😵‍💫 Are you being weird enough? + Hookergate

Presented by Buzzsprout

You can’t be afraid to show your scars.

😵‍💫 Are you being weird enough?

Our true selves are weird. We’re an amalgamation of brilliance, bizarreness, and at times, WTF-ness. We’re walking contradictions. We’re disheveled piles of experiences and desires and failures and dreams unrealized—we’re layers within layers within layers, mansions stuffed with other mansions.

This weirdness crafts the lens through which we see the world. Not until we unleash our full weirdness—our unique perspective—can our creative work truly be our own.

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🎙️ Signal Flow: Lindsay Byron

Industry game changers and valiant minds from creative professions share their wisdom, adversities, and paths to innovation.

Lindsay Byron, writer and host of Hookergate

Lindsay Byron is a former English professor and lifelong exotic dancer turned founder of Stripcraft, a playground of sensual movement and sexy travel providing good times for bad girls worldwide since 2014. She earned her PhD from Georgia State in 2013, where her scholarship uncovered the private lives of women institutionalized at an infamous Southern mental hospital in the mid-twentieth century. Lindsay was named Best Stripper in Atlanta in 2015 and competed in the elite Miss Pole Dance America competition in 2016. In 2016, she produced her first podcast, Stripcast: True Stories from a Stripper with a PhD. In 2021, she released her memoir, Too Pretty To Be Good. She is currently the writer and host of the podcast Hookergate: Criminals and Libertines in the South, which uncovers a scandal of sex, power, and truck stop brothels that happened in her own hometown fifty years ago.

Content warning: The following interview contains course language. 

My professional career is I teach women sensual movement and dance, and I take them on trips all over the world called Strip Trips. My brand is called Stripcraft. I was a well-known stripper, not just a pole dancer. And this is how I built my brand initially after getting my PhD in American literature and quitting the academy.

I think a whole lot of people are going through their lives pissed off because nobody gives a fuck about what they think or feel, they’re unseen, unappreciated. They're secretly suspecting they're a genius and that they're gonna die and no one's ever gonna know. They’re like, I’ve got this fire inside, I'm somebody and I guess it's just too late, and nobody's gonna see. But let me fold this laundry since that's all the fuck I do. And my professional job is to take women out of that for a few days. And give them the opportunity to feel like a hot bitch, to feel like a rock star and tell their stories. At the heart of these desires, to be on the pole, to be sexy, to feel like a woman again, is to feel like you are an interesting person who is more than a machine for work and caretaking.

When we're young, we think we have all the time in the world. And you think you're gonna become all these beautiful, sparkly things. All of a sudden, you're 45. And I'm living it, I'm experiencing it. And by the way, I became some of those beautiful, sparkly things…and it still ain't enough. 

The thing that makes my business successful is people like to tell me everything, man. And they seek me out. I love it because I'm a voyeur of life. And that's why I'm a storyteller. I've always been nosy. If you've got a diary, don't leave it around me. I love people's stories and they sense that. It’s one of my life's greatest passions. 

When I was nineteen, I was driving a piece of shit car, as a nineteen-year-old does. And I rear-ended a Porsche because I was staring into a lit window of somebody's house. It’s a habit of my life. The evening is my favorite time of day, when people's lights are on, but they haven't closed the blinds yet. And you can see these small, normal human actions of setting a table or washing dishes. I can't help myself, ever since I was a kid, I'm just compelled to stare in those windows.

The first raw materials I got for Hookergate were the news clippings that a family friend gave to me. I'm telling you what, man, this only happens a few times in life. I opened this book, and straight away, I knew I was sitting on a goldmine because the raw materials were so compelling.

When I read through this raw material that would become Hookergate, the first thing I thought was I'm gonna write a book. Then I came across this podcast competition, iHeart Radio’s Next Great Podcast. And as soon as I saw it, I was like, I'm winning that bitch. It’s done, because this was such good material and with my background and the connection to my hometown, I knew I was the one to tell the story. Plus, I had the academic credentials to know how to do this level of research.

The volume of data was overwhelming, I didn't quite know how I was going to present it. I read through 4,600 pages of transcripts three times. But it was worth it. And what I ultimately did was pick a few narrative threads I thought could represent broad categories of people involved, and streams of justice or criminality, namely the reporter who's pretty much the protagonist, and that dude, by the way, awesome guy. Fucking love that guy. Then there were the working girls, of whom I chose a few representatives. The pimps of whom I focus primarily on two, though there are four. The villain, if you will, the Commonwealth attorney. And I took these four narrative perspectives and applied the hero's journey from Joseph Campbell. 

The hardest thing for me about doing this project is the fact that I'm writing about real people who have families who care about them. And by the way, some of them are still alive. And I was dredging up some shit that they probably aren't proud of. Guess what, you could probably do that to me, too. But please don't.

Is there a story in which there isn't somebody fucking up? I think the fucking up is the story.

My second baby was a surprise, which really threw a wrench into things. Hookergate was written all during my pregnancy and his infancy. It was the most piecemeal, unconventional writing of my life. And frankly, I can't believe I accomplished this shit.

Let me tell you what I did. I had this really fussy baby and you had to wear him all the time in a wrap if you wanted him to be quiet. I’d strap him to my chest and pace the front yard with my phone on voice notes and just freestyle the writing like I was a rapper.

I sent the voice notes to a transcription service. And then they send you back a Google Doc. I’d take that Doc and edit the text to make it pretty. One of the coolest things, I'm so glad I have it in those transcriptions, is the baby would wake up a lot. So in the transcript it says “speaker two,” and then in parentheses it says “sounds of a baby in the background.” And I'm like, that’s got to be the title of my next memoir.

I researched my ass off for years, then I used my imagination and my greatest compassion that I could drum up, my best knowledge of the human heart, to depict scenes that I was not there for and, and frankly, nobody was there for except for the people involved. And many of those people are dead or unreachable. The hardest thing for me is I want to portray human beings with compassion and complexity. I don't want to make anybody's life more difficult, I sure as shit don't want to do that. This is an artistic offering that’s an amalgamation of years of research and some imagination and scripting on my part.

I have been so lucky to have the greatest job ever, the greatest work ever. If I die tomorrow, I'd be fucking happy, man.

Actually, I take that back. Please let me live to 104.

🥾 Further Exploration

Transferable skills alert: Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott dives into his philosophies on problem-solving, storytelling, and embracing challenging situations.

ICYMI:

 

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Until next time, have a bold week.

– Doug

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