Dr. Monique and The Cupcake Girls 

An EXPO first: Mental healthcare for entertainers, courtesy of Dr. Monique and The Cupcake Girls.

Monday, August 21, 1 -2 pm

The EXPO’s “For your health” seminar for entertainers has a new addition: Dr. Monique of The Cupkake Girls, an organization that assists adult entertainers with their mental health.

(NOTE: This story appears in the July 2023 issue of ED Magazine.)

It’s not easy being an adult nightclub entertainer. The customers can sometimes be incredibly rude. There is constant competition amongst fellow entertainers. And entertainers are “rejected” on a nightly basis by customers in their quest to sell dances, VIP rooms, etc. They simultaneously play the role of sales person, therapist, girlfriend and secuctress, all while dealing with the temptation of intoxicants. 

And we haven’t even touched on their lives outside of the club: Families, relationships, school, maybe children as well. 

It’s no wonder that many entertainers struggle with their mental health, whether occasionally or even daily. Now, for the first time ever, the EXPO will introduce an organization whose sole purpose is to provide mental healthcare for entertainers.

Dr. Monique Martinez-Quiros (BHP, DBH, MS, LPC, LCPC, NCC) is a Pineapple Support Therapist, as well as The Cupcake Girls Vice Chair. Both Pineapple Support and The Cupcake Girls are nonprofit organizations: Pineapple Support (est. 2018) provides free 24/7 support and professional therapy to online adult and sex workers; while The Cupcake Girls (est. 2011) provides confidential mental health support to all those involved in the adult and sex industries. 

Dr. Monique is also owner and operator of Key Rose, LLC, and her private practice specializes in, among several other things, therapeutic support for adult and sex workers (including FSSWers). Additionally, Dr. Monique is a clinician and Youth Program Coordinator at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV).

Dr. Monique graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to share her extensive, holistic and judgement-free services with the hardworking performers in the adult nightclub industry in anticipation of her appearance on the “For your health” seminar for entertainers at EXPO 2023.

Of the two nonprofits Dr. Monique is involved in, The Cupcake Girls, for which she serves honorably as Vice Chair, is certainly her more involved role. She explains that The Cupcake Girls provides support to all adult and sex workers, regardless of whether it’s online, in-person, private or for agencies, etc. 

Dr. Monique first became involved with The Cupcake Girls as part of the Board of Directors last year, in 2022. Shortly after joining, she was asked to step up as Vice Chair; her important role in this nonprofit is an evident extension of her values, education and expertise. Dr. Monique has a doctorate in behavioral health and a master’s in mental health. Her father is an immigrant, which contributes to her care for assisting people in immigration evaluations. She originates from Tucson, Arizona, a city 35 minutes from the Mexican border.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for adult and sex workers, as there is a group of women in this work who have been my friends for many, many years” shares Dr. Monique. “I used to go to their clubs that they worked at, as a patron, before we became friends. They always had my back, even when I was down and out. Even when I was overweight and didn’t like anything about myself, they were always so supportive. They wouldn’t allow anyone to be mean to me. Over the years, they’ve helped me do so many things, and I’ve been able, with my skills and credentials, to help them in return: take care of themselves in their work, prepare their statements for nursing school or adventure into different careers. I’ve helped them to be confident in a way that they weren’t used to being confident in, and they’ve helped me do the same.”

At UNLV, Dr. Monique works for the community mental health clinic, UNLV Practice. She is also the coordinator for two programs: a rural mental health program that offers tele-mental health services to kids in Northern Nevada, as well as the youth clinic for which she site-supervises student clinicians who are in master level or doctorate level programs at UNLV.

Key Rose LLC is her private practice, which is strictly for willing adult and sex workers, sex trafficking survivors, individuals seeking immigration evaluations and high-conflict custody cases.

“My private practice is geared to the three populations that I have found that most therapists: a) don’t even realize there’s a need there; or b) are most likely to succeed in preying on their clients,” Dr. Monique explains. “They’re very vulnerable, each of them.”

“Do not personalize (abusive language from customers). I know that’s really tough, because it’s part of your job to make a human connection with someone, but you have to take care of yourself, and look for signs of your own burnout.” – Dr. Monique

Due to the nature of her work, Dr. Monique shares that her business requires a business liability insurance at a higher limit than most. 

“I also work very closely with attorneys who are vetted and non-predatory for each of these populations,” she says. “And every now and then, I am called to testify in court, either as an expert, or as a clinician.”

How does she balance all of these different practices and volunteer positions that she has?

“A lot of it overlaps, and I’m pretty good at time management,” Dr. Monique muses. “My private practice only sees clients about three days a week, and it’s not all day, maybe nine to 10 hours a week. I’m at ULNV probably 39 hours. And most of my work with Cupcake Girls can be done remotely, if it’s not an event. I do show up to whatever events are available, and most of them are family-friendly, so I’m able to take my child. That’s helpful, and I have a super supportive husband.”

At the “For your health” entertainers seminar, Dr. Monique will be discussing the importance of mental health, especially as it impacts something health is not always associated with: an entertainer’s livelihood.

“If your work is in service, you will be a better service worker when you take care of yourself first,” she states matter-of-factly.

For strip club entertainers who often deal with abusive language from customers and other stressors specific to their work, Dr. Monique advises: “Do not personalize it. I know that’s really tough, because it’s part of your job to make a human connection with someone, but you have to take care of yourself, and look for signs of your own burnout. I tell the same thing to my students here: ‘We can’t provide appropriate care for someone if we’re pouring from an empty glass. We have to have something to give, and it can’t be everything.’”

For more information on Dr. Monique and the Cupcake Girls, visit keyrosellc.com and thecupcakegirls.org. Catch Dr. Monique and The Cupcake Girls at their For the Love of Money panel at ED EXPO 2023.

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