Wendy's Whirled


Photograph by Don Curry

Wendy Traskos is not only one of the strongest and sexiest dancers I’ve met, she is also an entrepreneur whose ventures include New York Pole Dancing Studio, Climb and Spin, and United States Pole Dancing Federation.  Amazingly, Wendy did not qualify for the cheerleading team when she was in high school, despite already being a competitive gymnast and having sister Tracy in the team.  But perhaps this early challenge contributed to Wendy’s tendency to push the limits.  Maybe growing up with a father in the military helped too. Rules couldn't be broken, so she sought areas of life where the rules hadn't been defined yet.

From floor: Wendy Traskos, Tracy Traskos and NYPD instructor, Brynlyn Loomis

Sister, Tracy, went to college for Community Health Education, and became a respected bodybuilder and fitness educator. Wendy followed her own path, and—in her final year of high school—her parents told her if she didn’t go to college, she would have to start paying rent.

Photograph by Don Curry

“I left at 18 and never looked back,” said Wendy. “After that, I just figured I could do what I wanted because I did everything all on my own: my own decisions and my own failures and everything.“

“I needed a job when I came to NY.  So eventually I started stripping. My parents would be so proud,” Wendy laughed.

“I never felt uncomfortable about showing my body,” she said. “And I knew that no one could touch me so I was fine with that. I drew a clear line and never stepped over it."

Wendy saved enough money to start her business in 2005, and to employ some of the finest pole dancers in New York including sister, Tracy.  Although running NYPD hasn’t proved as lucrative as stripping, Wendy does it because of her passion for pole, and also because it empowers women, and creates a sense of community.  Pole dancing is a bonding experience for many women, as they push their limits of endurance and strength together.

Photograph by Don Curry

Wendy refined the moves in the Climb and Spin method so they are safe for beginners and for progression to advanced moves. Unlike other studios, New York Pole Dancing requires testing before students perform invert (upside down) moves.

“I am trying to protect the students’ safety,” says Wendy. “Some people see a rivalry between New York Pole Dancing and other studios, but I feel there’s room for everybody.”

Wendy performing at Schtick A Pole In It

New York Pole Dancing offers drop in classes for students of all levels.  Wendy frequently performs at events like the Northwest Championship, Schtick a Pole In It, and the Pulse Project’s Sirens 2.  Currently, Wendy is focusing more on the studio and on Climb and Spin, which she hopes will become a standard method.  Whatever branch of her business she chooses to focus on, Wendy Traskos is clearly a Pole Dancing Pioneer.

La Gente es La Gente

La Gente Es La Gente is a monthly performance by Aera, an aerial dance company based in Brooklyn.  Aera quote Oscar Wilde in their publicity for the show: "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

Because the last show at Casa Mezcal was on April 20th, the theme was 420, and each dancer created a performance about drug or alcohol use inspired by a character from popular media that has influenced them.

Casa Mezcal is a basement room with an alligator on one wall, a bison head on another, a stage with tasseled red curtains and space for about 100 people.  The red curtains closed and opened music hall style between each act, while the dancers cleaned the pole themselves.

The first performer, Stella Fink, skipped on in a summer dress, followed shortly afterwards by a man dressed as a cannabis leaf.  They then smoked a herbal cigarette, and Stella stripped down to a cannabis leaf-decorated bikini to do some amazing moves on the pole while the cannabis leaf man relaxed.

Jessica Linick at La Gente es La Gente 420

The next performer, Jessica Linick, came on in a striped shirt and wasted-looking make-up. She put on a fantastically desperate and creative performance, throwing herself around the pole as if she wanted to choke the life out of it.

Next came NYPD instructor, Caitlin Goddard, who slinked on in a black dress, taking swigs from a bottle of whiskey. The character she chose was Meg Ryan in the movie, When A Man Loves A Woman. At the end of her performance, she threw a glass of whisky at the pole and lolled against the back curtain.

Kelly McLaughlin strolled onstage wearing a floral dress with a man dressed as some kind of animal on a leash.  A psilocybin mushroom poked in from the side and after she took a bite, she started indulging in shenanigans with the animal man, and I think she might have killed him at the end, but I’m not sure. 

Jessica Mari at La Gente es La Gente 420

Jessica Mari followed, doing a sultry dance around the pole with a black bob and black leotard.  She brought to mind Louise Brooks or Liz Taylor.

The elegant Nasty Canasta, came on and drank from a bottle while washing herself in a tin bath.  This was not pole dancing, but the audience seemed to love it.


Steven Retchless danced to Johnny Cash’s "Hurt."  Steven emerged to screams, removed his g-string to more screams, (he was wearing underpants underneath) and revealed a pair of plastic breasts to even more screams.  Steven’s dancing is fierce and fluid, and I admired the strength with which he handled the pole.

Danielle Romano's bucket hat and khakis made me think of 70’s tv series Gilligan’s Island.  She did a funny pole walk while suspended on the pole, and combined some very creative and strong moves.

What I love about Aera is that they combine dance, props and performance to create something artistic, surprising and often very funny.  I look forward to seeing what they do next.

Aera photo by Christopher Butt, Golconda.org