July 2016 and I just left my dream job in DC to move back to my hometown. Why would you do that TA-OSH?!? That is a story too long and complex for a single blog post. It was a hard thing but the right thing to do at the time. Let's start with how I got the dream job since it fostered the idea of dyeing nude fabric.
Feb 2012, I closed the doors of my first business POLENAMICS, a pole dance fitness studio in New Orleans. The studio was a little 2nd-floor space (decent view of the city) with 4 poles in the pole studio space, a waiting room in the middle, and a sewing space on the opposite side. The sewing business was still in the hobby phase but for the pole studio, the business could not sustain itself after the oil spill that took a toll on NOLA area tourism. I thought it would be a smart and safer business move to close.
I was quite disappointed, sad, and defeated. It was a good 3-year run and Polenamics was definitely ahead of its time. In that time, I was able to change some views on pole dancing as both an art and fitness. I was in the best shape of my life poling 7 days a week.
This picture was taken by my friend Jeff Gonzales for an article in the publication IntheKnowla.
So, I am twiddling my thumbs wondering what to do next and I browse Craigslist. Yes, the desperation was real! Keep in mind that for the past 3 years I taught pole classes every day, did the occasion travel pole parties, and performed from time to time. Out of curiosity, I searched pole dancer, pole dance, and pole performer. Lots of club ads came up as one would expect and some other ads ya'll don't wanna know about. Craigslist is an equal opportunity sort of place.
Up pops an ad for "pole aerialist" but included only an address and no details about the location. After internet searching the address, I was able to find the name and the website of SAX lounge/restaurant. Although it looked quite classy there was a possibility it could be a gentlemen's club. The description contained the language "burlesque" and that was kinda broad. AND...It was 1200 miles away in Washington, DC. Auditions were in-person only. I sent a video anyway with an email asking if they would accept it as my audition. Got a response! The answer was "no" but they encouraged me to come and audition.
Off to DC, I went!
Turns out, it was legit and not at all what I expected. French dinner theater was the setting and dance in all forms (including performance art) was the entertainment behind a second-floor stage enclosed in glass. I loved the idea of the less intimate performing platform but there was still something invigorating about it.
I auditioned but didn't get a call back in the time frame I expected. It was a great experience and I was glad I made the trip. Disappointed, I got on the road headed home assuming I didn't get the position.
Somewhere in South Carolina, my phone rings and it is a number I don't recognize. It was the call I waited two days for offering me the "POLE AERIALIST" position in the ongoing show. Since I had already left DC, I asked for a week to travel home and return the following week. That's me in the next photo on the far left in the bad wig. KMSL.
For the next 4 years, I am in the DMV pole dancing for a living. Like an actual job performing on a pole....and paid a living wage. Well ...kinda. The DMV is an expensive place to live in comparison to the rural area I am originally from. It didn't take long before I was given the costume design position to create costumes for the show. There I was living my best life at the time doing the two things I love in one place. Plus side, I was home during the day and could be available to kids on sick days, snow days, field trips and "Mom, I missed the bus" days.
Skipping a lot of parts here since this is becoming quite long....
In the dance space, I was once again presented with the issue of there not being nude for everyone. However, this time I realized just how limited not only the word "nude" was but the limitation of products that represented all skin colors. I looked everywhere. But in the meantime, we lathered foundation on bras so that they blended in with our individual skin tones. The goal was to still have the support of an undergarment and have it concealed as much as possible. As a costume designer, the infamous bra showing was always a thorn in my side. It was around this time that I thought about possibly dyeing body suits, leotards, bras, and other undergarments to match each individual dancer. One of the inspirations of that project came from the line of nude tights offered by Nude Barre at that time. The female performers had recently connected with the company to order tights for all of the dancers in the show. A sample of colors was sent and they were able to find a close match to their shade that would look flawless on stage. I have to admit they did look great! On my next trip to the craft store, I made it a point to pick up a few bottles of dye for synthetic fabrics.
And this unfortunately is where the idea of nhudes pauses for a few years.