When Stephanie Starr, 37, started stripping at just 19 years old, she didn’t know this will be her profession for the next 10 years. Moreover, she didn’t know how different from stripping her next occupation would become. But life does take some unexpected turns.
Starr is now a mother and a mindset and business coach for new and aspiring online female entrepreneurs. Her life as a stripper was a dream for many. She had her own fan base, signed autographs, traveled across the country and beyond, lived in the fanciest hotels, wore expensive clothes, and partied with rockstars, professional athletes, oil tycoons, politicians, and high powered CEOs. Starr was a true star of the stripping world at a time winning such big industry contests as Miss Nude All Canadian and Miss Nude Western Canada.
The money component was also mind-blowing. “As a dancer, I could make anywhere from 2 to 10K per week,” she says, “depending on where, when, and how hard I wanted to hustle.”
The dream life seemed to be a reward for a complicated upbringing.
Starr got adopted by a family who had lost their one-year-old daughter. Her own mother, a 17-year-old runaway, gave her up at birth. No matter how hard Starr tried to “fit” the family, she could not heal the wound in her new parents’ hearts. Even though she did not do drugs, drinking or smoking, she got sexually exploited on the streets at 13. “Anyone can fall into a life on the streets, even if they come from an upper-class home as I did,” Starr admits.
Before she started stripping, she was getting the minimum wage of $5.90 working two jobs. But one weekend made her quit. She earned almost $800 for winning an amateur stripper competition. “I was determined to make a lot of money, get better, and eventually be even better than those girls.”
And she fulfilled her goals. But it wasn’t only about the fancy life and money that Starr is grateful for. Stripping gave her a chance to gain back the confidence and feminine power she lost after sexual exploitation in her teenage years.
“There was a lot of power in it for me. A lot of freedom too,” Starr tells. “I chose when, where, and for how much I would work (once I won enough titles and was in demand).” She enjoyed hearing hundreds of people cheering for her and appreciating her performance, throwing money at her, and lining up for autographs.
Starr never saw her occupation as limiting to her freedom. “To be only 20 something, with no formal education, covered in tattoos and piercings, doing what I want, when and where I want, and making more money than some lawyers and doctors… there was a lot of fun to be had!”
Dancing taught her to own the situation and make wise decisions about money too. She perceived it as her business. And, de jure, it was her business.
“I was already my own boss and ran my own company,” she explains. “I had to incorporate myself (for tax purposes), manage myself, and market myself.”
At 30, Starr decided that her time as a dancer was over. She was planning on getting a degree in psychology. But the universe had some other plans prepared for her again. Starr got pregnant.
She never went back to stripping or to school. And by the time her daughter got 1.5, she became a single mother.
To make sure she had money to live and raise her daughter, she had to cheat on the resume to get a management position at Aldo shoe store. But the 9-to-5 was killing her.
She admits that the stripper lifestyle spoiled her. “I couldn’t stand the idea of working some soul-sucking 9-to-5 for the rest of my life for super shitty pay,” Starr says. “I literally had people just throw $20 bills (or more) at me all day every day up until I quit.”
“When the baby daddy spent and took every dime and left once it was all gone, I crashed into shock, despair, and depression hard.”
Just around that time, Starr hired a life coach. She hoped for the coach to help her understand what she can do next since she couldn’t go back to stripping and didn’t want to endure the 9-to-5 lifestyle. “I knew there had to be a better way. There was so much money out there in the world and a million ways to make it.”
Hiring a life coach was eye-opening. “I started to realize how much of a coach I already was.”
While working as a stripper, Starr didn’t waste time. She was getting self-education. Reading tons of books and helping dozens of girls in the change rooms to get their life together grew a reliable listener in her. And people were coming for her advice themselves.
“The ones in trouble were pouring out their life story and looking for guidance even when I just met them.” So once she learned more about the coaching business and how it works, she decided to go for it. It took her time to realize what area of coaching she should pick. Business seemed like the best option. She also decided to unite practice and theory in her coaching.
“I wanted to create a balance of both for new coaches.” And that’s how her 12-week program “”Woodoo Magic” (woo-woo + to-do)” was launched.
The shift into coaching was a much better deal than the pay she was getting working 9-to-5. Although she doesn’t reveal exact figures, Starr says, “coaches can make far more than 10K working only four days a week!”
Starr also says that before anyone earns this much, a coach must grow his audience and earn trust. This is definitely not fast money.
Starr doesn’t want to return to stripping, nevertheless. Amid reaching her maximum as a pro in that industry, she also says she’s changed a lot over the last 6 years that she’s been a mother. Plus, the stripper lifestyle isn’t for her now.
The only thing she’s missing about her former life is the experience of performing. “I miss the self-expression. The music. The heart-pounding adrenaline and energy from going on stage, rocking it, and hearing that club roar when you know you’re killing it and inspiring people.”
Starr is open about her past with all her clients. She thinks it is super important to be honest with them. In fact, she puts her honesty as her top advantage compared to other coaches.
“People are getting tired of all the fake in our world and online,” she explains. Also, if she didn’t spend 10 years dancing, she wouldn’t have all the wisdom she now can share with her clients. “I’ve actually had nothing but praise for coming out with all my truths and bravely showing the world the real me.”
Surprisingly, it was after Starr’s coming out about her experience that her bookings increased. “I’ve had so many more people, from all walks of life, reach out to me and want to hire me. Even middle-aged Christians… They don’t feel they have to put on any sort of face and it’s ok to tell me “the dirt” from their past.”
When it comes to revealing the truth about her past to her daughter, she plans to do that when she’s older and able to understand.
“I do imagine having wine with her in Paris when she’s 25 and spitting it out at the most random time just to keep her on her toes and remind her that her mother was once a rebel.” Starr hopes the news won’t be perceived with judgment since, according to Starr, she’s “raising a pretty consciously aware and worldly human.”
No matter how fearless Starr is, not all people in the world are open-minded. The past of being a stripper can, unfortunately, still be deemed as disgraceful and undeserving of respect. Starr works on crashing these stereotypes by openly talking about her experience in the interviews like this one. However, it’s not her life goal. “I don’t spend much time and energy defending it to people,” she explains. “If they want to assume and see something they don’t like, they likely will anyway.”
To those who are still overwhelmed with fear and lack of confidence to make bold life choices or those who still cannot let go of their past, she advises to “think of yourself on your death bed thinking “I wonder what could have been if only I did try.” Let the fear of that be a guide for you. Allow fear to speak to you.”