Don’t I know you? (excerpt)

tmg-gift_guide_variable_2xAs the fourth and final song faded and the DJ worked the crowd for applause, I made my way off the center stage. The balls of my feet were throbbing and I couldn’t wait to release my toes. Beads of sweat tickled the small of my back and my cocaine-fueled heart thumping inside my chest served as a reminder I was alive.

As soon as I reached the edge of the stage I kicked off my stilettos and prepared for my final set in the shower, complete with jet-stream runway.

Still naked from performing, I grabbed the bills and garters from each thigh, threw them in a ball on the floor and covered the stash with my dress. After exchanging non-verbal assurances that my loot was safely guarded by my favorite bouncer, Tuli,  I stepped in the shower and turned on the water inside the Plexiglass stall.

Waving a smile to the audience, I began to sponge up with the bottle of Prell shampoo that was provided by management. Prell gave this cool neon green glow under the black lights. We all looked like The Hulk but with better hair, slimmer waists, bigger tits and hairless vaginas.

The shower stage always drew in a big  crowd. A nude chick, sudsing up with wet hair, strutting up and down a jet stream runway – what’s not to love?

Deana followed my set and I loved her taste in music, which meant I’d have a ball performing my wet-n-wild show while she worked the center of the room. I threw her a smile from my corner, nodding in appreciation as Faith No More vibrated through the overhead speakers. We both mouthed the words to the crowd:

“You want it all, but you can’t have it… It’s in your face, but you can’t grab it!”

Teasing customers was a blast – even more so when the music was rad.

Receiving tips in the shower was different from collecting them on the main (dry) stage. Customers loved slapping the bills on our wet bodies. Never one to disappoint, I always bent over standing on the tips of my toes and my ass in the air, allowing spanks with every dollar bill. The guys took such pleasure in sneaking a ‘touch’; I took pleasure in their cash. Some girls hated the spank-tips but I didn’t mind. As long as they stayed on my ass and didn’t get south of the border, I was cool.

As the final song began my ass-slappers started to thin out leaving me alone to survey the audience. My hips swayed to Fire Woman, by The Cult; another ass-kicking Deana choice. I was all smiles in tune with the guitar riffs until my eyes landed on a familiar face from high school walking through the red velvet curtains.

Mutherfucker.

My eyes bolted off the runway to the dressing room and I thought of running; but my body was frozen seeking comfort in the pockets of my breath. The cigarette smoke-filled air served equal parts drama and suspense and he walked straight toward me as soon as he saw who I was. Pretending not to see him, I spun around whipping my water-soaked hair like I was a back up dancer in MTV’s Beach House.

My world was suddenly in slow motion. The butterflies inside my belly were choking on the reality of his presence.

“Hey, hey… !” I knew he was talking to me but kept dancing.

“I know you. Christine, right?” He pushed.

Christine? Nobody called me that name. Nobody even knew me as her. My stage name was Stephanie; Christine was buried in the chaos that was my life.

Realizing he wasn’t going to stop, I replied with the same volume as the thumping in my chest and the base vibrating the walls.

“Nope. My name is Stephanie.” My voice was shaking and my knees struggled to support me.

“No, it’s Christine. I know you.” His smirk was the same as I remembered.

“Wrong girl.” I said without blinking. Suddenly I wished I really was The Hulk.

“No, you went to Kaiser High School!” He actually smiled.

With unabashed purpose I lowered by body leveling to his eyes. I was still trembling but there was no way he was going to win. Not this time.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. My name is Stephanie. You got the wrong girl.” I looked him square in the face, determined to take back that night seven years ago when I was a 13 year old girl away at camp on the beach.

He shook his head and threw me a smirk. He knew I was full of shit. And I knew that he knew.

As I straightened up and walked away the DJ began to speak and I was saved. I grabbed my towel from the floor, leaving my cash, shoes and dress on the stage. I bolted past him through the crowd to the dressing room.  He tried to block me but I navigated my ass and kept walking.

In the safety of the space with the other girls getting ready for their set, I pulled a breath from the well of my past and began to cry. My body was trembling and I clutched on to my friend Alison, who was lining her lips in front of the mirror. I couldn’t speak.

“What, honey? What is it?” Alison held me close and rubbed my back.

Still, no words.

“Did someone try to touch you?” Her tone was firm, and I could tell she was ready to kick someone’s ass.

Shaking my head no, I opened my locker and pulled out my purse. I couldn’t stop panting.

“Holy shit, Stephanie, what the fuck happened?” She went from pissed to worried.

I dumped some blow on the dressing room counter and snorted.

Alison kept rubbing my back.

“It’s okay sweetie.” Her voice shifted to maternal.

Sitting naked on the stool with my towel draped around my hips, I wiped tears from my face and found the words.

“I saw him.” My breath was heavy.

“Who?” She offered me a cocktail napkin as tissue.

“The motherfucker who raped me.”

 

Christine Macdonald

Interview

Here is my interview with the National Association of Memoir Writers.

 

* * *

An Interview with Christine About Her Memoir Writing Journey So Far

NAMW: Tell us what you want to write about, or what you are working on.

Christine: I’m currently working on a memoir about my life as an exotic dancer in my hometown of Waikiki from 1987 to 1996.

Most people think of coconuts and surfboards when thinking of Hawaii. My book takes you past the palm trees, behind the paradise curtain to a grittier type of lifestyle full of drugs, sex and tons of rock and roll. Also, I have a sense humor about my story so there are tongue-in-cheek moments weaved throughout the pages, which provide a delicate balance of comedy in the face of adversity.

The common thread of my manuscript is how far people will go to find their self-worth, and that feeling beautiful really does come from within. Although I went to extremes, what I took from my experiences and discoveries are universal.

NAMW: If you could imagine the title of your story—what would it be?

Christine: I obsessed for months about the title of my manuscript and finally came up with Pour Some Sugar On Me: Tales from an Ex-Stripper. The title came about when I was driving my car one afternoon and heard a familiar song on the radio. The music transported me instantly. I turned up the volume and sang my heart out in traffic. People next to me on the road must have thought I was completely insane, which I embraced fully with every air guitar and fist pump maneuver from the driver’s seat. I knew anything that struck such a chord (pardon the pun) would be a great title for the book.

NAMW: What helps you to get your writing done—for instance—a writing schedule, taking a class, reading?

Christine: I work full-time, so weekends and evenings are prime real estate for my butt to be planted at my writing desk.

I attended my first writer’s conference last month and found the environment and teachings invaluable. Conference calls, such as the ones NAMW provides have proven to be motivating and thought provoking and I always feel really pumped up after a call.

When I feel blocked, I don’t fight it. I take a step back, pick up a memoir and start reading. Losing myself in someone else’s story always helps me find a way back to mine. I find myself thinking: wow, they really have a story – wait a minute, so do I – and I start typing again.

NAMW: What are your five favorite books—okay, you can make it a little longer if you need to.

Christine: I know you will find this shocking, but I love a great memoir. Given my history, I am drawn to personal stories of triumph in the shadows of addiction and family dysfunction. Add to that my adoration for self-deprecating humor and sarcasm and you have a Carrie Fisher fan through and through. Wishful Drinking is one of my favorites, and I was thrilled to learn this memoir will soon be the basis for an HBO television special.

Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman had me flipping back to the first page as soon as I reached the end. This is a book that greeted me by surprise like a set of finger-laced hands whispering from behind saying, “Guess who?” Reading this story was a true, poetic experience.

Another book that resonates with me is Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. There were so many “me too” moments when reading, it was hard to put down. Here is a woman who knows the road to self-worth and possesses the type of writing talent that leaves me in awe. 

Running With Scissors (Augusten Burroughs) is another book that really spoke to me. Learning of this survival story helped me see that even the most bizarre childhoods can be overcome. Augusten’s ability to paint vivid scenes with his words intimidates and inspires me to the point of reckless writing abandon. I find my best scene-structure is born from attending The School of Augusten.

My list would not be complete without mentioning Don’t Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother-Daughter Abandonment by Linda Joy Myers. I learned so much about myself through reading her story. I recommend this book to anyone in search of a memoir that is not only heartfelt, but moves you to the point of tears. Tears traveled down the curve of my lip; a subconscious smile in knowing it is indeed possible to survive personal abandonment.

NAMW: Is there anyone who does not want you to write your memoir? Why not?

Christine: I wouldn’t say she doesn’t want me to write my story, but I don’t think my mother understands my need to share it. She would much rather I move on from my past without ever looking back. I try and explain to her that in order to do this, I must revisit the wounds to finally heal them without the use of drugs or stripping. The beauty of my story is how far I have come since my stripping years. I hope anyone reading my book, who thinks they are stuck in a similar world, will find that inner-voice inside them like I did.

NAMW: Talk about who the audience is for your memoir. Be brief and concise.

Christine: Anyone who has ever felt marginalized by circumstance, struggled with feeling less-than, has a taste for the wild side, sexual adventure, or is simply curious about life as a stripper is the ideal audience for my memoir.

NAMW: What is the most significant turning point in your life?

Christine: I write about this in my book. The second I stepped on the plane and moved off the island is by far the most significant point in my 41 years. I started over with very little money, two suitcases and a dream of a normal life. It sounds simple and a bit corny, but when you think about happiness and peace of mind, isn’t that what we all aim for?

Christine Macdonald

Breast Intentions

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Not that you need more proof I was a total Stripper Cliché, I am here to tell you, I had breast implants.

It’s been a few years since I had the bookends removed, but I still think of those salt-water funbags from time to time. I am devoting a whole chapter in my book to the experience (Breast Implants, the early years).

As I write my chapter, I thought it was fitting to share one of my first posts here.

This is a true story.

In my late twenties and new in town, I’m completing the obligatory first-timers paperwork in a doctor’s office. I circle yes or no to the usual questions, turn in the clipboard and return to my seat.

After a minute or so, I am asked to approach the reception desk.
I circled ‘yes’ after “Have you ever had implants?” adding, “1990-2003” on the paper. I wish words could describe the looks I received. Scrub Divas wanted answers.

With the shrug of my shoulders and a pat on my back for honesty, I said, “the novelty wore off and I was pretty much done with them”.

I suddenly witness simultaneous head-tilt-with-a-smile faces on four soccer-mommyesque medical assistants.

I can’t remember what happened next, but eventually it was concluded that I misunderstood the question and we all shared a room full of laughter.

The doctor I was visiting was a dentist.

 

Christine Macdonald