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I used to earn £1k a night as a lap dancer
10:00am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in Echo News
VICKI Dark, from Southend, was kicked out of home at 14, had a baby at 18 and by 19 was earning thousands of pounds a night as a lap dancer. Her traumatic experience of being stalked meant she went back to college to study psychology and then embarked on an MA in creative writing. Here, she talks to LOUISE HOWESON.
“I was from a dysfunctional family and left home when I was 14. I ended up living in a man’s flat where all the kids used to go and sit and drink alcohol.
"He had his own mental issues, but I was young and vulnerable and had nowhere else to go.
I slept in his bed and he slept on the sofa. I didn’t always feel safe, but I had no other options. I used to stay in my room and there were always people there drinking and smoking.
"My dad used to come and post money through the letterbox, so I could buy food and other than that, I just lived hand to mouth. I had no one else to rely on but myself, so I went back to college and did my GCSEs and got As, Bs and a few Cs.
"I was 16 when I met my boyfriend at a nightclub. We fell in love and I had a baby at 18. When I was 19, I went to Stringfellows with friends with no intention of becoming a lap dancer. However, the place had an impact on me.
"Peter Stringfellow was there looking flashy, with big bouffant hair and winkle pickers. He was surrounded by women like it was a harem.
"He asked if anyone wanted to join the cabaret and I thought to myself that I did.
"A bouncer took me to one side and said that I should dance in another venue first to gain experience, otherwise I would make a fool of myself.
"I started lap dancing at a club in Farringdon. The first time I danced, I was so nervous I couldn’t move. I had to have a glass of wine before I went on stage and even then I felt like I would be sick!
"I saw lots of people taking drugs and getting sucked into the darker side of that world. I was only 19, but I managed to hold myself back from it and focused on making quick money to look after my family.
"The money got better as I moved on to different clubs. To start with I would get £300-£400, the next club was £400 - £500 and then at Stringfellows it was £1,000 a night plus.
"The money was intoxicating and that is why many women don’t make it out of that industry.
"I have seen a lot of broken, damaged people in my life. People who get into the adult industry are often abused themselves, but instead of being protected, they are abused and exploited.
"While I was at Stringfellows, I started dancing regularly for one client who had a lot of money. He gave me thousands of pounds in tips just for talking to him. The biggest tip he ever gave me was £16,000. He bought me cars and spent thousands and thousands on me. He became obsessed with me and started to stalk me.
"I didn’t even feel I could go to the police. I didn’t feel like a credible human being. It wasn’t until I had a nervous breakdown that I decided to walk away from it all.
"I felt I had sold my soul and wanted something more wholesome in my life. It was then I discovered a passion for writing. I couldn’t stop. I felt like I was purging something bad from me and I needed to get it out.
"Working in the industry changed me and I am suspicious of men. I have three sons – one is autistic and needs a calm environment – and having been in a violent relationship, I am not looking to get into another.
"I studied media studies at the University of East London and did my dissertation on the effect of working in the adult entertainment industry has on people. I am currently doing my masters in literary writing.
"I wrote my first book as an experiment and it was awful! After I had written my second, I decided to contact publishers until I got a deal with Pegasus. I write erotic fiction, but it is not eroticising the serious side of the industry.
"My most recent book, Trouble with Beauty, was banned from Waterstones and WHSmith. My publisher doesn’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned and just made people want to read it more!”
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