who took her clothes off for money, swung around a pole, and had tassels hanging from her knockers.
Growing up as a stripper’s daughter was not always easy. When my mom chose her stage name she chose my middle name, which is Savannah. To make matters worse, my aunt was a stripper as well, and she used my first name as her stage name. So every night, Starla and Savannah drove to work together and gave lap dances in my name.
My parents divorced when I was only 2 years old. My dad was in the Air Force and was stationed in Turkey when my mom decided to leave him there. She grew tired of living in a house in the middle of a sheep farm and having scorpions climb up her toilet. That life was not for her, she decided, so she took me and moved back to Alabama where she started her “dancing” career.
When I was about 8 years old, it was court-ordered for me to go visit my dad for the summer months where he had ended up stationed in California. My mom did not like the idea of me being so far away, so she and my step-father delivered me to California themselves and stayed in a nearby hotel the whole summer.
I often wondered how they could afford to stay in a hotel, eat out every night, and not work. I asked my mother once where they were working while I visited my dad and she told me she was hired as a model to pose in a clothing catalog. I never saw the catalog but was shown a headshot. I was very happy for her to be doing something besides stripping.
At the age of 11 and back in Alabama, my friend Christi came over to my house one day. I did not have many friends that were allowed to come over; most of my friends' parents, for some reason, were not comfortable with my mom being a stripper and allowing their child to be in her house. I guess they assumed she brought her work home with her. But Christi was a neighbor for a long time, and she was always visiting. This one particular evening my friend was looking for a shirt to borrow in my mother’s closet and found a magazine instead.
“Whoa, your parents have a Hustler magazine in here,” she said.
Despite my mother's occupation, I was a pretty conservative child. I never dressed immodestly or looked at any obscene pictures or movies. I was surprised at Christi's discovery and completely embarrassed that my parents had this magazine in their closet. I could feel my face turning red, and I pleaded with my friend to just put the magazine back in the closet.
But she started flipping through it, of course.
Christi had three brothers at home, so I’m sure this wasn’t her first time looking at a pornographic magazine. She turned page after page with no signs of embarrassment and kept trying to show me photos. I refused to look at them. I was only 11! I thought Seventeen magazine was a little racy at the time, so I knew this magazine was definitely not for me.
As she continued to flip through the pages, I did not know I could get more embarrassed, but then I heard her say, “Oh my gosh! Your mom is in here!”
At first I didn’t believe her. I thought it was just a ploy to get me to look at the magazine. She persisted, and I finally looked.
There she was, all spread-eagle by a pool. And it wasn’t just one picture — it was several pages of pictures. I was horrified!
You would think that my friend simply finding a Hustler magazine in my parents' room would be the height of my embarrassment for the day, but imagine the look on my face when I found out my mother was in that magazine in some very risqué positions.
I immediately looked for and found my mother — I needed her explain what I'd just seen.
She explained to me matter-of-factly that she had modeled for Hustler while we were in California — not for a clothing catalog, as she had said when I asked her how she was making money that summer three years earlier. She then excitedly told me how she got to meet Larry Flynt.
I guess it could have been worse. At least she went by the name Tiffany in the magazine, and not Savannah or Starla.