From body building to exotic dancing – best-selling author, Corey Hilton, shares his journey of self-discovery and the challenges of finding self-worth in an industry focused on what one sees, not who one is.
Insightful and introspective, Corey’s story reminds us all that we are so much more than what meets the eye.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:
- The crazy world of a body building
- The importance of self-discipline
- Corey’s life lessons from exotic dancing
- The physical benefits of yoga
- The emotional and mental impacts of substance abuse
- Corey’s steps to finding self-worth
- “Take It Off” written by Corey Hilton: https://bit.ly/3vC8eoG
ABOUT COREY HILTON
Corey Laine Hilton is a well-respected Canadian author and introspective influencer on the subject of self-worth. He has entertained thousands of clients internationally, spanning a 25-year career in the male exotic dance industry, unknowingly laying the groundwork for his raw, mission-driven message through a unique and colorful perspective. Utilizing his life experience and having dedicated extensive time researching self-worth, he is widely regarded by men over thirty who suffer from blocks related to unworthiness, egotism, and lack of emotional expression. As a men’s mental health advocate, Corey challenges the stereotypical definition of Man Enough. His insights have been shared and viewed on multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and guest podcast appearances, focusing on mental health, spirituality, authenticity, and personal growth. As an influencer, he provides an unscripted, unapologetic viewpoint, motivating men to overcome embedded subconscious blocks. Corey utilizes unique perspectives through his Naked Truths based on his core values determined through his journey of self-discovery. Using vulnerability, he exposes his struggle between his authentic self and his onstage alter-ego in a foregone industry. This, in turn, provides his audience with a realistic view of what it was like being on the other side of the Velvet Rope.
CONNECT WITH COREY HILTON
- Website: Take It Off: https://www.coreylainehilton.com/take-it-off
I went right into my biggest fears and pursued it and did it, I don’t really know anybody that’s been in the industry. As long as I have been in the male arena when it came down to it, especially working on both sides of the border, those things that came a lot of really pivotal moments, some really incredible experiences, some horrible experiences, but that’s like welcome to the M perfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on a Fullmer where women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation one imperfect day at a time.
And welcome to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host on a Fullmer today. It is my privilege to introduce to you Corey Hilton. Corey is a well-respected author and introspective influencer on the subject of self worth in his book. Take it off where he reveals his 10 strongest personal values and the emotional feelings attached to them in a 25 year long career.
Cannot comprehend, passionate about helping others learn to overcome their self doubt and emotional blocks. Welcome speaker and author Corey Hilton. Well, Corey, welcome to the imperfectly entire podcast. It’s so fun to have you here. I love having you onto the podcast. We’re going to share about your book.
We’re going to share about your story. Let’s just start out by first of all, we can all laugh at my attempt at printing out your book. So this is his book, take it off revelations of a male exotic dancer. And the problem is we couldn’t really like time it up so that I could get an actual copy of his book.
So he was great. And the here it is. One of two, that’s actually printed at this particular moment. The rest of them are actually coming out of the right. So he was gracious enough to send me a digital copy of. So if anyone’s wondering why that book looks so weird, it’s just like a printed piece of paper, but I wanted you to be able to see the book.
It makes me laugh because when I say the title of your book, I could like hear the eyebrows raising. I don’t know about you, but I can already hear the wait. What was that you mentioned early on in your book, the fact that you became at an early age addicted to experiencing emotion and I’m literally reading what you wrote, because I think it was so well, put you said at an early age, I became addicted to experiencing emotion, something.
I was rarely able to express, and that was rarely expressed to me. And I thought that was an incredibly insightful way to sort of begin your book. Tell me more about your family dynamics growing up and how they contributed to this sort of revelation in your life. Yeah, thanks for that question, because I really want to clarify something right off the hop.
It’s not that I didn’t have literal. It was just expressed to me in a different way. And what I mean by that is, is I was raised by a depression or a family. Okay. So I was one of these unique people back in the seventies era that basically had been adopted to his grandparents. So my grandparents were amazingly great people and they actually did.
Express a motion, but it wasn’t in the way that typical families express emotion. So I didn’t see, or I shouldn’t say see a lot of physical contact between my parents. I didn’t see a lot of, or hear a lot of, I love you’s or Sweeney’s or honeys. There was none of that stuff in my house. It was zero that, but there was another expression that was more so monetary at times.
It’s not that I’m here to cry a sob story about my family. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. My family gave me more than most families will give a kid. I was actually spoiled at times, especially when I was younger. But what key down to was is although you can have all, it’s just like anything, you could have all the money in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a happy person.
So I don’t pass blame off on my family and say, oh, You’re the reason why I carried all this subconscious blocks and emotion, but what it came down to is when you put your family on a pedestal like that, and you pretend that your father is Superman and your mother, every word that comes out of her mouth is the truth.
And then when those words hit you, you take them for real. When you don’t get those emotional expressions given to you, you’re hungry for it. You’re starving for something. So for me, I didn’t really necessarily rely on my family to do that. I actually took it on myself. Okay. I’m going to actually make people to have, I’m going to get emotions out of people.
So as funny and cute as this sounds, this was the beginning of my journey in a weird way at a very young age. So even when I was only five or six years old, my family would have company over very rarely, but they, when they would, they would be sitting in the kitchen. They’d be sitting around playing cribbage, talking about the weather or whatever it might be.
But I would be the kid that would be in his bedroom. And there was an entry way between my bedroom and the kitchen between the bedroom and the bathroom where you can see me. And I would run back and forth between the bathroom and the bedroom stark naked, like running back and forth because it was just like, oh, make them all laugh.
And it was great. It’s terrifying. As you just described, my four-year-old daughter will get ready. Get ready is right. Lord Jesus come quickly. But realistically, it’s funny because when I do back in through some really crazy introspection over. A couple of years. That’s why I call myself an introspective influencer because I really do want to influence people without any shame or without any negativity, really.
Like I’m not looking back at my family and saying, oh, I wish I had a different family. Or I wish that it was, it’s not like that. It’s just that with love. I’m still able to go back and say, okay, because of this, this is maybe why I made some of these moves. Right. And that’s just not authentic. That’s all.
And I think that sense of authenticity is what I did appreciate about your book. I certainly was not a PG read. And if I’m being honest, it was uncomfortable for a lot of it, but it’s also real life. And it is the message that you share is the bottom line. And to me, that is shared by so many of us. And so in my mind, you don’t negate somebody’s story simply because it’s uncomfortable.
When the fact is that at the heart of it, our struggles are the same. And the message that we come to is frankly, very, very similar. So I think it’s important to embrace all of our messy stories, because we all have them. Some might be a little less rated R than others, but the fact that he is blow a mess quicker, we embrace that.
And the quicker that we can authentically recognize that, I mean, it’s literally the message of this podcast is embrace your imperfections to empower transformation, real talk like let’s go. Yeah. And you know, like that’s something that unfortunately, and fortunately, like I don’t look at my past and go, oh, when those pains happened or when those things I’m grateful for those pains, I’m grateful for those failures.
I’m grateful that I was stripped down naked in a different way, not just from my career, but I was stripped down naked at one point where I lost everything and I’m talking. To the point where the only shelter that I had was my basement that I was living in at 38 years old and having to restart my life all over again with a bag in my hand.
Right. And I know we’ve heard the story about hitting rock bottom, and then coming out of it. A lot of people have hit that rock bottom before. Right. But like, for me, I figured out in a lot of ways that the reason why I hit rock bottom in some ways was my own perfectionist tendencies. And I was literally in a weird kind of way.
It was kind of like I dropped right into that. An early age. Like in fact it was like when I went into bodybuilding, for example, like that was my way to find acceptance. So discipline found the acceptance and I still utilize that discipline to this day in such a more productive way that’s progression instead of perfection.
Well, so let’s talk about that a little bit. So you ended up as a, I think I’m remembering this right, as a bouncer at a nightclub at the age of 17, and that experience there, in that nightclub due to different connections led you into bodybuilding, which is what you just alluded to tell me a little bit about that time in your life and how that sort of.
Transformed you and kind of progressed you to the next stage. Yeah. Thanks for asking that because it’s important to me, like, just to express that for me, my motivation, unfortunately at that time wasn’t necessarily for Corey, it was for outside entities. So as a kid, like so many of us do we have this love at first sight moment when we see that from one person, that’s just like, Ooh.
And so for me, it was eyes looked at her up on her pedestal and thought, oh, you know, one day I might have a chance. I wouldn’t being the person that I am on my exterior. There’s no way I would. So I thought the only thing that I control, I can actually truly control as hard as it may be is I can make a metamorphosis in my own body if I train as hard as I can.
If I get into the gym, if I work out, which I did with a friend of mine in his car port for a while, and then I ended up in the gym gym, but what happened with. I started surrounding myself with different people in a new environment. And as we all know, when you’re not growing in an environment, you move the plant from the one environment to the new environment, give it some water and away you go, all the plant starts to grow.
We’ve heard that a bazillion times. That’s literally what I did. And so when I surrounded myself with a new group of people, I started to transform. It was like that cocoon. It was like I came out of the cocoon and all of a sudden I started forming into the butterfly sort of thing. And that’s what I referred to in that first chapter.
But what it came down to was is I found that through that discipline, that freak to be a free discipline and that discipline knowing 1% of the entire planet does by going through the entire process of bulking training for competing. And then basically getting to the point of going through 10 weeks of raw hardcore dieting to beyond comprehension dieting, where it’s really.
You’re really at that level where it’s almost hard to believe you’re even there. It’s just that intense. And so by doing that though in stretching that rubber band to discipline out so hard, that was almost like the launch pad for everything else that happens. So I built that exterior up and then all of a sudden I got introduced to the scene at 17 years old that most people don’t see.
And obviously I’m up here in Canada. So the drinking age in Canada here is 19. Me being a 17 year old. I didn’t look like the average 17 year old. So when my buddy said to me, Hey, throw on a university shirt. And I bounce at this club. And so I did now I didn’t start off as a bouncer there. In fact, I started off as a topless waiter on ladies night on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
But how that happened was my friend Wade. He invited me out and I go to this club and I of course show up at seven o’clock at night when the clubs first opening all nervous and freaked out. And he says to me, oh, you know, nice shirt. I walked in with his university shirt on and the only other person in the whole place is the manager.
And he comes walking up and introduces himself. And next thing you know, he starts asking me questions, you go into school and whatever. And I was like, do you need some extra income? I’m like, of course. And then he says, oh, take off your shirt and nobody’s around. So I took off my shirt and then it says your hire.
I didn’t even know what I was hired for. Right. You said be here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you’re going to serve drinks 15% of everything you sell, as far as the booze. And from there, it’s like, you just basically take the rest of your tips. So all of a sudden it was like, I get plunged into this whole new world.
And my parents, those old school parents were so supportive that they actually were. Yeah, go ahead. It’s okay. As long as you don’t get all messed up on drugs, you keep your grades up, go for it, son, enjoy like, just go. I was just like for that mentality of a generation far gone, like, it was just so incredible for them to actually accept that and go with that.
And so with that being said, it was just one of those things where, when I went into that scene, my whole world changed and that’s happened a few times to me. And by going into that new environment, it was almost like when I walked into. All I can say is, is that I had a different type of acceptance and it was not a normalization of what everybody else in my school or my family or anything else.
They didn’t normalize me. And that was when they truly realized that strangers are not going to normalize me. It’s going to be the people that I’ve always associated with before. Maybe they see me as that little kid running back and forth between the bathroom to the bedroom. Right? So when I saw that, I was like, okay, this is going to make a massive difference in my life.
And so I went that direction and then all of a sudden, I ended up having people coming to me and saying, Corey, you don’t need to just be this. You can go into the full, new dancing thing. And so I ended up transforming from being this male waiter into a bouncer as well. And I was literally sitting there on it and letting people in the club.
I deem people with police officers standing right next to me, having a conversation about what was going on around the area that night, under age, under age, sitting there. And associating with everything from pimps and hookers and everything else trying to get inside this crazy nightclub. That was the number one ladies night in all of British Columbia at the time, it was like mayhem.
At that time, we’re talking eighties. I mean, there’s just lineups of people down the street and it’s this forgone era that you just don’t see anymore. That’s so politically incorrect. It’s almost ridiculous. And so there’s things that dancers would say that I wouldn’t even repeat on here, even if it wasn’t R rated episodes, because it’s just that gross, right?
Yes. I carried myself in a different way. When I came into the industry, I’m not going to sit here and say that I was an angel through my whole career. That’s ridiculous. But what I am kind of saying is through all that, may him through all the stereotypical things that you would think of as a dancer, I tried my best to dress the right way to carry myself with some class and that stuff, even in the way that I talk to women at ladies nights, or just clients in general, I was mentored by one of the best in the industry.
And he really literally laid the groundwork for me to be that instead of just the stereotypical dancer, got me more different area. Like that took me to places that I never dreamed that I was going to get to in this industry. Okay. Next one. It’s interesting because I’m hearing you talk and what I’m hearing is that it really fed whether it was healthy or unhealthy, and you kind of allude to that in the book, is it fed their sense of belonging to a degree?
It was feeling like there’s a little bit more. Clarity in your life that something that you were respected for, something that you could be admired for. And what’s interesting is I liked, you mentioned when you were talking about bodybuilding and your perfectionistic tendencies, I thought there was a really insightful thing that you said that I think a lot of women and men can relate to, but as a fitness nutrition instructor, this is interesting because I think this is especially true of men.
You said that at that time, and you were referring to your bodybuilding years. At that time, my discipline came from obsession. It became a non-negotiable with no gray area whatsoever. I discovered that focusing on my exterior was the easy button to ignoring what was going on. Internally. And what I appreciate about that is this all or nothing mentality.
And it is so prevalent. We live in a very all or nothing culture. And the cancel culture kind of comes into that too. It’s like, no one little thing. That’s a little dirty or messy. And it’s like, it negates every good thing that person has ever done or did. But what’s interesting is I think this even plays into strictly if we’re just talking like fitness nutrition mindset, and I especially see it in my male clients, the women also struggle with all or nothing, right?
Like eliminating entire food groups from their diet with getting rid of carbs, et cetera. But they’re more willing to pursue a life of discipline moderation. They are quicker to embrace it when taught with the right strategies. The men really started. And it’s interesting to me that you said that because I feel like that has been true of so many of the men that I’ve worked with is they really struggle to come out of the all or nothing mentality.
They’re either 100% on board and they diet like crazy. They exercise like crazy or they’re out. And I was curious like what your thoughts are. So that as a guy, somebody who is, well, you expressed it well, What are your thoughts to that? Like help us women understand that male mentality there, because I think you said it really well, and it wasn’t spiteful.
I think that there’s an element of expectation on both sides of the agenda equation with society. And so like, as an example, I think that we as men and women, we both have our certain amounts of stresses or for that matter expectations by society that are a little bit, I don’t know. I think we put a lot on ourselves to paint this picture on social media or to paint this picture for other people to have other people accept us, instead of just accepting us for our true beauty within.
Right. And so for me, it was kind of like, again, like I come back to this comparison game when you’re on a bodybuilding stage, right? What is that? That’s a comparison. That’s a comparison of the ultimate art form in my eyes at that time of forming the clay of your own body and is something that the best it can possibly be.
Now my genetics weren’t necessarily going to get me to the Olympia or for that matter. Mentality towards maybe certain things that I needed to do to get there. I wasn’t willing to go there because I wanted to live past 45 for example. But I think that through that, that was the easy button for me because although for a lot of people that would be really, really hard discipline.
Wasn’t that hard for me. I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the journey. I enjoyed the struggle and even believe it or not, when I would be doing squats and to failure, for example, I still enjoyed that process because it actually made me stronger and better. I completely negated all the inner work because I was leaning so much on that exterior.
So that exterior that I built in that gym, that was the reason why, when I took my shirt off in that club, they said, yeah, let’s do this. And that was the exact reason why, when I got approached by my group, that I ended up in Florida with, with those guys, it was partially due to the body that I had, but it was also partially due to the nice guy that I was.
And as funny as this sounds, I was as big bouncer standing at the door with practically no neck and the agent from there, he said to me, when I very first met him and this was long before I even went to work with his group, I’m talking when we first met, he said to me, after the bar one night, he was, he said, all the bar closed down and they were all still hanging out.
And he said, yeah, I really want to invite you to come down and work with my group because you’ve got everything that it takes to be like a top notch dancer with us. This was one concern that I have. And I said, what’s that Casey? So, man, you’re just way too nice of a guy to live in the states. I’m kind of worried about you.
And I was just like, oh yeah. When you hear too often, don’t be so darn nice. So I jokingly say, sorry, but no, it’s just kind of one of those things where, and so I guess like, what I can say is, is by working on that exterior. Yes, it did get me to being Mr. Noonan, Western Canada second. And Mr. Nude Canada. It got me to the point where I worked in the Bart largest beach club in north America.
It got me to travel all over Mr. Newton. And it just sounds like an oxymoron because I just picture snow and freezing so many things that just, I mean, yeah, I need a lot of clothes. If I’m going to live in Canada, let’s just throw that out there.
One of the things that I think is just so consistent through and what I love about the imagery even figuratively, maybe not necessarily literally. Is this concept of attaching the idea of self-worth to one’s external appearance, because it’s so easy to just focus in here and literally just talk about like bodybuilding.
But the fact is this struggle is so true for so many people where with the advent of social media now, and so many jobs where people are literally. I mean, I’ve kind of entered this now, too. I mean, I spend the majority of my time in front of a camera and social media influencers, that selfie culture now is very much, I think, infusing people with this sense of identity and self-worth, and I think it’s why we see so many fitness influencers, for example, with Botox and group jobs.
And just not that I’m assigning a moral right or wrong to those things, but this concept that it’s almost like you start to feel like you might become irrelevant. And all of the beautiful things that you are doing will suddenly become irrelevant simply because you don’t look. As young. Yes. I keep it up with the Joneses thing.
Right. But the Joneses have got even more harder to keep up now with this instant gratification era that we’re in assignments, the filters, I mean, even right now on zoom, I am actually, I don’t even have the touch up appearance on, but it naturally adds it because we become so self-conscious of how we are appearing.
And so what I love about your entire story, and I think everything that you say is it constantly comes back to this sort of self realization that there’s this very fine line. Like you mentioned, with bodybuilding, between discipline bordering on obsession versus a healthy sense of, I don’t do this to infuse myself with worth, I do this because I am already worth it.
And I’m trying to live out of that. And I love that you just express that very well throughout your book. Tell me a little bit about the mentality. One thing that you talk about is how you felt like what you were doing was starting to chip away at that. Self-worth talk to me a little bit about that.
Well, first off, it’s a big difference between status and worse. And I got those two things confused for a long time, right? Because all I was trying to do is get up that mountain. And all I was trying to do was get to the point where I was accepted or for that matter, I could get to the point of having this title or working in this environment.
And that, yes, I didn’t have a lot of things drop in my lap, so to speak with that. But I kind of feel that it took me till this age actually to figure out what my real worth was all those years that I was on stage and hiding behind the mask of my alter ego. Yeah. Those were fun. It gave me acceptance.
Like that is literally the reason why I put my Shane, like my Hinden from my chain, that’s around my neck. Covering my face on my book, because that was an element of acceptance. There was a point when that chain was given to me, by someone in Florida that was close to me, that they accepted me, just like the guys that we had replaced from the year before.
And those guys were the best in the industry. So when she gave me that chain, that was one of 11 that were ever made. The other 10 guys were the ones that actually had the other ones. So when she gave me that, it was like, I mean, I almost broke down in tears because it was such a form of acceptance. And so it was almost like I hit that peak there, but I didn’t really, truly accept myself.
And this is crazy as it sounds, everybody else accepted me. Like, I really wanted a piece of me, like just to get in the club or associated with the VIP’s or to be in front of all the people at MTV or whatever reason, there was always some of the reason, but it was never really about me. Like it was never about being my true friend.
There was only a few people that were my true friends. So there was times, honestly, I don’t know where I would even leave the clubs sometimes when it was packed and everybody would be wanting to, just to get in there. I leave and go and hang out with my old buddy. That was a Vietnam vet on a Friday night and sit there and just hang out, watch TV with them because I.
The accepted for the person that I really want somebody that you can be real with. Just be honest. Right. And so it’s sorta like, it’s weird because I never pictured myself on a billboard. Right. Like I never even saw myself in that frame that didn’t even occur to me in my entire life. Like I never thought that I would ever even be a dancer or any of those things.
Like in fact, a nightmare of exposure for me when I was a kid. So I went right into my biggest fears and pursued it and did it, and I guess I could say like for somebody that did the industry, I don’t really know anybody that’s been in the industry as long as I have been in the male arena. And when it came down to it, especially working on both sides of the.
But those things that came a lot of really pivotal moments, some really incredible experiences, some horrible experiences, but that’s life. Right. And so, yes, it’s projected through my lens and yeah, it’s entertaining. This is introducing stuff in there for sure. But there’s a point behind every single chapter in my book and it really breaks down to.
I took 10 extra years after I actually retired from the industry almost 10 years to write this. It wasn’t because I couldn’t have wrote it when I got out. I could have wrote about all the stories and entertain everybody, and that would have been great, but it would have been hollow. And so where I was at is when I started writing it, I went, okay, like this story is compromising this value that I have and what emotional struggle that I have with that value.
Okay. So for example, the first chapter is my values, truth, my struggles perspective of my truth. And at the end of every chapter, I throw in the naked truth. Now that is actually from my and drug addicted on sexually addicted, all the stuff that I went through before I’m out of that now. So I’m on the other side of it.
Hey, I’m accountable. I’m not pushing blame game on anybody anymore. I’m using the phone instead of the finger all the time. And now I’m actually able to liberate myself and come back in here and go, yeah, man, like this is relatable to you that 30 year old guy’s dealing with lack. He’s dealing with self doubt, all the things that a lot of guys deal with.
Like, you may not want to admit it, but they do. And that’s the reason why we have a lot of suicide actually with men. And so, as you were saying, there’s that element of like expectation to live up to something and whether it’s social media or maybe it’s just living up to what your wife’s expectations are of you, or maybe, you know, COVID kicked in and you’re not making the money you had before, and you’ve got two kids and you don’t even know how you’re going to feed them because you’re out of work or whatever reason for all those things.
Those layers start to just add on and add on, and then they get. Sometimes a lot of people take the wrong road and I was here. I was right there. Like I swear, like I’ve walked that walk. And when I lost everything and I ended up back here in Canada, like I was sitting here and I just did a video about it from the exact spot yesterday, where it was 15 years ago.
And I wasn’t a dancer anymore while I was, but it was just kind of, it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t in that same realm anymore. I was out of Florida and divorced. I’d gone through all this hell. And I was at that point where it was just destruction or progression. And so I moved into progression, but it still didn’t actually at that time working my inner self.
And so I was still doing that, oh, I’m going to just build my exterior about to get acceptance. I still haven’t figured that out. Right. And when I figured that out, when I truly figured that out, that’s when I put the pen to paper, because then it was like, okay, now I can talk to that guy. Be real to that guy.
He relatable to that guy. I don’t care if that guy is a garbage truck driver, I’m going to give that guy the best that I got, prevent him from going through all that. Pardon my French shit that I went through.
It’s okay. Now we’re on the other side. Let’s bring this to a point, which I think you do really well. We’re going to take a quick break, but we come back. We’re going to play a speed round of this or that with Corey and have a little fun. And we’re going to hear more of his expert advice on discovering self-worth right.
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All right, we are back with Corey. We’re going to play a quick round of this or that query is very easy. You basically get two options. You pick one or the other. It’s not too stressful. All right. Candy or baked goods. That’s a toughie. Can we be more specific? No, I’m going to go candy. I’m going to go candy.
Your favorite candy
man. It’s definitely just chocolate, chocolate, dark. Okay. All right. Squats or pull-ups because it’s my weak point. I’m going squats
pull-ups or pushups again? I do pushups better than pull up. So I’ll go with pull-ups. Okay. Yeah. I don’t like either of them. I have a story about pull-ups in my book though. Actually that I got my sweat pants yarded down while I was doing pull-ups. Well, now I really don’t like, I’m never doing, I blame it on.
Okay. Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate for sure. Would you rather have a personal yacht or a jet? Um, love the water, but it takes a lot longer to get there. I think based on my career where it’s going, I think I’m going to need the jet. Where’s the first place you’re going. I would actually, if I was going to go, I would go back to Asia because I ended up yeah.
The reason why I would go to Indonesia because before COVID I ended up having my trip cut short. I was there and I was one of the last people out of Bali actually. And I got back just 12 hours before the borders shut down. So I was supposed to go do a yoga retreat for a couple of weeks, really islands and it wasn’t able to do it.
So yeah, I’d go finish the trip. Let’s go back to Indonesia. Yeah, I’ve heard amazing. There’s so many. Oh my gosh. So many places to discover in Asia. Um, well anywhere really. Okay. Oh chicken all the way. Yeah, definitely. Check-in early bird or night. Ooh, trying to be an early bird, but admittedly, still a night owl.
I don’t hear that. Hear that the early bird thing is not natural for all of us. I’ve had to force myself talk about discipline. That’s been my greatest goal in life that I’ve actually achieved is becoming an early bird. It’s a toughie. I feel like at night I’m missing out on something. If I go to bed weirdly enough, I always kind of feel that.
Oh yeah. See, I think you’re normal. I’m even less normal. I just like sleeping, sleeping. I love my bed. I get up early in the morning and I looked back longingly at it. I’m like, oh, he looks so good. Stay out of bed. The, of the pillow. I’ve got it though. I’ve gotten it a little bit. Surely I have my early morning routine down.
All right. Last one. Cardio or weights. Oh, man, especially now cardio, without a doubt, or you burn out with weights? No, I haven’t actually touched a weight in a while. I’ve really devoted my life to yoga and I need to kind of just start to do a little bit of weight training again. Cause I’m kind of finding that yoga is amazing, but I’m trying to undo a lot of the damage that I did as well.
So yeah, but the cardio thing I’ve always been high on the cardio thing and I was trying my best to do it, but yoga gives me a little bit of both. So it really is. It’s interesting talking to people. I mean, I just feel like generally speaking, the body needs a little bit of all of it truly function optimally, but it’s hard when you’ve been so extreme on one end, it’s hard to healthily.
Bring that back girl. I didn’t even stretch for the entire time. I was a bodybuilder my house. Um, so he didn’t end up with like avulsion fractures and stuff. You know, we’re like pull stuff off the boat. Oh, yeah. I had guys in my gym that did all that. Yeah. But I mean, going from that into being a dancer and then at one point being a ceramic tile and stone Mason, I was on my knees doing ceramic tile and stone for a few years, running my own company, doing that.
And so like all that damage. Oh my goodness. That’s another whole thing about taking off layers is the yoga thing is taken off layers spiritually, mentally, physically, all that. That’s why it was such a junkie with yoga. So it’s brought me that balance and peace that’s part of why I was able to write was just laying in Shavasana sitting.
That’s a great idea. Just learning the art of being still. Yeah. Yeah. That’s hard. Yeah. Very hard. Very hard. So you mentioned that you also struggled with substance abuse, but what’s so interesting is just from a psychological. My husband and I have talked about this actually is just how certain personalities are almost addictive by nature.
It’s like even if all of XYZ lined up really, really well. That some people just have the tendency. And I think it tends to often be people too, who are really passionate. Like you feel deeply, you feel, but especially if you didn’t have that outlet to express and to feel that emotion, you find it in other ways.
And tell me a little bit about your experience with substance abuse, the emotional and physical mindset. There. Please talk about something that gives you the goose bumps. Whether it’s just somebody you love, or if it’s something that you’ve done that gives you the goosebumps or whatever, it was like, I actually, even though I did this entertainer career and stuff, it was rare that I got the goosebumps.
I didn’t really feel like I felt, but I wasn’t really expressing my true emotional capacity. Cause it was almost like there was a block there all the time. I was very, again, unique in this way that when I was in high school, like I wasn’t the kid out, back smoking a joint with the friends. Well, I was going to school.
I wasn’t that kid. I was the kid that might grab a six pack on the weekend and go out to a party and party with that was like, Ooh. Right. So I didn’t do any of that stuff in my entire time till I was 26 years old here in Canada. I’d never touched a drug in my life outside of just a beer or maybe a drink sometime.
Right. Like I was very clean. In fact, the only other drug that I could say that I did was steroids when I was a bodybuilder. And that was for the purpose of trying to become pro, which when I gave up on that dream, I kind of gave up on the steroids, do that. We’re just a supplement. And admittedly did that for a reason.
Was it right? No, I don’t condone going out and doing that. I don’t think anybody needs to do that. And it’s just like my substance abuse stuff that came after I was 26. I’m not here to promote to your audience. That it’s a good thing to go and drop an ecstasy tab down here. That’s not what I’m here to say.
I agree with recommended, but it did really truthfully open up a very interesting door for me personally, because when you disconnected emotionally, like I was, it’s almost like when, and I’ve said this before, it’s like, imagine eating food for all your life and you don’t really get the taste of it.
You’re just in consuming it. And it gives you the energy that you need, but you’re not really tasting it. And then all of a sudden, one day you taste something like a nice dark chocolate. It’s just like, boom. And so for me, I went to Florida. I had been invited down there after basically, as I mentioned, that agent that I’d spoken two years before that said I was too nice of a guy.
I actually put his card in my pocket. Didn’t use it until I actually did the Mr. Nude Canada contest and hit my peak here. And then all of a sudden. Hey, or I called him up and I said, Hey, I’m interested in working with your group five years later. And he remembered me and said, yeah, come on down. So I jumped on the tour van with those guys.
When they came up here to Canada, they did a three week tour. I went with them and then I jumped into turbine, left my family, my friends left everything behind my entire life gone. Right. Clean slate. I walk into this environment. That’s MTV, that’s 8,000 people inside this nightclub. I’ve never even seen nightclub this big before I walk in and I’m getting introduced to the heaviest hitters around there.
The owners like to the entertainment coordinators and everybody’s having a good time and they’re just is love peace, no fighting. Are we just ripping it up? Having a great time. This is the heyday of the electronic and movement. It’s 1996. I mean, I’m painting a picture for you that it’s like so crazy in this place.
It was raining inside the nightclub from the humidity inside the nightclub. There was so many people like it was just absolute insanity on another level, new world, totally new world. So what do I do? I see what everybody else is doing. I’m now in this other environment, my plant moved into this crazy environment.
So yeah. I’m seeing what other people are doing. And my friend Damon, I’ll never forget it. He turned around, he says me. He was like, what is Alabama accent? Hey, Corey, I’ve never taken anything in my life either. But if you want to take this year ecstasy pill, it’ll be the button will the biggest blast you’ll ever have.
And I’m like, oh yeah, what’s that going to do? Pop. And next thing, you know, 45 minutes later, this rush, these goosebumps hit me from head to toe. The taste hits me. The feeling of emotion hits me. Like I’ve never felt before ever. Like I’ve never even had that. So yeah, mentally addictive. Oh my God. And so all of a sudden these people that I’m actually trying to gain acceptance around are all accepting me and vice versa.
Now I’m having deep, intimate conversations with people I never had before in the middle of the mayhem, I’m turning into the popular guy, the one that everybody wants to hang out with. Right. And I went from being mediocre when my eyes into instant popularity. And then all these other things started hitting me.
And it just starts expanding wider and wider and wider to the point where I’m literally living the dream. And I’m doing crazy stuff that when normal people in this world were sitting there doing their job from the nine to five, I’m running around on some beach at eight o’clock in the morning, still wrapping it up with my friends being stupid.
Right. And it was just this absolutely Freebird. Crazy lifestyle that I took full advantage of. And why did I do that? Because I was sitting there going man life. Like, we all do what we need to do, but for me, I was at that time just going, I’m going to live this to the fricking maximum juice, every single bit out of it.
So yes, it was bad. Okay. It was bad. I’m not going to sit here and say that was. But if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have been able to unlock the emotions that I was able to unlock. And I still though had such inconsistencies with my marriage, with my relationships, even though I had the chemical thing going on with that, I still couldn’t base my own internal struggles as far as what happened earlier in my life, I can never, it’s not like there were big tease.
Those traumas were not big. T’s on it. They were small traumas, but they still stuck like words from somebody that you love sitting there saying, you’re a follower. You’re not a leader, Corey, like, stuff like that. Right? Like what did I do? I ended up following. I didn’t lead. I, I fall, I, I led my own path, but I couldn’t leave.
Yeah. And so I didn’t do that because I heard those words embedded. So yeah, like that whole new world changed me as a person in a lot of ways in a really good way. But then I went through a lot of downward spiral shingles as well. And that comes with that territory. Like entertainment is just kinda like that.
Like we feed that, that the nuts, so that addiction was more mental than it was physical because I love being in that mindset. Like when my ex wife would turn around and say to me, Corey, oh my God, I wish you could be like this forever. While I was ripped out of my mind, she would be sitting there and saying, I wish you were like this when you were sober.
That told me. Right. And so it was almost like that motivation to keep up with the Jones is like we got paid, we were paid to party. So as crazy as that sounds like, even just laying out on a pool deck, attracting women to come into the ladies night, that night, you had to keep on a certain level. If you were working out, you had to keep it a certain level.
When you’re on the stage, you have to keep it a certain level. When you’re out, ripping it up in the club, till four o’clock in the morning, you have to keep it that level. And there’s a high expectation there. And then it’s kind of like, you’re not living your authentic life. And as you’re just constantly trying to meet everyone else’s expectations.
And you know what though, that’s where I feel like I hear that. But I think there are a lot of people that can relate to that sense of maybe it’s not ecstasy, but there’s so many other things that could be drugs in our life that we are basically using to try to meet other people’s expectations. Who we should be or what we should accomplish.
And I think with substance abuse too, and I’ve seen this certainly many times as a professional in the ER, is that it often tends to be one of two things. It’s people either taking it to become more of something or less of something, meaning they want to feel more or they want to feel less. And I agree with you.
And I think for people who don’t have any experience with substance abuse or people who have it experienced substance abuse, I think it’s a very enlightening understanding that I would argue more often than not. It does almost become more of a mental or emotional addiction as much as a physical one.
There’s a void. There was a void there. Like it was like literally in one second daughter, it went from like, literally one second. It was like, as soon as that hit me, the emotional void filled.
Like I couldn’t help, but get addicted to it. It was just there. Right. And the weird thing is, is I was even talking to a police officer here locally when I went hiking with my boxer dog a while back. And we were chatting about, because at that time, actually marijuana was at the point of being legalized here in Canada.
And so there was a bit of a debate about it. And since then, it’s like a barren wasteland here since marijuana has been legalized and everything’s horrible. And the bomb drops. No, that’s not what happened. Everything is exactly the same. There’s no change whatsoever. But at the time, like she was saying to me, oh know, yeah, it’s a gateway drug.
And I was like, yeah, it is a gateway drug. And she was thinking one thing and I was on the other end of the scale. And so for me, when I got back, I would argue that both are actually right. You’re coming from two very different viewpoints, but yeah, they were both. So my only way of using my mind when I got back to Canada, actually to get away from it, that was my gateway.
Yeah, that was literally my gateway out. And do I do that all the time? No. There’s an element of responsibility that comes with all these things, right? Same time. It’s kind of like, yeah, it did help me. And as crazy as that marijuana helped you get off. Ecstasy because the only other one I did was ecstasy.
It was an upper right. Upper that you want to keep up. Right. If you’re not up, then you’re jonesing to be up. And so marijuana ease my mind. It was like, okay, I can eat this brownie. Right. And all of a sudden, worst thing that I want to do is lay around on my couch and not do anything. And that’s detrimental in its own.
Right. But nowhere near as detrimental doing all the other stuff I was doing, and that also helped me to actually balance my life out a little bit. So again, like I’m not here to promote it on, I’m not here to tell your audience to do these things, but this is what helped me. This is my perspective, what got me out of it.
Right. And again, it’s a real life story. I think that’s the takeaway, is it? I think the beauty of a platform like this, and I think you communicate very well and authentically and respectfully, but it’s this idea that. Nobody’s story matters more or less than somebody else’s right. Like we all have messy stories.
Some just might be a little bit more explicit than others, but at the end of the day, we’re all a mess. And I think that’s the beauty of it is we all need to understand our value and who we are. It’s just the story. Getting there may look very admittedly. I say this still, like, do you think that I don’t deal with mental health issues?
Like I do. Everybody does to a certain degree, some are worse than others, but I don’t have all the answers. Right. But what I can tell you, just being authentic and honest is I’ve learned that when the saboteur gets in my head, when the saboteur of self-doubt of lack, all the things that have been embedded, it gets in my head still.
There’s not every day that I wake up and I feel like I’m on top of the world. There’s days I wake up and I want to go back to. But there’s still, when that saboteur creeps in. Now I know how to flip that switch, just like this, the switch that I flipped when I would walk on stage, like when the butterflies were hitting and I was freaked out and worried about whether or not I was going to be able to perform, I had to flick a switch and just go do it.
Cause there was no other option. Now I look at it just like that with my saboteur in my head, I have to flip the switch because there’s no other option. And it takes me to get out into nature, to reset, to be able to do whatever I need you to get my head back right before I sit back in front of the computer or do whatever I need to do.
You got to do it because that will embed and stay there. And then all of a sudden, all that stuff that you’re telling yourself, all those can’t see, you’re telling yourself, start to actually become real and. They’re just not, and that’s when they come back to, with that normalization, if I’m going to listen to what other people, that paint one picture of me, and they only, that it’s their own inconsistencies that they’re actually presenting to me or their own lack.
Cause they’re throwing on top of me, which happens a lot. They’re on insecurities being projected on. Right. I could sit here and take all that way to those layers and hold it all day long and have a crap day or I can just go, okay, that’s them. And that’s what I’m referring to. As far as my biologic versus they, my grandmother, when she turned around and said to me, you’re a follower, not a leader.
Okay. Like I had to actually realize in my own way, I had to figure out that. Okay. Corey, when was an example, when your grandfather and your grandmother were leaders. Honestly. And when I did that, I could find certain things about leadership with my grandfather, that when it came to work, but at the home, like at house, like it wasn’t there so much.
And when it came to my grandmother, she settled for a lot of things and didn’t lead in a lot of ways herself. What was she really do saying when she was saying you’re a follower, not a leader. Wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to herself. She was projecting that off on me. Like I say this to people that I associate with now that are authors that are trying to go into public speaking or whatever it may be.
I always say whatever you do, don’t let people that were in your past that have painted their own picture of you, of normalization, because there’s a lot of other people out in this world that see your goal and see your potential. They see the best version of you. Go put yourself uncomfortably in front of those people.
Be bold, take action, uncomfortable action. Nobody’s going to do it for you. You go bloody. We’ll do it yourself. Yeah. Yeah. It’s humbling as a parent too, because you know, you mentioned that about your grandma and I think it’s so easy for us to do, as I just think as a parent, there are certain strengths that I have.
There’s certain weaknesses that I have and my children may not inherently struggle with the same things. So I think your point is really, really well made that we have to be so careful ourselves to not be projecting our own. Strengths or weaknesses onto our kids, but to be able to flex and see their own little struggles that God’s kind of, uh, neatly given them, um, Yeah.
If only I need a manual for my son, he’s the one I really need a man.
That’s the beauty of it though. That is the beauty of it though. Like, I mean, I have people in my life that are close to me and people in my life from afar that I admire, you know, I’ve never met before that I admire. And some that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I respect their perspective in a lot of ways.
And I look up to people like as an example, like Russell Wilson from the Seahawks. So he was a very underrated, like quarterback that ended up, he’s going to be a future hall of Famer. And the way he presents himself is like an arable. Right. And it’s sort of like, to me, I’m not mirroring what he’s doing, but I can take a lot of those things and understand why he got to, where he got to his dad was the guy that said every day, while he walked out the door, be great today.
Be great today, embedded that into these kids’ head, instead of you’re a follower, not only. Inspires me. And it’s kind of funny. I’m not a parent. Okay. Like I don’t have kids. I’m a single guy with a boxer dog, but sometimes oddly enough, I kind of think to myself, sometimes a lot of those people have decided not to be parents probably would have been really probably taught notch parents.
Like, I really kind of think that like they had this element of their own responsibility that they were like, you know, I don’t really need to have kids right now because I need to get my shit together. When I was talking about my book. Like, I didn’t want to release my baby to the world until I got my shit together to make sure that that baby looked good.
And you can tell me my baby’s ugly now and I don’t care. Well, yeah. I mean, even though you don’t have kids, you’re still making a massive impact because people will be reading this book. There is more to being a parent than just a biological connections. So I think there’s many people out there who don’t have kids, but they are still fulfilling leadership roles in many, many people’s lives.
My biological mom too. Like I give her all the credit in the world because like, She was in my life. It wasn’t in my life a lot of the time, but she was there for my grandparents when they were passing away. She was the one that was the caregiver. And so she made massive sacrifices to be able to take care of her folks.
Right. When, so like, I look up to her a lot for all of her faults and Hilary or her imperfections. She’s still in perfectly perfect. And so, yeah, like any parent, they frustrate you at times with me not believing in certain things or whatever it might be that I got to really look at the positive with her and go, man, you know, you really did a lot that it really helped me out in a lot of ways.
There’s many struggles I went through with her too. There’s a side of it where I can really truly. Her perspective on where she was, because if it wasn’t for her, my life wouldn’t be the same either. Right. So I gotta look at the positive. Like he can’t, there’s too many problems in the world for me to be focusing on problems.
Now that’s waste of energy. Like, I’m just like, let’s provide solutions, like no matter what, just look for the solution. And one thing I will say that I think that really is happening in this era right now is black or white, black or white. You’re right. I’m right. You’re wrong. All that BS. And to me, I’m just kind of at that point where I’m trying to spread the love and just kind of get to the point where it’s like, there’s a gray area here.
Let’s just talk about it. I may disagree with you, but let me just get in your head a little bit. Like you may not change my mind. I may need to change yours, but just give me an idea of what’s taken in there so I can kind of understand you a little bit. It’s okay. To not agree the concept of relationship and being able to.
Hear people’s stories and hear their perspectives and have a better understanding of what somebody has gone through and how it might frame the decisions that they made or the things that they’ve said. And we’ve definitely lost art. It’s sad to even say that relationship is an art, but nowadays it definitely is to have real conversation is yeah, it’s an art and our children are going to struggle with it with this virtual world.
And plus there’s this definition. I’d come back to this in the book too. There’s this definition of man enough that keeps getting thrown around or, and it’s kind of like, to me, like I watched my father, who, again, like I said, I adored this man, but at the same time, like he bottled up his emotions. He was military.
Really framed to be that way. Like when it came down to it, it was like a robot thing. Right. And based off of his former life, as far as his upbringing, when he had a really hard upbringing, more so than most people would. So can you really blame the man for not being emotionally connected? Not really.
Because he was basically built like that, but at the same time, it’s kind of like when you bottle up all those emotions, it guess what ends up happening? You don’t see anything, you don’t see anything. And then all of a sudden, eventually something triggers you and you say all the wrong things and it learns out of it’s very hurtful.
Right? So something that I mentioned in the book that I really, I created this little tagline myself, but it’s the truth is you don’t have to be the one that doesn’t cry. Like you don’t have to be the hunter gatherer, like the caveman mentality of being a man, like let the dam break before you dam break.
Just let it happen. I mean, I learned that when it came down to my relationships, I would have breakups and I would be so emotionally distraught and I’d take it so hard, like way harder than most people would take it and just bury myself into this whole self pity, frigging victimize mindset. And other people wouldn’t really see it that way.
And I thought, am I just like emotionally like shot or something wrong with me, but it was because it was bottling it all up. And then all of a sudden, I just didn’t know how to handle it, or even how to absorb it. But if I was actually like not bottling it up and kind of like expressing myself more and connecting with my partner, instead of just communicating with her and I probably would have had a lot better path and a lot less destruction in my life, but it’s good to be here now.
You know, I think again, in consistent theme throughout your book is this idea that I’ve certainly experienced this in my own life, but it’s this concept. Why am I enough? Like what makes me valuable? What makes me worthy? And for me personally, in my own life, I could not come to that true sense of peace and worth until I met Jesus.
For me, it was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And when I embraced this truth that I preach all the time. Now it’s my heartbeat. It’s that you can not be redefined. You can only be redeveloped. And it’s because I came to understand that we were infused with infinite worth by a divine creator.
From the moment I was knit together in my mother’s womb, not just me, but you and our neighbor and the guy that I totally disagree with. And the woman who, frankly, I have a hard time being in the same room with like the fact is it puts us all on the same. Playing field and we are all valuable. Like we’ve already been defined.
We can only be redeveloped. And I think that you mentioned at the end of your book, or at least the section that I was reading, it says there is more to life than what I was programmed to think value is not determined by what I have, but instead of by what is in my soul. And I love that. I want to end with that because I think it just speaks exactly into what I am so passionate about that you cannot be redefined, only redeveloped you’re infinitely valuable before and after, as you went.
And as you are now, I don’t speak through religious or political ideology at all, but I relate to everything that you just said. And when it comes right down to it, the learning lesson that I had through this whole process was that, that one person that I adored and I looked up to for so long, that actually looked down at me from her pedestal that affected me.
And that made me just Corey. You know what I’m saying by that is just like, When I got married and the mistake I made of having this Ricky and Lucy relationship in the year 2000 and trying to look at myself as this man that goes and gets food works, does what he does to bring home the pay, all that good stuff.
And I want my wife at home being the traditional housewife, just like my grandparents, right. I tried to play that role. And when it came down to what was I doing? I was standing up on my pedestal, looking down at my ex-wife, controlling her almost to the point of being borderline misogynistic, controlling her at times.
Why? Because she wanted that control. And I took her out of a horrible environment and I brought her into my new world. It was a lot more fun. And guess what? She owed me. She owed me for that. How dare she actually not want to be with me? I’m perfect.
Now, what I was referring to is though, is that now when I’m in a relationship with somebody and I’m not there yet, but I’m bringing these people into my life, I’ve manifested these people into my life, the type of people that I’m not looking up or down, I’m looking straight in the eye, the eyes was windows to the soul.
I’m looking straight into that. And that feels amazing because guess what that’s going to do, that’s going to bring me to that higher level of consciousness that I’ve always strived for. That was goosebumps. When I look into those eyes feeling, when I’m look at that person laying next to me and I’m sitting there going for all of her imperfections, oh my God.
That’s a beautiful thing. And so yeah, all of things, the beautiful sense of humility, there’s freedom and the humility of recognizing. We are simply, we’re really all the same we’ve been created by, and we’ve been created by a divine creator and our worth was infused by him. Not by anything I do. You can add to or detract from your worth.
You are infinitely valuable because of how we’ve been created. Well, Corey, I thank you so much for this. To find you or follow you, where do they need to go? What website or you? I always just direct people to my website right now. I’m trying to boost my SEO.
I’m so I’m so real. Like, I’m just like, you know what, I’m just going to tell it. Yeah, my website is take it off.ca simply take it off.ca. And the great thing is, is that you can actually, of course purchase my book. I’m going to be having some package deals on there for certain things. In fact, I’m expanding things a lot right now.
I’m trying to figure out my next road. The one that actually for me really gives me the goosebumps. And for me, it’s just more so I’m going to be going into podcasting as well. And obviously if a person’s a podcast who wants to book me as a guest, you can book me on there for that. If you want to check out my gallery and see some skin from 20 years ago, you can check that out as well.
If you want to just check out my bio and all the stuff that basically rye represent feel free to, but that’s the place really is taken off dot CAS and yeah, check it out. Everybody’s going to say anything wrong, the best book ever. But I will say this is not the best book. But it really is something that I truly put my heart and soul into.
I gave it everything that I could, and I’ll leave it with this. If I can help one. And I know everybody says, but I can help just one person and not deal with the pain, the struggle, the prison that I was in, in my own mind. If I can release that person from that prison.
I have no doubt. You will affect more than just one person in that way, Corey. Well, it’s been an honor. Yep. I forgot the blessing over your life and all that you’re doing. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.
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