Updated: Jun 29
| This is the 314th story of Our Life Logs |
My story began on February 23, 1983. I was born in Trenton, New Jersey, but I grew up all over the country since my mother married a military man. I spent my late teens and early 20s in the Northern Virginia area.
From the outside looking in, we had everything an American Dream would consist of. My stepfather was in the intelligence department at the Pentagon and my mother was a registered nurse who had four more kids after me. We grew up in nice homes, rode in nice cars, and dressed in style. But on the inside, things became unfortunately dysfunctional as their marriage faded into nothing. I spent a lot of time wishing I was somebody else, and searched for ways to cope with these feelings.
What I leaned on was acting and performing. When I was on stage, I lit up from the inside out! It all came natural to me—dancing, modeling, singing and acting—I loved it all. I had taken dancing lessons from age three and up, and as a teenager, dancing became my outlet. I loved going to clubs so I could sway my hips to whatever beat the DJ was playing that night. It would transport me to another place where I was the star. When people would watch me dance, I would finally be seen and admired, and I interpreted that as being loved.
One night when I was 19, I decided to go to a club in the district of Columbia to see a musician that was newly famous for his hit radio song about being a “fake gangster.” I’m not sure if I’d get in trouble for saying his real name, so let’s just call him Treble. Everybody loved Treble, me included. His songs were hits all over America. I was planning to dance the night away but this night ended up dancing me away instead—into a new life.
While I was dancing during the show, Treble and his entourage plucked me and several other girls out of the crowd to dance on stage with them. After the concert was over, the girls and I went back to the hotel to hang out with the up-and-coming rapper. The night wore down and everybody was getting ready to go home, but Treble pulled me aside and invited me to stay for the remainder of the tour. At the time, I had just finished my first year of college and was living on my own, but I had just been dumped so I felt as though I had very few strings tying me down. I couldn’t think of a more exciting way to spend the summer. I was only 19 years old and star struck. Of course, I said yes! I could see it now—a new city every night, a chance to dance and maybe, just maybe, become a star myself.
We went from DC to West Virginia to Philly to New York. I felt like a star already by the time we arrived in New York. The taste of fame did come, and boy was it sweet. People would come up and ask me for my autograph just because I was with the band. It felt like my life changed overnight and I was in a miraculous dream. We stayed in the fanciest hotels, and everyone in Treble’s entourage was treated like a celebrity. Sometimes, people would see us and scream as if we were the rapper. It was both alarming and hilarious—unlike anything I had ever experienced! I was mesmerized by the mirage of wealth by fame and had a burning desire to keep living this lavish life and to never look back.
To keep this life, I’d have to maintain my own fame so I asked Treble if he could help record some of my own music. He agreed to help and told me we’d meet in Miami. I didn’t think anything of the location change. I was so ready for the next step in my idiotic “getting famous” plan that I didn’t see any red flags.
I naïvely flew to Miami alone. A yellow Hummer, florescent as a highlighter, picked me up. As I got in, I felt a man’s eyes on me. An unsettling air washed over me, and the guy in the back could tell. To ease my discomfort, he slipped into a gentlemen-like personality, turning down the music and introducing himself as Treble’s friend, Mike. He looked around 300 pounds and was dressed in a fresh-looking suit. Mike took me shopping, got my hair and nails done, and he even took me dancing later that night at a club on the beach. We danced on floors made from fish tanks, and everything was bottle service. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around at the club. This was the life I’d been dreaming about.
It was all perfect until we left Miami Beach to go to Mike’s estate. Three other girls were there, and Treble was nowhere in sight. One of the girls looked at me with sympathy when I said, “When is he going to get here?” She gave me the breakdown of what was really going on there. I wouldn’t be recording any music, at least not yet. If I wanted to record I would have to make a huge amount of money first. They pressured me into taking some explicitly seductive photos to start with. They told me they were for Treble’s album covers, but when I looked over one of their shoulders, I saw that my photos were actually being uploaded to an escorting website. That’s when it all clicked. There was never going to be a chance to record, not without selling my body first. I felt like such a fool.
“I don’t want my picture up on that site,” I protested.
The girls stared blankly at me and said, “We just spent thousands on you in the last 48 hours. You owe us.”
I stared in shock at these beautiful, young ladies and couldn’t believe how unaffected they were by what they were saying. They almost seemed proud of the life they were living. At this point, I knew I had to escape.
That night, I was dropped off with some of the girls at a strip club in Miami called Scarlets. A couple of the Miami Dolphins players had requested one of the girls I was with for a private dance. The perfect distraction, I thought. Knowing I wouldn’t be as heavily watched, I waited until no one was looking my way then I rushed for the door.
I ran for my life in my skimpy clothes and 7-inch stiletto heels—not ideal, but not impossible. I ran and ran until I made it to a gas station. I used their phone to call Mimi (my grandma). When she picked up, I was sobbing hysterically. Mimi was calm as she comforted me. I told her I needed to get out fast or I might not make it out alive. I had already witnessed one of the girls get beaten up for disobeying. I was shaking and trembling with fear thinking about what could happen to me if I was found. She booked me a hotel room for the night and flight home the following morning, assuring me that everything would be okay. She never judged me or spoke harshly. Thank God for grandmas.
I was never the same after this experience. I matured from it and learned that there truly are no shortcuts to success. It was a harsh reality check, but there are thorns to every rose and I didn’t want my thorns to keep me from blossoming and pursuing my dreams.
So over the next couple years, I returned to college and additionally, took acting classes to get myself ready. Finally, on my 21st birthday, I purchased a one-way ticket to Los Angeles to try my luck in Hollywood, determined to get famous the “right way” this time.
Thus, my grind to fame began! I started out in a teeny tiny studio apartment right down the street from University of Southern California campus. I got professional headshots done and went to auditions almost every day, landing several roles as an extra. I worked on “Be Cool,” “Fat Albert,” “American Band Camp,” and “Meet the Fockers.”
I also got to explore my music career. When I would tell people my name was Melodie, they guessed it was “Melody” and the first question was always, “Do you sing?” Well, of course, I did! It was what I’d wanted from the beginning. I paid my dues at some small venues and eventually had the opportunity to play some shows at The Knitting Factory which got the attention of a musician named Babyface. Unlike Treble, he was a businessman on top of a musician and he saw potential in me. Through him, I recorded some music through Edmond Towers, the exclusive, executive 17-floor studio.
I never mentioned my past battles, but I didn’t have to. My jazzy-blues music had a raspy tone to it, and through it, I would sing raw, soulful tracks about the things that made me the woman I am today. I rode the beats of my songs with soft fluctuations, letting the pain of my past go.
I never made it big-time in the eyes of the majority, but I left the industry satisfied of how far I’d gone knowing how I’d come from the young girl desperate for fame. Now I’m a mother to the sweetest four children, and I am married to my best friend, the man of my dreams. I am blessed to have survived all the stupid decisions I made in my 20s because of what I learned along the way.
Everybody has a story, a reason and a destination. It takes many scenes to make a movie and many chapters to make a book, and if you don’t sit through the hard parts, you’ll never reach the good ones. I’m glad I waited for mine.
This is the story of Melodie Hunter
Melodie, 36, now lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their four children. Growing up feeling like an outcast in her family, Melodie found comfort through dancing and singing. When she was 19, she was asked to go on tour with an up-and-coming rapper and her thirst for fame led her to almost end up in human trafficking as an escort. She thankfully escaped and was able to pursue entertainment through hard work. She eventually made peace with how far she’d gotten and left the industry to start the next stage of her life as a mother. Today, Melodie works to help women live to the best version of themselves. Melodie was able to get a life full of love and joy because she knows how to see the glass as half full and follows her heart, always.
This story first touched our hearts on February 14, 2019.
| Writer: Melodie Hunter | Editor: Kristen Petronio |