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.

Schtick A Pole In It

I’m not sure why Joanna Ross decided to combine stand-up comedy with pole dancing for her Schtick A Pole In It event, but the two things complement each other unexpectedly well, as I found out at R Bar on Saturday.

Lara Michaels photo by Yuri Kubota

Lara Michaels, the first dancer, walked on in a black sequined bikini top and shorts.  Lara’s height and classical ballet training make her pole moves elegant and flowing.  She folded into and stretched away from the pole like a glittering orchid.

The show was full of visually stunning moments and also a lot of laughs.  My favorite comedian of the night, Rob Cantrell told jokes about cats and books.

“Do you like animals?” he asked.

When the audience roared in approval, he said, “Of course you do, unless you’re a dick.”

“Do you know what I like about cats?” he asked.  “They purr.  They’re in touch with the Universe so they know they’re safe and they just start vibrating in ecstasy.  Wouldn’t it be great if people did that?  If you saw your friend vibrating by the bar, you’d think this is a good time to hit him up for $50.”

He described libraries as slutty versions of bookstores.  “If you go into a bookstore, you buy one book for $25.  That one book is only yours.  It’s just for you.  If you go into a library and see a book you want, the librarian says, 'Take it.  Everyone’s read it.  Just bring it back when you’re done with it.'”

“These are not strippers,” Joanna told the audience.

“They don’t take their clothes off,” yelled an audience member.

“Also, they don’t text while they’re on stage,” said Joanna.

Photo by Schtick A Pole In It

Brynlyn Loomis walked in like a golden fantasy with birdwing-long eyelashes.  Her moves were so sexy that men sitting nearby told each other to, "Look at that," and audibly moaned.

Wendy Traskos, owner of NYPD, gave a feisty performance, making gunshot sounds by slamming her shoes into the wooden floor and ending with a back flip.

The final performance was a double act called GabriAnna, featuring Gabrielle Valliere and Anna Grundstrom.  Wearing men’s jackets and hats, they danced to “Hey Big Spender,” sometimes moving in synchronization, then twisting around each other, and finally bringing on comedian Dan Goodman to give him a double lap dance.

Dan Goodman is Joanna’s boyfriend and they both made jokes about recently moving in together. Even if Dan and Joanna may not agree about all the finer points of living together, such as whether forks belong under sofa cushions, they share the notion that pole dancing and comedy go together.  The line of people who came to see the sold out show seemed to support this idea.

The next Schtick A Pole In It will be on February 23 at R Bar.  Get there early if you want to get in.