Two Decades Naked, by Leigh Hopkinson

Leigh Hopkinson was the least likely person to become a stripper, but after spending two decades naked, she realised it was her career – and her life. As a university student in Canterbury she worked at a succession of low-paying jobs that paid the rent and fit around her degree. However, none of them fit as well as stripping. What follows is a recount of her time stripping, both here in New Zealand and across the globe.

While memoirs of this type are fairly formulaic, Two Decades Naked breaks the mould as it offers an insight into the New Zealand scene. Hopkinson grew up in Greymouth on the West Coast, before heading off to boarding school and then university in Christchurch. From there the lucrative world of stripping saw her move to Melbourne and the United Kingdom.

Hopkinson doesn’t dwell on the psychology of her career choice, rather narrating her time in that world. It would have been more interesting to have had an insight to the emotional, intellectual and spiritual aftermath of her choice, rather than just a recount. Her personal relationships were obviously affected by her career choice, and it would have been interesting to see some deeper personal reflection on this. While she touches on the social stigma of stripping, she never delves into it with the passion I expected.

However, she does reveal a lot of her psyche as she approaches 40 and prepares to “hang up her g-string” when she realises she has spent two decades naked. It was interesting to see the change of the industry within her time, with the changing of ‘rules’ about touching to the growth of online porn. The friendships, and indeed Hopkinson’s warmth towards her fellow ‘nude sisters’ within the industry, were also unexpected and surprising.

The story is well told – Hopkinson has an associate degree in professional writing and editing as well as a diploma in journalism. She doesn’t mince words and gets the story across succinctly and effortlessly. It is an easy and interesting read of a world not everyone visits, but that everyone finds fascinating.

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TITLE: Two Decades Naked
AUTHOR(S): Leigh Hopkinson
PUBLISHER: Hachette
RRP: $37.99
ISBN: 9780733634833

Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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