Former stripper reveals she was the inspiration behind a popular 2000s song: 'I refuse to believe this'

Kelsey Weekman
·3-min read
Former stripper reveals she was the inspiration behind a popular 2000s song: 'I refuse to believe this'
dear maria count me in inspiration
dear maria count me in inspiration

A TikTok user just blew the app’s collective mind by revealing she is the titular “Maria” in All Time Low’s song “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” 

The 2007 hit, which has recently seen a resurgence on TikTok with its own challenge, was inspired by user @mariaisinverted, also known as 35-year-old Maria Lucente. She told the Daily Beast that after seeing the song all over the place for a second time around, she decided to reveal her true identity.

“When your friends write a song about you being a stripper that gets them famous but they don’t tell anyone where you work so you don’t make money from it,” she wrote in a post that has more than 7 million views. 

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“I refuse to believe this,” one TikTok user wrote. “I just can’t wrap my brain around Maria being a legit person.”

“Guess they didn’t count you in after all,” another said.

Lucente told the Daily Beast she became friends with the men from All Time Low — Alex Gaskarth, Zack Merrick, Jack Barakat, and Rian Dawson — after attending a few small, local shows.

“It was just a group of us and there was never really anyone there. So, we all just became really great friends,” she said.

Back in the day, Lucente was shy, but she started gaining a following on Myspace thanks to her scene queen aesthetic. Fresh out of college and looking for work, she began dancing at a strip club to make money. 

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When she told her friends, they didn’t believe her at first because of her meek persona, but clearly it made an impact. A few months after letting members of All Time Low know about her new venture, she said the band’s manager let her know that they were writing a song about her. 

He sent her the lyrics to the chorus: “I’ve got your picture / I’m coming with you, dear Maria, count me in / There’s a story at the bottom of this bottle and I’m the pen.” She didn’t really understand what they meant, but she let them move forward with it.

As the song blew up, she didn’t reveal her identity — she didn’t want her dad to know she was dancing.

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In an interview with American Songwriter in June 2020, All Time Low’s lead vocalist Alex Gaskarth admitted that a friend who became a stripper inspired the song. 

“I didn’t expect that for her, not that there was anything wrong with that decision, but it inspired me to tell that story about a girl doing what she has to do to make ends meet and live the life she wants to live,” he said. “And I thought it was a bad*** story about a bad*** chick taking control of her life.”

To this day, Lucente keeps in touch with Zack Merrick, the bassist for All Time Low. She shared screenshots of their conversation in which he confirmed that she is the Maria.

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Lucente, now a mom-of-two and devoted yogi, admitted that she didn’t intend to become a story, but she isn’t mad about it.

“I honestly did not expect my post to go viral on TikTok. I’ve made posts [about being Maria] before and they never got traction,” she told BuzzFeed. “This was purely a lighthearted moment that took off, and I’m in shock still.”

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