Stripped Down: A Naked Memoir
by Stacey Keith

Autobiography, Memoir

STRIPPED DOWN: A Naked Memoir is a look back at a surreal world kept carefully
hidden from public view. This chronicle of life in the skin trade
follows the meteoric rise of Stacey Keith, a girl scarcely out of her
teens whose eye-popping assets launch her from wet T-shirt contests
to the catwalks of Houston, strip bar capital of the world.

Almost overnight, she is discovered by a famous porn star, who Svengalis her
onto the pages of Playboy, Penthouse, and dozens of other men’s
magazines. While strutting her stuff onstage and across the country,
Stacey makes the fateful decision to head to Hollywood. She’s got
everything a girl could want: fame, attention, endless piles of
cash...but no idea what awaits her. 

With Internet porn overtaking men’s magazines, everyone from her
Mafia-boss road manager to her smarmy talent agent pressures Stacey
to do more than just flash her flesh. Uber-boob filmmaker Russ Meyer
verbally abuses her; rocker Don Henley tries to use her. Yet through
it all, from the warped misogyny of Playboy to the S&M dungeons
of the Pacific Palisades, Stacey’s dark, self-deprecating humor
will leave you laughing, crying and rooting for her at every step of the way.

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For some reason, Carl wants to shoot at an oil refinery, which might be visually appealing with all the pipes and shit, but logistically, it’s a nightmare. First problem: a vicious, onshore wind that not only gives my hair that finger-in-a-light-socket look, but plunges the temperature to about fifty-five degrees. I’ve got no clothes on.
“Are you afraid of heights?” Carl says.
“Why? I ask suspiciously.
He points up. “I need you in that crow’s nest.”
Is he joking? The crow’s nest is maybe four hundred feet up and I would have to climb a ladder to get there. Naked. In heels. With about two dozen workers with binoculars watching me. They’ve been banished to the other part of the refinery but have actually gotten snacks and chairs.
Swallowing hard, I get my footing on the first rung and begin the ascent. How can something as glamorous as a photo shoot with Penthouse turn into a Bataan Death March? Wasn’t this supposed to be “my day,” proof positive that I was playing in the Big Leagues? The wind howls, making a tempest of my hair. My nipples are so hard, they could drill concrete. Every time I look down, my heart wants to burst out of my chest.
“All the way to the top!” Carl yells. He looks small and less menacing now, like one of the Keebler elves. A particularly evil one. At least the wind partially shields me from the sound of his voice. I make the terrifying transition from ladder to crow’s nest, which I cling to, exhausted and starved and freezing cold. I can’t imagine any amount of money being worth this. How could I have been dumb enough to think Penthouse would be different? It occurs to me that just because someone like Guccione is educated and blessed with artistic sensibilities, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a good person. Or that he’d want to make sure I was treated well.
“Are you there yet?” Carl calls from the distance.
Staggering to my feet, I peer over the side of the crow’s nest. Not good. The wind nearly knocks me down. I pose, white-knuckling any hand hold I can find while Carl yells at me to look less cold.
“Sexier!” he shouts.
I warm myself with thoughts of killing him. An open fire, perhaps, with Carl’s dick roasted on a spit. Carl trapped on an ant mound, being slowly devoured while I laugh. Better still, Carl duct-taped in Griselda’s dungeon with her foot up his butt. I could make a Hallmark card out of that one.
Mostly because of the wind and less because of my misery, Carl scraps the crow’s nest idea. When I climb down, he fires off about seventy shots of my pussy and ass. The look I give him is one of pure murder.
Outfitted now in a hard hat and blue vinyl bustier, I pretend to use a crescent wrench on a steam pipe. I can’t help but think how cheesy this is. What man, even one with a raging erection, can get past the improbability of a naked chick in a hard hat? Does horny automatically mean dumb?
Jan, who’s been huddling in her toasty car, ventures out to clue Carl in that the temperature has dropped to forty-nine degrees. Like I need her to tell me. My teeth have been chattering for hours. I have to clench my jaw so hard it aches.
Carl pushes on for another fifty minutes while I drift in and out of consciousness. We finally quit just before dark. Jan throws a blanket over my shoulders and helps me limp out to my car.
“That was the hardest shoot I have ever done,” I moan.
“I’ve got just the thing.” Jan gets into the passenger seat of my car. With a mischievous grin, she swings a little bag of white powder in front of me. “It’s crystal, sweetie. In thirty seconds, you’re not going to feel anything but great.”
Great isn’t a word I’d use to describe Jan. Her nostrils are redder than a Christmas reindeer’s. The meth explains a lot though. I find myself envying her energy, her unshakable optimism. Would it hurt to try?
I feel so beaten down. What’s so bad about a trip to the moon for an hour or so? To have a chemical vacation. To check out of the Hotel California.
Taking my silence for acquiescence, Jan grabs a book out of the footwell of my car and taps out a line. Her hands shake. She rolls up a twenty and explains how to do it. I watch, thinking how discombobulated she seems. But what do I know? Most of Hollywood is high as a kite. Maybe I’m wrong and they’re right. Maybe my determination to do this monastically sober is just silly. My whole life I’ve been offered drugs and turned them down, probably because I’ve seen nothing but the harm that comes from them. Even Zack getting blazed is no temptation, but he sure as hell couldn’t dare criticize me if I experimented. Just this once, I tell myself. 
I take the rolled twenty and position it alongside the rail of powder. I’m not stupid—I know meth is a serious drug. But it’s a one time deal. No harm, no foul.
Yet somehow I can’t. The mind is willing, but the spirit balks.
Jan stares at me anxiously. All at once I realize why she’s here. Jan wants me to like it. She wants me to want more. And who would I buy from? Jan. It’s the simple economics of addiction.
I hand the book back to her. “I’ll pass.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Are you nuts? Why not?”
I give her a straight answer, one I hadn’t realized was true until just now. “It’s not who I am.”
Jan’s pupils are the size of pinheads. Her short red hair sticks up at all kinds of crazy angles. I get the distinct impression she thinks I’m a moron. “That’s a load of crap,” she says. “What, you’re going to get all morally superior on me?”
“I’m not trying to act superior.”
“Then what’s your problem?”
How am I going to explain this to someone who’s wound tighter than the inside of a golf ball? “It would be like you wearing a Swastika, Jan. You’re not a Nazi. That’s not who you are.”
“Are you calling me a Nazi?”
“No! Will you listen? What I’m saying is this. For most people, life is about breaking out of their boxes. I was born outside the box, so for me, life is about finding boundaries. And this, apparently, is one of them.”
Jan’s expression changes from irritation to pity. “Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? Because I don’t.”
“Yes, actually. I think I just came one step closer to knowing who I am.”

Stacey Keith is the award-winning author of the Dreams Come True series
(Kensington Books), DREAM ON, SWEET DREAMS and DREAM LOVER, in
addition to A WEDDING ON BLUEBIRD WAY with New York Times Bestseller
authors Janet Dailey, Lori Wilde and the talented Allyson Charles.

Twice a Golden Heart finalist, Stacey has won a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a
Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place
finishes in Romance Writers of America contests. 

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories, Stacey
doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in
fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, which are crammed into
all corners of the house. She now lives in Civita Castellana, a
 medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and spends
her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th century church.

The two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla
genovese without burning down the kitchen and swearing volubly
in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures. 

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