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Strippers for Jesus: Former Dancer Makes It Her Mission to Save Others
By DAVID WRIGHT and CHRIS JAMES
One former stripper is making it her life's work to go into strip clubs, not to ogle or dance, but to evangelize.
Jaime Hindman, 35, is hoping to save women's bodies and souls. She founded the group called "Divine" in Orange County, California. The group is part of a nationwide network of like-minded ministries called "Strip Church."
Hindman admits she's not exactly Mother Theresa, "but where did Jesus hang out?" she asked. "Who is going to go back and love these girls? Someone's gotta do it."
"Nightline" followed Hindman and her group through a night of club hopping, not to party but to distribute care packages to strippers.
Hindman worked as a stripper for three years and ended up with zero self-esteem, hating men. She said she was raped by one of her customers and claims "100 percent" of strippers are sexually assaulted or raped on the job. Now she spends Saturday nights stuffing pink paper bags with sugary treats, nail polish, makeup and and Christian literature in hopes to win over other dancers.
"Nightline" followed Hindman's group to four separate clubs. They made it inside all but one of the clubs, delivering packages but not winning any converts just yet. But Hindman was convinced one woman she met at a topless sports bar in Anaheim was ready.
"She just told us a horrific story about how a guy was basically ejaculated over her, and she basically had to pour alcohol over her body to feel clean again," Hindman said. "She's just trying to get out, but she has a family to support. She's been in it for 10 years."
Hindman can relate because she said she has been there herself.
But not all strippers want to be saved. Crysrtal, a dancer who worked at The Library Gentlemen's Club in Westminster, Calif., told "Nightline" she stripped to pay for law school.
"I graduated law school. I have two kids. I'm working on passing the bar," she said. "I think you only are degraded if you allow somebody to degrade you."
David Bailey, who owns The Library, said stripping is just adult entertainment.
"There's nothing wrong with the human body, and what we do is a legal form of entertainment," he said. "We have licenses. We pay taxes. We do all those things."
For Hindman, stripping became a horror show. After the rape, she said, something just switched off inside her. She kept dancing for two more years, even though she felt guilty about what she was doing, in part because she needed the money. And, she said, she kept needing more and more money, especially when she started using drugs to numb the humiliation of stripping.
"I lived in shame of it, for 10 years, and it still destroyed me, because I had no one to talk to about it, and I felt like people would be disgusted by who I was in the past," she said.
"I was this empty shell of anger, and directed [it] at every man that came in front of me. So if any man touched me, or grabbed me, which happened often, I would kick them with my heel," Hindman continued. "I just became so angry, and I became this person that just, I didn't recognize anymore, but felt completely trapped."
Hindman has since found Christian compassion, even for the men who frequent strip clubs. She said she seems them as sinners, guilty of lust, like she was. The Christian tradition teaches that love is all about giving yourself to other people, but lust is about taking.
Hindman said the dark side of this tawdry business tends to get lost in a culture where pop stars like Rihanna celebrate the sexiness of pole dancing, as she recently did in her music video, "Pour It Up." And, according to Hindman, the only difference between Miley Cyrus twerking at the Video Music Awards and getting a lap dance at a strip club is just the venue and the performer.
"You watch people like Miley Cyrus, or Rihanna, doing her video about stripping, it's for the girl that wants to be loved, and doesn't come from a good environment, and looks to these stars to resemble and, be like, 'oh, that must be how it is to be sexy,'" Hindman said. "How do you repair all the damage that you set yourself up with? It's years of layers of uncovering, to heal all that brokenness."
Her belief that other dancers also feel trapped, just as she did, is what motivates Hindman to go into clubs. She believes in her group's mission and prays she can help others find the path to redemption.
"I felt like I was stained and God could not remove that and he has," she said. "There's reason for everything in that God did something good with my story and all of our stories and every weekend I go back I get in awe of how great God is and it is all worth it."