I first became aware of Laila Lucent, author of The Yoga Stripper: A Las Vegas Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Namaste, a few weeks when back I was listening to Penn's Sunday School, which is the podcast of Penn Jillette (who is, of course, one half of the iconic magic duo Penn & Teller). Lucent grew up in rural Ohio, before taking off to Brazil when she was 16 to be a high school exchange student for a year.
She studied at The Ohio State University and, upon graduating, she headed to Las Vegas where she decided to be professionally topless. Since publishing her memoir, Lucent has moved to Los Angeles where, along with teaching yoga (certified to teach Envision Yoga and Vinyasa Flow), she is pursuing a career as a television writer.
Without further ado, here are 10 questions for Laila Lucent...
1. What would you like readers to know about The Yoga Stripper?
'The Yoga Stripper' is an inside look at my two years working at the best strip club in Las Vegas, and probably the most famous strip club in the world, the Spearmint Rhino. The book is 100% true (unless it's my parents asking), really funny and has a lot of heart. The take away message of 'The Yoga Stripper' is that women are so much more powerful and so much more in control than most of them realize, and that everyone should have sex with the damn lights on!
2. What drove you to write The Yoga Stripper?
Honestly, I just always wanted to try working as a stripper. And I was right. It was awesome! I figured writing a book about stripping would make me appear more responsible than I actually am. Also, I met some of the most amazing women of my life working at Spearmint Rhino, and I wanted the world to know that they exist. 'The Yoga Stripper' was written for them.
3. How did you end being interviewed on Penn's Sunday School?
Penn Jillette has been such a terrific influence on my life. I can't even begin to explain how much he's meant to me, how much he's taught me, and how many disgusting jokes he's told me. Through weird coincidence, Penn's wonderful wife, Emily, was one of my very first friends in Las Vegas. Through Emily, I became friends with Penn (lucky girl, I know), and I started going to his weekly Movie Night at his really awesome house, The Slammer. Every week, a group of us (sometimes I was the only girl) got together and ate really terrible food, watched and made fun of a movie together. Everyone at Movie Night knew I was writing a book, and when I finally got it out, Penn was wonderful enough to have me on Penn's Sunday School to promote it.
4. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities?
I love Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In fact, my stripper name was Kesey. I'm working towards getting employed as a television writer, and I really admire the careers of Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling. Hopefully, I'll get to meet them one day. Also, anyone who is serious about writing a worthwhile story should read 'Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting' by Robert McKee.
5. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well as The Yoga Stripper?
I still have a long way to go on this. I've been really slacking on marketing (which is at least as important as what you've written for book sales). I started a Twitter account and I badgered my friends on Facebook to buy my book. I gave copies of 'The Yoga Stripper' away at Improv Vegas's weekly gathering of comedy kids, and at my going away party to all of my friends. Amazon's KDP Select program has definitely helped boost sales. And finally, I recommend reading and applying the advice of the book How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks by Jason Matthews. He has amazingly useful (and free) marketing advice.
6. Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?
You just gotta write. I know there are a million distractions and excuses, but you just gotta write or, unfortunately, you're not a writer. I'd go to the coffee shop down the street from my apartment and purposefully deprive myself of the Internet. I figured out my theme, and then I sorted through all of my crazy Vegas stories to figure out which ones best made the point I wanted to make. Thanks to stripping, I had my weeks free, and that gave me the time I needed to grind it out. The editing was the hardest part. I started with the big stuff, cutting out entire chapters, and then I got down to the minutia (ie. "Is 'awhile' one word or two? Better Google it.")
7. Do you find there to be any underlining similarities between yoga, stripping, and writing?
Those are the three things that I can convince people to pay me to do. Yay! And they're all things that I get a big kick out of. They've all helped shape me into the person I am today. I love all three.
8. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?
I'll be writing for a hit television show in L.A., poised to become a head writer on the next show I work on. Or I'll be rereading this article and crying myself to sleep while lamenting what a miserable idiot failure I am. It might not work out how I want it to, but that'll be okay, too, because success is but a symptom of the disease. I'm in this game to create art that makes me feel proud and that I love. Wherever and however I end up doing that, I'll be happy.
9. What are you currently working on?
Penn's Sunday School cohost (and about the coolest guy ever!), Matt Donnelly, informed me that all of his friends writing for television shows have two original pilots written as well as two spec scripts. I have a lot to work on. I'm writing a spec script for the TV show 'Girls' and most likely one for 'The Mindy Project.' Then an original kind of 'Entourage'-esque show about stripping in Las Vegas, and a sitcom about these guys that live together in college.
10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?
Write a book and publish it. That's all. The only thing stopping you is you. Ding dong, the publishing gate keepers are dead! When I asked him over a year ago if I should try and publish 'The Yoga Stripper' through a traditional publisher or self-publish, Penn told me, "All of the cool kids are self-publishing." Also, if at all possible, get your friends to help you! My friends Lana Hines Strong and Ravi Krishnaney edited my book. Ashley Ellwood Photography staged a cover intervention with me on my original cover. She and Chris Fore Photography designed my amazing cover. My friend, NYT best selling author Larry "Ratso" Sloman, gave me writing advice and helped me to write a better introduction chapter. Be nice to people, and they'll want to help you succeed.
I’d like to thank Laila Lucent for spending some time here on Inside Martin. If you’d like to learn more about Laila and her work, you can check out her website, The Yoga Stripper. You can also check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Buy The Yoga Stripper: A Las Vegas Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Namaste on Amazon: