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House of Pain
By Dave Franco

Written by Dee (name witheld) with Dave Franco

How much I didn’t see and how unaware I was of my surroundings is, as I look back, remarkable. I mean, the fact that I went to audition to be a stripper at The Body Shop and ended up walking into the club next door by mistake—and didn’t notice—might give you some idea. 

I was initially there to support my girlfriend’s quest to dance onstage, but when she needed a little extra courage and asked if I would audition with her, I said, “Sure.” And that was that.

When I got the you-got-the-job phone call from the club, I was a little surprised at who was calling, but that was okay with me. Taking off my clothes is taking off my clothes no matter where I did it.

As I got up on stage in front of all those men for the first time, I was scared to death. But it didn’t take long for a change to occur. I began to feel rather empowered. When I was dancing, every mouth was agape and every eye peeled open. The feeling of holding a room in the palm of your hand like that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Better yet, I walked away that night with close to a thousand bucks.

For somebody who was as broke as I was, the feeling was incredible. 

And so, I pranced and flirted and worked the crowd mercilessly, enticing money from the patrons' pockets like a snake charmer plays cobras from their baskets. I knew it was wrong. There was no question about it. But I had been raised to be a good girl and was resolute that I could and would stay away from the seedier sides of the business, whatever they may be. And there were lines to cross everywhere.

Over time, however, the feeling of empowerment began to wear off bit by bit—and as it did, I found myself starting to feel like a piece of meat more and more. And suddenly alcohol began to make the shifts go by a little easier and faster. It started off as a little here and there, but soon developed into a need where I had to drink to get through the night, even requiring that I put on safeguards so that I’d be sober enough to get myself home.

When my final day came, the day I finally walked out of there for the last time, nothing about it was appealing anymore. Not the cute costumes, or the attention, or the money, or the men telling me that I was beautiful. It all just dropped off like a plate over the edge of the table. There was nothing there for me anymore. 

I walked out and never looked back.

But here’s the thing. As I think back on all the lovely girls I worked with, one thing sticks out at me. We were all medicating to do what we did—every last one. From alcohol to some pretty serious narcotics, each girl was trying to numb the pain; the pain of a deeply troubled past—abuse, abandonment and the like—that somehow shaped you into a young lady who would bare it all in front of strangers to make a buck. 

That’s who works there. I didn’t notice it at first. But it‘s girls in pain, girls running from their pain, and girls who, more than likely, will never outrun their pain. Add to that a room full of men who have been duped into believing that we can satisfy them in some way, and the whole thing is a painful hoax. 

The Body Shop is gone. Rock Church would like to use the building as a center of hope and healing. My guess is that it will be such a drastic transformation to the corner of Rosecrans and Riley Street, that it will draw the attention of everyone—maybe even some of the ladies who worked there, and offer them the hope, love, freedom, and security of knowing Jesus—exactly what their hearts long for.