Ten years ago, I participated in the Miss Nude Oregon (now called Miss Exotic Oregon) contest and managed to take home 1st runner up. It was a lot of fun putting together the shows, creating the costumes, walking onto the stage in a packed house, and walking away with a trophy in what I assumed was a rigged contest. I’m sure the grand prize was going to a dancer who was currently working at the club that sponsored the contest, and knew that 1st runner up would be the best I could possibly get as a visiting dancer.
When I got 1st runner up in Miss Nude Oregon 2004, it was my proudest professional moment. It still is. Just imagine answering that question honestly in a job interview…
“Well, Bob, since you asked what I feel was my greatest professional accomplishment, I’ll have to go with getting 1st runner up in the Miss Nude Oregon Pageant in 2004. I hand crafted my costumes, edited my own music, created a fan base and a following for the event. I brought my A game to the show. I entertained and delighted the audience. Not only did I beat out dozens of other performers, I was currently employed at a competing club. A club, which I should add, had a rivalry to the hosting venue that was well known in the industry.
“I managed all of this while touring strip clubs in the western US. I had a booking just 24 hours after the event in Las Vegas, NV and managed to make my booking on time and with enthusiasm.”
I’m sure that would go over well for an Administrative Assistant position, hehe.
I lived in Springfield, Oregon at the time, so there was no way I could work regularly at the Portland area club who owned the contest. I didn’t care. I wanted the experience of competing with other women in my industry and the experience of having carte blanche to create an interesting show. Having been a performer in revue shows in the past, I was perfectly prepared to bring a strip show that can wow the audience. It was quite the rush!
It wasn’t long after I competed in Miss Nude Oregon 2004 that I began experiencing an epic level of burnout as a Stripper. By 2006, I just couldn’t make myself go into work anymore. The thought of dealing with one more drunk who wants to know what he’s going to get for his money before laying that $1 on the stage was enough for me to just pack my shit and go home. I’d had it. The years of being verbally picked apart for my appearance, my attitude, my style, and basically my very essence was enough to hang up the platform shoes permanently.
My last club shift was New Years Eve, 2006/07. I hadn’t planned things that way. In fact I was going to “take a break” and then come back to dancing in a couple of weeks. I had a day job at that point and didn’t need the money from dancing to support myself any longer. Weeks turned into months. By New Years Eve 2007/08 I had made a mental note that a year had passed since I’d danced. I shrugged and decided that it may be time to get rid of all my dance gear.
I packed up boxes of costumes and shoes and rhinestone jewelry. I saved a few favorite items and sold the rest on eBay. And that was the end of my career as Paris Love.
That first year away from dancing I slogged through a debilitating depression. My job allowed me to work at home using my phone and computer, so there was no reason to ever leave the house. My doctor prescribed meds, but they did less than nothing. In fact, I became a recluse while medicated. I switched to marijuana instead of Prozac, and was a bit more functional.
Life went on. I hated the town I lived in, and due to the real estate bubble I was unable to sell my house and move. Eventually the house sold and I moved to Portland in 2012.
I had a job, but I hated it. I quit without lining up other options. This lead me back to the exotic dancing industry when my money ran out. I could hardly believe that I was returning to the stage in my 40’s!
I had no problem getting hired at the first club I applied for. I worked the rest of the shift and went home with more money than I made in a week at my old job. Alrighty then. Back to being a stripper it shall be!
So here I am with one last chance at this contest. I was assured by the organizer that this contest is not rigged. That clubs or dancers can’t buy 1st place. Not that I care. I’m just excited to bring an artistic esthetic to the stage. Most people would argue that stripping isn’t an art. That it has no social value. That it does nothing for the culture.
I disagree. My goal is to entertain as well as produce an emotional response in my audience. If that isn’t art, I don’t know what is.
Tonight I will do a test run of my makeup style. I will be wearing makeup over my entire body, mostly consisting of glitter.
None of this is cheap. I’m already $100’s of dollars into this contest, and still have a ways to go before I walk into the club.
In 4 days, I will walk onto the stage at Mystic in NE Portland, and see if I have what it takes. It was only 3 days ago that I decided to do this contest. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to put a feature show together to really clarify my purpose in my mind. I’m running my ass off to fabric stores and stripper stores. Then it is off to the tanning salon, the nail salon and finally the hair salon on the day of the contest. I’m working on my pole and choreography tonight at a local pole dance studio. I taught myself how to create a passable music mix with GarageBand. While learning the software, I also found I have quite the creative streak for swearing loudly while tossing headphones across the room.
I will be 45 years old before the finale of Miss Exotic Oregon 2015. This is likely my last chance at this title. Maybe it is finally time to start work on my memoirs. It’s been a helluva ride!