Oct. 6, 2020
By SUSAN MINUK
The Good Stripper: A Soccer Mom’s Memoir of Lies, Loss And Lapdances (Sutherland House Books) offers readers a poignant and salacious story rife with lessons of trauma, resilience, strength and hope.
This is no ordinary Jewish suburban soccer mom’s story.
At the outset, we meet author Marci Warhaft as a doting mother of two young sons who finds herself taking it all off in front of paying customers.
Warhaft swiftly introduces readers to Cassidy, her stripper persona.
“‘Gentlemen! Put your hands together and welcome Cassidy to the stage!’” she writes. “I move to the front of the stage and swing my hips from side to side while scanning the roomful of strangers looking up at me. First song, clothes stay on. Second song, top comes off. By the middle of the third song…naked.”
Conceded Warhaft in a CJR interview, “This wasn’t the life I envisioned for myself.”
The Good Stripper reveals the punishing circumstances and self-destructive behaviours that shaped Warhaft’s early adulthood, including a bank-robbing stepfather, eating disorders, sexual misadventures with a manipulative husband, and the loss of her beloved mother.
At 50, Warhaft is a survivor of deep-seated trauma and shame.
Jewish-born in Montreal, she describes her younger self as “confident and outspoken,” and very close with her family. A good student and dance lover, Warhaft was accepted into Dawson College’s prestigious Dome Theatre school.
She was 17 when she lost her brother. His death shaped her life forever.
“I was not emotionally equipped for life without Billy,” she recalled. “When Billy passed away, the only thing that gave me solace was the book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I carried that book with me like a bible for a year.”
Following her brother’s death, Warhaft developed an eating disorder that lasted through her 40s. To help her survive, she decided to perform random acts of kindness. Instead of mourning her brother’s death, she would celebrate his life.
“I’d visit a coffee shop and purchase maybe 20 cups of coffee so the next 20 people who come in to the shop would get their coffee for free,” Warhaft recounted. “I’ve brought flowers to seniors’ home and toys to children’s hospitals.”
By the year 2000, a rare adverse reaction to an antibiotic put Warhaft in the hospital fighting for her life. She was five months pregnant with a 16-month-old son at home.
The experience left her with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“I was given a 25 percent chance to live, spending two months in the hospital and 17 days in the ICU with kidney and respiratory failure,” Warhaft said.
Warhaft explained that her many surgery scars represent fear, loss and pain, while her tattoos speak to hope, love and survival.
She proudly boasts 18 chai tattoos on her body, all reflecting qualities she believes she has come to embody: “Courage”, “Endure, Persist, Prevail” and “Strength” are just a few of her personal mantras.
An especially poignant tattoo on her inner forearm reads, “You Are Loved.” It refers to the end of her marriage.
“The tattoo artist traced the words ‘You’ and ‘Are’ from handwritten letters from my mother and brother. It is their handwriting on my arm and serves as a reminder that no matter what happens, I will always be loved by them.”
Now vibrant and healthy, Warhaft lives in Toronto with her young-adult sons. As a recognized expert on body image and self-esteem, she is the author of The Body Image Survival Guide For Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive, and speaks to schoolchildren across Ontario in her “Fit vs. Fiction” body image workshops.
She dedicates her latest book to anyone “struggling to forgive themselves for the mistakes they made when they were just trying to survive.”
The Good Stripper was released Sept. 22 is available on Amazon, Kindle and in bookstores.