The Hostess With The Mostest.
Premier pole competition compère, Miss Glory Pearl, shares her thoughts on hosting, competition and the pole world with us.
You’re all set for your pole showcase; the venue is booked, everyone who’s performing is planning their routines and you’ve got a DJ in to do the music. And then it hits you - you need to introduce the acts! The DJ can lend you a mic so you think you’ll either do it yourself or if you get too stressed out, your mate has said she’ll help out. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ve been a professional performer for about four years now (since 2008), and I’ve been compering for three of them. Hosting a show is great fun but ridiculously hard work and it never fails to amaze me how many people consider hiring someone like me unnecessary. A good compère is the the glue, connecting everything together to ensure the total is greater than the sum of the parts. As the host, you are directly responsible for the audience’s experience - you connect with them on a profound level, set the tone of the night, smooth over all the mishaps and stresses and provide a seamless, entertaining night for good people who have paid good money for a night out. You also have the power to make or break the acts depending how you introduce them, and the same can definitely be said for the show as a whole.
Compères typically work harder than anyone else but are considered the least important, which is astonishing when you think about it.
Typically, you’re on stage the longer than anyone else in the show and even with an audience of family and friends, you need to be consistently entertaining. Working an audience is a skill - especially these days when everyone is addicted to their smart-phones - give them half a chance and they’ll be tweeting how boring the show is before you know it - and then you’ve lost them. They’ll talk through the acts, get up and go to the bar/loo/for a fag and that amazing, electric energy that’s created when an audience loves a show will be a mere dream.
The biggest challenge for me is the pole dance competitions. I am always honoured to be asked but I certainly work hard for my fee.
Competitions are long (longest I’ve been on stage is nine hours), and many of the people there have come to support one competitor, so your challenge is to make them care for and cheer on every single person who takes to the stage. Over the years, I’ve developed a particular style of compering for competitions, which involves pretty much mocking everything and everyone and saying the things no one else would dare to. I accept it may not be to everyone’s taste but I like to think that at least people pay attention! Knowing the pole industry as well as I do, (I’ve been pole dancing for over seven years), really helps. Not only do you know the characters and personalities, but also the history, challenges, current issues and tensions. Often at competitions, some of your audience are watching competitive pole dance for the first time and they have no idea where some of the things they are seeing have come from, so I try to talk about that and be informative as well as amusing.
I hosted the UKPPC Grand Final this year and my God, the talent there was amazing! I feel so proud to be a pole dancer and it’s extraordinary how far pole dance has come. Sure, there’s more to do but I think we should recognise what we have achieved in terms of social acceptance. When I started, classes were in strip clubs or bars - I remember picking broken glass out of my knee in a lesson - now most people go to specially designed studios and gyms. And there’s such diversity in performance as well, which really wasn’t there five years ago. I think it’s a shame that more of the new polers don’t know some of the pioneers - I was genuinely stunned how few people at the UKPPC final had seen Sally-Ann Giles perform before - our history is as important as our future and we should celebrate and share that as much as we do the current stars.
Lots of pole people know me principally as a compère but my main source of work is burlesque, (I’m also an actor, singer and aerialist). I like to think I’m carving out a little niche as a pole compère and that I add a calm, steady but entertaining hand to any event. 2013 is already shaping up to be an exciting year and I’m very fortunate to be involved in some great projects but as a self-employed performer, yes, I’m still taking bookings and my rates are very reasonable if you’re interested!
To contact Miss Glory Pearl to compère your event simply e-mail her.
Image top left courtesy of John Fox Photorgraphy, Image bottom right courtesy of Sin Bozkurt.