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Vertical Magazine’s Very First Cover Girl IN THIS ISSUE:

beauty inspiration DARK FLIGHT a tribute to vargas vertical girl pole fundamentals upper body fitness pole around the world


with jezabel olmos studio star pole dance miami

marlo fiskin’s diary of a pole dancer

premiere the


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Brought to you by BodyMind Entertainment

OCTOBER 8TH 2011 7:30 pm

The Lyric Theatre Gold Reef City, Johannesburg


to the premiere edition of


may/june 2011

10 PUBLISHER’S LETTER by Publisher, Paige Warthen 14 EDITOR’S NOTE by Editor in Chief, T. S. Valenzuela

16 INSPIRATION Dark Flight

20 VERTICAL MEN ”Through His Eyes” by Suwasit Ritthipon 22 studio star Pole Star Miami 24 beauty “Morning Make-Up Call” by Darias Rhone


30 COVER STORY ALETHEA AUSTIN ”Strong is Sexy” by Stefanie R. Dougherty 36 PSYCHE ”Poling for Charity” by Claire Sterrett

”Sensual Sport/Sexual Spectacle” by Erica Preus

43 POLE IN UNUSUAL PLACES 44 NUTRITION ”The Anti-Inflammation Diet” by Alex Brwe ”Pole Fundamentals: Upper Body Fitness” by T. S. Valenzuela 46 WORKOUT ”Upper Body Fitness: The Routine” by T. S. Valenzuela

”Breakdown of a Pose: The Crescent” by Danielle

52 FASHION PEEK ”Simply Sexy” by Nydia Garcia

54 POLE AROUND THE WORLD MEXICO 64 NEWS ”Pole Calendar 2011”

”Pole Show Los Angeles” by Ryan Beatty ”Approved: X-Pert Pole Fitness Professional Training Accreditation” by Tom Crehan


publisher paige warthen editor in chief t. s. valenzuela ART

creative director david d’angelo art director drew hand PHOTOGRAPHY

photography director first photo assistant contributing photographer contributing photographer

david d’angelo jay hurd daniel lombardi perov stanislav


style director beauty director beauty editor nutrition director vertical men director

nydia garcia darais rhone erica preus alex bwye suwasit ritthiphon


webmaster stein davis online consultant marco ciappelli CONTRIBUTing WRITERS

pole show los angeles pole around the world, certification psyche diary of a pole dancer fashion peek feature, psyche beauty vertical men psyche workout

ryan beatty tom crehan Stefanie R. Dougherty marlo fiskin nydia garcia erica preus darius rhone suwasit ritthiphon Claire Sterrett t. s. valenzuela

Vertical Art and Fitness Magazine is published bi-monthly by Vertical Productions, LLC. No reproduction in any form is authorized without the consent of Vertical Productions, LLC. Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. No responsibility is assumed for unsolicited submissions. Manuscripts, photographs, and other submitted material can be acknowledged or returned if accompanied by a selfaddressed, stamped envelope. The content contained does not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Vertical Productions, LLC. Vertical Productions, LLC assumes no liability for misinformation, omissions, or errors.

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publisher’s letter

p a i g e / w a r t h e n



welcome Welcome to Vertical Art and

Fitness, a pole dance publication for pole dancers, by pole dancers. Our intention is to create a resource for REAL pole enthusiasts of all levels and backgrounds. Our mission is to maintain a diverse audience that can relate to each other in one community. We respect the fact that pole is personal as well as multidimensional and invite you to be part of our world. We honor your interest, motivation and dedication and hope to inspire you to to celebrate your unique path in the world of pole dance. With love,

paige warthen

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How You Look Matters.

Lose weight, look great. Call 702-878-8888 WWW.TRIMCARE.COM


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EDITOR’s note

Liberation. That’s what the pole means to me. It turns out I’m not alone. Across the world there are thousands of women and increasingly more men who have turned to the pole to liberate themselves from the bounds of what they once thought possible, not only for their bodies, but for their minds and spirits as well. At the Vancouver Peace Summit 2009, the Dalai Lama said, “The world will be saved by the Western woman.” There has been much speculation and debate regarding exactly what he meant. I choose not to waste my time in debate. The answer is clear. Women are the most powerful forces on this planet and we have been rising up and demanding our equality for generations, yet we are tired of sacrificing our femininity on the altar of equality. Recently there has been a shift in the power play. That shift is guided by sensuality. You heard me right. In order for women to save the world, they must first save themselves. That means owning their right to be financially, sexually, physically and emotionally self-sufficient. Within the charged vortex of feminine creation energy, sensuality cannot be denied. With the pole, we have the opportunity to create a perfect union of male and female energy by uniting our kick-ass bodies with our dynamic minds and expansive spirits. Weakness, frailty and demure reticence are no longer sexy. What’s sexy now are flexibility and power. Innate power. The pole is a metaphor for selfsufficiency. What do we do on the pole after all, but support our own body weight, support ourselves while we flow and soar in organic, sensual feminine movement? That is the full measure of a woman. That is the full expression of feminine dynamism. That is the power to save the world. Welcome to Vertical Art & Fitness. Expanding minds, bodies and spirits and saving the world…one pole at a time.

t s / v a l e n z u e l a


t.s. valenzuela V E R T I C A L


Photo by Daniel Lombardi

how the pole saved my life VERTICAL EDITOR IN CHIEF T.S. Valenzuela Shares Her Story of self discovery & reinvention through pole dancing Zombie: [zom-bee] – noun. The body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less…A tall drink made typically with several kinds of run, citrus juice and often, apricot liqueur. That was me. At least definition #1. Definition #2 just tastes really good. But I digress… About four years ago, after a long series of back-to-back tragic events beginning with the death of my first baby and culminating with the heart wrenching process of watching my brother’s rapid decline into multiple sclerosis, my body shut down. By all accounts I wear my heart on my sleeve and dealing with one tragedy after another was too much to take. My body responded by going into severe adrenal fatigue, the most marked symptom being debilitating insomnia. I literally knocked around the planet like a dried up leaf, like a dead person, mute and will-less. Grocery shopping? Exhausting. A kiddie birthday party? Not unless I could curl up in corner and try to nap, which never quite seemed appropriate. The severe adrenal fatigue started shortly after my son turned one year old, so he spent most of his life staring up at a woman with hollow eyes. It took hours to leave the house just so I could push him in a stroller for the short walk to our local park. Halfway there I would sit on one of the benches dotted along the way and just…cry. At this point, on top of a college degree, I had twenty-plus years of personal growth under my belt. I am a certified trainer of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), hypnotherapist, Time Line™ Therapy practitioner and big believer that we create our reality through our thoughts. I knew that my body was simply a metaphor for my internal thoughts, so why couldn’t I cure myself? I saw twelve different practitioners; from a wacky, egomaniacal MD who did colonoscopies and Chinese energetic healing (don’t ask), psychics, a homeopath, a wonderful naturopath and a couple of old-school endocrinologists, for starters. I did god knows how many treatments, tried four different pharmaceuticals and took enough supplements to wrap the earth’s round belly. Nothing worked. Not even a little. God bless my husband-at-the-time who just kept working away to pay for all of this. One day I decided I’d had enough. I decided that if I bathed my little cells in happiness and joy by simply making a pleasurable life my first priority, it couldn’t be any worse than what I had been doing, and it would certainly cost less money. By then I was slogging through the second draft of my novel and screenplay, Penelope In The Divine, a story about a sensual woman born with special powers who journeys through the world of erotic dance and toward spiritual transcendence. I’ve had a long-time fascination with the fearless sexuality of pole

Written by t.S. valenzuela photo by Daniel Lombardi dancers, so when I heard about Sheila Kelley’s S Factor, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to do some “research” for the novel and screenplay. Besides, it sounded pleasurable and therefore, fit into my new way of life. Within days I noticed a miraculous difference. Within weeks I felt exponentially better and in a matter of months, my entire life had shifted. I started out barely able to run around the block for five minutes and now I work out vigorously about five times each week, including two to three 45 minute runs, no problem. Oh yeah, I also lost twenty (count ‘em) pounds. What happened? The experience at S Factor is designed to return you to the white-hot core of your femininity and it was there that I learned how to love myself blissfully, completely, with abandon. I fell rapturously in love with every single square inch of my body; every hair on my head, every tiny cell of my skin. I learned to feel ecstasy for the way I moved, the way I felt, and each and every emotion I expressed. I learned what it truly meant to be a woman. My divine purpose, which I had been too exhausted to even consider because of the adrenal fatigue, became real to me as I danced. As I unconditionally cherished myself, my sacred path unfolded right before my eyes. Looking back now, I realize that I began the novel in 2008 to wake up my long-dormant second chakra. For several reasons that I don’t have the luxury to go into here, by this time, my sexuality/sex drive/creativity had been shut down for years. I now understand that this was the root of my health issues, but I came to this conclusion on my own. What practitioner had the skills to diagnose that? Not a single one. When a woman shuts down her sexuality, she shuts down her sacred spiritual/creative force. What does this mean? The Reader’s Digest version is that a woman’s health is tied into her sexuality, sensuality, beauty, magnetism and intuition. We take these qualities for granted and often label them unimportant. Blessedly, moving your hips, cherishing yourself and unshackling the capacity for profound strength that your body holds are all possible on the pole. Through the step-by-step process of learning moves and liberating your body, your feminine power is unleashed and vibrant health and juiciness is the result. Pole dancing saved my life. I bow, wrap, climb and spin in humble reverence and gratitude. Daily.

I learned what it truly meant to be a woman. My divine purpose, which I had been too exhausted to even consider because of the adrenal fatigue, became real to me as I danced.

Visit Theresa’s Facebook fan page: In The Divine

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darK flight Photography by David D’Angelo Written by erica preus Fluttering amidst an array of inky plumage, our bird of the night takes flight on the pole. Arching and twisting in fluid motion, she dances her way up towards the sky – ever hovering, ever in motion. Wreathed in black yet living in white, she is a contradiction by nature. Beautiful, elegant, serene and graceful; yet powerful, wild, dark and sensual. A swan in body, an artist by craft, she represents the beauty of pole artistry – the juxtaposition of all that is raw and savage, yet feminine and spellbinding. As our lovely bird takes her Dark Flight, we see her embrace both sides of her form; and together they are one. V E R T I C A L


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Styling by nydia garcia Makeup by diane kazandjian Corset and tutu designs by Yusa Ishizuka produced by erica preus

About the DANCER: Danielle rueda-watts Throughout her career, Danielle Rueda-Watts has applied her gymnastics background into aerial arts, circus acrobatics and pole dance. She has worked for Cirque du Soleil and was cast as a featured performer for Michael Jacksons "This Is It" tour. Danielle can be seen as one of the dancers in the Miramax film "Chicago," as well as in the documentary movie of the "This Is It" tour.

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vertical MEN THROUGH


“What Cirque show are you in?” That is the number one question I get when I tell people I’m a pole artist. As a male pole performer in Las Vegas people by SUWASIT RITTHiphon automatically assume that I perform in one of the Cirque du Soleil productions. Luckily I’ve never been asked if I was a stripper. My first exposure to pole dancing was back in 2007. I saw my roommate, champion pole dance and fitness celebrity Jenyne Butterfly, compete in the Pole-a-Palooza event at a local nightclub. I was blown away by her performance. Jenyne displayed dance, athleticism, acrobatics and flexibility. That night she was crowned the winner and received the title “Jenyne the Pole Dancing Queen” along with a $10,000 cash prize. Pole dancing was love at first sight for me. I knew at that moment it was what I wanted to do. I was born in Udon Thani - a remote town in northeastern Thailand, but now I make Las Vegas, Nevada my home. Since 1997 I’ve been a professional in dance and the art of movement. My extensive background in hip-hop, jazz, modern, contemporary, ballet, African dance, aerial arts, acrobatics and underwater performance has landed me roles in several longrunning shows here in Vegas such as Splash! at the Riviera Hotel, and Azure at the Silverton Hotel, as well as a nine-year stint with the Culture Shock Las Vegas Dance Company. As a professional movement artist performing in the entertainment capital of the world, I’ve danced, flipped, flown on aerial apparatuses, and performed underwater. Pole dancing is my newest adventure and I still consider myself a newbie. The pole is by far the most challenging apparatus I’ve encountered in my entertainment career. Pole dancing is a burgeoning industry and there is so much potential for growth, artistically and athletically. I want to be a part of this growth and help bring pole


dancing into a positive light. As a seasoned performer, my desire is to incorporate the fusion of dance and aerial arts into pole dancing. My mission begins by educating the general public and new pole enthusiasts about the proper pole techniques for safety and injury prevention. I believe that this is the most important information for beginners. SAFETY IS THE BEST POLICY. Where are the men in this fast growing art and sport dominated by women? We’re here, in the back of the pole dancing classes filled with women.  People tend to talk about the stigma of women who  pole dance  but they don’t really think about the stigma of men who also practice this sport. I think we have it ten times worse than you ladies!  In my perfect world I would love to see an equal amount of men and women attending pole classes together, training together, and working together.  I think the solution to this would be for the ladies to take a more active role in the pole dancing community.  Please continue to invite your husbands, boyfriends, guy friends, and gay friends to pole dance with you. This way, as time goes on and the art and sport continues to grow, we will see more men pole dancing.  As the art and sport of pole dancing becomes more mainstream, more  men will get involved and will add their unique flair and strength, raising the bar of difficulty across the board.  Countries such as Australia, Japan and The United States hold national and international competitions for men to showcase their talent and it is refreshing to see men such as Josiah ‘BAD AZZ’ Grant, Dave Kahl, Duncan West and  Steven Retchless flying on the pole.  To me these men are the pioneers of the male pole dancing movement and should be acknowledged for their artistic contributions to the sport. I would love to see them help take pole dancing to the Olympics. In every issue of Vertical Art & Fitness Magazine I will introduce some of the male pole artists listed above along with other men around the world and get their stories of what, when, how, and why they got into the pole dance industry. I hope their stories will inspire not only men but women as well.

The pole industry is

so new and there is so much potential for

growth, artistically

and athletically, and I want to be a part of

this growth and help to

bring pole dancing into a positive light.




FAQ’S Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get from men: Does it hurt your groin? No. Only if you do pole dancing incorrectly. But your upper thighs will get bruises and pole dancing does hurt sometimes. Do you have to be flexible? No you don’t “have” to be flexible but having flexibility will only help you.  Having flexibility will enhance your lines and positions and make everything look much better. Are all guys pole dancing gay? There is a good mixture of gay and straight men in pole dancing. Is there a pole dancing class for men? To my knowledge, I have not seen a pole dancing class specifically for men.  The popularity of pole dancing is still so new not many men have taken part in the art.  Hopefully that will change as more men read my articles. Do you have to know how to dance to be a pole dancer? No, not necessarily. I’ve seen men in pole dancing competitions who came from all walks of life.  They’re ex-gymnasts, acrobats, aerialists and normal everyday people participating in the art and sport. How strong do you have to be to pole dance? Strength is very important and you can  perform many amazing  skills when you are strong.  But anyone can pole dance.

Visit Suwasit online at:

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star stats:

2 locations in Miami member: PFA & USPDF “Best Gym Alternative� in 2010 by The Miami New Times Has held workshops with polestars: Mina Mortezaie, Jenyne Butterfly, Alethea Austin, and Felix Cane. group classes, private instruction, specialty workshops, and pole parties. Email:




studio star

pole dance miami Gwendy Andrade is the owner of Pole Dance Miami, which has two locations in Miami, Florida. Prior to opening her studio, Gwendy had a fulfilling career in radio advertising, but she had a lifechanging experience when she stumbled across a pole dancing studio. “That was back in January 2008,” she says. “At the time I was looking for a unique Valentine’s Day gift for my fiancé (now husband).  With my dance background, I thought it would be a fun and easy type of dance, so I booked myself for six weeks of classes.”  During the very first class Gwendy fell in love with the pole and  the very next day she bought her first pair of platform shoes and a pole.  “I intended to hide everything for six weeks so I could give my fiancé the surprise of a lifetime, but during that time, I noticed how different my body was.  I was stronger, leaner, and more confident.”  Pole

dancing wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be, but for her, it was worth the challenge. “After two months, the owner hired me as a parttime instructor and that quickly turned into full-time.  I eventually left my job in radio, which I loved, for my new love: pole dancing.”  Gwendy opened the first location of Pole Dance Miami in June 2009.  She has six instructors on staff, including herself, and the studio has seven levels of pole classes.  In addition, they offer a well-rounded variety of dance and fitness classes.  “I love that Pole Dance Miami has transformed into a great big family made up of staff and students who love the pole.  Everyone truly encourages each other and I am very proud to have such great place in Miami for women.” Gwendy’s future plans include incorporating adult ballet classes and offering aerial classes in her newest location. “I specifically chose it for the twenty foot ceilings!” she says.

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call by darais rhone

My name is Darais. Just to make it easy on you, that’s daRAY-iss. First and foremost, art has been my inspiration since I was only four years old and I am an artist until the day I die, just like my father and his father before him. My grandfather, a university art professor, used to kiss my forehead with every art project I brought home and exclaim, “A+!” I found my lifetime passion in the beauty industry. Beauty is attainable to anyone who wants to empower themselves with color, contour, highlights, camouflage, and brushstrokes. I don’t see a canvas as simply two-dimensional - it speaks to

me as I paint proportion and balance on an unbalanced world. In order to be truly heard in this industry I moved from Utah to Beverly Hills, where for over a decade I continue to teach, paint, and love. Everyone is a celebrity to me. Some walk on red carpets, others on kid-stained carpets. Through personal appearances as a national and celebrity makeup artist and now on my own website, www. morningmakeupcall.blogspsot. com, anyone can be considered one of my celebrities. This is not your morning makeup call, but your Morning Makeup Call!

Visit Darais online at:

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A Tribute to Vargas


hat defines a pin-up girl - sensuality, playfulness, alluring femininity or all of the above? A pin-up girl is someone whose joie de vivre can inspire any man to greatness and any woman to maximize her innate magnetism and beauty. Just like a pole dancer, a pinup girl can hold her own. At Vertical Art & Fitness, we aspire to the highest level of creativity and this is why the Vargas girl is our pin-up of choice. The art and beauty of the pin-up can be traced to the work of French artists Alphonse Mucha and Jules Chéret,  active in the late 1800s. Influenced by Post Impressionists and Japanese prints,  their Art Nouveau posters, modest by the standards of the 20th century, became hugely popular throughout Europe. Later, in the 1920s, Rolf Armstrong, considered the father of American pinup,  gained fame when his work began appearing on calendars, magazine covers, and product packaging, gaining greater public acceptance for the controversial art form. Today, Armstrong is the most sought after pinup artist by collectors, with originals fetching some of the highest prices in the pin-up market. The transition into the Art Deco period of the ‘30s allowed artists to glamorize women with even greater reality, pushing the limits of sensuality and sexuality. These forefathers set the stage for the most well known pin-up artist of all time: Alberto Vargas. The son of a Peruvian photographer, Vargas

began his career with the Ziegfeld Follies and later was employed as an artist for Hollywood movie studios. His most famous work during this period was an illustration for the 1933 film The Sin of Nora Moran, which shows a near-naked Zita Johnson. This work is frequently named one of the greatest movie posters ever made.  Vargas’ big break however, came when he was hired by Esquire magazine in 1940 to do their monthly pin-ups. By the ‘60s, Vargas was a household name, his images imprinted in the minds of men and women alike. His fame was cemented in his sixteen-year relationship with Playboy Magazine where his illustrations were the perfect compliment for Playboy’s photographic pin-ups. His unique artistic style was a mixture of watercolor and airbrushing which gave his illustrated subjects a creamy, realistic skin tone. The resulting look merged the worlds of photography and illustration in a way that uniquely fit the look of the magazine. His residency as Playboy’s pin-up artist pushed the Vargas Girl to become one of the most recognized cultural icons of the 20th century.  Our monthly Vargas girl is a tribute to the history of the pin-up, and a tip of the hat to our favorite artist in the genre. This month’s Vargas girl, Tiffany Toth, was captured through the lens of our own photographer, David D’Angelo.

photography by david d’angelo, produced by erica preus, Styling by nydia garcia, Makeup by diane kazandjian, Denim print bodysuit designs by Christianna available at Ultra Vixen Vampwear, model tiffany toth / brand models, shot on location at xpole

vertical girl

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beauty breakdown Youth Activating Concentrate Genifique Spring 2011 Cool Lavande Quad

Color Fever Gloss Lavande Ballerine

Waterproof Hypnose Mascara

Le Vernis Violet Groove

the master class vertical girl by darais rhone

Most of us think of a traditional Vargas Girl in terms of two things: 1) Matte Red Lips 2) Black eyeliner tails. For Vertical’s first Vargas Girl, Lancôme’s National Celebrity Makeup Artist Darais didn’t simply sidestep these archetypes; he reinvented them completely. The result is a Vargas pin-up look that remains dramatic and sultry, yet bursts with freshness and vitality for spring. Here’s how to get the Vargas look by Darais for your next pin-up inspired performance, on or off the pole. Lancôme has a wide palette of colors in all of their makeup, so feel free to experiment if you don’t have this Vargas girl’s fair complexion.


The most important thing a woman can do for her makeup is take care of her skin. Use three drops a day of Youth Activating Concentrate Génifique under any moisturizing system to bring out a lit-from-within complexion.



Prep your eyes with Rénergie Eye Multiple Action anti-aging system. Apply phase 1 cream both A.M. and P.M. to the entire eye contour. Use phase 2 veil in the A.M. only. Secret tip: Don’t apply eye cream too close to the eye. If it gets on the eyelashes, it can cause even waterproof mascara to flake.

02. EYES

It is best to apply eyes first because eye makeup can fall and get messy under the eyes. Most dark circles are just eye shadow that has flaked off on top of foundation and concealer.

Concentrating on the lower lid, use a synthetic brush to apply Waterproof Effacernes Concealer in “Ivoire” on the eyelids. This allows for a long waterproof base for your eye shadows to grab on to. Next, apply Le Crayon Khol eyeliner in “Blanc” to the entire eyelid. Soften the edge of the white pencil in the crease with a clean synthetic brush. Use the same brush to pack the matte, light yellow shade, “Pizzazz” over the white pencil to set the lid. You can also use any yellow face powder designed to correct redness. Highlight under the brow bone next with “Daylight,” a matte, pale bone color. Press the brush where you want the strongest highlight, directly under the arch of the brow and inner corner of the eye. Use a natural-hair brush to apply “Waif,” a light brown blending color, in the crease of the eye. Apply the eye shadow from the outside in, while keeping the eye open. Mix this color with a deeper brown eye shadow called “Faux Pas” and repeat the windshield wiper motion throughout the eye crease. Finish by applying just the deeper “Faux Pas” brown to the outer corners of the crease. Apply Le Crayon Kohl eyeliner in “Black Ebony” to the top lash line first. This sketches the wing look, and creates a stencil for a more intense liquid finish. Next, set the top liner with matte black eye shadow using an angled brush. Once the eyeliner is in place, apply liquid Artliner in “Noir” over the top for a crisp look. Always blot the felt tip applicator first to minimize the amount of product

all that glitters for the application. Beginners can remove the product completely on a tissue and practice with a dry felt tip until confident in the application. Apply Le Crayon Kohl in “Blanc” liner to the inside rim to make eyes look bigger and less red. Brush black Hypnôse Waterproof mascara on the top of lashes first, and as it dries, apply to lower lashes. Paste false lashes to the top lid only, using dark tone Waterproof Duo Eyelash Adhesive. Don’t forget to measure without glue first to see if the lashes need to be trimmed. Once the adhesive is on the lash, let it dry about 30 seconds otherwise the lash will not stay in place. During application, look down and to the side in the mirror to avoid squinting the skin around the eye. This allows for the necessary stretch to keep the eyelid comfortable and helps keep the adhesive out of the corners of the eyes. Apply mascara to the lower lashes and then to the top lashes and the false lash to blend them together. Now you have your fresh Vargas Eyes!

03. foundation

Apply Teint Miracle foundation in “Ivoire 4N” to the center of the face and under the eyes using a synthetic brush. Around the outer part of the face and contours use a deeper, warmer shade, like “Buff 2W.” Apply Dual Finish Powder in “Matte Porcelaine d’Ivoire” to the center of the face with a natural brush. Use a natural brush again to apply a very small amount of Maquicomplet Concealer in “Ivoire” on any dark circles or blemishes.

04. contour & blush

Use Tropiques Minerale bronzer in “Natural Sunkiss” to contour the forehead, under the cheekbone, under the jaw line, and on the sides of nose and neck. Start the contour where it should be the darkest - at the temples. Use the same brush and apply blush to the apples of the cheeks with a smile. Don’t sweep blush back to the temples, your bronzer does that for you. Swirl over and over again with your blush to get a polished look. For this Vargas girl, two shades of Blush Subtil were used - “Miel Glace” and “Cappucine.” Using fingers, highlight the tips of the cheek, collarbone and cupids bow of the lip with Éclat Miracle serum.

05. brows

When shaping brows, comb them through with the brush end of Le Crayon Poudre brow pencil in “Natural Blonde” then use the powder on the other end and sketch in small strokes to add the appearance of small hairs. Finish by combing out with the brush end. Set with a brow groomer.

06. lips

Prep the lips with Primordiale Skin Recharge lip treatment. For a variation on the traditional Vargas red lip, use Le Crayon lip liner in “Lilac” and fill in the entire lip. Next apply “Mauvette” lipstick and set with eye shadows in the spring 2011 Cool Lavande colors for a matte effect. Add Color Fever lip-gloss in “Lavande Ballerine” to pop the lips. To polish off the whole look, apply Le Vernis nail lacquer in the new spring 2011 color, “Violet Groove.”

As Darais was boarding a plane to New York for this year’s Fashion Week, he gave us a call about how to achieve the beautiful falling confetti that adorns this month’s Vertical Vargas Girl. “When I created the story board for this layout, I decided to go 3-D, which is always more fun. As a kid I loved the bright purple and gold flowers popping through the snow. The petals were small and circular, and I loved how the colors were opposites on the color wheel and complemented each other so beautifully. To build the confetti on this month’s Vargas Girl, I got some purple, gold, and black card stock and used my Franklin Covey hole punch to punch out the dots for the petals. It’s funny because last year in New York at the Hudson Studios I was in dire need of eyelashes, so I ripped out paper from my Franklin Covey planner and made the eyelashes from trianglecut paper. I called them my Franklin Covey eyelashes and I guess you can call this Franklin Covey confetti. Next, I cut a flat edge to each piece of confetti petal and applied clear Duo Eyelash Adhesive to the straight edge. I overlapped the petals one at a time on the skin and lash line. It’s easy, but time consuming. Tweezers are great for individual application and control.

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Alethea austin

by erica preus

We were thrilled to land X-Pole Girl Alethea Austin as the first cover girl of Vertical Magazine. Known for her slinky body waves and sky-high heels, Alethea sat down to chat with Erica Preus about her evolution as an artist, as a performer, and why she just hates to dance without her namesake shoes.

degree in photography?

Erica: Thanks so much for being our first cover girl, Alethea.

Alethea: Well, I was a gymnast when I was younger. That’s what they have in Indiana, either gymnastics or basketball. But gymnastics to me wasn’t ever enough dancing. There was this one night in college when I found myself in a club, and I thought the dancers were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. So I started dancing to make money to pay my way through college, but I want to be very clear that I did not learn any of my pole skills during this time, that place didn’t even have a pole! Eventually I graduated and ended up in LA about five or six years ago because it has the best weather.

Alethea: Definitely, I am excited to see a magazine like this finally being put together. Erica: So, let’s get all the mandatory questions out of the way first. Can you tell our readers something about where you are from, and how you found yourself in Los Angeles? V E R T I C A L


Alethea: (laughing) Sure. I’m from Bloomington Indiana. I left Indiana when I was 18 and went to college at the Rhode Island school of design in Providence and I started studying photography. Erica: What were you planning to do with a

Alethea: I had no clue; I just knew I wanted to be creative. Erica: It’s a pretty big leap from photographer to professional pole dancer.

Erica: Hey that’s one of the best reasons to live in LA. Alethea: I know, right?

photography by david d’angelo, produced by erica preus, Styling by nydia garcia, Makeup by diane kazandjian

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Erica: So you came to LA, a new graduate all sunny and optimistic about a new start… Alethea: And then, the second week I was here, I was on the 210 Freeway and a guy fell asleep behind the wheel of a U-haul and hit me. It was a multiple roll over, and I had to have three neck surgeries. I still don’t really like to talk about it too much, and I still have a lot of permanent damage in my upper spine. The whole thing really shook me, because before that I had been living in my 20s body not taking care of it at all, not stretching or really exercising. Erica: It’s that awful wakeup call you didn’t ever want, right? Alethea: Oh yeah, I mean after the wreck, the first year was really hard. Eventually I started rehab, but my body hurt so bad that I would skip my PT appointments, and then they wouldn’t want to give me my Celebrex. Long story short I got to a breaking point and tried to go back to the gym, and it was horrible. It didn’t matter, running, walking, hurt so bad. Erica: I can’t even imagine you not being able to defy gravity let alone not be able to run! Alethea: It was pretty rough. I realized that I just needed to feel like a woman again and feel sexy. I had been injured for so long, I felt so not hot. I couldn’t even wear high heels because it hurt my neck. Erica: Now that’s ironic, Miss High Heels! Alethea: (laughs) Right? So one night I was online and I saw a video of Leigh Ann Orsi pole dancing. She flips up in a shoulder mount and I had never seen anything like it. The next day at noon was the first class I took at Bespun pole studio. I was worried it would be nothing but ‘big-titty Hollywood’ but it wasn’t like that at all. It was truly the friendliest environment I had ever walked into. No one else came to that noon class but me, so I accidentally had a private lesson.

to drugs and depression after the accident. When I quit working to train, Keith thought I was crazy, but everyone was so relieved I was healthy they didn’t care that I wasn’t making any money. Erica: Understandable. Alethea: Well I thought so. And at this point photography was still my passion. I was shooting covers for Complex and Revolver magazines, but photo money started going down a few years ago. I had to cancel teaching pole a lot for photo gigs that came up, but around November of that year it switched. There was no money to be had in photography and I taught pole more and more. This was when the first USPDF Competition was taking place and I decided to enter. Erica: At this point you still hadn’t even been pole dancing for very long, right? Alethea: The competition was exactly a year after the first day I walked into Bespun. I was still pretty green on the pole, and maybe even a little unsafe, so since I didn’t know too many tricks, I mostly danced. I admit, I have always been comfortable in front of an audience and I really thought, ‘Dude, I got this!’ And then Jenyne Butterfly performed and my whole world changed in a second. Erica: What did her performance do for you? Alethea: Not at all in a jealous way, I had never seen pole dancing like that in my life. I mean, I was still doing slutty floor work and thinking it was cool. I consider that my pole birthday, when I learned that it could be an aerial art. Before that I thought you used it to dance around and then come back down, but Jenyne blew me away. From that day I took it so seriously, and I knew I wanted to become like that.

I consider that my pole birthday, when I learned that it could be an aerial art.

Erica: Nice! Alethea: It was, but I was so out of shape! The basic warm up made me sweat and shake. I couldn’t even climb up the thing. My right arm was so deteriorated from the accident, even though I am left-handed I started doing it all on my right side to build it up. They are still different sizes (shows me her arms). Erica: Oh my god, they are still slightly different! Alethea: Yeah, so from that first day at the pole gym, I did everything on the right. I actually threw up by the car after that class because I was so out of shape. But I literally went back every day, and I went through this crazy change – it was like a boot camp. But I already had body awareness from gymnastics and I progressed really fast. My sexy side finally came out from my work dancing before and my husband Keith finally believed me that I can be sexy! I started teaching there three months later. Erica: What are some of the highlights of your own training? Alethea: Well, at that time pole was so new, the instructors would watch videos together and then all try and figure out how to do the tricks. We had that fluid beautiful, dancing stuff already, so we tried to figure out those complicated moves. Erica: So what did your family think about your new activity? Alethea: They were just so happy that I didn’t throw my life away

Erica: So how did that moment impact or alter your practice? Alethea: Well I won Miss Sexy that night at the USPDF and was honored to be runner up for the title. I didn’t so much change my training but went on tour. My core grew so strong once it truly became my life and not just a thing to do at the gym. After that full year of touring I noticed that I had Jenyne’s stamina. Erica: Now that you had achieved the physical capabilities to be the dancer you wanted to be, what did this do to your career as a pole dancer? Alethea: So at this point pole was blowing up and the whole level of it was growing, but no one was making any money yet professionally. I knew if things didn’t turn around I would have to split the time between pole and some other work. But that was the year that I won, and then it started to be profitable. Erica: So for readers who aren’t professionals making tons of money to pole dance, what advice would you give to them regarding fitting it into their already busy lives? Alethea: Look, I know how much pole classes cost, and it is just an expensive sport. But if you have the passion and are able to own one you can train a ton at home too. I know girls get frustrated by how expensive an X-pole can be, or going to the gym, but I always ask if they have a pole at home. I always tell girls who can’t afford

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Erica: How much of your own training was done at home? Alethea: Well I for sure couldn’t afford an X-pole when I started. I found one on eBay that was a one piece, that was the wrong size, and it was for sale because it was bent. My husband’s dad rigged a two-foot beam in our ceiling so that this bent pole would fit in our loft. I had to borrow the $100 from my friend to get it. Erica: Ok, if that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is. You got your start on a used, bent pole? Alethea: And you know what? I loved that thing! Erica: How would you encourage other women who might be shy about getting on their first pole to just get out there and try it? Alethea: Oh my God, there…I just (pauses to reflect). Everyone I know who has tried it has gotten something out of it for a different reason. Strength, confidence, body awareness, flexibility, you name it. And I swear, the good, honest, true-blue people who take classes are not catty and are so supportive. I can’t emphasize enough how much the community means to me. A friend’s house got flooded and she lost everything, and I sent out a private message and raised $2000 for her in two weeks. I knew these women were amazing, but…wow. And it’s not like we are all driving Ferraris or anything, that’s just the kind of women pole attracts. Erica: Why do you think that is? Alethea: It’s because pole is SO hard, and you have to be able to take a lot of pain, but at the end of the day we are all standing around in our underwear together! People with body image issues don’t notice them at all by the end. It can satisfy so many different things for you. You can do it in a group or on your own. I tell girls who get in ruts to have Sexy Days. Have a day where you get wasted for no reason, put on a sexy outfit and just dance! Don’t invert, that’s not a good idea, but if you need that sexy day, the pole can be there for you. If you need to work on fitness and you are in that mood, then work on your tricks. It can be performance, exercise, art, sexual energy - so many different things just with this one same tool. It can just be whatever you want it to be that day. Erica: Ok, let’s get to it. Spill about the shoes. Alethea: First, I don’t ever wear high heels outside normally. But I have always been obsessed with stripper heels, the bigger the better. I used to wear them in the kitchen if I was cooking. I just like feeling tall. I used to be 5’7 but am 5’6 because I got squished in the accident so... Erica: Ok, you just said “squished.”



Alethea: Well it’s true. I lost a half inch. It never even occurred to me to do pole barefoot. I use them to slide so I look fluid, I use them to stick, and I use them as an apparatus. Lots of girls ask me about how to be more fluid and I truly think it is the shoes. I guess leg warmers to socks would work but why would you want to wear those? I mean that’s an important part of your dance, you get a pretty outfit, get shoes to go with it, and pick a perfect song. When I started, what I needed from it at the time was to feel sexy, and the shoes were so necessary. Erica: I heard that recently you had to perform without them? Alethea: Yes I was just at a competition where no shoes were allowed. For me the shoes have nothing to do with being sexual or a stripper, but without them it makes the whole show a six-hour gymnastics meet

and people were so bored. It completely took the ‘show’ out of it. There is a huge difference between stripping and putting on a show, and in a show there are costumes, and if pole goes the way of gymnastics it certainly won’t ever sell out on Broadway. It will be something that needs bleachers and the audience will be technical with judges saying ‘number 4 is now taking the floor’ (said in a deadpan, monotone voice). I want to see shows with sold out crowds where people are entertained, and there has to be shoes for that to happen! Erica: So what shoes in particular can you not live without? Alethea: I used to only get the chrome shoes from Pleasure because they were shiny and pretty. Then Tiffany Hayden came up with a way to glitter shoes and these trumped the chrome because I was like, ‘Ooh, even shinier!’ So she started her own company and you can get them at, and that’s all I wear now. I like the texture of the glitter also; when I do my grabs they are a bit rougher, so no slip. I immediately asked her to make custom ones, and now I have the AIethea Signature shoe. A portion of each one bought goes to animal charity by the way. Erica: What are your send-off thoughts to your fans and first time readers of Vertical Magazine? Alethea: Pole has taught me not to be ashamed; to just be who I am, that’s why I am making beer cozies as merch, because everyone knows I drink Bud Light…a lot. If they would sponsor me it would make my day! But anyway, that’s why pole is so fun and I don’t want to see too many boundaries placed on it. For me now it is so much more than just pole, it is going back to art, so everything that I do I hope people embrace and see it as that. My merch, DVDs, website, how I portray myself is all art to me as well as pole. This is all me being creative, and it’s who I am, and I just gotta be me.

Dragonfly – shamans harvest Cover me – candlebox Simple man – deftones I am the highway – audioslave Shelter – corrosion of conformity Number one zero – audioslave No ordinary love – deftones Seether – tied my hand acoustic Fix you – coldplay Dead souls – nine inch nails Nothing else matters – metallica Roadbull – melvins Change – candlebox You – candlebox Where did you sleep last night – mark lanagan Good friends and a bottle of pills – pantera Five minutes alone – pantera Come undone – duran duran On call – kings of leon Shism – tool Unsuffer me – Lucinda Williams What its like – everlast If only tonight we could sleep –deftones Down in a hold unplugged – alice in chains She talks to angels – black crows Its been a while – staind Wait and bleed – slipknot


it; go take a month of classes so you don’t literally bust your ass, and because the gym is such a great social outlet and great motivation to work out. But for people who are really serious about training you have to have one at home.

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Cast aside what society has programmed you to believe and embrace V E R T I C A L


a new, more powerful definition of sexy

When I enrolled in a beginner pole class, I admit that it raised a few eyebrows. I hesitated to talk about it with people I did not know well, especially men. Many of the guys I did tell reacted as you might expect: with a smirk and a keen interest sparked by their baser nature. In fairness, this is understandable. Pole dancing has a huge stigma in the minds of most people, who associate it with gentlemen’s clubs and licentious behavior. My girlfriends, on the other hand, were unanimously encouraging and supportive; many said they wished they could join me. This may be, in part, because they had already heard about this new fitness craze and had been more than a little curious about it themselves. However, I believe their enthusiasm stemmed from a deeper place: a shared desire to freely express their beauty and sexuality, and more precisely, to possess the power of seduction. But what about the conflict between the empowerment women genuinely wish to cultivate in themselves and the opposing cues supplied by society? A quick flip through the pages of any mainstream women’s magazine is enough to glean the modern version of “ideal” physical beauty. What you invariably see is an impossibly



by Stefanie R. Dougherty

thin woman, wide-eyed and scantily clad, who appears fragile and generally vulnerable. The message conveyed to us from childhood to adulthood – from the damsels in distress of Disney fairytales to the print ads of Cosmopolitan – is that frailty, vulnerability and submissiveness are sexy. As a general rule in popular culture, a woman’s physical strength is played down, and weakness is a desirable attribute. At my first pole classes, when I watched the teacher gracefully execute the basic spins and twirls I had seen in so many movies and music videos, and then experienced for myself how difficult it is to make them look so beautiful, I was hooked. Although it is certainly sexy, this is no strip tease; it is a fascinating fusion of dance and acrobatics and it takes practice, strength and discipline. I began searching for videos of professional pole artists on YouTube. As I watched these women move, it was impossible not to notice that the most accomplished performers had more upper body and core strength than most men I know. The term “physically fit” does not begin to describe the condition

of their sculpted bodies. They are stunningly strong and, at the same time, undeniably feminine and sexy. Their performances send a clear message that strength and sexiness are not mutually exclusive; in fact, their strength makes them even sexier. There is a seductive element to pole dancing, and, as we all know, seduction is power. Pole artists possess a special ability to capture the attention and the imagination of their audience. Yet they do this so fluidly that the viewer barely perceives it happening. The dancer uses her obvious physical strength in a subtle way: to captivate the observer with her graceful, agile movements. For a moment in time, the viewer is under her spell. This is a form of sexiness that both men and women can appreciate. It seems that women – myself included – are drawn to the art of pole because we feel liberated by what it represents: a beautiful, confident, powerful woman whose strength enhances rather than detracts from her femininity. In short, it is a fantasy-come-true, both for the performer and for her audience.

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poling for charity The Flying V’s Dance to Help End Violence Against Women BY Claire Sterrett PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY FOUR EYES PHOTOGRAPHY As the pole dancing community grows, we are seeing more and more charity events being sponsored by pole dance studios and pole dance companies as well as individual pole dancers. These events benefit everything from cancer research to the victims of the recent tsunami in Japan. It’s heartening to see dancers rally for a good cause. Not to mention, charity events do a lot to improve the visibility of the art of pole dancing. This past March in Los Angeles as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about continued violence against women, a pole dancing group known as The Flying Vs took part in the after party for the play The Vagina Monologues. The play is the cornerstone of something called the V-Day movement, whose participants stage benefit performances of the show and host other related events in their communities. Such events take place worldwide each year between February 1 and April 30. The performances generally benefit rape crisis centers and similar resource centers for women. This year in Santa Monica, V-Day benefitted Peace Over Violence, an LA based charity that helps women who have been physically and sexually assaulted.  A portion of the proceeds also went to women and girls in Haiti who are launching a campaign to end violence in their country with the help of sponsors and activists. Following the play, there was a lovely after party with food, drinks and…pole dancing! The Flying Vs performed on two freestanding poles smack dab in the middle of the after party.  The Flying Vs are made up of four women: Tracy Mueller, Christina Grance, Rie Katagiri and Katy Kamen.  All four women have an S Factor background, and two of the four teach pole dancing at S Factor.  Rie teaches at Movement Studio LA and Katy teaches private lessons in Malibu. Their first performance was a celebration of the transition from girl to woman.  The dancers started off in tutus and tank tops and as the song progressed, they shed their layers of girlish clothing to reveal womanly curves and lingerie.  The second performance was an erotic dance to Moulin Rouge’s “Roxanne”.  The

message was: “I’m unapologetically sexy. Now watch me and worship.”  In both performances, the dancers moved slowly, deliberately and extremely sensually.   While there were some beautiful pole tricks, the focus was just as much on the floor as it was on the pole.  The dancers were in almost constant eye contact with one another, feeding off one another’s energy, which heightened the eroticism of the performance.  I think the presence of pole dancing, especially an incredibly sensual form of pole dancing at this particular charity event, is significant for three reasons.  First, it shows the spirit of the pole dance community in a positive light.  It is possible to be sensual and celebrate the beauty of the female body without denigrating or objectifying it.  Second, it reinforces the idea that ending violence against women (which is the driving force behind all the V Day celebrations) does not mean erasing or hiding or restricting their sexuality.  On the contrary.   The end of violence against women, in a certain way, means that women can fully own and express their sexuality and its power without fear of attack, judgment or any other negative repercussions.  And this is precisely what happened on Saturday night.  Finally, pole dancing for a charitable cause shows that women can choose to dance, they can dance for reasons that are positive, and that the pole dance community is devoted to helping those in need.  In other words, we have heart. At the end of their last performance, The Flying Vs walked into their audience, who had formed a circle around them, and pulled women out onto the floor to dance with them.  It was a symbolic move, one that communicated that the dance was for all women.  I cannot begin to express to you the joy of looking around at a sea of women, all moving sensually on the floor, on the poles, all celebrating their bodies and their sexuality, all blissfully uninhibited and feeling safe and celebrated.  It was awesome.  And it made me want to be a Flying V!

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psyche / sexual spectacle?

Sensual Sport by erica preus

Lean and toned female athletes wear skimpy, high cut bootie shorts and spandex crop tops while engaging in their sport, often revealing six pack abs and perfectly sculpted rears for primetime camera crews everywhere. Yet track and field, gymnastics and tennis are all considered athletics for the sake of athletics, without sacrificing their legitimacy to feminine sexuality, scant clothing or innuendo. In a time when female sporting events seem to gravitate toward a lack of clothing - even in the Olympic arena - pole dancing is still viewed by many as an activity fit only for gentlemen’s clubs and nighttime burrows. In other words, it is too sexual. With the rising number of housewives, mothers, students, teachers, nurses and other women from all walks of life approaching local pole dance studios with the desire to train, it is no shock that many people who never thought they’d come in contact with this world are suddenly finding themselves wondering about its legitimacy. Gone are the days when poles were only to be found in underground entertainment establishments. We are in an age when women are embracing their femininity and strength in formerly unexplored ways; poles are going up in living rooms all over the world, and husbands, boyfriends, sons, bosses, and friends are suddenly confronted with the reality that professional, upstanding women like to let their hair down and dance on a pole. The confusion regarding its legitimacy is born from the fact that pole dancing is an anomaly in itself. No other activity unites the primitive, raw energy exuded by a woman exploring her sensual side with the extreme athletic capabilities and prowess required to successfully conquer each higher level. Women of all body types, all ages and V E R T I C A L


with no experience soon find themselves flying twelve feet off the ground, spinning into oblivion with hair in a whirl, all while toning muscle groups long neglected or never discovered. And yet the debate not only remains, but continues to grow: is pole dancing too historically sexual to ever be considered athletically sensual? For pole athletes worldwide, there is without a doubt a divergence between the sexual pole grinding of yore, and the current celebration of the sensual feminine mystique. Certainly the majority of women across the globe who flock to the pole by the thousands are intrigued by the chance to study their own inner, and often repressed, sensual energy; but most would be appalled at the idea of moving their newly discovered passions and talents into a club filled with men. A split has occurred between the pole being used to evoke a sexual response and pole dancing as a sensually inclined sport. Pole dancing has the potential to be viewed as a ground breaking athletic expression unlike any that has come before. Tip-toeing on the coattails of performance athletics such as ballet, gymnastics and ice skating, pole dancing tackles the visual display, combines it with seemingly impossible bodily capabilities, and then takes that unique and controversial step of adding raw feminine sensuality to the mix. It is now the task of the public, male and female, to accept and not fear that element of sensuality. Winning the grueling battle for women to enter the arena of televised, professional athletics proved to the world that women are powerful beings, as eager as their male counterparts to fight, and to win. It is now time to embrace the fact that the female body at its most powerful can still be sensual; and yes, dare we say it, even sexual too.

there is without a doubt a emerging divergence between the sexual pole grinding of yore, and the current celebration of the sensual feminine mystique.

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want to see more

? s u b s c r i p t i o n s • v i d e o s • e xc lu s i v e s • & m o r e





This is a photo taken by Nelle Swan who owns North Pole Studio in Stockholm, Sweden

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anti inflammation diet a diet you can feel good about by alex bwYe



“Oh no, not another diet plan,” you may be thinking. “Great - just what I need, another article telling me what not to eat - I’m down to salad and berries already (until I eat an entire pizza on Friday nights, that is)!” Ladies and gentlemen, athletes, performers and health-conscious foodies, the AntiInflammatory Diet is no South Beach Diet, no Raw Food Diet, and nothing glamorous followed by the Victoria’s Secret models or Nicole Kidman - at least it doesn’t intend to be. You see, there is little new to say about the benefits of a healthy, whole food diet, which is basically what this diet is, with a few extra indications like higher energy, less risk for disease, higher levels of organ functioning and of course, a healthy weight. Yawn - it’s been said before in every diet book out there, right? Read on. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet has a specific purpose - one that will specifically bring forth dramatic results in athletes, physically active people, and people with arthritic conditions. The purpose is this: by decreasing inflammation throughout the body, energy will peak and the joints will gain back their flexibility and become less painful to use; if the pain doesn’t cease altogether that is. Pole dancers listen up: there is a cure for your sore wrists, hips and shoulders and a method to prevent them from ever becoming sore. It lies in nowhere else than in the food you eat. By starting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, you will directly benefit your abilities both as a dancer and on the pole by increasing the capacity of your joints to take the intense weightbearing they are subjected to. Let’s face it – the food you eat will either make or break your success in expressing yourself on the pole. The choice is up to you.

T. Anton, a long-time pole dancer, noticed a major difference in her performance after switching to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. “I injured my shoulder 4 months earlier and no matter what I did to heal it, it consistently bothered me until I started this diet. In less than a week I noticed a major improvement. Before the diet, my shoulder injury prevented me from doing any additional weight training. Now I’m back to my former regimen of almost daily pole dancing plus my strength exercises two to three times a week. The Anti-Inflammation Diet increased my overall flexibility by leaps and bounds.” So what causes the inflammation in the first place? The body views certain types of foods as pathogens, or disease-producing entities. The body’s response is to increase blood flow to affected areas in order to attack the ‘pathogenic’ substance. The increased blood flow causes inflammation (pain and swelling) in these areas, and if this inflammation happens consistently, it deteriorates the affected tissue. For athletes this can be extremely frustrating, because the pain can become so intense that their performance declines, and their career often follows. Many athletes have honed in on the benefits of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. The quantity of books written on the diet is surprising, with Barry Spears’ ‘The Zone’ probably gaining the most popularity with professional athletes as well as celebrities. The benefit of eating this way is that you are eating whole, fresh foods, not food from a can or box. That means you fill up on nutrient-rich fiber, protein and beneficial fat-based foods that your body identifies as the good guys. This will help you succeed in feeling great and seeing the benefits in your performance, all while keeping your stomach happy at mealtime.

feel good

anti-inflammatory inflammatory foods to enjoy foods to avoid


Lean, free-range meats, wild caught fish (not farmed), sprouted tofu or tempeh.

Farmed fish and all shellfish. Sausage, hot dogs, cold cuts and other processed meats.

Sweetness-Lover’s Breakfast


Unsweetened plain goat’s milk yogurt, coconut milk yogurt or buffalo milk yogurt.

Any cow’s milk products unless they are un-pasteurized and come from grass-fed cows.


Most whole grains.

All gluten, including wheat, oats, barley, kamut, spelt and rye.


All vegetables except for those in the nightshade family.

Nightshade vegetables: potatoes, bell peppers and eggplant.


Most fruits.

Citrus (lemon and lime are okay), strawberries and dried fruits.


Unprocessed, unrefined oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, unsalted butter.

Peanuts, peanut oil and margarine.

prepared foods

Homemade, non tomatobased soups.

Pastas, breads, quick-prepare boxed foods, most frozen, prepared meals, and canned soup.



Water, fresh fruit or vegetable juice and de-caffeinated teas.

Caffeine and alcohol.


Unrefined sugars: agave nectar, yacon syrup, maple syrup, raw honey, brown rice syrup, Xylitol, Stevia.

Cane sugar, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners.

Celtic sea salt, herbs and spices.

Vinegar, salad dressings and spreads.


This recipe is rich in antioxidants and probiotics and balances blood sugar to keep you feeling satisfied until your next snack or lunch. Please make sure your fruit is organic, as conventionally raised fruit is heavily sprayed with pesticides which are definitely not anti-inflammatory and are disturbing to body systems. 1 handful blueberries 1⁄2 -1 apple 1⁄2-1 cup unsweetened goat’s milk yogurt Small handful walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews or macadamia nuts 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or stevia powder as preferred Layer to your preference and enjoy! This is also a great breakfast to take on the go.

Easy Raw Avocado Soup 1 cup chopped cucumber 1 large avocado 2 cups water 1⁄2 onion 1 chopped celery stalk 1 cup fresh parsley Juice of 1 lemon 1 tsp. coriander 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt Blend all ingredients until smooth and the soup becomes warm. Bon appétit!

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pole fundamentals

upper-body fitness by t. s. valenzuela

By the time most pole dancers have made it to the advanced or competition level, they have experienced some type of wrist or shoulder injury. Part of the reason this happens is that the majority of women have not taken the time to adequately strengthen their upper body for the demands of the art and sport of pole dancing. It looks fun, so we go for it! Unfortunately, our arms and shoulders can suffer in the process. Advancing in the levels of pole dancing requires committing to a well-rounded cardio and strength regimen outside of class. It is vital to build up those arms, specifically the wrists, forearms and shoulders, in order to flip, spin and twirl injury-free. Joel Bretan, founder of Mighty Grip, Inc., has developed an entire line of protective gear for training purposes that supports wrists, ankles, arms and hands. These products are excellent not only to help the novice build confidence, but also to help the more advanced student and competing athlete get more out of their workouts. But what about building strength away from the pole? Joel is a racquetball player and says that the same tools he uses for strengthening his wrists and forearms can help the pole dancer. There are many arm strengthening tools available from sporting goods suppliers, but Joel recommends a spring-loaded handgrip exerciser because the user can increase the tension as strength improves. Plus, it builds up the wrist and forearm while strengthening the grip itself. This type of arm builder is better than a hand ball-exerciser, which only works the hand. The stronger the grip, the less it’s necessary to clench the pole. This is also where a gripping agent comes in handy. Mighty Grip is the name of Joel’s business, but it is also a gripping agent he developed using his decades of experience in the sporting goods industry. Using a gripping agent like Mighty Grip keeps the hands from slipping on the pole. That means less squeezing, and therefore, less pressure on the shoulders – another common area for pole dancing injuries. Joel suggests using a strength-building device once a day until the wrist and forearm are slightly fatigued.



For more information about Joel Bretan’s Migthy Grip products, visit them online:

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upper-body fitness THE ROUTINE

In addition to the grip strengtheners, here is an easy wrist and shoulder workout you can do at home or in class, 3 – 5 times each week. Remember to build up slowly! Wrist curls: Start with very low weights; 1 – 3 pounds. Keep your wrist stabilized on your knee or a solid surface, palm facing up, and curl up with the weight without letting your wrist droop. Do 1- 3 sets of 20, depending on your strength level. Reverse Wrist Curl: Next, turn your wrist over so that your palm is facing down. Do 1- 3 sets of 20, depending on your strength level. Beginner Level - Pole Lifts: Stand close to the pole, your inside arm gripping the pole at shoulder level, your outside arm gripping the pole just above eye-level. Pull yourself up using just your arm strength. Don’t cheat and jump up! Even if you can only pull yourself up an inch or two at first, it is better to keep correct form than cheat yourself by jumping up. You’re looking for a slow, controlled motion here. Switch to the other side and repeat. Work up to 10 on each side. This might take a few months, so pat yourself on the back for every bit of progress you make. Intermediate Level - Pole Curls: Same as Beginner Level, only now, as you pull yourself up, curl your knees into your chest. Same as above, no cheating! Advanced Pole Curls: Same as intermediate, only now, reach your arms as high as possible and pull your body all the way up while curling your knees into your chest. Pat yourself on the back for all of your hard work!

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breakdown of a pose


the crescent by danielle rueda-watts



STEP 1: Hold your body close to the pole, lift your legs, using core strength, so you are in an L position and the pole is between your legs.

STEP 2: Squeeze the pole tightly by crossing your ankles and keeping your legs very straight, slowly straighten your arms.Squeezing thighs together and keeping ankles crossed release the hand grip and lean back with your torso. This is called lay back position.

STEP 3: Reach back behind your head and place hands on the pole with bent elbows. Push out with your arms and lift chest by arching your back into crescent pose.

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fashion PEEK

simply sexy by nydia garcia

Simplicty is the key to easy and inexpensive pole wardrobing. For this month’s Fashion Peek, we shopped some popular mass retailers, just to prove that a great pole outfit can be sexy, inexpensive, and found in unexpected places. This three piece ensemble can be had for less than $100, a modest price for this dramatic look. Our model, Tiffany Toth/Brand Models, is scorching in her zebra-striped brassier and black sheen high-waisted shorts. Add a fire engine red belt for the final exclamation point, and you’ll turn heads at any performance or competition. Top: H&M Striped brassier, Belt: Italia red leather Short: American Apparel Black sheen high waisted bottoms



photography by david d’angelo, produced by erica preus, Styling by nydia garcia, Makeup by diane kazandjian, model tiffany toth / brand models

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around the



mexico city, méxico

56. 58. 60.

Corazón libre Jezabel Olmos Elevates Pole Fitness to New Heights in Mexico City, México Jezabel olmos q&a A Look Inside Gravity Studios Pole Fitness in Mexico City UN día perfecto How to Spend One Perfect Day in Mexico City

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Jezabel Olmos Elevates Pole Fitness to New Heights in Mexico City, México by Tom Crehan



It seems fitting that the first column in Vertical’s new “Pole Around the World” series, a monthly look at the places and personalities driving the pole movement around the globe, should introduce us to a pole fitness instructor whose background is... international relations. Wait... seriously? “Yes,” laughs Jezabel Olmos, founder of Gravity Pole Fitness Studio in Mexico City. “I studied international relations at University. I worked for the government, in immigration, I had a very serious job.” So how exactly did a “very serious” government job lead to a career as a pole dance instructor? “By accident,” Olmos says with a grin. Again, seriously? “Well not exactly by accident,” she smiles, and the dark-haired dancer leans back in her chair and describes how her first glimpse of pole dancers was on movies and television. “And they looked like they were having so much fun.” Intrigued, she wanted to learn more. But then came the first challenge:

finding someone to learn from. Pole fitness was in such a nascent state in Mexico at that time that there just weren’t any studios teaching it. “I couldn’t find anyone,” Olmos says, shaking her head at the memory, “so I started doing it on my own.” She kept looking for someone to teach her, however, but started casting a wider net. Eventually Olmos found a school all the way in London, England, that seemed like a good place to begin. After learning the basics there she relocated to Los Angeles to continue her education. What began as an exploration of a fun, new hobby had morphed into a fitness quest that radically changed her life. “At first it was just for fun and then I realized it was very good exercise, very good for fitness. And, still, nobody was teaching in Mexico so I decided to become a teacher.” Olmos studied to be a personal trainer and a pole fitness instructor. She traveled around the U.S. meeting pole champions and competitors

like Fawnia Dietrich, Kate Coates, Jenyne Butterfly and Alethea Austin, picking up tips and tricks and coaching secrets. And, finally she set her sights for home... and for an entirely new career: “I decided I wanted to share this activity with all these girls in Mexico that wanted to do something different for fitness.” Olmos opened her own studio in Mexico City. She was one of the only people teaching pole fitness in Mexico; she was (and still is) the only Mexican to hold more than two international certifications in pole fitness instruction (she has six). But though she had gained recognition from the American and international pole fitness communities, and could count numerous pole luminaries as friends and fans, how was this new endeavor being perceived in her hometown? “My dad is a doctor, he is traditional, but he’s always been supportive of my choices,” Olmos recalls, but in this case, “He was like, ‘Okay, you’ve always done whatever you want. But this? I don’t like the idea.’ And he was hiding it from his friends a little bit.” In fact, some of Olmos’ own friends were a bit skittish about her new career. They kept their distance, publicly at least, especially her former colleagues in government. They were worried that - given Mexico’s Catholic, conservative culture - if she was too “out” about what she now did for a living, it would reflect poorly on them. That’s largely changed now, and not just because she’s become a successful business owner. “My dad,” Olmos smiles, “When he realized all the strength, all the commitment, all the skills you need for teaching it...he was impressed. He was happy that I did it.” Olmos worked hard to master pole dancing; she worked hard to build her business; and she works hard to promote it -- and the movement -today. So, what is it about the sport that inspires this level of devotion? “It’s fun. And it’s great for fitness.” And she loves the transformation that the women who come to her go through. From being hesitant, unsure of themselves, unsure of the propriety of pole dancing, hiding the activity from friends, boyfriends, falling in love with it, with the exercise rush, with the empowered feelings of freedom and sexiness that working the pole engenders. “I love to see them having fun, getting fit, trying something different to wake up their bodies.” This type of enthusiasm is catching, as evidenced by the success Olmos is having with social media. Her studio’s Facebook page www. has over thirty thousand followers. “That’s more than American champions like Jenyne [Butterfly], than Felix [Cane], than Alethea [Austin].” Olmos can’t explain it, “I don’t know what it is... if it’s because of my interaction with the people, because I’m posting stuff all the time, or what’s going on there... but I have more fans than X-Pole. It’s weird!” And so the “covert” fitness activity -- the one women wouldn’t tell anyone about -- is the one they’re telling everyone about. And they’re not just telling people about it. Olmos recounts a new trend in the Mexican pole fitness scene, one she’s dubbed “pole hunting.” Girls from her studio are taking to the streets, cameras in tow, and “hunting” poles. Street lights, sign posts, whatever... anything smooth and stable enough to stand in for a studio pole. They take turns performing tricks and stunts and snapping photos of each other. “That’s their prize,” Olmos says. Invariably they draw a crowd. But that’s okay. They like answering questions. “The attitude now,” Olmos says, “is more ‘I like it so much that I have to share it.’ And that’s how it has been growing.” Growing, indeed. Olmos now has five instructors she’s trained helping her run two studios. But more than that, Olmos is taking Gravity Pole Fitness national -- and she has over six hundred franchise applications. That’s a long way from not being able to find a single place to take a class when she was starting out. And with coverage on ESPN and Fox Sports, and sponsorship interest from such companies as Gatorade and Reebok, the future seems bright. And, really, isn’t it just a matter of time before Olmos, the international relations student who forged a career as Mexico’s pole fitness pioneer, goes global?

The attitude now... is more ‘I like it so much that I have to share it.’ And that’s how it has been growing.

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jezabel olmos


A Look Inside Gravity Studios Pole Fitness in Mexico City



Jezabel Olmos Interviewed by Tom Crehan

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VERTICAL ART & FITNESS: What type of woman is coming to you for pole fitness? JEZABEL OLMOS: I have mainly women between 25 and 45 years old. The smallest [youngest] is 5 and the oldest is 56. But between 25 and 45 is the average. All of them are professionals. I have lawyers. I have doctors, writers, people that do marketing. I have public relations girls, I have students, recent graduates starting their careers. I have many, many types. VERTICAL: In terms of attitude, when women walk in your studio are most of them already committed to doing it or are they more curious as to what pole fitness is all about?

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OLMOS: They ask all the time for a test class or if they can see one class. I don’t allow people to see my classes -- so people don’t come and bother my students or make them uncomfortable -- but I do have a video of a class. They can watch the video and get the highlights and if they want to try it they can go and have a one hour class. But a lot of them...they don’t even try the test class, they just go straight to it. They get over being scared or insecure...they go right from “let’s see what it’s all about” to “that was fun!” VERTICAL: What do the girls wear who come to your studio? OLMOS: They wear sports shoes or bare feet. They’re focused on fitness. They dance; you need to join all the moves and put them all together if you want to make something beautiful. So we dance a little bit but the main activity is fitness. VERTICAL: Mexico is a very Catholic country, fairly conservative, has that posed any obstacles for you? Does that make the women a little more reluctant to do pole? OLMOS: Yes, it has been a challenge because they are reluctant to do [pole] because they don’t know what it is. Some think, “Oh, yeah, that activity is like for strippers and like you take your clothes off or whatever.” So it takes a while to get rid of that stigma. Many women will tell their husbands or boyfriends they are going for yoga or pilates. In the beginning they won’t even tell their girlfriends. But when they get really into it... VERTICAL: They start talking? OLMOS: They tell their girlfriends, their moms, their sisters. So it’s like, “Will you come with me and I’ll show you?” Or they even buy a pole and put it in their house so they can practice things. So when people go to these girls’ houses they’re like “Oh, my God! You have a pole.” “Yeah it’s for pole dancing.” “Why?” “Because it’s fun.” Then they show them a move, the friend is curious. They might try it. And when they try it, they don’t want to stop. VERTICAL: How do husbands and boyfriends react? OLMOS: Years ago when I started teaching I had a student, she was an engineer, and she said to her husband that she was going to yoga classes but she comes to me for pole dancing. She even bought a pole and hid it in her house. So when the husband had left she would put up the pole and practice more. And she was practicing to perform for his birthday and when the guy finally saw her dancing, he was awe. Mexican women...they like to practice, practice, practice, and when they are very, very secure of what they are doing...they present it to the world. VERTICAL: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers? OLMOS: [Laughing] Have fun!

Years ago when I started teaching I had a student, she was an engineer, and she said to her husband that she was going to yoga classes but she comes to me for pole dancing.

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un día perfecto

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How to Spend One Perfect Day in Mexico City by Tom Crehan


Mexico City is a fascinating place. A curious fusion of Old World and New, it pulsates with modern energy yet is indelibly stamped with signs of its Aztec, Spanish colonial and Imperial past. Set against a stunning natural backdrop of mountains and volcanoes, Mexico’s capital city is also a sprawling metropolis, the third largest urban area in the world. You could live there for years and just barely scratch the surface of its natural treasures and cultural offerings. And since you only have one day, you’d better get started. Rise and shine after a restful night’s sleep at Casa Vieja, a colonial boutique hotel near Chapultepec park, one of Mexico City’s must-visit destinations. Casa Vieja, which translates literally to “Old House,” is built to resemble a colonial mansion and staying there is like taking a trip into the past...but one with all the modern luxuries. Take advantage of Casa Vieja’s complimentary continental breakfast so you can plunge right into the day’s activities. First up: take a stroll through the Bosque de Chapultepec. This beautiful park a short walk from the hotel is Mexico City’s largest park. Covering more than four square miles, it has lakes, a zoo and several museums. It’s also home to Castillo de Chapultepec, the hilltop castle that was once the residence of the ill-fated Emperor Maximilian and then later the home of Mexico’s presidents until it was converted into the Museo Nacional de Historia (National History Museum), which chronicles many of the important moments in the fight for Mexican independence. As you exit the park heading east try to grab a snack from one of the sidewalk vendors. You’ve been sightseeing for a while and you’ve earned it! A bigger meal is coming up... don’t worry. But you have one stop first and you’re going to like it. Leave the park on 1. Paseo de la Reforma, one of the area’s major streets and the northern border of 2. Zona Rosa, the old bohemian neighborhood known for its shopping and nightlife. Do some browsing until it’s time for your appointment at Spa Marquis, located in the Marquis Reforma luxury hotel. One of their signature massages is a great way to relax and re-energize after all


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your hiking around. By now it’s time for a big meal, and one of Mexico City’s most popular restaurants, the fittingly named Cafe el Popular, is the perfect spot to stop. Try one of their excellent tamales and wash it down with a cup of cafe con leche before strolling into El Zocalo, the unofficial name given to the 3. Plaza de la Constitucion. The Zocalo is the historic and modern heart of Mexico City. Cortes paved the plaza with stones from destroyed Aztec buildings in a symbolic gesture of conquest, and the large open square is the home to the current bastions of power in Mexico: the Federal District offices, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Palacio National (Mexico’s Presidential Palace), which is your next stop. The Palace is home to the offices of Mexico’s president but, like the White House, is open for touring. Historical displays, botanical gardens and a series of Diego Rivera murals make it well worth the visit. The largest of these murals (Mexico Through The Centuries) is one of Rivera’s masterpieces and incorporates images of almost every major event in Mexican history, from Cortes’s conquest of the Aztecs to the Mexican Revolution. And now, after soaking up culture all day long, it’s time to kick back and enjoy a little popular entertainment at the Arena Mexico. Just a little southwest of the Zocalo, Arena Mexico is the venue for the most popular sport in Mexico not named soccer: Lucha Libre, or Mexican professional wrestling. Join 16,000+ fans and wildly cheer on your favorite Luchadores as they perform highflying maneuvers in their colorful masks. Just be sure to cheer for one of the “good guys.” On the way back to Casa Vieja stop off and unwind at 4. T-Gallery, a bar and lounge located in an old Condesa home where you can relax in one of their hip, well-appointed salons, drink cocktails, listen to bossa nova... and -- if you like -- buy the furniture you’re sitting on. If you’re a true night owl and want to make yet another stop, the Go Go Lounge is perfect. Back in the Polanco neighborhood (and right down the street from your hotel) the Go Go Lounge features a series of different dance floors where Latin rhythms, reggae and pop will fire you (and your various dance partners) up till 5:00am. After that, stroll a short way back to Casa Vieja for some well-earned sleep.



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POLE 2011 CALENDAR may 7

X-Pole Girl Zoraya Judd will teach at Gravity Pole Fitness Studio Mexico City, Mexico

june 10 - 12

X-Pole Presents the International Pole and Exotic Dance Fitness Convention West Palm Beach, Florida

june 25

Miss Pole Dance UK championships. Brighton Beach/UK.

july 8 - 9 Kelly Maglia Vertical Theatre & Jagged Dance Company present “Catalyst�. Sponsored by X-Pole. El Portal Theatre North Hollywood, California

july 29 - 30

X-Pole Presents Pole Reflections Sydney, Australia

august 6 - 7

Miss Pole Dancing Universe Denver, Colorado

august 11 - 14

X-Pole and Crunch Present the X-Pert Program at the IDEA World Fitness Convention Los Angeles, California

september 10

X-Pole Presents Miss Pole Dance Canada. Vogue Theater. Vancouver, Canada



Do you have a pole event you would like to see listed in vertical art & fitness magazine? Submit your event To vertical Art & fitness today! Contact Paige:

september 17 X-Pole Presents Miss Texas Pole Star Dallas, Texas

october tbd X-Pole Presents Master Classes Gravity Pole Fitness Studio Mexico City, Mexico

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POLE SHOW los angeles



Ryan Beatty Recounts his First and Unforgettable Experience with Pole Culture

about Olympic diver Greg Louganis cracking his head open on a diving board. Though my concerns were unfounded, at least for the moment, I couldn’t help thinking, “Shouldn’t there be padding underneath this woman or a helmet on her head?” Since then I have learned that for true pole athletes, gravity is not a factor, let alone a deterrent. Welcome to Pole Show LA 2011, an allencompassing entertainment experience for the rapidly growing pole community. “The Show,” as

with pole dancing prior to this evening, was the impassioned subculture woven throughout the event. There were specially designed clothing, gloves, and gripping adhesives for sale in the lobby at BeSpun. Even the poles themselves were highly specialized, complements of X-Pole, one of the largest pole manufacturers and a primary sponsor of the evening. I’ll admit, I’ve been to a strip club, but those comparisons quickly dissipated to irrelevance after the first few moments of Pole Show LA. At the

As I watched, stupefied and incredulous, she moved into a series of twists, turns, and spins that circumnavigated the entirety of the pole’s longitude. In an age when the grounded pulse of football and basketball seem to dominate mainstream athletics, gravity and death defying sports seem to ripple on the periphery. Yet, for those of us knowledgeable about these lesser-known activities, it is impossible to ignore the physical strength and sheer will (insanity?) that drives these athletes to risk their necks every day. If you’ve ever been a spectator at a diving meet, you will understand when I say that I cannot help but ask myself, “What is that person thinking?” when the diver thrusts herself off of a perfectly good platform into midair, knowing full well she is about to attempt an insane, double-reverse somersault maneuver. Similar sentiments crossed my mind as I pushed through a standing room only crowd at Bespun pole studio in Los Angeles on January 22nd to see a woman hanging upside down nearly twenty-five feet in the air, at the top of a pole. Instantaneously, the abundant sensory stimuli surrounding me reduced to a magnetic, optical pinpoint – this woman was literally hanging on to the pole by her legs! Truth be told, from where I was standing, I could not tell exactly how she managed to defy gravity, but it most certainly did not involve her hands. She literally appeared to cling to the pole by nothing more than her left foot capped by sixinch platform heeled shoes, no less. As I watched, stupefied and incredulous, she moved into a series of twists, turns, and spins that circumnavigated the entirety of the pole’s longitude. While fearlessly sliding down the pole headfirst at breakneck speed, she approached the unforgiving hard wood floor with gusto and nary a concern, her head halting scant inches from the ground. I, however, was having a childhood flashback, thinking

it is aptly titled, certainly does live up to its billing. Watching Jenyne Butterfly, I learned for the first time that a pole artist could exhibit the grace of a ballet dancer while exuding sensuality in positions and maneuvers that belie her true strength. Undoubtedly the headliner of the affair, she was the synergy of artistry and athleticism. Jenyne gave one of twelve virtuoso performances of the night, each of which were highly stylized, finely choreographed, and well orchestrated. There were solo endeavors, pairs and couples that brought synchronized swimming to mind, especially the performance with five dancers at once! Every act was as varied and complex as the personalities of the performers. It was clear that each detail was painstakingly thought out and aesthetically planned, from the music selections to the costumes, to the intricate choreography. Even though the show was for entertainment, the air hummed with intense competition. The array of skill displayed has obviously been cultivated over a number of years. What also stood out, at least to yours truly who was not in any way familiar

very least, it was a voyeuristic, auditory spectacle. In a shocking moment I will never forget, I saw a woman dismount from the pole to instantaneously emerge with fire somehow emanating from her hand. I was riveted to the spot, in spite of the fact that my personal mantra is “Run to the nearest exit!” when it comes to indoor fire. Surprisingly, it was entertaining as hell. Another crowd favorite and easily the highlight of the night was the performance by Steven and Marlo (when you are Male and Female Pole Dancing Champions, perhaps last names are no longer needed). In unison, they raced up their respective poles, down, and up again, then segued into an impossible dance number, only to ascend a single pole together while splaying out in some type of impossible, interlocked horizontal body sculpture. I’ve never seen anything like it and they put the crowd into a tantalizing frenzy. After the crescendo of excitement, the crowd begged for an encore. Did I mention Steven performed with red pumps on? Now that is impressive.

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POLE FITNESS professional


accreditation by tom crehan

Accreditation. Five syllables. One big change to the world of pole fitness. A new program spearheaded by X-Pole and Crunch Fitness, the innovative New York-based gym responsible for many unique exercise offerings over the years, is providing instructor-level training to pole fitness professionals. The first of its kind program, dubbed X-Pert Pole Fitness Professional Training, has been approved for continuing education credits by both the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and has been endorsed by the Pole Fitness Association (PFA). It is widely seen as an important step in evolving national accreditation standards for pole fitness, a development that could further the growth of the movement and even have Olympic implications for the sport. The approval of national fitness certification and education organizations such as ACE and AFAA is significant in bringing pole fitness into the mainstream of American exercise activities. As Lauren Busener, Director of Programming & Partnerships for Crunch, says, such approval “legitimizes pole dancing as a recognized fitness industry modality.” Aspiring instructors who complete the class will receive 1.6 ACE and 10 AFAA continuing education credits. Crunch believes that this X-Pert training will streamline Crunch’s pole fitness program nationwide and ensure that classes being taught all adhere to a general standard of safety and technique with, as Busener puts it, “the express goal of offering a safe and effective workout for our members.” So what was the genesis of the X-Pert training program? Well in pole fitness, as with any grassroots driven sport, a certain amount of “creative chaos” takes place. Rapid growth leads to a need for organization, for standardization, and for fostering competition among athletes. In the world of pole, the growth has been so tremendous and so spread out that it has spawned a veritable

alphabet soup of organizations attempting to promote the sport, nurture the art, and structure competitions among its practitioners. Among these are: IPDFA (International Pole Dance Fitness Association), USPDF (United States Pole Dance Federation), the APFA (American Pole Fitness Association), and of course the PFA, all with slightly different missions and slightly different views on what the sport should be. It was against this backdrop that Donna Cyrus, Senior Vice President of Programming for Crunch, saw a need. Crunch had been offering a variety of different pole fitness classes since 2004 and these programs have grown, according to Crunch’s Busener, “in unparalleled proportions, proving that it’s not just a trend, but a mainstream phenomenon that is here to stay.” Cyrus, the executive responsible for the development of such Crunch programs as Cardio Striptease, Street Fighter, and Anti-Gravity Yoga, wanted to expand Crunch’s pole fitness portfolio but saw some problems. Lack of national standards meant there was no uniformity in the way classes were taught, from terminology to safety standards to what constitutes an appropriate warm up or cool down. Plus where would the instructors come from? There was no nationally recognized comprehensive instructor training program. So Crunch decided to create one. Cyrus reached out to some of the top fitness professionals and pole sport competitive title-holders from around the country and asked for their help in developing an instructor-level training course. These X-Pert Master Trainers include such accomplished athletes as Kyra Johannesen, Marlo Fisken, and Michelle Stanek. “I am personally proud and excited to finally take my love and knowledge of pole fitness outside of the Crunch family and share it with fitness professionals

a development that could further the growth of the movement and even have Olympic implications for the sport.

around the globe,” says Kyra Johannesen, co-developer of X-Pert. “There are so many untapped communities that are looking to learn and experience the amazing benefits, both physically and mentally, that pole fitness can offer.” Crunch also involved ACE, AFAA and the PFA, whose participation is particularly noteworthy as it marks the first time that any of the national pole sport organizing bodies has endorsed a specific training program. The PFA’s primary mission is to define and promote standards for training, safety, equipment, terminology, and technical specifications in the art and sport of pole fitness and this fits in exactly with what Crunch wants to achieve. Endorsement by the PFA means that X-Pert Training meets its standards in all areas of pole fitness (including those listed above as well as ethics, facilities and even business management). The X-Pert program follows and uses the PFA approved techniques and standardized terminology, and that alone will go a long way towards establishing strong national standards. Crunch even asked for input from X-Pole, the leading pole fitness equipment manufacturer, who certainly has a vested interest in the sport’s growth. X-Pole prides itself on constantly innovating new safety features to make pole fitness a safer and more accessible activity and is, in fact, supplying the equipment for the X-Pert training program. So... what will the X-Pert Pole Fitness Professional Training Program teach its aspiring instructors over the course of its 2-day, 16 hour sessions? Well, according to Crunch’s Busener, who is also responsible for the business development of the X-Pert program, the training will focus on the following areas: • How to set the stage for the best overall member experience, including studio and pole setup, music selection, lighting choices, and more. • The exercise science behind each pole technique. Pole techniques include standing strength-based exercises, climbing and inversion maneuvers, dance choreography, and core training. • How to ensure that participants of all fitness levels experience class in a safe and effective manner. • How to construct a complete pole fitness class design from warm up to cool down. During the launch phase, X-Pert Training will be offered monthly in Crunch’s  key markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami.  To meet the expected high demand and service pole fitness professionals across the country and worldwide, Crunch has developed an affiliate program in which a studio or facility can request to host a certification. Will other corporate gyms follow Crunch’s lead and require this kind of training for their pole fitness instructors? Busener thinks so: “Yes.  We believe that X-Pert sets the standard for a pole fitness program and that other corporate gyms will get behind and on board with X-Pert as we share the common goal of offering the most safe and effective workout for our members.” And in the belief that continuing education is crucial to the fitness industry, Crunch already

has developed an advanced level training program that expands upon the intermediate training and includes more comprehensive techniques. The X-Pert Advanced training is expected to be unveiled in Fall 2011. So whether you’re just getting started as a pole fitness instructor or you’ve been teaching classes for a while but want to improve your knowledge base and make sure you stay on the cutting edge of techniques and training, start limbering up. X-Pert Pole Fitness Professional Training debuts in April at a gym near you!

For more information contact registration at: or visit:

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photography by david d’angelo

Denim is the mainstay of nearly every American woman. The popularity of this essential piece of wardrobe – born from the Wild West of the 1800s – never ceases to be the perfect compliment of super sexy, casual chic. True to form, these jeans live up to their heritage, giving our model, Eva Lauren, a look that is simply and perfectly wild.



produced by erica preus, Styling by nydia garcia, Makeup by diane kazandjian, model eva lauren / brand models


White ruffled blouse by GUESS Jeans. Distressed Always skinny stretch jeans Gap 1969 by Gap.

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Denim zipper skinny pants in black wash by Citizens of Humanity.

White cotton ribbed tank top by American Apparel. Denim slim cargo pants in fatigue green by AG Adriano Goldschmied, available at Manhattan Denim.

P O L E PA S S I O N & D O L L H O U S E P R E S E N T

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diary OF A


marlo fiskin On most nights, Tokyo’s JCB hall swarms with young Japanese pop fans. However, on 9 December 2010, the International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) held its third annual competition. Twenty-five competitors from four continents came together for this co-ed, no-heels, single-round competition that has both Pole Art and Pole Fit categories. I knew the skill level would be extraordinary, but the variety made the night exceptional.



Technical Diversity: Women Among the women, there were three main approaches to pole: Ballet/Classical, Strength/ Power, and Freestyle/Theatric. Technically trained dancers such as Henriikka Roo from Finland, Giulia Piolante from Italy, and Japan’s Mai Sato showed impeccable facility and hauntingly perfect lines in their routines. These ladies are lithe, infinitely flexible, and tend toward classically arranged music with perfectly pointed feet. Clearly they fared well in competition, as Giulia was the first runner up for Pole Art, and Mai took home the Ultimate Pole Champion title for the second time. Vastly different were the strength and power-based tricksters like Rafaela Montanaro and Michelle Hafner. These women use their gymnastic and acrobatic training to pull off intensely difficult sequences. It should be noted that Michelle didn’t let the four-pound roller skates she was wearing slow down her multiple Fonji (Chinese pole flip) sequence. Some tricksters favor explosive moves, but Zoraya Judd displayed her incredible connectivity and strength at a pace so controlled she seemed to ooze in and out of each pose. All three women placed: Zoraya as Pole Art Champion, Rafaela as Pole Fit Champion, and Michelle Hafner as Pole Fit first runner up. The “freestyle” competitors used drama, creativity, and a variety of dance styles,


X-Pole Girl Marlo Fiskin Takes Vertical Behind the Scenes at the International Pole Dance Fitness Association’s 3rd Annual Competition in Tokyo, Japan ranging from sensual and passionate to whimsical and animalistic. Diana Ababii from Moldova performed a moving tango while Viktoria Sarnavskaya danced to the metal band Tool and showed her collection of unique trademark holds. Others dressed as an angel with wings and a neon jungle raver, and one performer even employed a lycra body bag in the style of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham. I truly enjoyed the spectacle and commitment to character, but none placed. Technical Diversity: Men Among the men, it comes down to those who wear pants or those who don’t. There are those who show more traditional pole “dance” moves, in showy, minimal, flamboyant costumes, and then there are the men who pair Chinese pole moves with theatrics, in pants and

that’s one reason competitions are so exciting; you watch the best of the best, and everyone wants to be original. sometimes shoes. France’s Loic Lebret, who wore a memorable glittery, lacy chest harness, and the very flexible Derick Pierson from Florida, followed the traditional form of pole dance. Derick, age 20, has a very special sparkle on stage, and it’s not just because of his tuxedo mini shorts complete with bowtie. Duncan West and Chris Measday, both of Australia, are creative daredevils influenced by Chinese pole, gymnastics, and break dancing. Until these guys showed up on the scene, you didn’t tend to see flips off the pole (thank you

Duncan) and full horizontal flags in pole dance competitions. It was also lovely that Adam Tan from Malaysia paired lyrical hip-hop dance with masculine yet graceful pole moves. “Man pole” is a lot of different things, and whether a competitor chooses pants or not, the men showed that power, grace, and emotion are desirable performance qualities. Fusion, Vocabulary, and Comfort Zones However, not everyone falls directly into a category. There are distinct approaches to pole dance, and then there are fusions. For example, Felix Cane executes her lines like the classically trained dancer she is, yet performs more like a freestyler. Alethea Austin trained as a gymnast and she favors sultry and buttery execution. The stylistic diversity seen at IPDFA influences a rapidly growing pole dance vocabulary - many of the moves seen at the championship don’t even have names yet. That’s one reason competitions are so exciting; you watch the best of the best, and everyone wants to be original. I only wish there was an after-show conference where competitors could agree on what to call their new creations. Perhaps one of the hardest, yet most beneficial things a performer can do is step outside of his or her comfort zone. That might mean learning to do tricks that scare them, studying different dance disciplines, or changing their approach, if even only for a night. Both World Champion Felix Cane and U.S. Pole Dance champ Alethea Austin had to shed their heels for this competition. They both performed beautifully in a new way and then vowed to stick with their stilettos in the future. Everyone wants to know how Felix got so flexible, but no one wants to hear her answer…

1. Years of dance training. 2. Stretching. “It’s not a magic pill,” she said. Winners Workshop: Duncan West, Mai Sato, Chris Measday, Rafaela Montanaro, Zoraya Judd, and Adam Tan led the workshop that included most of the other competitors and some students. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of unique and very advanced moves. On Saturday, American Pole Athlete of the Year, Zoraya Judd, started the day off with a butt-kicking, abintensive series of shoulder mounts, handspring holds, and flags. Then, Michelle Hafner and Natalie Te Kanawa, both from Australia, led a fun Doubles class that resulted in a lot of laughing and screaming. Miss Pole Dance Brazil, Rafaela Montanaro, taught last. She showed strength-intensive moves, like body wave shoulder mounts, spinning butterfly presses and some Chinese pole inspired combos.

pole dancing performance tips Here are some general tips I got from the workshops: Hold, hold, hold your positions longer than you are inclined to! Consider your dance a work of art. Patrons don’t just run through a museum. They casually graze, and then pause to absorb what they see. Likewise, it takes several seconds for the audience to process the beauty of a pose. Within a flow, there are “picture moments.” Let them live to their utmost. Use the height of the pole. In a several minute piece, there is plenty of time to use both the floor and air space. Height adds grandiosity. Be selective. If you put all of your favorite moves in a routine, it’s probably overkill. You want to be remembered for specific moments, and it’s hard for the audience to remember anything when too much happens. Sometimes, what feels like a moment of “nothing” to the performer could be the most beautiful expression of artistry to the audience. More tricks don’t make a routine better; execution, timing, and delivery do. Looking is not the same as connecting. Facing the crowd without a focal point and intention creates a disconnect. However, a simple but purposeful glance into the audience can be captivating, charming, and memorable. Wake up your face as you dance, and your performance will be appreciated.


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mighty grip “As a professional pole dancer, I’m always looking for an edge over my competition and Mighty Grip gives me a big one. This light powder has just enough tack for me to maintain a totally secure grip on the pole. It’s great for beginners all the way to the top. For me, Mighty Grip is #1”

- josiah grant

World Pole Dancing Champion

review pole fit “I love Polefit workout gear by Bad Kitty. It fits like a glove while remaining breatheable. The adjustable straps on the sports bra are so convienient for my bust and I love the fact that there is no spandex cutting into my waist or thighs on the shorts making me look fuller than I actually am! I am able to feel sexy while getting a great workout in.”

- elizabeth

Pole Dancer in Las Vegas



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- jamilla deville

Professional Pole Dancer

ITAC2 “I work at BeSpun, a boutique fitness studio in Hollywood, CA. We ordered iTac2 in the pole dance grip strength because we had used other formulas in the past, but they do not stand up to the rigors of our sport. iTac2 lasts longer, has more grip strength, and does not leave a slippery residue on the pole. The wax formula means that a container lasts longer. We have nothing but great things to say about iTac2. Thank you. �

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BeSpun Instructor & Administrator

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studio listings






Pole Twisters Ltd UK

029-2132-8424 or 07897-851153

Studio Soiree Utah USA


Cherry Blossom Pole Dancing Studio Ontario Canada


Poletential Redwood City, Caiifornia USA


Empowerment Through Exotic Dance Chicago, Illinois USA


Kat’s Dance Studio, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

+ 7-921-747-31-33

Pole Dancing Winnipeg, Canada


BodyMind Studios Johannesburg, South Africa

Vertical Fitness Studio, LLC Roseville, California USA


Pole Fitness Association Salt Lake City, Utah USA

PULSE Alternative Dance and Fitness Jupiter, Florida USA


Pole Fitness Miami Miami Beach, Florida USA


Aradia Fitness Brampton, Ontario Canada


Poledello Tacoma, Washington USA


Pole Fitness Northwest Federal Way, Washington USA


Pole Nation


Vertical Dolls Studio Rome Italy


not listed?

Would you like to list your pole fitness studio with Vertical Art & Fitness? For more information contact Paige Warthen:

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Vertical Art & Fitness Magazine | May/June 2011  

Vertical Art & Fitness - A Publication for Pole Enthusiasts by Pole Enthusiasts

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