All of our Black Box interviews are uncut, unsanitized and real, so don't say shit you don't want to see in type. Lori agreed to be my test subject and she was a doll! Join us as we dish cupcakes, NorCal, pole dancing, weight & comic books!
VB: Hi Lori! So fyi I’m so ill, I’m really sick.
Lori: You poor thing.
VB: Yeah. I just had a horrible day. I did not work out because I can barely breathe. My throat’s messed up. So I thought this recorder was the new--, interesting way to try to do this for me.
Lori: Well you sound good.
VB: Yeah, well, because I’m sitting outside in the sun but if I had to type or try to write while we’re talking, it would be awful. And I type with one finger anyhow; I’m like a horrible typer.
Lori: Got it. That’s hilarious. You’re a ‘finger-typer’.
VB: Yup! So I wanted to talk to you about a bunch of things but first I wanted to get a little background on you. So if you could just kind of tell us about yourself, what you’re about. And I don’t want everything to be about pole…
VB: I want to know a bit more about Lori as well. So, yeah, if you could just give me a little bit of your background…
Lori: Got it. Alright, well, I grew up--, so I guess I should say it for your recording, my name is Lori Myers…
Lori: … and I write ‘Confessions of a Twirly Girl’. I grew up in Brentwood and not the LA Brentwood that everyone thinks about, where OJ lived, but the real Brentwood in Northern California - that was farm towns and ranches. My grandparents had actually an apricot orchard so I grew up eating fruit off the trees or off the ground which sounded better because it was easier to reach but you know whatever. I got into the legal field when I was 18 and I’ve been in the legal field ever since, I worked as a litigation secretary even though I have a paralegal certificate. A few years ago, I also started writing and helping companies with their social media and in connection with a lot of pole stuff and started doing that for pole companies and I’ve done that for non-pole companies as well so, my professional background really is in the legal field but when I started writing a few years back I picked up all different kinds of clients and different companies and things like that so I think outside of pole I enjoy, although I haven’t been able to do much lately, I enjoy horseback riding and all the outdoor stuff, like if I could live on the beach and ride horses I would die a happy girl.
VB: Yeah, that’s one of the questions I wanted to ask you about, whenever I see you online I do see a lot of non-pole activities. I see that you’re really kind of involved in Yoga now and I was really jealous of the Yoga class that you were able to do in the church; I thought that was absolutely beautiful…
VB: So, what do you like to do just for you, in your non-pole, non-legal time?
Lori: Well, you probably know I had gastric-bypass 10 years ago; my anniversary is actually tomorrow on St Patrick’s Day but I lost a lot of weight that way, but I’ve always been involved in some kind of exercise so when I was a kid it was step-aerobics because I thought that was huge when I was in high school and so that’s what I started doing, the step-aerobics and then probably about 15 years ago, so before I had gastric bypass and I was still pretty large, my highest weight was pretty close to 350 pounds but I could still do Yoga and that was kind of my--, you know, I would go to Yoga a couple times a week and I was pretty active at the gym, lifting weights and I would do step classes or spin classes but Yoga has been pretty consistent for probably a good 15 years.
Lori: And then after I had surgery I did get a little bit lazy because the weight was coming off and so you forget that you’re working out to be healthy not to be thin so when I came back to it, Yoga has always been huge for me so I got back into Yoga. When I was probably in my best shape, I was doing Yoga three times a week, I was taking Pilates Reformer class and I was doing a cycle class a couple times a week and meeting with--, I had a little group of people that we would just lift weights and stuff at the gym but regardless of what I do, whether it’s pole or whether it’s all the other stuff Yoga has been pretty consistent for a while now so the Classic Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was my favorite.
Lori: That is the only thing I really missed about working in San Francisco, you know, after that class on Tuesday night you just go down to grace cathedral and you set up and 500 people would come to this class. The instructor would wear a microphone and there would be assistants that walk around too, not just kinda willy nilly doing yoga, nobody’s helping you but it was amazing, it was a really beautiful building. That’s something I may; every once in a while maybe ask if I can leave work early here so I can get back into San Francisco and do that because that’s one thing I miss about San Francisco.
VB: That’s cool, here in LA we have Hollywood Forever cemetery and with movie nights there...
VB: … There’s this big huge white wall there and it was an old cemetery that had a lot of old Hollywood stars and it kind of fell in disarray and it was sold and these young guys; think in their early 20’s, bought it and revamped it and brought it back to the beauty of what it was before and one of the ways they were able to do that when there were tourists and you could see all the graves, it was a really lovely cemetery but one of the ways they did it is, they have movie nights in the summer and then into fall.
Lori: That’s funny, I’ve actually heard of that.
VB: Yeah, it’s amazing and you go and you sit in the grass and there’s this huge wall and they have a DJ and they played movies and they have this huge grass area, it’s not like we’re sitting on people’s graves so you know.
VB: It’s in a certainly different area but it’s still kind of a fun funky thing and I always thought they should do a Yoga night there
Lori: Right, that would be cool; my boyfriend’s friend goes to that, his name is Corey and he’s talked about that before at that cemetery so that’s funny so you guys have probably crossed path without even realizing it.
Lori: Next time we’re down we’ll have to go.
VB: Yeah definitely. So, you touched a little bit on your weight loss journey and your surgery, did you find pole before or after that journey?
Lori: I found pole after my surgery. I had surgery 10 years ago and I having been poling for little over 4 years now so, 6 years out from surgery. I was in fairly good shape right before I started pole dancing and then it’s like life catches you, I tried the new medication and I gained 25 pounds in a month, horrible. And then I got a hip injury and then I got a foot injury last year, it’s just been a trickle effect and like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong so, I’m actually probably in the worst shape ever right now, so I’m kind of battling back from the foot surgery; I had foot surgery in August so it’s been kind of a frustrating journey because I was in a fairly good position to improve myself and do well in pole and then, just little things happened and it just never happened so I feel like I’m in worst shape now than when I started pole and so I really don’t want to re-injure myself. I really could go up from here. That’s the only place to go because I’m as bad as I’m ever going to let myself get so I’m doing Yoga, I’m going to cycling classes and trying to pole 2 to 3 times a week because I may never be thin but I need to be in shape. It’s not an option for me; I have to be working out. I don’t have the option to be lazy because my body has the memory of sleeping fat and it loves being fat and it’ll go back there as quickly as I let it so, I try not to let it.
VB: So now with the whole weight loss surgery, how do you think your outlook on pole classes or your pole journey would be different or how do you think that--, do you think that you have a different view of it having gone from a couple different sizes? How do you think that that affects pole - weight I mean, because a lot of times we tell people, “Oh, you know, anyone at any size can pole”, and that’s true, everyone at any size can pole but the reality is that if we’re lifting more weight, which I am, which you are, it is harder and people don’t really like to say that a lot, I find. I think that it’s great in which it empowers women and men of any size, any age, any disability to do pole but there is the reality that it is a little harder or different; you’re going to have to do things a little differently.
VB: And I think people kind of gloss that over and so I’m always interested to hear other people’s views on that and what they think of that.
Lori: Right. So, it’s hard because I like to say pole dance is for everybody but I also can fully recognize that it works better for different bodies and not even just thinner bodies but even shorter bodies although I think that you have to find out what works for you because tall people will say “Oh well when you do this move, it’s really hard to have long legs” and short people will say “Well if I have long legs I can do this move”, so for me it’s finding the move that is going to work for you and then working on it. I shocked everybody I think when I did my first hand stand and I swear to God my arms were going to fall off the first time I did it because as soon as I got upside down all the air went out of my body and my blood stopped pumping but I did it. That’s my thing am I lifting into it properly; absolutely not but I can do a hand stand and I can shock the shit out of people and that’s what I do. So I’m trying to take the moves that work for me and become better and get stronger at those moves because I’m probably never going to; like I’ll never do a spatchcock I can guarantee that and that’s not being negative, that’s just being honest and realistic.
VB: Um I think it’s kinda ugly – shhh don’t tell anyone I said that.
Lori: I don’t really want to, it’s not my favorite at all but there’s a lot of moves; even a basic invert, I struggle with a basic invert and not just because of my lack of strength but because when I get upside down, my body decides that it’s going to start sweating and I will lose my place in the world and so until I get use to inverting and then being able to hold up myself up there without sliding to my death, it’s not the move for me. I feel like if I can’t do tricks, whatever kind of trick very well then I’m going to take the moves that I can do and I’m going to make them as pretty as I can so I’ve been taking a lot of dance; like my Saturday classes are a contemporary dance class.
Lori: We’re in the pole studio but we’re doing mostly contemporary with a pole move in our routine or whatever so, if I can’t invert and I can’t do tricks and stuff like that then I’m going to take what I can do so I think that whatever your issue is, whether it’s weight or height or you’ve got an injury you’ll have to find out what works for you and then just kind of rock that because no matter what it is not even just weight holding me back, like, I’m super inflexible so when people are like “Let’s do a hello boys” and I’m like “Oh well, here’s mine]. I don’t have a ‘V’ split that I can show you guys so I don’t have anything there so I have to just kind of work with fake splits and things like that because I can’t do any of that stuff so rather than sit around being sad that I can’t do any of that stuff, I try to figure out what I can do and make that as amazing as possible.
VB: Cool, so how did you end up finding pole, what brought you to pole?
Lori: First I heard an ad on the radio and not really an ad, just some of the girls from ‘S Factor San Francisco’ were on a radio show and as soon as I heard them I was like I’m going to try that. I’m going to go, I’m going to find somebody to go with me so I found a girl from my gym and I was like “I want to go to S Factor and try this class, will you go?” and she said “Yeah” and I live about 30 miles outside of San Francisco but getting into the city can be a pain in the butt if there’s traffic so I think it took us about an hour and a half to drive to the city and we literally barely made it into the class before they closed it because we were going to be late and it was a great class, we had a really good time. The S Factor; I feel like not everybody loves S Factor because it’s not just about pole, you got 10 people in there and 2 poles so you’re there to find yourself not to learn how to pole dance really but I really enjoyed it. But I couldn’t realistically drive that many hours every Saturday, give up 4 or 5 hours just to go into the city for S Factor so I just kind of waited it out and randomly; I want to say about a year, little over later, one of my friends got an email that a studio had opened up in Pleasanton. Pleasanton is still about 25 miles away but it’s along a freeway that’s much easier to travel so it takes me about 30 minutes to get there. So in December of 2009 I took my first class with one of my friends and we both are still going so 4 years and 4 months later we’re still members.
VB: That’s Twirly Girls right?
Lori: Yea that’s Twirly Girls pole fitness in Pleasanton so that’s kind of been my home ever since and Belle who owns studios is in her 60’s but she is a little spitfire and she fosters a really great environment for people to come in and flourish so it’s been easy to be there, so it’s great.
VB: Right, well how did you end up teaching there as well?
Lori: About 2 years after I started we were at a Christmas party and Belle pulled me aside and she’s like “I have visions of you teaching” and I was just like “You’re crazy and probably drunk so you should probably sit down and think about that for a while” and she came back like “No, I’ve really been thinking about it, I really think that you should”. And she’s been teaching pole for years, she had taught at a gym and then kind of built Twirly Girls out of that class and then opened her studio; her very own studio in July of 2009 and so she’s been teaching for a long time and she was expert certified and she’s like I’m going to teach you how to teach people. So I started shadowing her; I came into her classes and I started just basically watching how she taught because you don’t realize if you’re in class to learn you’re not learning how to teach so I had to come in from a different kind of angle and be like now I need to learn how to teach other people. So I shadowed her for about 4 months and then she gave me my very first class; my class actually just turned 2 years old just recently so yeah she kind of surprised me with it, it wasn’t what I was expecting and my biggest concern with her was I will only be a beginning teacher. My students are going to surpass me and there has to be a point where we all have to agree that that has to happen and it’s kind of funny because it’s just now that it’s starting to happen.
Lori: One of my students Robert that you’ll see on Facebook a lot, he has surpassed my level and I keep telling him to stop coming to my class but he won’t. So he comes to our class and he goes to other classes and it feels nice because he likes being in class with us and we like having him in class but this was kind of also my nightmare, where someone was going to surpass my skill level and I wasn’t going to be able to teach them but I feel like there’s always stuff you can learn from people, even if I can’t teach him tricks we’re working on his dance because he’s not dancing. It’s probably not his forte but he’s doing really well with the tricks and he’s learning how to dance so it’s still fun.
VB: Yeah, I always feel there’s something people can learn. There’s so many people who can do great tricks but are they beautiful, are they pretty, are they perfect tricks? I know people get tired and once they’ve gotten that trick they want to move on to the next thing but until you can really do it perfectly, it’s something you should still continue to work on so it’s not to say that you can’t move on but I kind of actually like the idea of taking multi-level classes whether you’re in a class that is a higher level and then you go to a lower level class because sometimes when I would go back to a lower level class you’re like wow, I forgot all of this and I really didn’t do this and I really should do this, so I think there’s something to be said there for everyone.
Lori: I agree, when I went to the California Pole Dance Championship last year, I was floored and slightly saddened by the number of neo-competitors busting out sloppy fonjis. I mean, you’re an amateur performer, you probably shouldn’t be doing fonji in the first place and especially not if you’re not flawless with that movement, it’s so dangerous. I feel like the competition world is going a direction where they’re pushing people into things they’re not ready for but they feel like they have to do it because if the whole neo-division is doing their fonji then you feel like you have to come with something better than that next year so what do you do that’s more difficult than a fongi? I mean you’re doing death lay to start every single routine or something I don’t really know but I think they’re getting back to because I feel like the routines that win these competitions are well balanced so they do have beautiful twirls and transitions and they have the tricks but I think for a second there people are just kind of like rabidly; what ridiculous trick can I throw into this to make people go crazy and not realizing everybody doesn’t want to just see the death defying tricks there’s got to be something like a whole story around it or something.
VB: Alright boom - which leads into my next question perfectly; you have created the Northern California Pole Presentational and I wanted to know what prompted you to want to do a presentational vs a straight on competition? What was the thought behind that?
Lori: This exact idea came from a friend of mine; Amy Bond came to me last year and she was like “I want to put on a pole event in Northern California and I need you to help me” and I was like “Cool, this is going to be so fun”. What do we do, we just call a couple people and everybody shows up? I had no idea the amount of work that was going to go into making this thing happen. This is what she tells me and I completely agree and basically it was that, I feel like when I go see pole showcases, there’s less pressure and I feel like the routines come off so much better because there’s no pressure to compete, so it kind of came from ‘hey we want to put on a great show’ but sometimes people are preparing for events and so initially I think she wanted it to be ‘come showcase your routine for PPC’, not really thinking that people aren’t going to want to give up their PPC routine because then if their competitors are there watching then they’re not going to want to show it. So initially there was a push to get this done in February of this year so that people could do their PPC routine, have judges give them feedback so that when they got to PPC they would be completely polished and they would have had all this great advice. And I told her as soon as she told me that, a part of that was like people aren’t going to do it and so we talked to some other studio owners and they kind of agreed so we kind of put it on the back burner where we were like, you know what, we don’t need to get this out before PPC but we still like the idea of come and showcase your routine on a big stage.
Lori: People want to be on a big stage, they want to have the lights and they want to look pretty and you put on their routine so their friends and family can come watch, because there’s a lot of events in Northern California that are based out of studios so Poletential does Air Show and Twirly Girls does ‘Trick or Twirl’ and the Lovely Rita Fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation, Studio Botan has one, and also Entangle & Sway, I think every 6 months they do showcases in their studio for their students. There’s nothing in Northern California that is just independent from any studio, so initially we kind of wanted to maybe go PPC style, make it big and we’re still kind of there making it. You just pay your fee you’re in and you can come showcase your performance but we will have judges there so people who want to receive feedback on their moves, they can. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds without the pressure of ‘I have to make third place and get a title otherwise this was all for nothing.
VB: So how many people put together this with you?
Lori: Ok so Amy came to me in January, Amy Bond and she was in Boston and then she came out to California and took the California Bar and she went to law school in Boston and took the California Bar out here. She dropped out in January and basically was like, “My life is just crazy I need to focus on other stuff”, so then I talked to Ellen Lovelace and she teaches up here; she’s teaching at Twirly Girls, she teaching it at a couple of other studios. She used to be at Poletential and I just respect her as an instructor and as a poler so I just kind of went to her initially just kind of feeling out like what did she think about this idea, was it worth continuing with and she’s been amazing. She came on board, she’s been my partner ever since and she does a ton of work having to do with this. I mean if I had known what it was going to take just to get a rigger, oh my God down there in LA I’m sure there’s so many shows It’s not a big of a deal; nobody up here has ever done rigging for a pole show and so every single one of them is like you want to do what? Can we do this? Like no, we can’t do that, It needs to be this or well maybe can we get--; no you can’t do that, we need it this--, and it’s been crazy but she’s been doing a lot of work and she claims I’ll be making up for what I haven’t done on the day of the show.
Lori: She’s awesome; she’s really awesome so I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
VB: So how did you actually start or what prompted you to start your blog?
Lori: Initially, I really just was like ‘hey’--, I don’t even remember, I feel like somebody was just like “Hey you should keep an online journal.” I didn’t even think they called it a blog cause I figured people who wrote blogs were like real writers, like you had to be a professional writer or something and so I initially started it on a defunct site and I remember I wrote a couple of posts and I was just like “Ah, this site isn’t working for me” and I remember someone mentioned ‘Blogger’ so I moved over and started with Blogger and it was really just to kind of chronicle my adventure. I think I started poling in December and I think my first blog on Blogger was like January so within a month I was already blogging.
Lori: So I really didn’t expect anybody else to read it, I just kind of thought that it would be a place for me, one place for me to go and look at what I’m doing so it was really just kind of random and I never in beginning was like “Oh, people are going to read this”, you know, maybe a couple of my fellow Twirly Girls might but never in a million years did I think that it was going to go as big as it did and so it’s been kind of cool but sometimes I think that when I sit behind my computer and write, it’s never occurred to me that other people are going to read these words and then that affects other people in my life when I’m especially sharing very personal stories about growing up and stuff and so it’s affected my relationship with my mom and many of my other family members so…
VB: Is that hard?
Lori: Well, it is sometimes but then at the same time there is great quote and it was like “Write about your experiences”, you know “people are upset that they know your writing about how they treated you and they should have treated you better so it’s like if she’s mad that I’m writing about stuff, maybe she shouldn’t have done that stuff” so, yeah but I do try to be mindful and not write completely shity stuff about my mom but, you know, a lot of ‘why I am the way I am’ is because of her and my upbringing so yeah, it is what it is.
VB: Yeah, my blog--, I don’t really think there’s anything in there that was annoying my mom in my blog. But I never really told her about it and then the other day she called me and she’s like “You know that recipe in your blog and blah blah blah blah blah" and then she’s saying “I can’t really tell if it’s supposed to be a cup of sugar or a cup and a half because in one place it says a cup and a half and then it says a cup”. I was like, my blog? What are you doing on my blog?
Lori: Well, my mom doesn’t have the ability to find my blog on her own, thank God because even though she’s not that old, she acts like she is completely--, well she doesn’t act, she is completely technologically retarded so--, but what will happen is that she has a expletives friend who will find the really juicy ones and send them to her and incite violence between the two of us so they have all been de-friended on Facebook so now they can’t look through my stuff anymore.
VB: There you go. It’s a start. Yeah and the day my mom called and said why haven’t you accepted my friendship on Facebook? I hadn’t even noticed and I was like “Oh shit, on Facebook?" How did my mom find Facebook?
VB: Okay so what’s the one thing that we don’t know about you that you can share with us?
Lori: I really hate fish to the point of it making me want to puke every time I smell it?
VB: Really? So you don’t do sushi?
Lori: I don’t do sushi, I don’t eat tuna, I don’t eat anything fishy. I don’t do shrimp, I don’t do fried shrimp; I don’t do tuna fish sandwiches. Everybody thinks like “Oh, you could do fried shrimp.” Nope, I don’t want any of it.
VB: So no lobster?
Lori: Nope. No lobster.
VB: Freak! And if you were a cupcake, what flavor would you be?
Lori: Mmm, all the flavors. Oh, apricot.
Lori: So my favorite cupcake place is a truck, it’s called “Cupkates”. It’s apricot-almond. Oh my God, they only did it one time last year, they do it for a month, they have a specialty flavor. If I could eat that cupcake, I would eat it every day for the rest of my life.
VB: Apricot-almond, that’s a weird combo.
Lori: Totally. But it’s delicious.
VB: Speaking of delish what’s up with the whole comic book character thingy?
Lori: Last year, I started trying to find more "fat positive" things on Facebook. I was kind of tired of the "Fitspo" memes that all told me I didn't have six pack abs because I was lazy. So I found Chunky Girl Comics' Facebook page. A bit later, they were casting cosplayers to play their characters. A Twirly Girl friend tagged me and said, hellooooo, you'd be perfect for Candy. I had looked at the characters and remembered thinking I was tall and built like Candy but I have red hair, so I wouldn't qualify. Marisa Garcia, the writer of the comic came on to Facebook (because we were having this conversation on the fan page, of course), and said I would be perfect to play Candy and could wear a wig. So Lori as Candy was born! I did a comic book event in Stockton and had a really great time. In November, I went down to Los Angeles for Stan Lee's Comikaze. I had a great time, took lots of photos with people shocked to see a 6'4" in girl (in my boots), and received quite a few complimentary comments about how much they admired my guts for wearing such short shorts in public. I really feel like younger girls especially need to understand not all bodies are created equally and they don't need to be ashamed if they aren't tiny. Marisa also created Super Hero Within and goes to schools to give speeches on self-esteem. I feel very fortunate to be part of a great group of ladies with "non-traditional" bodies!
VB: Amazing! My god Lori we’ve been on the phone for like an hour, thanks so much for speaking with me and being so candid!
You can Find Lori swinging it all around here: