The only thing Samantha C. Ross liked about her former marketing job was the free cake. The kind the office manager would buy and slice up for a colleague's birthday. The rest was far from appetising.
The work itself was numbingly boring, the hours inflexible, the commute on Arctic Melbourne winter mornings barely tolerable.
The role was for a sports bar, to which a so-called 'gentleman's club' was attached. Curious, Samantha crept in one day.
What she saw was not mysterious, or filthy, like she'd expected. It was almost... glamorous. Women in expensive casual-wear rolling into work at 5pm, dressing up in costumes, dancing, sipping champagne in bikinis.
Soon, she became one of them, this sisterhood of dancers who've forged a career wielding their bodies, their sexuality and the power that holds over their clientele.
Watch: Would you hire a stripper for your son's 18th birthday?
Samantha retired from the industry six years ago. Aged in her early forties, she chose to set aside her stripper alter-ego — 'Sunshine' — to pursue a long-held ambition of becoming a writer.
Speaking to Mamamia's No Filter podcast, the Sunshine: Diary of a Lap Dancer author expanded on the realities of her former world, from the money on offer to the surprising villain of bucks' parties.
The following are snippets from that chat.
What was your first shift as a stripper like?
"It was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying. Not because I have a problem with nudity, but because every single thing that you get to scrutinise alone in the bathroom is now on show — dimples in your arse and shaving rash.
"But it worked well, because I think I looked so insecure and uncertain. There were like those seasoned, veteran strip-club dwellers that were just breaking a leg to get to the stage to see the new, insecure girl."