That interaction was an early exposure to the judgmental mentality of the exotic-dancing business. “Between attractive women, there is instant competition. It’s icy stares and attitude,” Freeman says. Some dancers stole belongings from others. “My friend had a huge trunk full of costumes and kept a padlock on it.
Freeman describes herself as a warm individual who likes to keep peace. “It’s really like a sisterhood where you have to earn your way,” she says. “Once I proved to be nonthreatening and kind, the women started to thaw. You may have a lot to offer each other friendship-wise, especially when you need support. We need to exemplify the kind of things that women are known for—nurturing, endurance and strength.” The woman she initially asked for advice later became one of her best friends.
Backstage, she found a lot of moms like herself. “We were back there in our g-strings sharing recipes.” A mother with the stage name Diamond stitched on a quilt, ran out to the stage when it was her turn to dance, then returned to pick up her needle and thread again.
Freeman also saw women who were addicted and students paying their way through college. Others turned to drugs to “get the weight off so that they would have a good body for the stage. One got so skinny that you could see the bag for her implants,” she says. Another dancer was dating an addict and basically supported him. Still another was sexually assaulted as a child, and “was reliving her abuse—now, she controls the men rather than the men controlling her,” Freeman says.
The Happy Ending
Eventually, Freeman started to feel dead inside. “I felt that I was more than a piece of meat,” she says. “The men come in to have visual sex, and there is that element of being objectified.”
And maybe she had just grown beyond it. “There is ... excitement, where you dress up and have men fawning all over you. That will feed your ego for a while, especially if your self-esteem is shot,” she says. “It was probably a little endorphin shot for me until I realized I was more than that.”
Freeman eventually left her work as a dancer for a massage-therapy job at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. On one of her final nights as a dancer, Bob, a man who had placed lots of dollar bills on her stage, approached her with a friend of his. After she’d finished dancing, his tall, dark-haired friend made a strange request of her: “I would just like to pay you $100 to stand on my porch when my ex-wife shows up.”
To be sure he wasn’t “some psychopath,” she asked the other women backstage about Clint Freeman. They said, “Oh, he’s so nice.” They said he was always respectful to the girls.
Looking back, Clint describes the time after his divorce as “my sabbatical. A time when I worked hard and played hard.” Though he says he would have preferred going to a sports bar, he ended up hanging out at The Million Dollar Saloon with friends who liked to go there. The first time he saw Amy, he remembers thinking, “Wow. I thought she was absolutely beautiful. She had long blond hair and was very thin and very tan. I could tell she had had training as a dancer. There was something that made her different from the other dancers that I didn’t know how to put into words.”
Clint said he needed a pretty girl to stand on his porch when his ex-wife arrived to show her that he didn’t need her anymore. “I had moved on and just kind of wanted to throw it in her face,” he says. The woman he was dating then lived in California and wouldn’t be around when his ex-wife stopped by. So he hatched a plan of hiring someone to stand on his porch.
Amy agreed to do it. “So I went and stood on his porch, and he always said that that was when he fell in love with me,” Amy says. That day, Clint says he noticed how Amy interacted with so much compassion with his younger son, who is severely disabled.
He kept coming to the club. A week or two later, he asked Amy, “How much do you think you will make tonight?” When she said $200, he offered her to pay her that much to go boating with him instead. “I knew she was struggling for cash and wanted her to be able to go with us. It was absolutely not a prostitution kind of thing. Nothing was expected. I knew she was going to miss work and wanted to know what she made at work for the day. At that point, that kind of money wasn’t a big deal for me.”
Amy says, “I was starting to get to know him and be comfortable with him, which doesn’t usually happen in the clubs. You never hear of someone meeting someone at a strip club.”
Amy later moved to Las Vegas, and Clint flew down to see her. “We would walk the Strip and talk and talk, and that was when I realized I was in love with him.” She says they met when they were both in a low place. “Separately, but around the same time, we both fell on our knees and [prayed], ‘Send me somebody nice.’ ” They met a short time later.
They’ve been married for 12 years, and Amy is now an aspiring novelist.
The majority of her family members don’t know about her former career. “My dad doesn’t know and would have a very hard time with it, because he is very devout LDS. My twin sister was very supportive.”
Today, Amy feels that her dancing was a significant part of her life and helped create who she is. “If other family members found out, those who know me and love me would still know me and love me.”
She did resent her ex-husband for telling her daughters about her stripping when they were young. “I had dancer friends who kept their two lives very separate. What was he hoping to gain by that? By trying to involve them in that world? It doesn’t hurt me—it would hurt them. There is a stigma to it.”
Amy’s two lives crossed one day when she was taking one of her children to Primary Children’s Hospital and saw a patron from the club. “He called out, ‘Sapphire,’ and I just walked in the hospital quickly.”
Now 41, she feels that Amy and Sapphire have combined to become one person. “Sapphire was another person who was bold and fearless and didn’t care.” The previous version of Amy “had crushed self-esteem, was terrified of everything and so low about myself. I wouldn’t recommend my previous life,” Amy says. She sees her experience as a dancer as making her “more empathetic and more human. It contributed to my life and helped me become a compassionate person. I enjoyed it while I did it.”
Freeman, left, with a friend, while on vacation in Mexico in 2002 [courtesy of Amy Freeman].
How Utah Takes It Off
1. If you’re at a strip club that serves alcohol, no nudity or lap dances are allowed. Dancers must wear pasties and maintain a 3-foot distance from customers. At Trails and Southern X-posure International (3420 S. State), for example, there are multiple stages that allow limited interaction with the dancers, but the upside is you can drink until last call at 1 a.m.
2. If you are at an alcohol-free club, lap dances are allowed, but dancers must be covered with a top and bottom. Also, if lap dances are allowed, no nudity is allowed onstage (dancers must wear pasties and maintain a 3-foot distance from customers).
3. At Southern X-posure Showgirls location (3055 S. State), the club has only one stage with a VIP section of the stage for lap dances. Lap dances are done in the open and in no case may customers touch the dancers.
4. The American Bush offers a semi-private area of the club for lap dancing. Customers cannot touch dancers but dancers can give a more traditional lap dance (while wearing a top and bottom).
Where They Take It Off
In & around Salt Lake City
Must be 21 or older except where indicated
The American Bush
18 and over
2630 S. 300 West
South Salt Lake
2706 S. 1900 West
2750 S. 300 West
Salt Lake City
The Bears Den
8785 W. 2700 South
4141 S. State
Salt Lake City
Southern X-posure International
3420 S. State
Salt Lake City
Southern X-posure Showgirls
18 and over
3055 S. State
Southern X-posure Downtown
18 and over
1737 Beck St.
Salt Lake City
Trails Men’s Club
921 S. 300 West
Salt Lake City