I used to be a rock star.
I didn’t tour the world belting my heart out in stadiums, but I worked the pole to the tunes of Guns and Roses and Bon Jovi for the better part of a decade and was treated just as well.
In 1990s Waikiki, strippers were golden. There were no lines to wait in, no cover charges to pay, just champagne kisses and caviar dreams waiting for us to party on the other side of the velvet rope. And party we did.
The glamour drug was cocaine. I always had a bump or two in my purse and would never turn down a trip to the ladies bathroom from a fellow dancer. “Wanna go to the bathroom?” was really code for “Come do a line of coke with me.” When not lounging on the couches, gabbing away in the VIP room of our favorite club, we were always flocking to the stalls.
There were nights spent snorting lines of coke off swank bars afterhours, with famous actors and rock stars in tow. It was common to see girls making out with one another and even more so to see mountains of cocaine in the room.
One night at work, I got to chatting with Teresa, a stunning dirty blonde with sun kissed freckles and green eyes. She was in town on hiatus after touring for Australian Playboy. I was in awe of her beauty.
Always smiling and happy to be at work, Teresa was even more so this time. I sat next to her at the bar as we waited to be called for our set.
“You’re so beautiful.” She swayed to the music, smiling at me.
“Thanks T, you are too!” I was flattered and knew she was high.
“Do that Frank Sinatra thing.” She begged.
One night, long after the clubs were closed, and back in my apartment at six in the morning, Teresa and I were still partying. We played music, and I performed a little one woman show to Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon complete with dance moves. She loved it.
I started to wonder if she was on coke, or something else. She seemed way to mellow; less agitated than if she was high on blow.
“Maybe later.” I smiled and took a sip of my drink.
She leaned in to kiss me and whispered in my ear.
“Do you want some?” she purred, melting with the music.
“Coke?” I pulled back, kissing her on the cheek.
“No, this is H, love. I just snorted some.”
Heroin. Holy shit. I suddenly broke from our magical aurora and took a step back.
“No, hon, that’s okay.” Picking up my drink, sipping and staring in to her eyes, I continued. “I’m up soon.” And I walked away. I was scared shitless.
Heroin was something we learned about in school. It meant dirty needles and strung out homeless people. I had no idea you could snort it, or that people like Teresa – a beautiful model even did it.
Back in the dressing room, I wondered how many other girls were snorting heroin instead of coke. Was this the new, designer drug? Was I considered old school with my coke?
I had one song left before my set. I took my purse, waited my turn for the bathroom stall and placed my coke on the back of the toilet. I chopped each grain methodically but couldn’t stop thinking about Teresa. Rolling up a dollar bill, I placed it under my nose, leaned down and snorted.
How could she do heroin?
I snorted again.
That shit will kill you.
It wasn’t until years later I realized the hypocrisy of it all.
Now, at 42, I wonder about t all those girls I partied with, specifically Teresa. Was she able to get out of the party scene? Was she still as beautiful?
I cleaned up my act long ago in my 30s and chose a new life for myself away from velvet ropes and VIP clubs. But I will never forget the time when I thought I knew it all – high on coke, looking down at people who did heroin. Now, I wrap myself in the comic irony of it all, like a blanket of gratitude and comfort.