Alethea Austin Interview by Tiny from Candy & Chrome
America’s New Pole Champion!
Alethea’s Bio….. Told like it is….
Red Rider BB-guns, Hula hoops, Kentucky girls, storing things in the trunk of my car 4-ever, truck stops, slushee machines, whiskey, rebel daughters, deer, bubble baths, bud light, steak, beer coozies, swimming in the quarry, fishin, grilled cheese w/ bacon, Indiana, Chevy’s, potpourri, takin’ pictures, Jolene, motels, huntin’ hats, backyards, woodpiles, trashy heels, white leather, tallboys, stripper bikinis, a hardworking man, luck 11:11, the smell of gasoline, 66 chevelle’s, gold camaros, drag racing, my grandma, doggies, drive-ins, pitchers at local bars, playing house, picking kids names, my white fluffy bed, shootin’ 22s, cold beer on a hot summer night, memorial tattoos, commitment tattoos, country legends, kissing in cars, dirtbags with hearts of gold, being on the road with the one you love, the one second you realize that things are going to be o.k., learning lessons the hard way, forgiveness, missin’ you, a ring on the right finger, knowing love is 4-ever, growing up in a place where salvation and desire are equally as desperate…..
Click here to see Alethea in action on the new X-stage.
Tiny: Hi Alethea – It’s lovely to have the chance to do this interview with you as you have been the subject of many a conversation with me and Jamie (from Defy Gravity) lately! So it finally dawned on us that we really need to do this with you and I’m so glad you are finding time to oblige!
Ok, first questions that everyone has to answer…. How old are you?
Alethea: I’m 30 can you believe it? I can’t. I never in my wildest dreams that I’d be more comfortable with my body and so physically fit with strength and stamina at this age more so than in my teens or twenties. The only problem is I have a lot of old injuries break damage etc.. and they seem to be getting creaky and sore each year. I can only imagine how I’m gonna feel at 60!
Tiny: I like the fact that you’re of a good age! The younger, nubile pole dancers make me want to cry as I feel I will never be that strong or bendy again, but then people like you make me change my mind and really want to go for it!
Ok, like I said at the start, I don’t know very much about you so let’s start at the very beginning…… I heard you have a gymnastic background to start with – let’s hear about that.
Alethea: My original background includes 18 + yrs of gymnastics, diving, climbing, trampoline, dance, and me just all around being a sexy lady and knowing how to mooove!
So in reality gymnastics had much more to do with my pole career than actual time practising pole so far. Although, I also wasn’t a very good gymnast, I wasn't focused back then and was rarely number one even though I could have been cause I was a goof off, pole competition has brought all that back and I’m ready to win this time.
Tiny: So how did you move from gymnastics into pole dance then?
Alethea: I pretty much used pole to overcome injury. I’ve broken many bones in my life but was in a really bad freeway car wreck in 2005 that I barely survived. In fact I think there was a little bit of not surviving mixed in. I had three neck surgeries the following year and although I was going to be ok, I was so used to thinking in terms of 6-12 week recovery, not something that takes years and then you just make the best of. Pole was my extreme way of reclaiming my body and saying “I’ll show you” what you are capable of and how much you can take. In turn after a lot of excruciating pain, I have grown stronger and more physically aware and recovered then me or doctors for that matter ever imagined.
I also broke my rib last year a couple weeks before United States Pole Dance Federation Competition (click here to see Alethea and other competitors in action at the 2009 USPDF) and had no idea cause my pain threshold is pretty high …. I really have no idea what’s a bad injury or not. It REALLY HURT but everyone kept saying well you’d know if it was broken its probably just bruised.
F**k it hurt. That’s why my twisted grip handspring looked so tortured. Then I went for my chest X-Rays cause I have to check my neck and back every couple months and the Dr. was like… ‘No change, but why is your rib fractured’?! Ooppsy! I’m just happy to be alive and yes it still hurts every day, and I get migraines, and my right hand turns black from numbness and lack of blood if I don’t pace myself.
Tiny: Where did you learn? Who did you learn under?
Alethea: A lot of trial and error really, just me, myself and pole! I do draw a lot of inspiration from Leigh Ann at BeSpun Gym … and YouTube!!
Tiny: How did you progress? Do you find that you progress quicker due to your active background?
Alethea: Really for me it was a Pole Gym that changed my life and I see pole for me has grown only in that environment. t’s Funny how even though you might not have done something for a very long time, if you have Muscle memory it kicks back in and helps you progress faster. That doesn’t mean it impossible for people who have never had dance, gymnastics, ice skating etc.. It just seems to be similar and stay with you if you’ve done it before, like riding a bike.
Tiny: You are now a pole dance instructor, how long were you pole dancing before you started to teach?
Alethea: Well….. ok, but one of my pet peeves is when people ask how long you’ve been pole dancing or how many pole classes I’ve taken. It is such a derivative sport if you look at the girls in our industry who are leaders right now most of us have had a lot of other things in our life that have contributed to our skill in pole dancing so that’s not really a realistic view.
When I got runner up at USPDF it was my almost one year anniversary of walking into BeSpun in April before and not physically being able to climb or support my weight cause I was so weak from 3 neck surgeries the summer before. I puked in the middle of Hollywood by my car right after class! But I went back every day for the rest of the year. So I say a year of pole, but to girls go ‘whoah’, I say I’ve been doing it for five….. Coz …do you want to count the 18 + yrs of gymnastics, diving, climbing, trampoline, dance etc?
Tiny: Do you have your own school? What is it called?
Alethea: I do not. I teach at BeSpun and travel extensively for workshops. I am also starting to teach some online (virtual) lessons this yeah through Pole Junkies so I will be available everywhere. I would love to someday open a gym in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, I wouldn’t move back there but it would give me a tie to the town and a reason to go back more often. Plus I think it NEEDS one!!
Tiny: I see you like taking the odd piccie and have had a flick through your work. Tell us about your site.
Alethea: www.alethea-austin.com is my photographic website, and I have another called www.alethea-austin.net which is a fan created website. Well, I also went to art school. I was a photographer before pole dancing took over my life. I showed in galleries shot for magazine but even then it was the same tag line hot raw gritty sensuality. Same kind of thing I carry to pole. Had a show at MOCA when I was 24 called From Indiana, with Love.
My husband is a DP and we live in a huge photo studio warehouse in Los Angeles. He’s the one that shoots my videos and they are usually a camera/light test for a big job he has coming up.
As for my websites, well I have my old photo website, and my new pole website. None of them are complete. I guess you can tell I get a bit ahead of myself on projects and don’t finish them. That’s one of my goals for this year is to have a working pole website to distribute information just all around – set the tone for who people to really understand who I am and I what to do it personality and all.
Click here to see Alethea practicing her pole dance skills.
Tiny: You have a very specific look to your dance moves, very athletic which we can see from your gymnastic childhood, but also super slinky and very sexy without being too sleazy. This is a developing style we are seeing across American polers at the moment – do you think there are some style differences between each country? What is different about your style and how do you make it so?
Alethea: I do see great differences between each country and I love watching them all and taking them in. I love the perfection and acrobatics of a lot of the European’s E.g.: Ooona, and stylistically I love the Australians (tall leggy sexy, what’s not to love?) .. . Of course style of dance has to do with culture and other factors the way music does.. So isn’t America really Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll? that’s the way I like it that’s what suits me best on the pole or off that’s my style and I’m happy to be here!
Tiny: The UK seems to be deviding itself a bit – into those that are avoiding the sexy look to pole dance in order to make it a more widely sociably acceptable sport and even possibly making it an accepted sport for the Olympics for example – How do you feel about this? SHOULD pole be marketed more as a sport? Or just be a straight up, openly seductive form of dance?
Alethea: I really feel that it is so much of a combination of dance and sport that I’m not really sure which way it’s going to go. I’m interested to see. I also feel that pole is gaining at such a rapid rate popularity with women all over the world and even with men because it does span such a wide range possibilities and accessibility. For the most its progression outside of a gentleman’s club has been women taking initiative and just doing this in their homes and now studios and now federations.. It’s getting so big so fast! So I guess my short answer is it needs to be an apparatus that can be used for all of these, and most importantly whatever the individual pole dancer wants it to be for them personally, some pure performance, some purely personal, and some pure sport. Ooooohhhh I think I’m on to something there.
Tiny: Do you have a favourite trick? What is it?
Alethea: It varies. It’s kinda like whatever hot trick I’m feeling at the time. Right now it’s one of the new ones I’m working on, no name yet….And I’ve been playing a lot with the spinning straddle Allegra does. Oh, and also – My Upright Jamilla split, also a spinning Jamilla, good side to bad side etc.. both of which I might have invented.
Tiny: What is your favourite kind of music to pole to? Why do you like it over other types of music?
Alethea: ROCK / Metal! It’s just the music that moves me, the music I listen too anyway. You have to go with what you like. Last years USPDF was so cool because Alice and Chains and Guns and Roses mean so much to me in my life and that’s what I danced too and it meant so much to me on so many different levels. I will stick to the same plan this year.
Tiny: DITTO! So, who is your pole inspiration?
Alethea: Hmm well first and foremost all those self taught girls doing what moves them comes naturally and owning it!.. Whether it’s in a strip club or on Youtube. As for the professionals: Jenyne Butterfly, Felix Cane, Karol one of my best buds and soul sisters, starting to really love and respect Allegra, and also watching and appreciating circus arts and watching some of the men too, for e.g. Dima Shine. There is one other guy who has been a huge inspiration on me, but I’m keeping him under wraps for now as it will influence my next competition performance and I don’t want to give myself away just yet!
(Alethea then very kindly shared with me a video of this chap (not the Dima Shine but click here to see Dima in action - you will not be disappointed) ….. OH MY GOOOOD! I have never seen anything like it! The guy is sex on a stick first of all (bonus), supremely talented secondly, agile, swift, strong, balanced, poised, and the sexiest thing of all is he is completely ABSORBED in his performance, so much so that it causes you to FEEL the whole atmosphere of the moment with him…..like a concerto, he is completely overpowers the audience…..so if any of this rubs off on our girl, we are all in for a HUGE surprise this year!).
Tiny: Oooohh I’m a fan of Dima Shine (Dimitri Bulkin) too! Let’s talk tattoo…..What does the tattoo on your tummy say? Can you walk us through your other tattoos?
Alethea: The one on my stomach says ‘Heartland’ because I am from Indiana, the Heartland of America and have so much love for my hometown. Yes I have lots more.. One at a time!
Tiny: Do you have plans for any more tattoos?
Alethea: Yes. If I were a man I’d be covered head to toe by now but I prefer them to be to be more spaced out on me as a woman. And they all mean things I don’t just get random pictures on my body. So yes more when the time and circumstances are right. Having said that, I think I will probably be getting a pole related tattoo soon, next time me best mate Karol comes over to visit!
Tiny: The way it should be with ink! In 2009 you entered and came 2nd (to the fabulous Jenyne Butterfly) in the USPDF Competition with the title ‘Miss Sexy’, how did you train for that competition?
Alethea: Umm I found out last week of January, had to compete in March, was like OH Shit! Then broke my rib training. And killed myself doing privates trying to raise money. I hope to be MUCH more prepared this year!
Tiny: What other advice can you give us about competition performing?
Alethea: Research two things A) Is this a legitimate and credible competition? Note: this is hard to judge because a lot of them it’s their first inception in that case this B has helps me. B) Is this the right competition for you? Are the goals of the organizers similar to your goals as a prospective competitor? Also contact girls who have participated in the past and ask them their experience, our tight community is always a valuable tool.
With pole being such a new sport I welcome and want to support all the competitions that are emerging and their diversity. I really don’t think of them as competitions but more as venues for growing the sport and bringing everyone together and I love seeing the same girls, meeting new ones being blown away by their talents, and exploring the Sport, art, performance, and diversity of it all. That’s one of the great things about pole is the women who do it. So I always encourage girls that are wavering and not thinking they’re ready or good enough to please go for it!! It’s the experience of being there that is amazing for me and sharing it with all the wonderful ladies. And my biggest advice would be just become a part of it and showcase all your hard work. If you feel like you’ve done your personal best than it will be a success for you. This last paragraph is assuming you have picked a competition that the organizers are running fairly and competently. HA!
Tiny: Another runner up in the same competition was Sarah Cretul (click here to see Sarah in action)– who absolutely blew me away with her side lift move! Were you friends with Sarah beforehand? Or did you meet at that competition? Are you still friends now?
Alethea: I met Sarah (pictured below) at the competition. I had actually reached out to her a month before the comp to introduce myself, tell her I was excited to compete with her and see if she needed and support or advice. Because a lot of us in the comp were with studios and at that point she had club experience only and had never travelled to a big city like NY. We spoke briefly but she was not very computer savvy. So hard to find. Yes we are still friends, she is actually much younger than me and hadn’t really travelled much so I took kind of a big sis role and we spent a lot of time together last fall.
Tiny: We haven’t seen much from Sarah since that but I would very much like to see more videos and performances from her and maybe interview her also! Could you pass a message on?
Alethea: I will pass the message on, and on the subject of not hearing much she still isn’t very computer savvy, ha-ha I keep yelling at her! She has a new FaceBook now too, try that.
Tiny: Thanks for that. SO, you then entered a video based competition in America called ‘Pole Stars’ – is that right? Was it video based?
Alethea: I think you are referring to Pole Superstar. They picked five finalists and the last 6th spot was based on online voting which I won. But then I was not picked as one of the original finalists……?
Tiny: I saw your video entry and frankly was gobsmacked – it definitely looked like a show stopping winner of performances to me…..why do you think you did not win with that one?
Alethea: Refer to the question I answered about advice on competition performing…. Advice A and B says it all, I’ll let people make up their own minds about what happened and why. Because my video was so popular, there was just a second there before I went on stage where I thought well maybe if I just do my best it’ll be so obvious they’ll have to choose a winner that fits. Which I thought I did do really well, and Marlo too did amazing…. But it wasn’t any of us that won so….hey, never mind. but, I felt that I had nothing to loose in entering, they were paying travel and I had to be on the east coast anyway, and it was a $10,000 prize!
Tiny: Which competition do you think you will enter next?
Alethea: I am actually doing one this weekend in Vegas called Vertical Pole Challenge. And I hope I do well! There are gonna be some good girls there, it’ll be fun for sure. They are looking for all types of polers and are evaluating not necessarily on difficulty of tricks but all around energy, routine, entertainment.. So we shall see. One of my fellow BeSpun girls Lindsey is doing it and she has the cutest routine in store and has such amazing energy so if she wins I’ll be so psyched for her!
Tiny: WOW well – Good Luck for that! Are you working on anything new at the moment? Fancy giving us a sneaky peeky?
Alethea: Yes lots of new stuff. I guess my sneaky peak Hint: the opposite of the Jamilla?
Tiny: Oooohh so secretive! Ok, well….You recently made an appearance on the ‘Bank of Hollywood’ show right? And was questioned by the presenters and celebrities – I believe one of them was even a Pussy Cat Doll no less! How did that go? What happened?
Alethea: Ha-ha.. Again I don’t mind being the guinea pig in this Pole Revolution; I am strong enough in my reason and convictions where I don’t really get bent out of shape about it. I was just in the background Demo-ing, it was not my idea to be on the show nor did I particularly care or want to be one it. I was supporting one of my pole girls when she asked me to be in the background. I do a pretty good job of explaining my feelings on the whole thing in my Youtube video ‘F**k you Ryan Seacrest’.
Tiny: Why do you suppose they played it like that?
Alethea: To make Good TV of course!!
Tiny: You did a retaliating video especially for them entitled – ‘F**k you Ryan Seacrest’ – how was this received?
Alethea: I made that video more to offer girls more insight and it was a good opportunity because a lot of people saw the show. I honestly wasn’t expecting that crazy of a reaction during filming so I thought well I better put an explanation with this when it airs. I was more worried about girls feeling like I was targeted and upset, and I just wanted to let them know that I not upset by the outcome, rather amused by the idiocy of it all.. And here was my side for better explanation. Don’t worry I didn’t go to bed that night in tears or anything.
Tiny: What do you think the future holds for pole in America?
Alethea: Hmm well I’ve grown up an American my entire life and in looking back at my experiences watching sports, arts and performance as well as the hype that TV and the Hollywood machine can create.. My hope would be that pole in America eventually works its way into all the different aspects of the culture and has the right people in behind it in each aspect to showcase it in its best light.
Tiny: And what about your pole future? Do you see yourself doing any pole tours in the UK? Like maybe to my place or Jamie’s (from defy gravity)? We promise we won’t watch you sleep n stuff…..maybe a bit.
Alethea: Yes I’d Love to come to the UK, I’d love to travel everywhere. Pole is my life right now and I really want to go as far as I can with it and embrace all these experiences and people its is taking me to meet. I am so lucky. My first UK tour of two planned this Year already confirmed for mid July! Ha! As for the watching my sleep. …I love my fans I really and am so flattered and then make an effort to be come fast friends so it doesn’t seem so creepy! We can sleep together, how bout that?
Tiny: Kinky…..I’ll pass the message on for sure! OK LASTLY……Your pole videos……sexy sexy sexy. Will you be doing an ‘Alethea’ DVD? How can we learn to move as hot as that please?
Alethea: Yes. Worry not; My Sexy Flexy DVD’s are coming! They are already in production and the first series will be out by this Summer.
Tiny: Waaahhhhh yeeeeyyyy!!! Ok, don’t forget to post some to me so I can do a DVD review on them and get them out there for you in the UK!
Thanks for speaking to us!
The Pole Dance Community would like to thank interviewer Tiny from Candy & Chrome for her wonderful interview as well as Alethea Austin for being a great role model for the pole dancing industry.