For fans of Hooked by Samantha X and In My Skin by Kate Holden.
Leigh Hopkinson was the least likely person to become a stripper but after spending two decades naked, she realised it was her career - and her life.
When Leigh Hopkinson was a university student in Christchurch she worked at a succession of low-paying jobs that paid the rent and fit in around her degree. None of them fit so well, however, as stripping. She figured it couldn't be that difficult - she was just going to dance on stage in front of a bunch of strangers. She'd show them a bit of skin, but the gig wasn't going to last that long. Or so she imagined.
While stripping was harder than Leigh thought it would be, she hadn't counted on it being so exhilarating - or lucrative. So when she moved to Melbourne and needed to make a living, the lure of her old job was strong. The world of the strip club had become familiar, even reassuring, though some of the people she met during the course of her job didn't exactly give her faith in the future of humanity.
Over the course of Leigh's career, she learnt a lot about other people and even more about herself, and the result is a story that delves into a world that not everyone visits but everyone finds fascinating.
Leigh Hopkinson is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based writer and editor. She has an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing, and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Her nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Tasman. Leigh has also worked fleetingly as a yoga teacher and prolifically as a table dancer. Two Decades NakedD is her first book.
Two Decades Naked
Author: Leigh Hopkinson
Question: What inspired you to write Two Decades Naked?
Leigh Hopkinson: Ever since I began stripping, I've been frustrated by the way strippers are judged solely by what they do for a job. Society has morphed our labour into our whole identity, the sum total of who we are. This fails to recognise all the other roles and qualities we embody. I've worked with women who are wives, mothers, carers, students, artists, doctors, philanthropists, as well as strippers. I wanted to humanise these women. I also wanted to better understand my motivations for staying in the industry as long as I did, to uncover more of myself through the process of writing.
Question: What do you hope readers take away from Two Decades Naked?
Leigh Hopkinson: I hope they come away with a little more insight into the world of striptease, to have their perceptions expanded and challenged. I also hope they're entertained! I've always viewed stripping primarily as a form of entertainment, and I wanted the book to reflect that dynamic.
Question: Was it difficult to relive any aspects of your life?
Leigh Hopkinson: It was difficult writing about my ex-partner's mental illness and the influence my decision to continue stripping may have had on his health. It was also challenging to see how and why I forfeited my own personal power to the demands of others, particularly men, at certain times in my life, and to consider the reasons for and the implications of that.
Question: What's next for you?
Leigh Hopkinson: More time outdoors, and more writing! I've recently taken up rock climbing and hiking and I'm loving reconnecting with nature after years of night work. I'm also committed to pursuing writing as a craft, to building on the skills I learned while penning Two Decades Naked.
Interview by Brooke Hunter