Tricks of the trade: GVSU senior writes book detailing her stripping experience

GVL / Courtesy

GVL / Courtesy

Ty Konell

The saying goes that desperate times call for desperate measures, and for university students facing tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, “desperate times” often go hand in hand with commencement.

For one Grand Valley State University senior (who wished to remain anonymous), facing desperate financial times meant taking up a profession mired in controversy: stripping. Facing the possibility of not being able to afford returning to GVSU to finish her degree, the behavioral neuroscience major got proactive and started dancing in one of Detroit’s strip clubs while school was not in session.

Now back at GVSU and out of the stripping profession, she has written and self-published a memoir about her 65-day experience. The book, called “Tricks: A Breakdown of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Aspects of My Sixty-Five Night Ordeal Dancing in Detroit’s Most Prestigious Strip Club,” is written under her pen name, Lady V., inspired by her stage name, Violet. 

While most people may think that strippers are being exploited, Lady V. believes both parties—dancers and customers—are being exploited equally.

“Part of me was like ‘f*** yeah, you’re giving me money and all I’m doing is dancing on a pole,'” she said. “There was a definite sense of empowerment and entitlement in that sense.

“But there was this thing the club did called review. We were literally put on display. That was always the point of the night where I felt like I was being herded like cattle, and so it’s definitely a fine line. But both parties are being exploited.”

Lady V. said telling her family was difficult, but she had to find a way to take care of herself and get back to school. 

“No parent wants their child to get naked for the money they can’t provide (for them),” she said. “I mean, it was really difficult, but I kept coming back to it like, ‘If you can’t help me, I have to help myself,’ and at the end of the day, that’s what it came down to.” 

Making things more difficult, Lady V. said, men who frequented strip clubs started to ask for “extras,” meaning most of the dancers (apart from her) gave sexual favors, making the competition harder.

Despite this, Lady V. said that in 65 days of stripping, she made $33,000, averaging between $400 and $600 a night.

“There were some times that I made $1,500 in a night, and there were some times where I made only $100,” she said. “I never made less than $100, but there were nights where I was cutting it close.”

Lady V. said she knew from the beginning of her stripping experience that she was going to write, publish and distribute a book about it.

“I went into it knowing I was going to write a book,” she said. “I feel that I had the education, the experience and the resources to do it well. I felt like, if I don’t do it, someone else will, and it’s such a unique experience, why not?”

Compartmentalizing her personal experiences into three categories—the good, the bad and the ugly—she organized the book in an easy-to-follow structure. 

In addition to learning lessons about herself, her confidence and her resilience, Lady V. said, she also learned that you can never judge a person without knowing their story and situation, which is the message she hopes to extend through her book. 

Understanding the desperation behind dancing, she offered advice and warning to anybody thinking about entering the profession.

“If you feel like you have to do what you have to do, I get it 100 percent,” she said. “I will never judge anyone for doing it because that was me. However, I left with an STD, a near lawsuit, I have nightmares that wake me up from sleep, I have horrible stigmas that I live with and can’t shake, and I left with an addiction that I will forever have to suppress. So, do your research and know what you’re getting into.”

To learn more about Lady V.’s experience, you can buy her book on