Sara Jaye Weiss/Startraks
08/18/2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
No need for her castmates to do any digging! The outspoken Real Housewives of Atlanta
star NeNe Leakes
is coming right out with a revelation from her past: She was a stripper. And she's not ashamed.
In her new memoir, Never Make the Same Mistake Twice
, in stores now, the reality star opens up about her struggles with abusive relationships and the trials she endured. At one point, Leakes writes in a chapter called "What You Won't Do, You'll Do For Love," she took a job as a stripper at an Atlanta club.
"Yes, I was a stripper, a woman who took her clothes off and danced for dollars," she writes. "Let the judgment ensue. I mean, it's easy enough to do, right?"
Leakes explains that she had just ended her relationship with the father of her eldest son, Brice, and she was living with her son and a roommate. "My son was in private school, his father wasn't chipping in for pull-ups or food, I had no job and no money coming in, the rent was past due, and the super told me and my roommate that our condo owner was about to put us out," she writes. "So I did what I had to do."
After answering an ad in the newspaper, Leakes nabbed the job at "the most glamorous upscale gentlemen's club in Georgia" on the spot - though she didn't have any experience taking off her clothes or dancing in public.
Following a learning curve -- and some very lurid details about her costumes and fellow dancers -- the Atlanta Housewives
star, who performed under the name "Silk," writes that she came to feel comfortable and powerful on stage. "I felt powerful in front of those men," she writes. "They were obviously there to see what I had, and I quickly realized that those men weren't there to make me feel bad about myself."
"Quite the contrary," she continues. "They were there to make me feel good."
Still, Leakes reveals that career as a dancer took a darker turn for a time. She quit the high-profile club after her family heard about her dancing and worked at a seedier establishment. "Men can do some really filthy things in the club," she writes. "I can tell you this much."
After quitting her job there, Leakes says she returned to another upscale establishment but eventually met her now-husband, Gregg, who persuaded her to stop dancing. "He was good to me," she writes.
So, does Leakes regret her dancing past? Not at all. She calls the experience "the ultimate power trip," explaining that it built up her self-esteem. "With every piece of clothing I took off, the more I got my life back," she writes. "I worked this body like a well-oiled machine, and every movement got me closer to my goal of financial independence for me and my child."
-- Brian Orloff
Sara Jaye Weiss/Startraks