The Las Vegas Courtesan

Hookers: Saved On The Strip

Oh where do I begin with this nauseating program? First of all, I want to put it out there that I have no issue with religious people so long as their “word” is not forced or imposed on others in a brainwashing manner. I have no issue with people and their belief systems, no matter what they are, so long as they do not harm or make a person’s life more miserable than they were in the first place. I have mentioned Annie Lobert before — a couple of years ago — when she first made news in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about her ministry. In retrospect, I think I spoke a little too highly of her mission having now watched the show.

This show is new on the Investigation Discovery Channel — Hookers: Saved on the Strip. It follows Annie Lobert and her ministry of Hookers for Jesus, with Destiny House, and the The Church at South Las Vegas, in a reality show format. Since only one episode has aired so far, it has mostly focused on the story of “Regina” and her process of attempting to get out of the industry through Annie’s ministry. This is where things start getting under my skin. Regina obviously has a head on her shoulders and could get out of the industry on her own. She could easily be educated or trained to be in a good job.  From the start, though, she is frustrated because of being told by HELP of Southern Nevada (a non-profit community program) that she is pretty much only good for a minimum wage job at best in retail or the restaurant service industry. This degrading awakening that Annie seems to support, of course, only further frustrates Regina because she could not even cover her car note and insurance with that level of income. Her job search goes on for over a month before Annie ever gets the clue that maybe Regina should see a lawyer to seal her records to help with job placement. This should have been step ONE. Why disappoint someone and drag them through more emotional strain when they are already dealing with the inner turmoil of completely changing their life around and THEN realize “oh yea if we had done this one step first you might have saved yourself some heartache, embarrassment, and time?” Later on in the show, Regina says she has been in their “program” for seven months now (?!?!?!) and things were coming to a boil and she wants out, of course… still with no job. Tempers start to flare and Annie brings up the love of Jesus and somehow this is going to make it all better. Seriously??

Annie continues to further degrade Regina by taking her to some of the most ghetto apartments that I can only imagine being on Twain between Paradise and Maryland Parkway (if you know Las Vegas you know what a crap area that is) as if to show her THIS is what you are worth now, Regina. This rundown complex, living by yourself, with your minimum wage job (that you still haven’t found) and living paycheck to paycheck with no real training or education. But don’t worry you have the love of God, still! What a real swift kick in the emotional pants.

Here are some steps that could have been taken to avoid more suffering for these poor girls trying to change their lives:
1) Get the girls away from their pimps (this seems to be one step they are doing correctly)
2) Take the girl to a lawyer who can help with their police records. If they really want to change their lives and move on, I don’t think a judge would refuse the sealing of their records since they are usually a string of misdemeanors, anyway.
3) Help the girl find something profitable they are interested in and educate them in that area. Regina doesn’t have any real interests, she says on the show, so help her find something that would be of interest to her.  No one wants to be stuck doing something they hate in the first place and failure would just be reinforced in their minds.
4) Help the girl find a real well-paying job. Not a $9 an hour, not even full time job. Don’t make her feel like a cheap whore that got thrown out on the street because that’s all you feel like she is worth. No one wants that and these girls probably already felt that way when they were with their pimp.  Make them feel good about their prospects and their future if you really want your program to succeed.

Of course none of these steps are really easy but they seem like some simple and practical guidelines. When you throw religion and the “will of God” into the mix of someone already trying to make major changes in their life, things become more confusing and frustrating, and drastically raise the guilt and shame levels, which is completely unnecessary. Why would this God want them to suffer by living in a ghetto apartment, barely scraping by, or not even getting a job? That would only make someone wonder “if this God and his love is so great then why do I feel like I’m suffering?”  Or is that actually the point? I smell tired old misogyny (yes, I realize Annie is a woman, but these are very old, man-inspired attitudes towards women and control of their choices) and hatred of sex workers — even legal stripping — it’s all sin, isn’t it, Annie?  Eyerolls…

One thing that Regina pointed out that Annie completely disagreed with was her idea of returning to stripping in the mean time. Annie thinks stripping is to prostitution like weed allegedly is to drugs: a “gateway” from one to the other (her words on the show.) Though this is somewhat true in my own case it isn’t for the vast majority of the strippers out there. I think that if Regina really wants to change her ways from the sex industry then she would keep strictly to stripping and would be okay with the money she was making. This could definitely provide the income she needed while going back to school and getting a real education in something she could make a career of, instead of working a degrading, dead end retail job until the end of time. At the very end of the show, though, they finally have Regina talk to an agent that might be able to help her get a job in leasing sales — apparently seven months after she entered the “program,” if they edited the show in a truthful fashion.

When I was watching the show, Annie’s actions and ministry brought me back to a philosophy class I took in college. In the readings on his Groundwork of the Metaphysic(s) of Morals by Immanuel Kant, and his cases of duty that he explains in the book, people are only inclined to donate their time or money to others because it is pleasurable in some way to them and makes them feel good. In the class it made me realize in some ways that people do charity work only to make them feel better about themselves. And how sometimes this type of behavior is selfish. I get this feeling from Annie. Call me harsh or cynical, but in the end, I get the sense that her main focus is only getting the girls out of the business to earn herself extra Jesus points, and she’s not really seeing the huge picture of what these girls REALLY need to change their lives — pragmatic professional help. Preaching the word of God and blaming it all on the devil on a stripper pole is not a way to solve the real problems of their lives and start over.

In the end, I want to see Regina succeed and I know Annie wants to see that as well, but what would really help is bringing more professionals into the program and less of leaving it up to God to fix. Adding the aid of attorneys, psychologists, professional career counselors, professional recruiters, and above all professional education and training would be the ideal situation and program to have. If going to church to have others support you and your journey to recovery is what you need then by all means include that too but it shouldn’t be the primary focus forced on these women to succeed. It’s a far, far, larger task to accomplish than simply leaving it up to God.

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16 Responses to “Hookers: Saved On The Strip”

  1. T702 Says:

    Actually, I believe Annie did mention what a great salesperson Regina is at the beginning of the job hunt & that she didn’t know why she wouldn’t persue that field. She said that’s what hookers do everyday – sell! Also remember that reality shows are generally set up by the producers to make things extra entertaining. The producers may be putting them up to things that wouldn’t happen w/o the cameras. I’m betting that was the case with waiting to see the attorney- they wanted to make a point about the criminal records these girls have. It’s a valid point if the point is to educate/entertain the viewer. Which for the network is the point. Selling out on this type of stuff to be on tv brings Annie more notoriety, which brings donations, which is able to help more girls. It’s a trade off for the few that have to waste their time & suffer a little while getting filmed. Annie may handle things more concisely when a good viewership isn’t at stake. Reality shows aren’t reality.

  2. Kelly James Says:

    I haven’t watched the show yet so limited on what I can say as I’m not fully informed BUT from what I’ve heard it presents a very skewed, stereotyped view of sex work that we as a community just don’t need any more of!!!

    Annie sounds like a condescending, narrowminded, hypocritical ingrate.

    But what do I know, I haven’t watched the show. Ahem.

    Your ideas on how to help these women are extremely reasonable and pragmatic. I hope Annie Lobert takes note. Perhaps she ought to recruit you as an advisor for “Hookers For Jesus”. It would be a solid first step towards forming the organization into something that actually helps women other than herself.

    Good post 🙂

    sincerely KJ

  3. lasvegascourtesan Says:

    Yes at the beginning of the show she said that she is a great sales person so why did it take 7 months to get around to helping with a sales related job? I don’t think any producer would be out there to purposely hold off on someone seeing a lawyer to seal records purely for production value. It makes the show look bad and really shows how much they are not doing for the women but further degrading and embarrassing themselves.
    I agree reality shows aren’t reality but this isn’t exactly VH1 and a silly show like Married to Rock… These are people who are really trying to do something better with their lives not see how much ridiculous plastic surgery they can get and what hunk this week they will score.

  4. Vanessa Says:

    Obviously being a woman of the cloth does not in any way qualify Annie as career or transition counselor. No amount of Jesus brownie points will qualify her as either one. As well intentioned as she is, the damaging side effects of her strategy with self esteem issues, lack of hope is equivalent to two steps ahead and one back. I’m in total agreement that utilizing a stripper job as a practical stepping stone along with appropriate professional counseling (attorneys, psychologists, ACTUAL career counselors) is more in line with setting Regina on the “righteous” path. Appreciate your sharing this story and your commentary.

  5. Socially Unlucky Says:

    Well said. I have not seen the show but know about the “ministry” featured. If girls want out of the biz I say more power to them. Religion should be left out of it tho. Too many people say they know God’s will and hurt others through it. That sucks. Help others because they want it, not because God told you to. Do it because you want to help, not because you think you know better than someone else. Everyone is important. Some people even like being hookers. Imagine that. Good work on this post. You have gained a new reader.

  6. donblackjack Says:

    Most churches of any size count attorneys, psychologists, career and financial counselors among their membership–many of which are willing to work pro bono and they don’t care one bit about Jesus brownie points. Helping others without thinking of oneself is what a true humble Christian is supposed to do. Until these credentialed professionals appear on the scene, Annie will make no progress. God helps them that help themselves.

  7. lasvegascourtesan Says:

    Yea until the pros show up on the scene it’s going to be a more tough road than it should be for these girls.

  8. SSpiffy Says:

    >>Don’t make her feel like a cheap whore that got thrown out on the street because that’s all you feel like she is worth.<<

    That's exactly the feeling I got when watching the show. Not sure if I'm going to watch any more, though they are set up on the DVR.

    As far as the "gateway" comment goes, you got it right and she's full of it.

  9. Bella Says:

    I felt uncomfortable watching the show, it seemed as though the whole industry was being lumped together.

    I.E., strippers do/will have sex for money, will get started doing drugs, will get a pimp, will get in over their heads and have to be “saved”

    I call BS, but unfortunately the avg Joe watching the program will swallow it all – hook line & sinker.

    This program does NOTHING to change the general public’s idea about today’s sexworkers and EVERYTHING to send the public’s perception of sexwork right back to the mid-70’s.

    Apologies on advance for the overly long response.


  10. Tim Says:

    The love that Jesus taught and the actions of people in his name are so different sometimes. You can’t help someone if you have ulterior motives: you help someone by finding out their real needs and finding ways to address them, not by having religion as an ulterior motive. You help someone in order to help them because they matter just as much as you do,, not in order to convert them or manipulate them or make them into a copy of yourself or get them to follow a lifestyle chosen for them by someone else. Jesus himself commented that the prostitutes he associated with were “closer to the kingdom of God” than some of the religious people of his time.

    I can’t say more because I haven’t seen the show, but it sounds as though the scheme needs a lot more informed input and a lot less dogma. It would then be a lot closer both to what Jesus taught and to being a real help to people.

  11. Joker_SATX Says:

    This Joker smells Hypocrisy doused with a side dish of Bullshit here.

    First off, Annie. I am so glad that she is out trying to save the hookers. She seems to be a nice and conservative person, enough so that if Jesus was indeed here he would probably ask her, “Are you a C or D cup?” All the while sporting a boner underneath his robes.

    I agree with you LVC, there are definite alterior motives here. The old “Look at what a service I am doing” reeks on this show.

    Lets remember kids, Jesus came not in Glory, but in humility. I think that if she were truly sincere about what she does, it wouldn’t be a TV show at all. She would take your advice as to the legal actions and help the girls, one by one on her own. Maybe getting a news spot once a year more or less on the good she is doing.

    No, No, No…This chick LOVES the camera. Loves the Attention and poses provocatively for the lens. And I tend to agree with you in that in the seven months Regina was out there, it really sucked to be her. But hey, it made GREAT TV.

    I feel bad for Regina. Seems to me like she is going from the frying pan, into the fire….and Jesus seems to be very MIA in helping her find the right way….

    Just Sayin….

  12. La Femme Says:

    I read your post, and then went to watch the episode…and I just couldn’t get through it, but it’s all you said it was, and worse. If they are going to Jesus-freak, at least make it slightly entertaining, instead of the occasional “hooker slang” like her being a “down ho.”

  13. Sarah Jane Says:

    Annie Lobert is a hypocritical poseur! She used to work at an auto body shop here in Vegas where I took my car to have a dent repaired once…and she encouraged me to commit insurance fraud. Granted, this was ten years ago…but even then she told me this big long sob story about how she used to be a stripper and her boyfriend (the much-older-than-her owner of the shop) “saved” her and put her on the right path. “Right” being subjective–in the very next breath she laid out for me how we could scam my insurance company! My impression was that she was a total nitwit, and time has pretty much proved me right.

  14. Dick Burns Says:

    Hookers for Jesus? Are you kidding me? This Annie character is a joke. First of all, she has NO training or education that helps transition people from being a provider of sexual services to a more traditional lifestyle.
    Second, who is this Jesus character? Has he ever shown up to help? I think not! I’ve never seen him….or know anyone who has. Relying on some non-entity for help will only prolong what is percieved as a bad situation, and make it more difficult for Regina to get the help she is looking for. Waiting for Jesus/God to help is tantamount to standing at the end of the Strip and waiting for the wind to blow hundred dollar bills into your purse. Good luck with that.
    And finally, why is it that when person A isn’t doing what person B deems “right”, person B is compelled to “fix” person A? I don’t like pickles on my hamburger…that doesn’t make it right or wrong…its just what I like. Why doesn’t Annie concentrate more on making her “ministry” a place where women can go to get the help they are looking for instead of a place that force feeds someone else’s idea of how they should live?
    Annie is in this to feel better about herself, period.

  15. Norma Stitz Says:

    In response to your statement about charity work and the real intentions of those donating time and money to help others:

    In the beginning of this post you say that you don’t mind what somebody’s belief system is, so long as it is not enforced upon others. I disagree wholeheartedly. The main goal of any organized religion is the conversion of as many people as possible to ensure the religion’s growth and to “save” as many “lost souls” as said church can. Anybody who isn’t completely blind knows that the real goal is to become the WEALTHIEST religion, and ultimately hold power and control of the poor and vulnerable.

    Now, addressing the charity work thing. I become genuinely disgusted when I see church functions holding charity events or helping those less fortunate. As a child and teenager, before discovering that there is no God, I would volunteer my time to work on charity functions. I did it not because it made me feel good about myself, or that I knew Jesus was looking down on high, but because I knew these people TRULY needed help and were too far gone/down to do it by themselves.

    The more I would volunteer, the more I would notice the attitudes of the people I worked with change when in the presence of those we were helping. Smiles, laughs, and talking to them like they were children. That made me sick. But what’s even worse is when we were all done for the day and everybody felt warm and fuzzy, some of these people would start laughing at the people we JUST helped. This fucking infuriates me.

    My point is, is that anybody who does charity work in the name of God is just as selfish as the ex-CEO of BP. They’re not doing it because it needs to be done, they’re doing it because they’re going to receive a treat later.

    This can also be said about companies that release products and “a portion of every [insert product name] sold will go to help [insert fashionable cause]. Diet Coke running a “Healthy Heart” campaign. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Breast Cancer awareness month is a profit hound for companies because they can announce to the world how charitable they are while giving their customers a false sense of superiority when they purchase their product for “a good cause”.

    If anybody feels like they’ve made a difference because they aim to buy RED Products, FUCK YOU.

    Fuck anybody who believes in God. Everything they say and do is to benefit themselves and to be able to say “Look God, I did GOOD huh?”.

  16. Kelly Says:

    Why doesn’t she help save people especially kids who are involved in gangs and violent crime. Wouldn’t that be more of a priority than the sale of sex. How about bringing back our soldiers home may-be Miss Lambert can do something to save them. Why all the hang-ups about sex? Is sex for hire so evil? Then they have all these save the hooker programs it is such a fraud because sex for hire is legal in brothels in Nevada. But when it is not legal and the state makes no tax money only then it becomes the most terrible thing in the world.

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