~I met Kjersti Bohrer last year and was immediately struck by the authenticity
and rawness of her writing. She tells her truth in a powerful, insightful voice, thus
I wanted to share her with my readers.
My Inner Chick~~~I’m continually intrigued by the choices people make in their
lives. Why would anybody make the choice to become
Stripper / Exotic Dancer?
K— First of all, thank you so much,
Kim, for giving me this opportunity to share what it was like for me with your
readers. It is truly an honor to be part
of your strong, powerful, beautiful community!
A girlfriend of mine from high
school had been planning on it for several years. I thought she was absolutely crazy. But I was a pot-smoking, party girl. My grades were so bad that college wasn’t an
option. I had no idea what I would do. I went to the club with her one night and the manager looked us up and down and told us we could make a lot of money. I saw
dollar signs and all the things I could finally buy if I had the funds. I was in.
My Inner Chick~~~Did you feel minimized & diminished when you took off your
clothing, or did you feel validated & powerful?
(That’s the short answer. You can
use just that! Or here is a more
I often gave everything I had to
someone during a dance because I could feel their loneliness, shyness, need for
affection. As women we are in tune with
these things. I overlooked bad breath
and body odor, old men slipping their tongues in my ears, and arrogant guys
trying to rub against my body. I showed
them affection, smiled, was forgiving.
Afterward some of them would grab their crotches, look at me with
disgust, and say, “That’s it?” I saw in
their eyes that I was just an inanimate hole.
It is impossible to separate the body from the spirit so there was no
way to avoid feeling minimized with guys like that.
Validated or powerful? Absolutely.
I worked in a totally nude club.
I learned to be courageous in my body, to embrace the sexiness that lives
within me. At times, I felt amazingly
My Inner Chick~~~What are 5 adjectives that come to mind when you think of the
men who gawked and drooled while you pole danced?
Horny. Conceited. Normal. Entertained.
My Inner Chick~~~Did you build relationships with the other
Strippers? Did you have anything in common with them besides
the obvious? Are you still in touch?
K—It takes time to build relationships in a strip club.
Once I became comfortable seeing the other dancers naked, hearing them use
vulgar language for everything under the sun, I realized we were all just
regular girls with harsh exteriors. We took care of each other. We were the only people who understood
us. I only hung out with a few dancers outside the club. We’d go see live shows and eat chicken wings
with ranch dressing. We did what most girls did when they weren’t at work.
did when they weren’t at work.
I haven’t talked to any of them in over 10 years.
I don’t know where they are now.
I wonder, I wish them well, but I won’t track them down.
My Inner Chick~~~How has your past transformed you into who you
are at the moment?
K— I didn’t allow myself to feel my true feelings
in the moment, maybe at all, when I was a stripper. I was always acting,
pretending, ignoring myself, to make others happy. Today I make a very conscious effort to FEEL
whatever my true feelings are in the moment. I still struggle with pleasing
others, until I realize I’m doing it, then I take a step back and listen to
My Inner Chick~~~What are 5 images that come to mind when you think of that past
K—The waxy build up on my fingers after counting my
money. Cinnamon gum. Black lights and pounding base music. The freedom while dancing as
sexy as I could possibly be.
My Inner Chick~~~Are you ashamed of your former life as a Stripper or have you
made peace with it, embraced it?
still feel ashamed. While it isn’t something I discuss over hamburgers with my in-laws, I have found ways to share
my story so it’s not balled up into a fearful secret. Talking about it, breaking my silence, has
allowed me to let go of the stereotypes I held over my own head. I now see that I was a lost, lonely, greedy,
curious girl without any direction.
I can love that girl now and give her tools to combat that shame. But the shame hasn’t completely gone
My Inner Chick~~~Someday will you tell your children about what you did for a
K— Oh Kim.
Kim, Kim, Kim. Someday. When they are 60 and changing my
diapers. Honestly, it’s part of the reason I have been writing and sharing it.
So I have the words to speak honestly with them. I just pray that we will always have an open
relationship where they can ask me anything.
My Inner Chick~~~Did you
suddenly have an epiphany about the life you were living? For
example, did wake up one morning and say “Why am I doing
this?” I mean, how did you get from over there to over here?
K—I was tripping
on mushrooms, a really bad trip that I didn’t think I’d ever come out of. As I was coming down I was thinking, “When I
wake up from this, will I still be a stripper?”
And then I thought, “Oh my God, I’m a stripper! Is that what I want to wake up to? How did this happen? Can I change this?” I kept thinking that overandoverandover again. I realized that I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Two weeks later I stopped. I started college. Eventually, I got sober. Graduated with honors. Met my husband, had a daughter, and started
writing so I could figure out all my baggage, all my shit, so I wouldn’t unknowingly pass all my insecurities and bad habits onto my children.
My Inner Chick~~~Your new play by is called “ Dirty Girls Come Clean ” What does that title mean? What has this experience meant to you?
K— The play is a collaboration of monologues and
scenes written by local artists.
Performances included the story of Eve, a woman with Alzheimer’s, a
little girl’s coming of age, and my story about a man who I let put dollar
bills into my bra and fondle me at the club.
I was told by the manager to let it happen (in so many words). I was embarrassed, afraid, and it never
occurred to me to stand up for myself.
I didn’t know how.
Until opening night, none of my
new “mom” friends had a clue that I was a stripper. I was afraid they would question
my reliability as a parent and respect for women. But this was my story. I wanted to tell it to break my silence and
to help others who had been violated in some way to feel less alone. Most people can relate to this but we don’t
talk about it.
And that creates shame and fear. My friends were all
overwhelmingly supportive which encouraged me to continue telling my story and
motivate others to own their past and live their truth.
My Inner Chick~~~If you could say one thing to women reading
this, what would you say to them?
K—It takes a lot
of courage to stand in your truth.
No matter what your past or present situation.
As women, we are nurturers, but we have to honor our own feelings as
well. And forgive each other when we
don’t and end up making stupid decision.
My Inner Chick~~~If you could describe your life NOW, what would you say?
K—After 10 years of sobriety, and the support of a loving
husband, family, and friends, I am living an unassuming and fabulously “normal”
life. I taught social justice theatre for a while but now I am a stay at home mom of two. I pray, write, perform, power lift, and
search and search and search to find ways to uncover and share my truth.
Most recently, Jesus found His way into my anxious heart. He is rocking my world with overwhelming love and guidance. I don’t know how my life
went from being so lonely to being so unbelievably beautiful. But, by the grace of God….it is.
~~~~~Dear Reader, is there anything in your past that you have been ashamed of? Did you become EMPOWERED because of where you have been?
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Kjersti Bohrer Blog Page.