Saturday, January 30, 2010

Meet the Creator of Pole Skivvies!

Jennifer Michelle!
~Pole Skivvies Creator~

1. How in the world did you come up with the idea for Skivvies?

I had just started pole dancing and was thinking of making my first video to post on Youtube, when I was horrified to see that my little boyshorts from Victoria's Secret were gapping really badly in the crotch. I mean, it's one thing to dance around in your underwear, but something else entirely to be falling out of it! So, since I'd previously had a business designing lingerie, I figured I could just get some proper pole shorts designed and solve the problem. So I did. :)

2. How long have you been pole dancing?

Two years now, but I've had a lot of problems with improper conditioning, poor training, and injuries, so it's like I'm still a total newbie. But I'm just happy that I seem to be progressing now without re-injuring myself, and I can finally feel myself getting stronger in the proper muscles.

3. What is your favorite song to 'pole' to?

It's weird, but I don't like poling to music until the last bit of my workout, when I'm doing the improv. When I'm just doing exercises and practicing the spins or making sure my posture is right, I like it quiet so I can focus. It's easy for me with music to get too into it and lose track of, say, my shoulder placement. So I spend a lot of time just drilling that kind of thing without music on. But when I let myself start really dancing, I'm all over the map with what I listen to. Lately, I'm huge on Lady Gaga. But I also like Flo Rida and even oldies from Foreigner (yes, I know - it's so ridiculous!) and Billy Squier. And I adore burlesque music, so I like to dance to that whenever I want to be super sexy. I think burlesque sounds just make the most out of floor work and transition moves.

4. Do you have any other type of dance background?

I was belly dancing for twenty years before getting into pole. Honestly, I'd never thought too much of trying another dance style, since belly dance was such a good fit for me. But then one day, I just got bored with my workout. I mean, BORED. That's when I started looking around for other things to do, and that's when I learned about pole.

5. 'Skivvies' is pretty much a household name when it comes to pole dancing. How does that make you feel?

You are so cute! I love that you say that, but I don't know if that's yet the case - although I'd be very happy if it were true one day!

6. How many products do you currently sell and are new products in the works?

In the clothing, right now there are the Tail Spin Shorts and the Fireman Tank. As the company grows, I definitely have plans to add more items to the line. But, in 2009, I was most interested in getting these two items launched and expanding the size range, so it now goes small, medium, large, and goddess for both.

Beyond that, I'm working on the stage presence side of PoleSkivvies. I think pole dance is so athletic and trick-oriented at times, that it becomes easy to lose the dance side of it. That's what I'm trying to address through workbooks and classes - teaching dancers how to bring out the personality in their dancing and how to connect with the audience. I plan to introduce more products on those issues in 2010. Right now I have the Zombie Quick Fix workbook that is a fun way to learn how to put more emotional expression into your pole dancing. And the So Long, Stage Fright workbook, which is a guide to help dancers get comfortable with performing. I also offer private coaching on stage presence and in how to give a striptease, too!

7. There is unfortunately still quite a stigma attached to Pole Dancing as being associating with stripping as opposed to fitness. What are your thoughts on that?

What I hate most is when pole dancers defend their dancing by insisitng they aren't strippers. That just drives me nuts because how many of the best pole dancers and teachers out there were once strippers. Yet I totally get where that impulse to defend yourself comes from. So a lot of what interests me in pole is that nebulous area where we feel proud of what we do, yet defensive of what we do. I wish we could be proud of it without insisting we aren't strippers - and I wish others could find some other associations with pole besides thinking up something sleazy. Still, I also like being seen as someone doing something really sexy, so it's not like I'm overly consistent here.

Belly dance went through a lot of this up through the 70s and into the 80s - really being seen as something almost over-the-top sexual. But then it started getting accepted as an ethnic dance, and now it's regarded as something beautiful and womanly. I think pole will have a similar path, although it won't be made as easy because there is no cultural association with the dance other than strip clubs. But I would imagine that in 20 years or so, it wlll be much more normalized. And then the women wanting to do something really in-your-face sexy will have to find something new. ;)

8. Being from a place where Pole Fitness is not the norm, how do you deal with that? I.e. how did you get started dancing, how do you get others involved, how do you tell people in your area what you do, etc?

God, it is such a hassle living where there are no pole studios! Honestly, it drives me nuts. So, I started out with DVDs and Youtube and my own supremely deluded belief that my dance background was sufficient to guide me into pole. Well, within a month I had to stop for six weeks due to tendonitis problems. Then I got nowhere for several months, started studying with someone online, who wound up - as I later learned - not teaching me proper conditioning, so I started getting these awful back spasms whenever I tried to do the Scorpio. So I stopped again. And then I found my current teacher - who now no longer wants to teach, but says she'll hang in there with me until I've gotten to the point of safely inverting (bless her for that!) - and she has made a huge difference. Just night and day. Not like I have a lot of skills yet, but I'm not getting hurt and I'm progressing, which is a nice change.

So, how to I get others involved? Well, locally, I really don't. Once in awhile I drag my man out to the local pub which has some poles and I dance there, but not too often. My pole buddies are all online, from all over the world. They are what keeps me going. And as for telling people locally, I just tell them. Even when I don't tell them, I have a weird knack for publicity, so - even though I'm not promoting pole or PoleSkivvies locally - people still find out about it. And then they want to interview me for the local paper or something. So, then you get situations at my day job like, when I hadn't told everyone there yet, but my boss' boss found out over lunch with a friend who had read one of those articles and comes back saying, so, I hear you pole. :) Luckily, they are all cool about it. And thank god, because I talk about it ALL THE TIME.

9. How do you feel about Pole Dancing possibly becoming a part of the Olympics?

At first, I was really excited about this and signed the petition and was all "wa-hoo for pole!" But now I find I'd be cool either way - I don't think pole dance (or any dance) needs to be in the Olympics, but I think it would be fun if it were. And I don't buy the argument that being in the Olympcis will hurt the sexy side of pole. Still, I don't think getting into the Olympics is the best way to make pole "acceptable" to the masses - I think expos and open houses and interviews are a much, much better way of doing that.

So, if it gets in, cool - I'll be watching it! But if not, cool, too. And either way, most dancers won't be heading for the Olympics and I still want to see them perform. Really, I'm most interested in the dance and the performance aspects of pole, which I think are less likely to be emphasized at the Olympics.

10. In my blog I've named what I feel to be my 'Pole Essentials' (Things I need or always use while I dance, i.e. heels, dry-hands, alcohol in a spray bottle, music, etc.) What are your Pole Essentails?

That's a fun question! Definitely my spray bottle of alcohol and my paper towels. Also my level and my Dance Paws. Plus great big mirrors and my PoleSkivvies, of course! ;)

Thank you so much, Heather, for asking me to do this interview. It was a lot of fun! And great to see another pole dancer talking about all the issues surrounding pole!

Be sure to check the link for Pole Skivvies on the top right on this page!

Or go to Jennifer's website: :)

No comments:

Post a Comment