“We got some other girls together and we went out to our first strip club.”
It may sound like the beginnings of a wild bachelorlette party but in fact it is elementary school teacher Tanya Huerter’s recollection of the first step she and two other women from Southern California took toward creating an outreach to the adult entertainment industry.
Huerter along with Lori Albee and Heather Veitch are the founders of JC’s Girls a ministry whose mission is to “seek to share God’s message of hope and forgiveness by reaching out in a nonjudgmental way to those who are in the sex industry.” The trio, who is affiliated with Sandals Church in Riverside, Ca, explodes any stereotype you may have regarding the term “church lady.” These aren’t your typical frumpy, finger waggers railing against smut. JC’s Girls are three thoughtful and committed women of faith who are attractive enough to make a living in the adult entertainment biz.
One of them actually did. Heather Veitch worked as an exotic dancer and soft core porn actress before turning her life over to God in 1999.
“I grew up in a very poor neighborhood, in a town called Muscoy (California), that has aired on the TV show ‘Cops” many times” she said. “My mom was an atheist. My dad was a super bad drug addict.” Veitch was sexually assaulted when she was 14, and by 17, she was pregnant by a boyfriend who walked out on her.
At 20 she got married to a man whom she eventually learned had serious psychological problems. Veitch fled – with her small son – to San Francisco and became a go-go dancer. From there, she moved down to Southern California, danced in a bikini bar, performed topless, and later, performed nude in Las Vegas clubs. But on the eve of the millennium in September of 1999 Veitch decided to change her ways. “Somehow I did believe in God and I believed in hell. So I didn’t want to go to hell, I was petrified to die.” She got married to her then live-in boyfriend and gave her life to God.
Veitch got out of the sex industry and found work as a hairstylist. She began witnessing to her husband and it wasn’t long before they were both attending church together. But Veitch soon found herself faced with yet another challenge: the judgment of those in her church who frowned on her past and gossiped about her.
She and her husband eventually found a more welcoming atmosphere at Sandals Church, where Veitch met Heurter and Albee, both of whom had been born into Christian homes and were comfortable in their faith but had grown somewhat complacent… that would soon change.
When she learned that a dancer friend of hers from her Vegas days named “Jeanine,” had died of alcoholism it hit Veitch close to home. “No one reached out to me when I was a dancer, most likely no one reached out to [Jeanine].” She got the idea of taking teams of women into strip bars and telling the female dancers about God.
With her pastor’s approval she recruited Heurter, Albee and several other women from their church to go to a strip club together on Good Friday 2005. Their approach was to each pick out a dancer and pay for a private lap dance. Once they were alone they told the dancer they wanted to speak with them about God’s incredible love and forgiveness. Heurter was more than a little apprehensive. “Heather prepared us as much as she could. We had no idea what to expect.”
Albee recalls the powerful reaction she got after telling a dancer that God loved her and would be there for her when she was ready: “Instantly, tears started welling in her eyes. At that point she gave me a big hug.” But when the stripper then asked Albee to pray for her, Albee experienced a conversion of her own. “I’m praying for her in the middle of this strip club…that moment in time completely changed my life. It confirmed within me, that’s where God wants me to be, growing and developing this ministry for these girls.”
JC’s Girls subsequently started an outreach to women in the porn industry, which was bit more difficult as adult movies are produced in studios on closed sets. To reach these women, JC’s Girls went to L.A. Erotica, a Los Angeles-based trade show for the adult industry.
Veitch looks back at that surreal moment, “A line forms to take our pictures and guys are surrounding us. We’ve got porn directors coming up to introduce themselves. They’d ask, ‘What movies are you in, where’s your web site?’ And I’d say, ‘Actually I’m here to talk to you about God.’ It was amazing and everybody was really nice about it.”
In January 2006, the girls went to the AVN convention in Las Vegas, the largest adult trade show in the country. In Sin City, they gave away DVD’s with their pictures on the cover. The men grabbed it up, thinking it was a porn film, but in reality the “movie” was a Gospel message.
Being mistaken for porn stars is actually part of JC’s Girls’ strategy. Veitch and her cohorts play up their sex appeal on their website and in their personal appearances because it adds to their credibility in an industry obsessed with physical beauty. “I understand the culture of these girls. They respect that” said Veitch in a recent television interview.
Their public appearances haven’t escaped the press or Hollywood. JC’s Girls recently signed with a top Hollywood agency – William Morris – and are now fielding offers for a reality series. In the meantime they continue to visit strip joints once a month to hang out with the sinners and preach God’s love; an approach JC Himself might relate to.