A WALK IN HER SHOES
3 years ago I created an art exhibit called "A walk in Her Shoes"...
Inspired by a single shoe that got packed away many many years ago from my days as a “dancer in the industry"
If you don't know my story well you probably don't know what I mean…. My whole life I dreamed of going to LA and making it in the music business, and at 19 I finally took the leap and came to LA. My second day in Hollywood I was sold by someone I trusted to help me settle in!
No one knew me here and no one knew where I was, so yes, it can happen... someone sold me to a drug dealer for an eight ball of cocaine. For 3 months I lived in fear and was afraid to leave the house. To get away from him, I went to work as a dancer in a bikini bar to make some quick money. I became heavily addicted to drugs to numb the pain and hopelessness I felt. The pit I was in grew deeper and my dept got bigger so I went to work in xxx strip clubs to attempt to make more money. While there I fell into a relationship with a guy, I didn’t know was a Pimp.
I managed to get a few jobs in the movies as a choreographer and as a body double. But my drug addiction was like quicksand, and I couldn't get away from it.
I made a friend and began working with her, as an escort. She was a madam and the clientele she introduced me to were "Hollywood’s Elite and Rock legends".
But this was not how I wanted to “make it”.
Life in the fast lane was wild but it came to a crashing halt when I was arrested for car theft and drug possession and put in Sybil Brand a women's prison.
It was 10 years before I was able to escape such a very dark lifestyle of exploitation in the commercial sex exploitation.
But back to the shoes…
I have always loved shoes and I've often said: "if these shoes could talk"...
After getting out of the industry I had disposed of most of the evidence of my past in that industry except for this one pair of shoes.
I kept them because they weren't typical stilettos. They were funkier. A little retro and a little before there time. They had a European heel (chunkier) and with a slight platform and they were white.
I loved those shoes and thought why not hang onto them? I can still wear them. So I kept them even after quitting the business.
Eventually one of the shoes apparently had disappeared who knows where and at what point they were separated…
but I can tell you that the last appearance of the pair together was seen on September 25th, 1994. A most memorable and life-changing day!
Accompanied by a knee length wedding dress with poofy sleeves.
The dress was the “something borrowed”. In fact, the shoes were all I owned.
The night before they would make their final debut, I cleaned them up and tried to erase all scuffs from being tossed around in dressing rooms and dirty stages.
The next time I would put them on I wouldn't be wearing them on a stage in a smoke-filled room, late at night. This time the shoes would walk down a different aisle, and instead of entertaining the masses I would be walking toward only one. The one.
The morning came and My whole life was about to change!
At the church, I got ready and put on the shoes for the last time. All of a sudden it felt like those shoes weighed a ton! I could barely lift my feet off the ground!
Standing there at the back of the church waiting, so many emotions flooded my heart. The sadness and shame of being fatherless standing alone became overwhelming.
…I always wondered what this day was going to feel like.
These are the moments when a girl looks for the man next to her to tell her she's beautiful and he's so proud of her. But that wasn't going to be my story. There was no one waiting to walk me down the aisle.
So here I was, alone and these shoes that I had danced in, were now so heavy, and I felt paralyzed to move. The wedding march was playing but I couldn't move. I looked down at my shoes… scenes of my past flashed and I began to cry.
I didn't know what to do, Suddenly I felt a hand grab mine. I looked up and there he was. My groom came to get me. He would take it from here. I wouldn't have to walk alone anymore. I leaned into him and together we walked down the aisle.
A few months later the shoes were thrown in a box and forgotten about.
Until many years later. We had just moved, I was unpacking boxes, and there it was. A lone white shoe. I had no idea cleaning and unpacking boxes that day I would come across it.
Wow! I didn't even know it was lost until it was found!
That shoe represents so many memories, so many decisions, loneliness, AND redemption.
What a “blast from the past”
Unpacking that box opened up a door that would lead me to begin another big journey! A journey of “Unpacking” a great many things about my past and my story that had been hidden, buried deep inside. It is a story that needed to be told, processed, and even honored!
I have met many women like me, who have such a history of untold past abuse & shame and their stories are stories of strength, courage, and redemption and also need to be told!
I created A WALK IN HER SHOES as a tribute to these brave liberators who are helping others to and showing them the way to freedom!
Each shoe in this exhibit is a story of a survivor. Stories of women who were sexually abused as children, that led them on a long road. These are Victims of Human Trafficking and have suffered exploitation and trauma thru various forms in the commercial sex industry.
A WALK IN HER SHOES consists of 14 shoes placed on 14 podiums. Through headphones you will hear the 3 min story told by the survivor while seeing her shoe. (Also translated in Spanish)
If you would like to know more or how to book this exhibit please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibit has been shown at various locations opening with The Cherished Gala, “A Walk In Her Shoes,” (see photo) The Mexican Consulate, LBGTQ Youth Center, Newport Library and many more to come.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou