From Showgirl to Stripper or What I forgot to mention in my Tedx Talk

susan purple with pole top.jpg

It took a lot of courage for me to stand on stage in my recent Tedx talk and proclaim to be a former stripper. In that Talk I illuminated why I decided to become a stripper at thirty four, but it wasn’t until I read this article in the Washington Post, that I remembered something I wrote about in my memoir, that of being called a “showgirl” initially. Showgirls, in my mind, were beautiful and classy, at least in the eyes of many as written about and espoused here in this article, and the very first Gentleman’s Club I worked in thought so too.

As excerpted from my memoir, From Sex Appeal to Self Appeal:

“I got the San Francisco Chronicle and searched the Help Wanted Ads. A few places advertised “showgirls needed, no experience necessary.”

Crystal chandeliers hung high above customers in suits who occupied white-linen draped tables. Women wearing evening gowns and cocktail dresses were everywhere, their faces and jewelry twinkling with reflected lights. The activity and rich details of the surroundings were enthralling.”


Every night I worked was like playing dress up and I felt glamorous within the club. I’d been wanting to be beautiful, and this I did mention in the talk, for most of my life. I even wore a dress to be the Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding that I thought befitting a Las Vegas Showgirl complete with feathers, years before I went into that Gentleman’s Club.

“Stripper,” was a word it took me many years to embrace because of the shame I’d felt for working as one, and what I thought the word connoted, but I’ve grown beyond the stereotype. The only way I was able to get on the Tedx stage and proclaim I’d been one, no matter what the club wanted us to believe, was because I’d owned the word.

If you have shame about your past, what you’ve done or who you are, write and talk about it with accepting like-minded people. You will learn and grown significantly from your experience, feel beautiful whether you’re in feathers or not, and be liberated. Then you will be truly empowered and you may forget, like I did, the more acceptable story you’d been led to believe or had to tell yourself. You will own your story and be authentic.