An exclusive interview with lap dancer Anna Vasileva
Strip Magazine was honoured to meet one of the most inspirational strip artist performers and mum-of-one-Anna Vasileva.
Originally from Russia, Anna fled her country along with her daughter to protect her child from systematic abuse and landed a job as a stripper in a premier Los Angeles club. And she never looked back since.
Today, she shared with us her most vulnerable secrets and how the strip industry has helped her get her life back.
Letty: Hi Anna, such a pleasure to meet you today. I read your email thousands of times and was really moved by your story, strong personality and the love that drove you through so many challenges few of us would have survived. Tell us a bit more about you.
Anna: Thank you Letty. It was actually my child that kept me going through those heavy darker times when I was dependent or rather thought that I was dependent on my family. My daughter is my freedom and my motivation for success. I have earned industry awards and good financial gains over the years, but she is my greatest achievement so far.
Letty: So, how did it all start?
Anna: I was raised in a small town in Russia in a very abusive household.
My parents mistreated me physically and verbally every chance they got. This continued through my early adult life and even after I had my daughter. Sadly, she became the source of continuous mistreatment and abuse too.
Letty: Did your partner not show any support to stop this nightmare. Especially when you say your kid was involved?
Anna: I wish I can say he did but you can imagine the pattern I have witnessed all my life and the type of man I chose to be my partner.
No, in his best times, he just couldn’t care less what my daughter or I were going through. In his worst he just followed their example.
Letty: When did you decide that enough is enough?
Anna: It was right after a series of very bad interactions with my parents and partner. My daughter was 2-years-old at the time and I was working in a shop to save some money for her kindergarten while a friend of mine was caring for her.
As a result, my child started to make nervous crisis crying all day and night. I took her to a paediatrician, shared him what happened, and he told me she was traumatized. I had to call the police and children’s protection services and break free from those people.
I also remember calling a friend who just went to work in LA and literally begged her for help. She took matters at heart and spoke to the manager of the club to audition me for a dancer.
I used up all my savings to get me and my daughter a flying ticket to LA and a visa. I remember we didn’t have enough money even to pay for our luggage, so packed whatever we could take in the personal luggage bags and fled Russia! Thanks God, I had this great friend who sheltered us and two days later I got the job! I was so grateful they gave us a second chance for life!
Letty: The ordeal you have been through is unimaginable! I am really happy you got this opportunity. How did you find your new life as a stripper?
Anna: I found it as the best thing that has ever happened to me!
I mean I don’t want to get anyone under a certain delusion that we strippers have the perfect lives or jobs but the rewards it gave me was beyond my expectations!
I was able to watch my daughter get healthy and happy again, to provide not only for her basic survival but to get her to Disney, take her to dancing classes, buy her Christmas presents. This means so so much to me!
Any challenge I have faced in my job as a stripper is worthy if I am able to give my child the live, she truly deserves!
Letty: You both deserve to be happy Anna. I can see from your letter that you are a very modest and down to earth person. How did your job as a stripper affect your self-esteem?
Anna: It completely transformed my self-esteem.
I was raised to believe that I am unworthy, insignificant, that my emotions don’t matter, that I am not pretty or someone who deserves love.
When I started working in the club though, I met people who though that I am beautiful as a woman and a person, customers frequently told me that I was intelligent, funny and a great joy to be around-words I hardly ever heard before in my life. Men adored me, and I was wondering first if they are not under a big delusion about me. But I learned over the years that I was worthy, that I was a good human being worthy of love and respect. In the strip industry I learned how to love myself and my body and how to connect again with my spiritual self which is very important for everyone who has experienced an emotional abuse and trauma.
Letty: It has been a long spiritual and emotional journey for you Anna. What were the most important lessons you have learned from it?
Anna: I learned how to give in a better way! It sounds very silly, but although I have been empathetic and caring in my early years too, it was only after I got out of my own shell, of my own negative feelings that I started to really live!
I mean, I have now a much bigger capacity to help people and especially people that have had similar experience to mine.
At present, I am able to both fund and volunteer to support abused and neglected children throughout various organizations, I run online courses how to help people claim back their lives and have spoken to many teenagers and youngsters that had experienced depression and are feeling suicidal or are harming themselves.
In the past, I never had the confidence, energy or thought how to put myself together and do these things. The strip industry helped me massively to start speaking again to people, start living a normal life!
Letty: This is all amazing Anna and from all our team I wish you to continue your incredible work and journey! One last question, what do you think about the general stigmas and taboos that the striptease industry is facing nowadays?
Anna: I think that people should try to see the striptease industry on a deeper level. It might have its faults and problems as any industry, but it still shouldn’t be outcasted and labelled as this industry had saved not one or two lives! Most of the women who I have connected with that work as strippers have experienced a lot of pain and trauma in their past and have ultimately found a life and a future in the world of striptease.
I want to say something that can sound really nasty to some people but the so called ‘feminists’ who judge us are not much different from the abusive narcissists I have encountered in my life.
They will turn their back on you and be deaf, when you are jobless, hopeless and screaming for help but will then tear you apart when you have got your head above the water and gasped your first breath from a long time.
I think its society’s view of us that is responsible for the majority of the problems in the strip industry. If they could only see us as human beings who are trying to make the best out of our lives however damaged they were in the past things would be different. It would only be when they actually start respecting us, that the industry will be transformed into a much safer and better place for all of us.
Letty: Thank you for being here today Anna!
Anna: Thanks for having me Letty!