Jul 10, 2008

5 Investigates: From Polygamy To Stripping

July 10, 2008

PHOENIX -- When Kathleen Mackert was 16 years old, her father took her out for a birthday dinner.
That night, he instructed her "of the physical demonstrations of how a woman's body responds to a man's," Mackert said.

On her 18th birthday, her father forced her to marry her step-brother.

"I thought, 'Thank God, at least I know him, and he doesn't have another wife,'" she said.
Mackert grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, where polygamy is a way of life.
Nevertheless, she, her husband and her four children eventually escaped the church.

Soon after, she and her husband split up. To support her children, Mackert worked as a firefighter, a police dispatcher and in health care -- but it wasn't enough.

So she turned to stripping.

"I was 31," she told 5 Investigates. "I had four children, and there were 21-year-old girls that I was competing with on stage for that dollar."

The profession gave her a sense of power, she told 5 Investigates.

"You were in a sexually charged environment, but you were in control of it," she said. "They couldn't touch you."

She said she never took advantage of the offers of drugs and sex she received; she did not want to risk losing her children.

She eventually left stripping, finding it "damaging."

"I was becoming more and more unhappy," she said.

And after years of counseling, Mackert now works as a bartender.

She likes "making people feel welcome and at home and like they belong," she said. "And I guess for me I always wanted to feel like that."


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