Special Photo: Aimee Jones. Missionaries with The World Race: Human Trafficking Edition joined Kasey McClure with 4Sarah on Saturday to reach out to women in Atlanta involved in the adult entertainment industry. Pictured, from left, are Kristin Bruce of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Julie Tellin of Sarasota, Fla., Kasey McClure of Covington; Lauren Hett of Wichita, Kan., Jenna Guthrie of Beaufort, S.C., and Alicia Britton of Muskega, Mich.
ATLANTA -- When Cloe saw herself dancing in a mirror she broke down and sobbed.
"I got really depressed and I kept saying, 'I shouldn't have to do this,'" she said.
But the money keeps drawing the 21-year-old -- who is raising a 2-year-old daughter and helping care for her boyfriend's three children -- back to the adult nightclub.
"I make more money in one week dancing than I made in three weeks working in retail," said Cloe, which is the name she uses when she dances.
Even with men tossing her money, Cloe said her first night on the stage was incredibly difficult.
"The first day was hard," she said. "I could not take my clothes off even with guys handing me $20."
But a few hours later -- and after five or six shots of liquor -- she relaxed and stripped.
That was seven weeks ago.
"Tonight I had only one shot, and that's just because a customer bought it for me," Cloe said Saturday night while standing in the parking lot of the strip club on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta after her shift ended.
Cloe said she doesn't plan to stay in the adult entertainment business for long -- just until she can get on her feet financially.
And that's where 4Sarah comes in, offering a lifeline for those girls who want to get out of the business but don't know where to turn.
4Sarah is a nonprofit, faith-based organization based in Newton County whose mission is "to empower change in the life direction of women and girls who are adult entertainers, prostitutes, escorts or victims of sexual exploitation," according to its website.
Kasey McClure founded 4Sarah in 2005. She said she began writing her business plan for 4Sarah when she was six months pregnant -- and only a few months after she quit dancing.
McClure remembers the exact date she left the business.
"It was July 27, 2003, and I quit cold turkey," she said.
McClure is open about her own past with sexual abuse and entering the adult entertainment business at an early age.
It wasn't an easy road, and when faced with steep debt, she was tempted to return to the business. But then she found out she was pregnant, and she knew she could not go back to dancing.
While many of the women involved in the adult entertainment industry have children and continue to dance, she did not want that life for her daughter. Finding a personal relationship with God and becoming involved in a church gave her the strength to build a better life.
Life in the adult entertainment business centers around money: You can make a significant amount of money -- McClure easily pulled in $1,000 a night -- but "all of your relationships are all built on money," McClure said.
And, she said, you spend it as quickly as you make it. It's a vicious cycle that many girls cannot break.
Today, McClure works to show girls in the adult entertainment business that there is a way out. Most of McClure's work involves visiting with dancers in clubs around Atlanta.
"I just tell them that I want them to know that someone loves them, and they are valuable," McClure said.
She offers each of the girls a gift bag with items donated to 4Sarah for these outreach missions. Items often include lotions or candles or the like. Recently, acclaimed Christian author Beth Moore donated to 4Sarah 60 copies of her book, "Discovering God's Purpose for Your Life." In every bag, McClure includes a brochure from 4Sarah and, most importantly, her phone number.
On Saturday, McClure and six college-age women with the Christian mission group, The World Race: Human Trafficking Edition, traveled to a number of strip clubs in Atlanta, armed with about 60 gift bags.
The group first visited a club on Buford Highway, but the club's owner asked them to leave.
"This has never happened before," McClure said.
Abby, the house mom at the club (The house mom manages the dancers' schedules and takes care of their needs while they are working), followed them out to the parking lot where the smell of liquor and cigarettes hung in the air.
"(The owner) has nothing against the organization, but said it was too crowded in there," she said.
Abby invited McClure to return another time when the owner wouldn't be there.
The next club McClure and the missionaries visited was a bit more accommodating. In the dressing room, some girls were in the process of getting ready to begin their shifts and others were taking a meal break. They all greeted McClure warmly and chatted comfortably. The girls were excited when she passed around the gift bags. Again, they invited her to return some other time.
"The reality is," McClure said, "for every girl we may help to get out, (the club owners) know there are 10 more waiting to get in."
When McClure isn't reaching out to dancers in the clubs, she helps those girls who are reaching out for help. Her phone rings often and McClure said she keeps a log of the date and time of every number that calls in. Most of the time, she said, girls are calling from phones provided by their pimps or traffickers so they can't leave messages.
On the way back to Covington on Saturday night after visiting strip clubs, McClure received a call from a 21-year-old mother of three who recently left the business but had been evicted from her apartment. McClure told her she would try to contact someone with Phoenix Pass, a transitional housing program in Conyers.
In March, McClure appeared on Atlanta Live, a local Christian television program, to talk about 4Sarah. As a result of her appearance, a pastor contacted her to ask for her help rescuing a young girl who had been sold into sex trafficking from Georgia and was in another state. The person who sold her into trafficking had stolen the woman's wallet, ID and money. McClure pooled resources with some other organizations, and together they were able to charter a plane to pick up the young girl and bring her to safety.
Once the girls have made the step away from the sex industry, McClure said her goal is to encourage them to get plugged in to a church.
"These girls need God," McClure said. "It's the only thing that can really help."
But in the meantime, McClure continues to reach out to women in the sex industry and let them know she loves them.
"The main thing when you go to the clubs," she said, "is to communicate with them and be sensitive that they are working. Ask them questions and then listen."