A lifelong hustler discovers the strip club scene: Part 1

Rosie Keo dropped out of high school and eventually became a stripper in New York City, where she said she was making as much as $3,000 a night before the 2008 financial crisis.
7:45 | 09/14/19

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Transcript for A lifelong hustler discovers the strip club scene: Part 1
I can't give up my secrets. New York has always been a city of dreams. It's more than dreams, it's fantasies. It attracts people who have made it or people who want to make it. Every time I come to Manhattan, I fit in. This is where I belong. The energy, the fast pace, the hustle. Rosie was from rockland county. She was smart. She was quick. When she was growing up she used to buy candy and bring it to school and sell it for a profit. My childhood was a little rough. My mom was working two or three jobs and my father was kind of absent. I was always the black sheep of the family. She dropped out of school and became a waitress at 17 years old. And that's when I started hustling, 'cause, you know, you work off of tips. You know, the harder you work and you nicer you are, the more money you're gonna get. Rosie is bubbly, smart. She's cunning, but not in a bad way. She was lured into working into a strip club when waiting tables at a diner next door to a strip club. The managers from that club would come in and Rosie was their waitress. They were like, "Oh, you're hot. You know, you should be working there." So for the hours she's putting in waiting tables at a diner, she says, "You know what? Man, I could be doing all that same amount of work and be making ten times the money I'm making." I always wanted to be in new York City dancing. You know there is a lot of money out there. When I was younger, I used to watch "G-string divas" on HBO. So, I was like, "Oh, if they can do it, I could do it." There were shows on television on cable TV about strippers that were sort of mainstreaming, if you will, the fact that women can make a living doing this. So you add to that Howard Stern talking and interviewing strippers who were becoming stars on his radio show. Is being a dancer at scores the greatest thing a girl can do? He glorified it. He made it look so glamorous. I mean, this is like one of the best looking girls I ever saw at scores. I was checking you out at scores. Scores girls always look good. Scores is basically the prototype of the high-end gentlemen's club, the superstar thing. It's a national brand, that is publicly traded and has clubs all over the country. So women were definitely aware that this job existed and this was a way to make good money fast. The first day, I think it was, like -- the quickest $2,000 or $3,000 I ever made. It felt great to have that power. The kind of gentlemen who went to gentlemen's clubs back in the day were, like, wall Street bros with a lot of money. At one point, Rosie was making about $10,000 a night from hedge fund managers. It's a rush. You get a high. You get a rush from it. Rosie was a good fit for this because she was pushing, she was hustling. She was able to read people. When you first meet a customer, you don't know what kind of buying power they have. First thing you got to do is have a drink with them. Is that somebody who's wealthy? Is that somebody who's here just to have one quick drink and look at a pretty woman, or is that somebody who's here to get hammered and to really spend? All of a sudden, the numbers are going off in your head. Like, okay, this guy makes "X" amount of dollars. He can afford the champagne room. No, the champagne room is where the girls would say, "Well, if you want a little extra something, we can take you to the fancy back room." They'd be escorted to these secret rooms, these private rooms, and that's when the credit cards would blow up. A champagne room is about $600 to $1,000 depending on where you are or what rooms you get. The more intoxicated you get, the more you're gonna spend. And that's the -- the game there. To make you spend more. To get you intoxicated. They start rolling out high-end liquor. Think about a bottle of champagne that you might spend $40 to purchase in a store. That bottle of champagne inside a strip club could be $500, even $1,000. The mark-ups are totally insane. Before you know it, that man has $50,000 charged to his credit card. When I was going to school and working at the same time, I was making my tuition in one night and I was like, "Oh, my gosh. School can wait." When these women are running those calculations and the men are walking in and the men are sitting down, they quickly stop being men and stop being people. They start being dollar figures, and all they want is they want more money. These men, they felt, were there just to see them with their clothes off, didn't take them as real people and they had a great deal of disdain for them. You see the worst of men when you work in a club. You see the scum of the Earth. They're trying to date you. They keep trying to tell you, "Oh, I want to sleep with you." You know diamond from the bronx, right? In the movie "Hustlers," cardi B, who's a huge star in the music world, plays one of the dancers. I'm good at that. And she was actually drawing on some personal experience, because she was a stripper in several New York City clubs. I just got so tired of constantly meeting men, knowing that I'm 18 and you, like, around 50 and you touching me. And you just -- you just feel like you own me. So you just say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." You play along. You just string it along for as long as you can and make the money and leave. It just make you feel like, "I don't care, I don't care. I'm gonna hustle you 'cause I know you tryin' to hustle my body." That's how I felt, like, a lot. The more someone upset me, the more I would work harder to get more money from them. And little by little, you start seeing why strippers, like, start to hate men. A lot of the club owners are men also. So you feel like they're treating you unfairly with unfair work conditions. Women can make a lot of money working as dancers or strippers at these clubs, but they're at a huge disadvantage because, for starters, they have to pay just to work at the club. In the city, it was about $300 to work. I don't know anybody else who has to pay to go to their job. There's 30 minutes before we get fined. Us girls have to get ready in a snap. They're also having to go around and tip everybody working inside these clubs. You have to tip a manager so that he will send you good clients. You have to pay out bartenders. There's all taxation there. Front hook. So in the movie there's a part where the character, destiny, she gets paid out by the manager. He pays her out and then he has his hand out and says, "40%." Minus 40% is $160. You're like, "No, I'm doing all the work. I show up every day, miserable, drinking to be here, putting up with nonsense. What did you do? You came in a suit." I was so upset that I keep working for hours, hours, and then I have to pay a fee, and then I'm leaving home with nothing. We were fed up with the clubs. We were fed up with the customers. We just said enough. I snapped. I gave him a bump of blow and

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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