When I was 21, looking for work, I saw an ad in the paper that said something like this:
“Dancing, $$$, no experience required.”
I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking it would be, but I thought it would be a great way to stay in shape and make money till I finished college. After answering all the questions over the phone about my appearance (I thought this was because they needed my measurements for the performance costumes we would wear and wanted to make sure I was thin enough!), the man began to ask if I was comfortable around men and willing to make myself vulnerable. It was only then that I got embarrassed of my naivety as I finally realized what kind of job this was. I didn’t take the job, and I instead wound up working for minimum wage at a department store till I finished my college degree.
You see, I had grown up in a safe and secure Christian family where I was loved and pretty sheltered. I took on my faith as my own at the young age of 12, wanting my life to honor God, and stayed a virgin till I was married at 20 years old. I grew up pretty naive to some of the ways of the world and knew nothing about what the industry was like except what I got exposed to by the TV once in a while.
Granted, I’ve come a long way since that phone call for a stripper’s job in understanding the world of adult entertainers. However, it really wasn’t until I had a divine encounter with a woman one day that changed my world. One evening, at a women’s network meeting, God put on my heart to go sit next to a beautiful young woman and befriend her. We found out we had some things in common (like our faith) and she was new to the area. Quickly we became great friends after that initial meeting.
It had been several months into our friendship when my new friend told me, “Marlene, I need to share something with you and I feel like I haven’t been completely honest with you about myself.” I could tell she was having a hard time mustering up the courage to share what was on her heart. So, thinking this would make it easier on her, I jokingly said, “What is it? Were you a prostitute or something?!” I was laughing because it’s the last thing I could see her as. At that time, a woman who loved God, and was a devoted wife and mother didn’t fit my image of a prostitute. However, my laughter quickly faded, as she said, “Yes, I was” and began to share her amazing story of what she had been through as a teenage mom, how she got into the sex industry, working as an escort, in the brothels, stripping, even some porn, and how she eventually got out. I learned so much that day, as I saw a woman who was an adult entertainer in real life for the first time. A lot of my naive misunderstandings were shattered and there was absolutely no judgment as I now understood the different kinds of reasons why a woman would go into adult entertainment.
That woman is Sonya, Pearls Founder. It was a divine friendship God arranged in my life to change my heart forever towards precious women in the adult entertainment industry and began a journey of understanding the adult entertainment world. And by the way, that is a moment Sonya and I can now laugh about and I did explain to her why I had been laughing at the idea. We’ve both come a long way since then.
Some of you ladies working in the clubs have wondered why a woman like me whose never been in the industry would care about women who have. I have often heard some of your responses when us Pearls girls come in to give you gifts of love in the clubs, “Are we bad or something?” or “Why are you doing this?” For me, the skepticism is understandable, you could be used to those who give with strings attached and used to people of faith judging you, or at least feeling judged by them. I hope sharing my story will shatter some of your possible concerns. It is true that some of faith will wrongfully and very possibly naively judge you. But I can assure you that there are many who love God and rightfully do love you too. The Pearls girls and I are just a few of them. We walk into the clubs with nothing but love for you, believing you are special to God, and therefore to us. Whether we’ve been in the industry or not, we have a genuine heart for you and understand the common realities and hardships of working in the industry.
And can I just say that even though I’ve never been in the industry, that I can relate with many of you on several levels still? Just like many of you, I’ve been through a variety of hardships and heartbreak as an adult, I just maybe experienced it in a different context. In no way am I trying to compare my life to yours or anyone else, but I think it’s important we acknowledge the commonalities of the human experience we all face in one way or another.
You’ve probably experienced some of these things like I have:
been broke and in need of money
been betrayed by those closest to me in ways that hurt the most
been cheated on
been taken for granted
been the recipient of destruction that comes from loved ones addictions
been lied to and manipulated
wronged at the hands of loved one’s selfishness
have made my own wrong decisions
have had long nights feeling hopeless or in fear of crushed dreams
not felt loved by those I have loved
dealt with the grief of losing a loved one
dealt with bitterness, trust issues, unforgiveness, etc.
Any of these things sound familiar to your life? At the core of our experience in living life, there are so many things that can bond us together, including the good things and joys of this life! And I love doing life together, through the hardships and the joys.
So please believe, ladies, next time you see us walking into the club, we are imperfect women who come to be there for you in every way we can. We each believe that you are loved, cherished, purposed by God and no matter what you believe in, we are here for you. Because just as God has loved us, we love you.
Marlene Rose and the Pearls Girls