Forget what you thought you knew about the skrip club. After exposing the struggles of black tattoo artists with Color Outside the Lines: A Tattoo Documentary, Atlanta-based filmmaker/videographer Artemus Jenkins has trained his eye toward debunking the myths surrounding one of Atlanta's most stereotyped subcultures.
The dancers at revered Atlanta hot spot Magic City are the subject of the ongoing web-series P.O.P. (Power of Pussy). Through dressing room interviews with members of Magic's current and former lineup (including renowned "retiree" Gigi Maguire), the doc offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the lifestyle and the technical prowess it takes to work the pole.
For those who think strippers are all about clapping their cheeks and giving $5 lap dances to scrape up college tuition, the close-up on Magic City's talent is a rare eye-opener. First of all, they prefer the term "dancer" to "stripper" - because anybody can strip. And at the City, they forgo basic ass-shaking for the kind of Cirque Du Soleil pole acrobatics that might make Gabby Douglas let loose a stack of ones.
The Snack Pack, Magic City's three-girl crew, even comes up with crazy names for their girl-on-girl pole stunts: The Bench Press, the United We Stand, and the Swing Set aka the Jet Lag. While it might not be safe viewing for work, the best visual is actually the one that comes to mind when Virgo talks about perfecting her booty popping technique at home in the kitchen while wearing pajamas.
Of course the web-series has garnered a polarizing response. No pun intended. Some online commenters seem to think it's more unwarranted praise for all things ratchet in Atlanta, while others, like North Carolina's Akilah Alcendor, think it's "AMAZING!" in all caps.
I'm not a strip club connoisseur myself, but when I do get the hankering to go my taste tends to run pretty lowbrow: The more stereotypical the stripper action, the better. What can I say? I'm a simple man. Yet there's obviously a serious market for the Cirque Du Soleil gymnastic approach - it afforded Maguire the ability to leave Magic City and start her own pole fitness dance studio, Pole FanAddicts (pronounced: fanatics). Not a bad career move considering most dancers have the Clermont Lounge to look forward to when it's time to retire.
Some choice quotes and random insights from Part Two of the series:
> Stripper names are the best: "It was me, Gigi, Sweet Pea, Innocence and Virgo," says Cali, breaking down the original Snack Pack lineup.
> Entertainers vs. strippers: "It's a difference between being a stripper and an entertainer. Very big difference," according to NuNu.
> Dads who think their tomboy daughters will never end up on the pole? Beware: "I'm just crazy and wild," says Virgo. "Honestly, I know how to climb a pole cause I used to climb trees a lot and jump fences."
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