Literary Las Vegas: Valerie L. Diamond

“Get a thousand,” Sapphire’s friend encouraged her. Strippers reached for that goal, to make $1,000 in a single night, but it was just as possible to walk away without even making the $150 for the house fee and management tip out.

Valerie L. Diamond shares Sapphire’s story in the novel “Stilettos in Vegas.”

Diamond left a job in banking and took up exotic dancing to help pay her family’s debts after her mother’s death. After retiring from the dancing life at 45, Diamond was inspired to write as a way to shed light on the industry. Retired dentist and educator Don McGann helped Diamond document her experiences and those of others into the book.

Excerpt from ‘Stilettos in Vegas’

Stripping is hard work. If a dancer is lucky enough to meet a big spender, she might dance without stopping for twenty songs, approximately eighty minutes, motivated by the thought of $400 plus tips. Stop dancing to refresh your makeup or go to the restroom and another dancer may steal your big spender. Consecutive dances are only possible if you keep the same customer, since it takes time to find someone new and you lose at least one song in the process.

The night’s dancers were everywhere in the dressing room at various stages of removing or putting on clothes, toweling off after a shower, working their hair and makeup, or simply talking. Sapphire opened her maple-veneered locker, number 66, carefully placing her Gucci purse on the wooden bench. She sat down and reflected back to when she knocked on the back door of this club four years ago, on the day she turned twenty-one.

Scott happened to be standing outside the door. He was tall, about six foot three, with wavy black hair and dark eyes, a strong chin, an angular jaw, and prominent cheekbones. His near-perfect proportions were enhanced by a summer tan. Sapphire took note of his black Italian designer shoes, his black slacks, and his pure white shirt opened at the chest, an image that she had not seen, except in the movies.

“What do you want, you sexy girl?”

“I’m Melissa, and I want to work here. I just came to town from New York, and I can compete with any girl.”

“Well, let’s see what you got,” said Scott.

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