London (ANI): British jazz-pop singer Victoria Hart has opened up about how she signed a 1.5million pound record deal and then ended up becoming a stripper. Hart, who had been working as a singing waitress in London restaurant The Naked Turtle, had become an overnight sensation after performing for actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt at the Cannes Film Festival.
She signed a record deal, sang alongside some of the world's top artists and was told she'd be as big as The Beatles. But it was not so, as after signing the deal, she was dumped by her record label, left broke, homeless, thousands of pounds in debt and heartbroken after her long-term love left her.
"I had nothing left. I was terrified and things seemed to be getting worse and worse," the Mirror quoted her as recalling. "I was living with my boyfriend, doing fewer gigs in smaller venues and I felt trapped. From getting paid 20,000 pounds for a half-hour slot playing piano, I was suddenly doing gigs for a few hundred quid. Going from all the hype back to where I'd started spoiled it. Then me and my boyfriend split and I was devastated. I was left to pay all our bills and soon I was thousands of pounds in debt," she said.
In order to pay off her debt, she moved in with her parents. "It was awful because I'd lived on my own since I was 16, working and making my own money," she said. "It felt like I was accepting I'd failed. As they'd just moved back, they were living in a two-bed flat, and I had to share a bed with my little sister. As mortified as I was, my dad paid off my debts. I was so grateful but vowed to pay him back," she revealed.
And then as she began to sink into depression, Hart turned to stripping in a desperate move to repay her debts and get her life back on track. "Going to the club that first night was so scary," she recalls.
"I got the train out of London and my hands were sweating - I felt so sick. When I got there they told me to dance for a bouncer to see if I was good enough. I took all my clothes off - it was scary but I managed to get through it. I'm a performer so I just thought of this the same way and blocked off my nerves, the way I've always done when I'm singing," she revealed.
Hart met an old friend who worked as a stripper in a club called The Cave in Chelmsford, Essex. "I asked her what it was like and she agreed to take me along. I was so scared and felt sick on my way there, I couldn't believe what I was doing," she said.
"But once the first dance was over, I thought I might as well carry on. Before long I was working there three nights a week, 300 pounds a time. The girls were great, you would never dream they worked in a place like that. And the men weren't as awful as you'd think. Maybe it was because the club was out of London, but it felt quite safe. I felt like I was acting and the men didn't give me any hassle," she said.
As Hart settled into work as a stripper, she lied to friends and family because she knew how horrified they'd be if they knew the truth. "I told everyone I was working in a bar in London, the hours were really long and I made great tips. As the cash built up and I gave more and more back to my dad, I started to feel happy again," she explained.
Soon her plans seemed to be coming together, and after paying her father back, she moved into a flat with friends and was setting up gigs and preparing to relaunch her music career. She was planning to quit stripping within weeks, when she was caught. "Then it happened. I'd been caught and the fact I was a stripper was in the papers. I was warned the day before and collapsed to the ground," she said.
"I had to tell my parents before they read it and I was terrified. The worst thing was my 21st birthday was the next day. My dad was so angry he wouldn't come to my party, but Mum came for moral support. I was so mortified and ashamed of myself. Dad had to listen to sleazy comments from work colleagues - I've never felt so guilty in my life. I thought they'd never forgive me. But thankfully, after a few awful months, things are getting back to normal with them. And I'm really excited about my future again, although this time I don't want overnight success, I'll work steadily for it," she said.
Now Hart is hoping to put together an all-girl jazz band. "I have so many ideas. I want to do my own thing, but build it up slowly so I can enjoy making music," she said. "I've swallowed my pride and I'm happy to start again from the beginning. I'm only 21 so there's plenty of time to do it properly now, my way," she added.