I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: I adore the Colbert Report. I pretty much adore everything Stephen Colbert does, and on top of that, I eat his ice cream. (Read: I’m a fan.) But today I have some things to say about a segment he ran that touched a few nerves. That said, it’s only comedy, and I’m not offended by it. But I still wanted to say my piece. :}
Last night the Colbert Report ran a segment on an exotic dance studio in New Jersey. The focus was pole dancing. When the segment started, I got all excited. More neat pole dancing stuff! You see, I get all my pole dancing information from a net friend on the west coast. She started Seattle’s first ever pole dancing school, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about it over the last few years—so my excitement was utterly justifiable!
As the segment played, I started to get a sour feeling in my stomach. Oh, I expected the clip to be laughy—we’re talking about Comedy Central, after all. But I don’t think I expected the angle to be so… dissatisfying. My exposure to my friend’s school is strictly text-based, and I’ve never taken a class, or even visited the school. But it’s funny how plain text can make such an impression.
Here’s the segment on Comedy Central’s site, if you want to take a look.
After watching the whole thing, I felt as if the Colbert Report had really managed to misrepresent pole dancing instruction, and the very quality of the concept. Hell, I don’t care that they did it. It’s fake news. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to set the record straight, and give you a chance to see what’s really going on. I don’t know anything about Johnna Mink or her Jersey workshops—they may have been misrepresented too, for all I know. But I do know about this other thing, whether anything else comes up to its standards or not. And it’s really worth saying something about.
It’s called Pole for the Soul.
I haven’t known Krisha well or long, in the scheme of things, but she’s said a great deal about her business, over time, and why she started it. What I’ve learned from her particular perspective on pole dancing instruction has really been nothing short of inspiring. For Krisha, it seems there is breadth and depth to the way she makes her living. It’s something that feels missing from the workshops Colbert covered in Jersey. And I think it’s something that’s missing in a lot of people’s lives, all over, everywhere.
It doesn’t seem to me that what Krisha teaches is about putting on a show, or your partner getting a private treat, or even being able to nudge yourself into that shallow stripper stereotype that so many people seem to like so much… for so many of the wrong reasons. It’s not so much about getting to finally be the sex object. It doesn’t even have to be about sex.
It seems to me that Pole for the Soul might be about something really different. The impression I’ve gotten… is that it’s about you.
It’s about becoming powerful. It’s about building yourself into the person you want to be; it’s about shedding those old stereotypes and preconceptions. It’s about taking the layers and layers of buffering we have wrapped around us—what we constructed to pad and protect ourselves from the world that is often bad and scary—and peeling them off. I’m not making a stripping pun (amused as you may be); we all have those layers. We can be strong without them. Finding out who we really are underneath is an incredible thing. We are so often so different, when that happens.
You know what a warrior I am on issues like this. This is my bag.
And so even though it was disguised as a joke in the clip, the woman who said thoughtfully, “I would say my husband enjoys it… probably more than I do”—That makes me sad. And don’t even start me on the guy who likes to pretend he’s not a pig. I don’t think Pole for the Soul allows spectators at all; the only people present are the teacher and the students, which I think is awesome, and enforces the idea that it’s not about someone else. I have to remember, too, that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report really don’t have to work too hard for the shocking quotes they get. People give them willingly. Those people are out there, and they don’t seem to have thought about the wonderful things they can do for themselves.
This is why Pole for the Soul’s take is so refreshing, and revitalizing. It’s revitalizing to read—I can’t even imagine what it’s like to take one of her classes. And man, does she get good reviews.
The Colbert clip had some pretty weak comments about personal power—but now you know. It’s true. In fact, it’s way better than you thought. Self-discovery? Creative expression? Confidence and strength and personal power and awesomeness? It’s definitely out there. You just have to look in the right places. But this is the only teacher I’m willing to vouch for. ;}