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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stripped Down: A Naked Memoir by Stacey Keith πŸ’• Guest Post, Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Autobiography)

STRIPPED DOWN: A Naked Memoir is a look back at a surreal world kept carefully hidden from public view. This chronicle of life in the skin trade follows the meteoric rise of Stacey Keith, a girl scarcely out of her teens whose eye-popping assets launch her from wet T-shirt contests to the catwalks of Houston, strip bar capital of the world.

Almost overnight, she is discovered by a famous porn star, who Svengalis her onto the pages of Playboy, Penthouse, and dozens of other men’s magazines. While strutting her stuff onstage and across the country, Stacey makes the fateful decision to head to Hollywood. She’s got everything a girl could want: fame, attention, endless piles of cash...but no idea what awaits her.

With Internet porn overtaking men’s magazines, everyone from her Mafia-boss road manager to her smarmy talent agent pressures Stacey to do more than just flash her flesh. Uber-boob filmmaker Russ Meyer verbally abuses her; rocker Don Henley tries to use her. Yet through it all, from the warped misogyny of Playboy to the S&M dungeons of the Pacific Palisades, Stacey’s dark, self-deprecating humor will leave you laughing, crying and rooting for her at every step of the way.

Why Stripping Is The Loneliest Gig Ever

Stripping is a little bit like being famous. Everyone wants a piece of you and you have no idea who your real friends are.
This is especially tough on women (men, too, I imagine) who value the intimacy of real friendship. And it’s hell on relationships. Not many men relish the idea of their wives or girlfriends grinding away in the champagne room, even if it is “just business.”
This is one of a million reasons why strippers are notorious for bottom feeding when it comes to boyfriends. Most guys pretty much have to be stoned 24/7 to achieve any state of Zen about it.
Some strippers don’t care in the slightest. Or maybe they just do a good job of not seeming to. “Friends” are the people you get wasted with, on whose couches you sleep on when you have a fight with your slacker boyfriend.
But even they, I suspect, experience the occasional sober moment when they look out over the wasteland of their lives and feel pangs of loneliness. In the end, it’s only you up there under the hot blinding lights of the stage, waging war with your insecurities, hoping you look fuckable enough to go home with the rent money.
Stripping may appear to be about the Benjamins, but narcissism is its real currency. Every dollar you get is an affirmation of your beauty and desirability. It’s the smack every dancer mainlines, the thing that also keeps her mojo from doing a face-plant. But there’s always a wound, a big pothole-sized wound, that you’re trying to fill.
Somewhere in life you came up short, and it made you reel.
Not now though. Not tonight. The music is pounding, and the dark lovely smell of male lust oozes thickly over the tables and chairs and the stage, all around you, and you keep trying to catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirrors so you can see what they see, so you can make sure you don’t do anything to dispel the illusion of your fuckability. They don’t see the you that you know — the one doubled over with menstrual cramps or who zones out for days at a time watching re-runs in the same rancid tracksuit.
Politely, you also do a convincing job of hiding that you know what they’re all about. You pretend not to notice their desperate yearning or their vampirish fascination with your youth.
The young are too busy comparing themselves to others to even know what they have. They live in a constant state of paranoia and despair.
Later, you will go to an all-night diner with a few dancers, and you will be aware of your collective separateness from the other people who eat there. You look different, dress different. You aren’t afraid.
But you’re still subtly competing with each other. There are still potholes to be filled. It’s a sixth sense you’ve honed like a blade — this guy thinks I’m hot. I can feel it. That guy thinks I’m hot. I can feel it. You look in people’s faces just to find a reflection of your own. You see yourself according to what they see.
It causes problems with your codependent boyfriend. Why isn’t he fortifying your insatiable appetite for approval? You might even point this out to him one night, but most of the time you draw a secret strike on your inner chalkboard and keep feeding the monkey elsewhere — at the gym, at work, even walking to your car.
Every minute is an opportunity for you to know that you do actually exist. You’re not invisible. You matter.
Then one day you wake up. Or maybe you don’t.
You experience a William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch moment where you actually see the food on the fork that’s being fed to you. And then the whole construct falls apart. Everything you held dear, your whole value system, collapses of the weight of its own absurdity. You can’t stand the game anymore, and the olfactory cocktail at the strip club smells more like desperation than desire.
You come to terms with the fact that you’re headed down the wrong road. It’s a nice road in the way of any road that happens to be strewn with money, but it’s taking you in the wrong direction. So you trim your sails. Maybe you get married and have kids. That’s about as real as it gets. Maybe you try to get a “straight” job. But it’s almost impossible to make those soul-crushing commutes and sit in mind-numbing office cubicles for less than half of what you used to pull down at the club.
None of these were things you thought about when you were wearing a pair of high heels and not much else. Every day was going to be just like this one. It was impossible to imagine any further than the end of next week.
Easy money, quick money, is a hard thing to walk away from. Being on the outside of “respectable” society, looking in, is even harder. You despise those people for being such timid conformists, but you also reject the part of yourself that wants to belong.
If you’re lucky, you find that the only road is the one forcing you ask the tough questions like why you landed here in the first place. What value system did you fail to question? Why does any of this matter?

Mobsters are to gambling what junkies are to speedball. It’s the entire mobster mindset encapsulated in a pair of dice: ego, testicles, luck, and an extra dose of superstition. I realize this when Ralph takes me to an Indian casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. I’ve never seen anyone more excited. The casino is the gift-strewn Christmas tree and Ralphie the little boy who comes war-whooping down the stairs.
I’m wearing a crushed red-velvet cocktail number that looks as though it’s been sandblasted to my skin. Ralph’s got on his best banded-hem golf shirt. And as outrageous a clichΓ© as we are for mobster and mistress, we actually blend in with the clientele at the casino: boobs, bling, and peroxide blondes repeat like a pattern on the carpet.
The casino is a Disney version of Monte Carlo. Boat-sized crystal chandeliers shimmer from the ceiling. Shiny new concept cars slowly rotate on platforms in the lobby. Waitresses in fishnets and flouncy rumba pants hustle to provide free, watered-down alcohol to the dice-rattling alcoholics. The sounds are the same as a pinball gallery—clinking, rolling, slapping. The endless pumping of canned air onto the game floor does nothing to dispel the staleness of cigarette smoke. Nearly everyone looks tired and washed-out and unnaturally alert.
Ralph rubs his hands together and looks around. “I’m heading to the blackjack tables. Where are you going to be?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been to a casino before.”
“What?” Ralph seems genuinely shocked. “Do you ever pull your fucking head out of a book?”
“Only when I’m having an orgasm.”
“Christ. Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do.” He snaps his fingers at me in a way that I interpret to mean ‘get your wallet.’ I pry out one of Sammy’s hundreds. I don’t particularly want to part with it, seeing as how I had to sit by the creep to get the thing.
“I got no time to explain how you play blackjack, so you’re going to take that fuckin’ C-note there, give it to the broad at the counter, and she’s gonna give you some quarters. Then you’re gonna take the quarters and play those fucking slots.”
I look at the slots. I look at Ralph.
“Okay, Christ, lemme show you.” He marches me to the counter, pushes my hundred at the lady behind the Plexiglas deflection shield. In exchange, I receive a Big Gulp full of quarters. Ralph calls them “qwahtahs.”
He herds me to the nearest slot machine, one halfway down a row of similar machines that look like huge gleaming jukeboxes. Impatiently, he feeds the thing quarters and then pulls a handle. We wait. Wheels spin inside a window. Nothing. He does it again.
“Got the idea now?” he says.
“Uh. Yeah.”
He turns to leave.
“What combination wins?”
“You want three of a kind.”
For a moment I watch Ralph haul ass to the blackjack tables. He goes straight to the ‘Invitation Only,’ which must be one hell of an invitation. They probably harvest your organs if you can’t pay. I feel a little unprotected without Ralph. He’s so big and strong and sure of himself.
I feed the machine. I pull the lever. An unmistakable clatter of coins. What do you know—maybe fifty dollars’ worth lay in a pile on the metal tray. I scoop out the coins, then feed the machine again. On my third try, I win another twenty, then fifty. I’m on a roll.
The old lady next to me, wearing a glen plaid tam o’shanter and smoking a cigarette, rasps, “I get first dibs on your machine if you go to the can. I’ve been here since four o’clock and I’m down by a hundred.”
Since four? Just pulling that stupid lever? I glance around. Everyone else seems engrossed in their respective addictions. I feed the machine.
This time the quarters fall so copiously and noisily, I don’t know where to put them all. Apparently sensing my distress, the old lady hops off her stool and then returns with four more Big Gulp cups. The machine is still belching out quarters.
“What the hell, honey,” she says, “are you speakin’ French to the thing?”
“I don’t know—it keeps giving me money,” I apologize. Using my hand as a slide shovel, I coax the coins into three of the four cups. I have no idea how much money I’ve won.
My heart’s beating faster as I line up the cash-heavy cups beside me. I’m worried that somebody might steal them. I wonder if Ralph will be proud of me. Maybe this is chump change compared to the stakes he plays for.
I quickly fall into a rhythm: feed the machine, pull the lever, wait for the wheels to stop spinning.

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Stacey Keith is the award-winning author of the Dreams Come True series (Kensington Books), DREAM ON, SWEET DREAMS and DREAM LOVER, in addition to A WEDDING ON BLUEBIRD WAY with New York Times Bestseller authors Janet Dailey, Lori Wilde and the talented Allyson Charles.

Twice a Golden Heart finalist, Stacey has won a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place finishes in Romance Writers of America contests.

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories, Stacey doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, which are crammed into all corners of the house. She now lives in Civita Castellana, a  medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and spends her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th century church.

The two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla genovese without burning down the kitchen and swearing volubly in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures.


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  1. I love the cover. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. It’s from an actual cover, a send up of it in a way. So glad you like it.

  3. Great cover. Thanks for the opportunity πŸ’•

  4. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  5. Cover fits the book so its all good.

  6. Awesome cover and I appreciate the excerpt and giveaway as well. Thank you!


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