Modesto, California — A former model who now is a stripper says she wants to change the culture of prostitution.
She said she wants a little help from her fellow strippers.
“I need someone to take care of me, and someone who will give me the support and attention that I need,” said Maria Rosa, a Latina escort who started the Modesto Escorts Association in November.
“We’re a little bit different.
We are a little more feminine, a little better looking, we’re a lot more independent,” she said.
Maria Rosa is the first Latina to be named the president of an escort association in California.
The group is based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.
“For me, that’s why I started this association.
I wanted to empower the women of this city.
And it’s my hope that they can be a part of our community too,” Rosa said.
She’s hoping to inspire other women to join the ranks of the women’s escort industry, which is booming in the San Fernando Valley and in Orange County.
Many women are starting to take a stand.
“It’s a positive thing to be a striper.
It’s a great way to make money.
You can be out there for a while, but eventually you have to go back to your job,” said Monica Pineda, a local stripper who started her own business in 2014.
Pineda is proud to be working as a prostitute, but she said she has a lot of regrets.
“There are some days that I wish I could go back and do things a different way.
But there’s other days that are a lot better.
And those days I don’t regret it,” she added.
Pressed for more, Pinedas mother said she just wants to help the young woman she loves.
“I hope that she will be able to get out of prostitution and into her future, and then I’m just happy to be able help her,” she told the station.
Maria, who is a mother to four, said her mother has struggled with addiction and depression, but now she’s ready to take her mother’s name as the leader of the escort association.
Maria and her mom both started working as prostitutes in their teens, before moving to the Los Angeles area to study at the University of Southern California.
After her mother died in her late 20s, Maria took over her mothers business and began taking care of her.
She says her mom is always willing to help her.
“If she’s not, she’s happy to know that I’m doing it,” Maria said.
For now, Maria has the support of other women who’ve been working in the industry.
“She’s very strong.
She’s a tough cookie,” Maria told the Modestos ABC affiliate, KABC.”
This is my life.
This is my livelihood.
This isn’t a job, it’s not something I’m going to do,” she continued.
“And it’s something I want to do.”
Maria Rosa and her mother have decided to move forward together.
She hopes the organization will spread the word and give young women a platform to be themselves.
“Hopefully the next generation of women who want to be in this industry, they’ll know that it’s possible, it doesn’t have to be something that’s against you.
And that it can be something for you,” she concluded.