I am the self-proclaimed Northern California Pole Dance Ambassador. This blog is about pole dancing, weight loss surgery, health, fitness, aging gracefully, and life-in-general. I had gastric bypass in 2004 and lost 165 pounds. Pole dancing and yoga have helped me keep off the majority of the weight. I have struggled with my weight for my entire life and am on a journey of self-acceptance.
My friend, Andrew, has been inviting me to drag shows for almost a year now. Although I had an interest in going, they were on week nights and I was really trying hard to get back into the early morning gym routine. About six months ago, I finally made it out to WPLJ's in Walnut Creek for the Main Drag on a Thursday night. Oh wow. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed before. Men dressed up as women (and a lot of them looking way better than me) lip syncing to songs while people threw dollars at them.
Then SHE came out to perform. I couldn't even tell you what it was about her that I immediately loved. Her song was awesome and hilarious (something about an 8-mile wide vagina). She was tall, beautiful and had amazing legs. She knew her words and wore really pretty clothes. It wasn't what she looked like or what she sang anyway. I knew I loved her as soon as I saw her.
Stephanie Nicole le Dream.
I had never met a real live drag queen before. After the show, I introduced myself and told her she was my favorite. As is my normal course of business, I took lots of photos and videos, since my camera is never far. I uploaded them to Facebook and added Stephanie as a friend. Turns out that in real life, Stephanie is Jimmy. And Jimmy's mom was my nephew's teacher. Small world. When my sisters and I rode horses in the Brentwood Holiday Parade as the Disney princesses a few years ago...Kati was wearing one of Jimmy's dresses! Totally small world.
So now I am immersed in the drag queen world. I am having so much fun. I also go to Club 1220 in Walnut Creek and watch Holotta's Un-BOYlievable Drag Show on Sundays. Jimmy and Miguel came to Twirly Girls and posed in our calendar with the Men of Twirly Girls. They also came back as Stephanie and Vicodonia to perform for Rita's birthday. They are really good, nice people and I am extremely happy that I finally went to that show! Now I have a whole new set of people to call friends: Stephanie (Jimmy). Brynn. Judy (Jimmy's mom). Vicodonia (Miguel) and Michael. Holotta Tymes (Dale) and Robert. Bobbi Pinn (Jeffrey). Saki (Brian). Mahlae.
I had made a goal (since I don't set resolutions) to volunteer more of my time in the new year. I had been looking at the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, but Jimmy works at the Rainbow Community Center, so I think I will start by seeing if there is something I can do for them. That way, I can kind of have my cake and eat it too because I love the time that I spend with Jimmy. He is so kind and positive and I want to repay him for the joy he brings to my life.
So, here is a video of a recent Stephanie performance (and check out my YouTube page for videos of ALL of the ladies -- http://www.youtube.com/lolorashel). So funny. I love this stuff!
I had all kinds of plans for last weekend. Rita's Twirly Girls party was Friday. Saturday, I took Rita's daughter to Kristin's to decorate a cake for her 80's party that night. Sunday, I was supposed to go to the Santa Baby burlesque workshop at Twirly Girls. Monday, I was off work and planning to do a bunch of things, including going to watch Andrea perform in the Wonka Wonderland burlesque show in Oakland. In between all of that, I needed to run errands, clean the house, get a Christmas tree, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc., yada, yada yada.
I have been fighting some kind of cold or other illness on and off for a friggin' month. And this weekend, it finally let me know that I was done and needed to rest.
Friday afternoon, my boss needed me to take BART into San Francisco to file something with the court of appeal. So at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, I was frantically rushing into the city. I was nervous because I don't ride BART often, especially not by myself. And I had to park at a station in Oakland, which also makes me nervous. My boss had given me a BART ticket AND a Clipper card so I didn't know the difference or which one I was supposed to use. I have an iPhone (and AT&T), so every time we tried to talk on the phone, we'd get disconnected. I was on a mission because I needed to get back to pick up Rita and Yolanda for Rita's Twirly Girls party that night. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I made it back to Oakland by 4:30, so I got to go straight home and actually ended up about 45 minutes ahead of schedule since that BART station was closer to home than my boss' house. Still...I was scared and sweating the entire time.
I had arranged for Stephanie Nicole and Vicodonia to come perform for Rita's birthday. I knew most of the ladies had probably never seen a drag show, so I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it was a huge hit!! The ladies were super excited and Stephanie and Vicodonia really seemed to enjoy performing for us, even though we were a small group. It was so much fun. Check out a couple of videos:
The FEVER! girls finally got to break out their performance. Ummmm...except we did it at the end of the night, close to midnight and a few of the girls maybe had a few margaritas. It was fun though! And we surprised Rita by ripping off our shirts at the beginning of the song. The performance at Rita's fundraiser will be better! Check out our practice performance here:
I also busted out a very rough draft of what I want to do for Fergie and Slash's Beautiful Dangerous. I was really feeling my illness at this point though. I spent a lot of time on the floor because I kept getting dizzy and almost blacking out. I am going to work on this one though. I like the song and I have some ideas of moves I'd like to incorporate. Here's the video:
I was sweating like a friggin' pig the entire night. I came without my make-up done and I almost couldn't get it done since I couldn't cool off. I finally pulled it together (a little) and Stephanie did my make-up for me. Awesome job!!! I was so excited. I love playing dress up!! But at the end of the night, the sweating stopped and I felt GREAT! So I thought, maybe I was just sweating the illness out and I was better!!
Saturday wasn't too bad. I took Kate to Kristin's and watched her decorate the 80's cake with fondant. Pacman and Rubix Cube. It was really cute. I got off easy -- I mostly laid on the couch and watched. That night was Rita's 80's party at her house. It was a fun night. I felt a little tired but not too sick.
However, Sunday I woke up dizzy and sick. I had to cancel on Santa Baby and all of my errands and items on my to-do list. I laid around the entire day. Monday was much of the same. Rob and I went to get our Christmas tree and I had a doctor's appointment to get an antibiotic.
Monday night, I NEEDED to support Andrea, who signed up to do burlesque pilates (and the subsequent burlesque show) because of me. For some reason, I thought the show started at 9. It didn't start until 10:15 p.m. and our girls got moved to the second half (so they didn't go on until 11 p.m.). But I feel like I held up pretty well. And the girls were so cute!!! The rest of the acts were...hmmm....interesting. You can find their videos on my youtube page. Otherwise, here are the lollipop girls in action:
Today I am feeling better. Maybe it's the meds. It sounds like I have a sinus infection. But I had a fun weekend anyway. I wish I hadn't missed my fun stuff on Sunday and Monday but I am glad to be back on the road to recovery. Next up, printing our calendar and getting it to everyone in time for Christmas!
So, I realize this has been a theme throughout my blog, but I am NOT the "normal" pole dancer. Pole dancing has BLOWN UP in the last couple of years. The dancers who compete are training with aerial circus acts, contortionists and gymnasts.
I can't even do a back bend.
I have a goal to be able to invert by April. It doesn't even have to be a good invert. I just want to be able to go upside down and not fall on my head. I'm working hard to lose weight and get strong. Will that be good enough? If I can't fly through the air with the greatest of ease like the other girls (and boys) do, will I still be happy?
I sure hope so.
I just wanted to write this so I could include a couple of really cool videos from YouTube. Someday...I will be this amazing. Someday!!!!!
P.S. The Twirly Girls calendars will be printed soon! The price is $15 (add $2 for shipping). Please contact me if you are interested in pre-ordering and I will give you an address. All of the proceeds will go to support the National Kidney Foundation on behalf of our very own, Lovely Rita!! We have sample photos on Liquidpulp Photography's fan page on Facebook. Don't miss out...we've had a lot of interest and we're only printing 250 calendars!
A few years ago, I went to S Factor in San Francisco and took one of their intro classes. I had heard some of their instructors on a local radio show. I loved it, but the studio was difficult for me to get to (almost two hours commute each way with city traffic). Flash forward to October of last year … my friend received an e-mail about Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton, California (only about 25 minutes away from my house). My friend, Rita, and I set up a taster class for November and we were signed up for full time classes by December.
How do you learn (pole dancing classes, DVD, Youtube …)?
I take classes one to two times a week with Bel Jeremiah at Twirly Girls, but I also have a pole at home and have a couple of Jamilla Deville’s DVDs. I took one of Jamilla’s workshops at the studio this year. She was so beautiful to watch, a lot of fun, and had great information for those of us just starting out (even though I’m almost a year in, I still consider myself somewhat of a newbie).
What do you like to do when you’re not pole dancing?
I love photography and horseback riding, although I had to give up my horse last year. I am spending a lot of time at the gym lately (to lose some recently-added weight and get stronger for pole dancing). I work for a law firm to pay the bills, but I definitely don’t like to define myself by my job. I love using my blog as an outlet. It started as a pole dancing blog, but I write about health and exercise in there a lot since they are so much a part of my life (I had gastric bypass almost seven years ago and lost 165 pounds).
What is your dream for yourself in pole dancing?
I see videos of the famous pole dancers and envision myself doing everything they do. I recently saw the introduction for Miss Pole Dance Australia 2010 (Felix Cane starts it out). I thought, I want to do ALL OF THAT. Realistically, I may not be able to, but in my mind, I’m already there. I also saw a photo of Jessalynn Medairy at Pole Summer Camp in the Caribbean with Milan Pole Dance Studio. The bend in her back is amazing. Again, in my mind, I look like that. Realistically, not so much! My current dream is to invert within six months. I am spending a lot of time at the gym losing weight and gaining strength to get there.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think most would describe me as a down and dirty rock chick. I like loud, fast rock songs. I am working on slowing things down and being more sensual.
Favorite makeup tip:
I am all about false eyelashes. If I don’t want to spend a lot of time on make up, I put in my purple contacts and false lashes and I’m good to go. Otherwise, on a daily basis, I’ve stopped wearing make up. Only when I want to go out or feel like I have someone to impress (like myself).
Barefoot, sneakers, or platform heels?
I am more comfortable barefoot. I have five or six different platform heels and I’m trying to practice in those, as well. I performed at a dance recital to benefit the National Kidney Foundation Walk in San Francisco earlier this year. The video below is of me practicing in my shoes; I feel clunky and slow. When I did it for real, I went barefoot and felt a lot better about it (although I was still less than six months into dancing, so I am definitely not a professional).
Favorite grip enhancer:
I have Mighty Grip in my bag, but I try not to use anything (and am not yet able to do the tricks where it might be more necessary).
Pole dance move that made you proudest to learn:
Last night, for the first time, I was able to hold myself up for kind of a sad-looking boomerang. I was pretty excited about that.
Pole dance pet peeves:
I make funny faces and do weird things with my hands. While I’m dancing, I don’t always notice it but I see it in the videos, so I’m trying to be more aware of my entire body (and yes, Jennifer, I’ve watched your videos on the subject).
Favorite treatment for bruises and sore muscles:
Rest and an epsom salt bath.
Who would you most like to have in the audience when you pole dance?
No one. I get really, really nervous dancing in front of people. I have a hard time making eye contact and would love to always dance in the dark! I’m a much better dancer if I think no one is looking.
Who is your hero or role model?
I adore my instructor, Bel. She is so supportive and really creates a safe, family-like atmosphere at Twirly Girls. I have often found when you gather a lot of estrogen into one room, you get a lot of cattiness – but Twirly Girls is not like that at all. We are all at different levels and there is no jealousy. Everyone is supportive and we all celebrate our small victories when they happen. I’ve never really witnessed anything like it in my life and I’m excited to be part of this amazing group of ladies. What I love most is that we laugh and have fun while we’re learning.
What are your favorite words of encouragement?
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right!” Look, I’m a big girl – 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. I GET that I physically won’t be able to do ALL of the moves I want to do. But I am trying not to limit myself right now. I’m setting small goals and hoping I can either get myself there or at least find an acceptable modification for whatever move it is.
Favorite pizza toppings:
Pepperoni and black olives. Sometimes sausage, too.
Cupcakes or ice cream?
CAKE! CAKE! CAKE!! I LOVE CAKE! I’m a foodie. It’s one of my downfalls. And it’s something I have to work to avoid. There is no one bite when it comes to cake. It’s all or nothing. So I try not to have it around much.
Favorite music to pole dance to:
Rock music. Fast and hard. Right now I’m going to start working on a routine to Slash and Fergie’s Beautiful Dangerous.
Weirdest place you’ve ever poled:
My house. Whodathunk I’d ever have a pole in my house?! Oh yeah, and that one time I was in Texas and I tried to turn Neptune’s arm into a pole (didn’t work)!
I don’t really have any … although I’ve really only performed for small audiences at our studio. I just get really nervous and have to force myself to get out there.
Strangest pole dancing question/comment you’ve ever received:
I can’t really think of the strangest but most definitely the most irritating is: So you’re a stripper?! My response is usually: I WISH! If I had the body and moves, I’d be grabbin’ those dollas!
Anything else you’d like to share:
I’d love for everyone to participate in our Twirl Around The World. We are asking for pole dancers to send us their photos and locations so we can add to our album on Facebook! Also, we will be doing another benefit for the National Kidney Foundation next year. If anyone is interested in getting involved, have them add me on Facebook or get in contact through my blog.
We are doing another fundraiser to benefit the National Kidney Foundation (our very own Lovely Rita is a three-time kidney transplant recipient … she wasn’t supposed to live past 20 and she’s about to celebrate her 45th birthday!). Bel would like to get more pole studios involved, so we are asking anyone with a pole studio to get into contact with us if they are interested in coordinating. The fundraiser isn’t until April but we wanted to start early to get other people involved. Lori is a pole dancer filled with enthusiasm for dance, life, and helping her fellow pole dancers. Visit her on her blog!
In the past, people have suggested I try the Couch to 5k program. I've always said no...I don't really enjoy running so why am I going to make something I hate part of my weekly workout routine? I "do" 5k's (or, for Annie, I do the little-more-than-three-miles) with Brazen Racing, but I walk/jog them. If it's a flat course, I can do that in about 45 minutes. If it's really hilly or muddy, then maybe an hour. I am slow. I know I'm slow. I walk slow. I jog slow. I meander. John can do Half Dome in six hours. AJ did it in eight. It took me 13 hours -- both times. John would always try to give me advice to move faster -- put on fast music and just move to the beat. Doesn't work for me. I'm just a sloth. And I'm ok with it. So, any time someone has suggested I run, I'm like, NAW!
I recently had a change of heart. A group of Twirly Girls are planning to do the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco next year (it's the 100th annual). It's a 12k (about 7 miles), and I understand there are some pretty nasty hills. So, I decided I need to learn to move a little faster (hip and back problems are getting better, so it's good timing). We may not run any of it...but I don't want to be the one holding up the group. And I imagine the Couch to 5k program is my best bet for being able to walk/jog a 7 mile hilly course. The program takes you from basically doing nothing to running for a full three miles non-stop. You follow the program three days a week for nine weeks, and it starts you walking for a bit, then jogging for a bit. Then you work up until you are jogging for 30 minutes straight.
I don't set New Years resolutions because I don't want to feel like a failure if I don't meet them. So, this is my goal for January. If I finish that in two months and feel good, I can start working on their 10k program. I will have five months until the Bay to Breakers, so it will give me plenty of time to lose weight and get in shape. It will also help me reach my goal of inverting on the pole by April.
Rita's birthday is coming up and the FEVER! girls have been hard at work learning the dance choreographed by Andrea. I don't know about the other girls, but I am having a blast.
On one hand, I'm super excited. This is totally NOT my style of dance, although I'd LOVE to learn how to be more classical. It's so pretty to watch the ladies who can ebb and flow with the tides of the ocean. I am usually loud and raucous. Seemingly trying to destroy the world.
On the other hand, I hate watching the practice videos. I hate how I walk. What I do with my hands. How I throw my tie around. But I have time to fix all of that. I think mostly I hate how I look like Shrek next to everyone else. I'm stomping around like an ogre while the other ladies are gracefully floating like dainty pixies. There is a point where I get up from the ground by turning over and doing a v-split with my legs. Man, in the moment, I am like, I am almost doing REAL splits!! On the video, it looks like my legs are barely open. :-/
Our initial performance will take place at Rita's birthday party next weekend. The next official performance will be at the Lovely Rita fundraiser in April. So I have a goal to continue practicing my flowy-ness and lose some damn weight. I have been using a new app on my iPhone that helps me track my food and I'm down four pounds so far. If I can just lose 1 pound a week between now and the fundraiser, I'll have lost the majority of what I want to lose.
Here's to the next week of practice for the FEVER! girls and then a happy performance. Happy early birthday, Miss Rita! You are amazing and you deserve to celebrate!