(Aug. 15, 2014) If you think the adolescent testosterone is thick during Senior Week, I could’ve cut it with a knife Wednesday night.
When I arrived, the crowd surrounding the Boardwalk’s newfound “Pole Doll” – the nom-de-guerre of DC-based exotic dancer Chelsea Plymale – was almost entirely men, ages 15-25. They were like a pimply-faced pack of wolves.
Chelsea, however, doesn’t skip a beat. I can’t count how many times I hear “dude, it’s a stripper!” yelled into the crowd. Each time, without pause, she yells back “I’m a pole dancer,” or “yes, I’m a stripper, but not tonight.”
Once the filming stops and the younger men discover that they’re not getting the show they’re looking for, the crowd thins. If a curious-looking group of people passes by, Chelsea talks to them for a bit about pole dancing and does a few moves.
Most are older women, actually, and some inquire about pole aerobics classes. They take a picture with her, give her a few dollars, and move on.
“I’ve always said the highest form of ignorance is judging something you know nothing about,” Chelsea says. “The only negative reactions I’ve gotten have been through social media. No one’s been nasty to my face.”
Plymale, it would seem, has become a victim of the Facebook-industrial complex. The implication that a “stripper” is violating America’s hallowed vacationing grounds is an easy thing to grab onto, especially if you spend most your day trolling the Internet looking for things to be outraged about.
In reality, the performance is pretty tame. Maybe I’m getting old, or just jaded, but it’s far more acrobatic than erotic. I’ve seen more lewd things happen in a Marshall’s.
It is, however, a pretty impressive feat of athleticism – although this is coming from a man who gets winded exiting his automobile.
In fact, there’s a far more erotic performance happening about 30 feet away. Another young woman has a sort of seesaw device with a board on top a cylinder of foam or plastic. She performs various moves while balancing back and forth, sometimes with a hula-hoop.
There’s a lot of gyrating and deep squatting involved. You get the picture.
I remark to my associates that it’s all about the connotation of pole dancing. Chelsea could be wearing a burqa and still be more titillating to most young men than if seesaw girl was buck naked, simply due to the cultural implications of the pole itself. They concur.
Chelsea’s boyfriend, Matt, stands off to the side with his bicycle and cart he uses to haul the portable pole. It has a weighted base that un-bolts into sections. Chelsea uses it for private parties.
“I really like it down here, much better than DC,” Matt says. “Up there, I have to walk her out of the club, make sure nobody follows us home – people at strip clubs are crazy. Down here, everyone is laid back and you can just chat with them.”
Both are keenly aware, though, that they have become anathema to City Hall. But they didn’t bring the crowd – it was already here, and already interested, apparently, in pole dancing.
“Have you seen the t-shirts they sell here?” Chelsea asks, rhetorically. “Have you ever gone to the underage club downtown and watched the old men ogle the teenage girls? But yet somehow I’m the bad guy.”