There is nothing quite as frustrating as trying to convey the energy of live performance when all you have are videos. You are just going to have to take my word for it when I say that everything was 100% more funny/powerful/sexy/impressive seen live.
I feel like a Burner trying to talk someone into going to Burning Man.
Like I said in my last post, Pole Theater is a competition with very few rules. There are four categories:
- Drama: storytelling
- Art: incorporation of other dance styles
- Comedy: humor
- Classique: striptease and sensual movement
All categories are judged on the following criteria:
- Costume/Theme: 10 points
- Pole skill: 10 points
- Appropriateness of music choice and musical interpretation: 10 points
- X-Factor and stage presence: 10 points
In addition, drama is judged on storyline development (15 points), art is judged on dance and floor work (15 points), comedy is judged on incorporation of comedic elements and audience engagement (15 points) and classique is judged on incorporation of striptease & sexy/sensual movement into pole & floor work (15 points).
The best way to appreciate Pole Theater is to go, even if you don’t know a thing about pole. I guarantee you it is the most entertainment $25 will buy you.
Friday night was the amateur division and with each piece I was like, “Welp, that’s the winner. It can’t get any better than that.” But often it did.
The standout piece for that evening was Kitty Marie. I wrote about it in my last post, but here she is again because she was incredible.
Kitty won both her division (classique) and the overall performance of the night.
Her artist’s statement is important so I’ll include it. “My character Is a conglomerate of many wasted strippers I’ve met, myself included; yet, even at her worst she remains fiercely proud, and will NOT be blamed by the majority for whatever ills, whether realistic or merely perceived, that plague Society. They don’t get to point the finger at We the Fiercely Freakish for flaws in their design for social order simply because we have a heightened sense of fashion. It’s not erotic art and rock and roll that’s responsible for the deterioration of morals and mutual compassion. Duh. The line that sums up the theme of this piece?”
I loved this broken doll piece done by Kirsten Gerding. The costuming and her physicality beautifully told the story of broken doll awakening to discover that all she ever loved is now gone.
Michelle Shimmy emceed the evening and travels to as many Pole Theaters with her sister as possible. I have never seen such a nimble and funny (and sexy) emcee as her.
The event ran seven hours over the course of two evenings and there was never a dull moment.
On the first night Maddie Sparkle did the guest performance, channeling a scorned, angry stripper.
Loony stayed home with the kids that night so I videoed her performance to
make him sad get him excited for attending the next day.
That’s my pillow and sheet on stage with her BTW, my personal contribution to her piece.
Nadia did the judge performance of the evening in her signature monster heels which made several appearances throughout the weekend.
The second night was the professional division. After such an incredible evening with the amateurs, I couldn’t image how it could get any better.
Oh. My. God.
I hate picking favorites because they were all so different. By all means you should watch the videos and decide for yourself.
Nadia Sharif summed the professional evening up best with this post:
Ivory Fox went first in the art category and her piece was a delightful confection of pole and ballroom dance. Pole doesn’t have to be sexy, nor does it have to be gymnastic, nor does it have to be contemporary dance.
Pole dancing often feels like dancing with a partner. Ivory’s piece conveyed this Fred and Ginger dynamic.
Michelle Shimmy expressed what I love about stripper heels and sexy outfits, something I regard as a guilty pleasure. She, however, owns it. Thank you Shimmy!
Dakota Fox (no relation to Ivory, I think) embodied that towering glamazon.
I was SO EXCITED to take a picture with her and be dwarfed by her incredible stature.
As you can see, I had to crouch down to achieve the desired effect. Even in her 7″ heels, I was as tall as her. That larger-than-life glamazon persona was all stage presence. Respect.
Jordan Kensley won the comedy category with her boozy rendition of a tequila fueled night of sexy role-playing gone hilariously wrong. How can pole be funny? Just watch.
I loved Dalijah’s historical feeling cabaret piece that started in g-string and ended in pasties. She is a deft, strong, confident and extremely present performer. Her piece felt like all the categories in one and gets more interesting and nuanced every time I watch it. She was the highest scoring woman of the evening.
Aggie Ng’s winning Art submission was strange and compelling and has haunted me for days. I’ve watched it over and over because it moves me so.
As Nadia said, she was weird as fuck but also deeply emotional and pained without clichéd angst. She made tortured shapes and her face was a mask of anguish. It was my favorite piece of the evening …
… except for Steven Retchless’s. I can’t compare the two, though. They were both my favorite.
I took his Hooker Heels workshop at Tease Studio in Denver the week before where I learned a little of the choreography from his winning classique piece.
He dutifully posed with all the workshop participants after class and came up with new poses for each of us. He asked one woman if she wanted “to scissor” for the shot and she politely declined.
Anyway, here it is. And please, do yourself a favor and watch it in high-def because he gives such great face.
I’ve forced everyone I know to watch this video and it saddens me that they will never know what it felt like to be in the room.
My buddy Chris was with me, a non-pole person, and he was seriously stoked by all the performances and was like, “Oh my god, this is incredible. Why isn’t this in New York? This is the best thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen everything!” and I was all, “If you say a fucking word during Steven’s piece I’m going to kill you.”
People were jumping out of their seats, screaming and howling during his piece. He got a standing ovation (rare at these things) and charged the room with electricity. As my (heterosexual) friend Joe said afterwards, “Dude, I came four times.”
And his photos afterwards accepting his trophy?
He was all covered in blood looking like a cross between Miss America and Carrie.
Shimmy wore my dress that evening, by the way (eeee!)
To make things more exciting (for me) I had a cameo that night.
David C. Owen asked me the night before if I would be willing to be a human prop for his judge’s exhibition piece.
“Would you be willing to come on stage as a creepy photographer and act like you are coercing me into posing for risqué pictures and then pay me with Pussy Dollars?”
It was a role I was born to play.
“I plan to dance suggestively, you might see some pubes. Would that be acceptable.”
The night before a performer had Pussy Dollars shot from a money cannon at the closing of her routine. Sensing providence, I collected as many of them as I could get my hands on so I had a fat stack in my purse. Little did I know.
Backstage David talked me through what he wanted and I took a deep breath and got on stage. He gave me license to freestyle, hence me dropping the money scornfully. Shimmy ad libbed the voiceover.
I was so happy with how it turned out. I didn’t get in his way, I didn’t distract from him, and I didn’t fall over.
More importantly, David was happy with the performance.
Thank you David for giving me the opportunity to get on stage at Pole Theater!
Shimmy guest performed that evening with an Oscar the Grouch routine which you can see by clicking here. I loved it (especially since she did the handstand to heel clacking to splits move just for me) but this piece from Pole Theater UK is the one I think of the most when I think of her.
We had that Rihanna song stuck in our heads all weekend. We were all Bitch better have my money!
Shimmy is so awesome in that piece, all gold leaf, swagger and whipping hair.
If I were a younger woman I doubt I’d be able to be in the same room without dying of crushing jealousy and debilitating insecurity, despite her genuine good nature and friendliness. Thank god for old age.
All-in-all Pole Theater had to be the best evening of entertainment I’ve had in a long time, if ever.
Nina, I know you have heard it hundreds of times already, but you rule. The evening was flawless and perfect and you were so calm and friendly throughout the entire process. You run a tight ship and are a consummate professional. I love working with you and always feel appreciated and valued.
That’s the wrap up. I’m sorry if I didn’t mention someone’s piece, everyone was so good. I don’t want this to be a blow-by-blow of the evening, though. It would take forever and I’m still getting caught up on my sleep. Please feel free to comment on who you liked best and why.
Part three is coming soon but first I have to get back to my oh-so-exciting life of professional toilet cleaning.