Nadia Sharif and AM are the best of friends, and you can definitely hear that dynamic in this show. Nadia used to be an engineer and quit her job to become a full time pole dancer. Nadia has a light amount of experience in strip clubs and a long time career in the pole dance fitness industry. Because she is a stripper ally but has spent so much time in the pole dance industry, she has interesting perspectives on the stripper and pole dancer divide.

Begin Transcript

AMD: I have a lot of things on my mind all the time. If you know me, you know, I’m constantly philosophizing and thinking and something that’s been going through my head lately is about how artists and pole dancers and strippers, how resilient we are and how often we have to sort of like reinvent ourselves during this, this technology boom and this time of massive growth and change like all across the globe. And you know, I’ve been hustling for about 20 years now. And since then, I’ve been a stripper, a pole dancer, an instructor, a small business owner, a live streamer, a social media expert. I mean, you name it, I’ve done it. And all of my friends are like, the same.

They’re all constantly reinventing themselves, figuring out new ways to survive and thrive, but by doing so, like, living outside of the box, you know, getting a job. There’s no shade. I’m not hating on that, but that is like, sort of. That’s an easy flow life. The majority of people I hang out with and will have on this show are people who are constantly hustling, constantly working and constantly reinventing themselves so they can live a more free life and live outside of like the norm and outside of the box.

And I think I find that that’s just, it’s so interesting and it leads to so much personal growth, confidence and excitement. Um, and it also leads to like more self awareness over time because when you’re constantly in your head thinking about “how am I going to survive? How am I going to do this?”, you’re always thinking on your feet and you’re connecting with yourself in a lot of ways that a lot of people don’t and you start to ask yourself questions and, and you start to philosophize and theorize on all these different ways of life.

And that’s one of the things that I appreciate the most about the people that I get to spend time with and about the people that I get to have on this show. So I just want to keep that in mind, as we move on into this, this episode with our amazing guest, who’s been such a dear friend of mine for a very long time, um, I want to introduce to you guys Nadia Sharif, a world champion pole dancer, famous clothing designer, extraordinaire.

What’s up friend? 

NS: Hi friend!  I was trying not to breathe into the mic during your intro. 

AMD: Oh, is that what it was? 

NS: Yeah, I was like breathe.  

AMD: Do you notice that your hair matches your microphone? 

NS: Um, I kinda chose this one for that. 

AMD: Did you do that? You knew? You knew on purpose? That was your mic color. Um, I’m so- so the reason I wanted to talk about that opening is because I feel like you like personify that type of person that I was talking about, like, constantly reinventing yourself, always thinking outside of the box, and like, becoming more self aware over time as I’ve known you. And I just I just, you know, I just admire you in so many ways and, um, I just, you know, I want to make sure that we take time to talk about those things about your life and how incredibly amazing you are. 

NS: Friend, I appreciate it and it’s a really big honor to be here. I, I see a lot of the similar qualities in you where you’re constantly just evolving and growing and experimenting and, you know, I think it’s, it’s been such a pleasure to watch you over all of these years that we’ve known each other.

AMD: Yeah. So like, you know. Here we are today. Right. Exactly. Super profesh. Really profesh with our headphones. Yes. And our lipstick.  Yes.  Yeah. So, you know, this is a podcast about strippers and we just have to like lay this out on the table right here, right now. You’re not actually a stripper.

NS: That is correct.

AMD: Right. However, you’ve dabbled.  

NS: I’m a dabbler. 

AMD: Okay.  So, can you share with our audience in which types of ways you’ve dabbled as a stripper or in strip clubs? 

NS: Um, well, my first sort of like outside of my bedroom pole dancing that I’ve ever done was at Jumbo’s Clown Room, um, and that’s a bikini bar. It’s like kind of stripping ish, um, even though it’s not nude or there’s not like a lot of lap dances. Um, it was very much so like Stripperish culture. 

AMD: Right. 

NS: Um, and so that’s kind of where I began. I didn’t stay there long, but um, I think it definitely influenced my movement. 

AMD: Okay. 

NS: Um, and working for TIPS has just always kind of been in the blood. Um, and yeah, then I did, um, a couple, I did a pole dancing competition, uh, for Calendar Girls in New Zealand.

AMD:And that’s a nude club, topless? 

NS: Um,  It’s nude ish. I want to say it’s like thong and pasties. 

AMD: Okay. 

NS: I want to say, um, and so after doing that competition, they basically were like, okay, now you’re, you know, now you’re Miss, Miss Calendar Girls New Zealand, and you can go to all the calendar girls.

AMD: That’s a trip. 

NS: I know. And I was like, dope, man, because I’m doing this whole New Zealand tour anyways. Yeah. So that was super cool. And so I got to work at these strip clubs in New Zealand, which is Totally different culture from American strip clubs.  Yeah. Like for example, after I would dance, I would look on the floor and I’d be like, wow, everybody hates me because there’s no money. Zero money. Zero dollars. 

AMD: Yikes. Okay. 

NS: Not just one or two. You want to cry. Oh, I suck. I guess I suck and that’s fine. I’ll just go sit in the corner until it’s my turn again. And then one of the girls came up to me and she’s like, you have to go around after you’re set.  And you have to be like, I don’t know… “Did you like my show? Could I have some money now?” Yeah. Yeah. And I sucked at that too. You know, like there’s a, there’s a skill set to being able to be like, “Hey, give me money.” Or, you know, you got to have your tips and tricks. And that’s something I kind of learned, you know, by the third calendar girls, I was like, uh, you know, I was able to go around the room and have a conversation and collect money from these people.

AMD: So you found it to be awkward and difficult at first?

NS: Yeah. And that’s not pole dancing. 

AMD: No. 

NS: That’s like, that’s communication. 

AMD: Yeah. Yeah. Communication, flirtation, um, extraction, all of those things. 

NS: Yeah. That’s a lot more entailed than what I’d prepared for, which was just my pole dancing. 

AMD: Right, right.

NS: So that was, you know, a nice eye opening experience as to the different dimensions that- strippers have to go through to make their money. It’s not just about pole dancing and doing your, you know, your dance. It’s being able to, yeah, extract.  

AMD: How to literally get them to go into their wallets, pull it out, and give you money for not trading an actual tangible product or like a service like a massage.

You’re just like, hi, I’m cute and I deserve money. And it’s challenging

NS: I do think like entertainers for sure of all sorts, like I don’t care if you play the flute, you deserve money. So if you’re over here looking cute, you know, you got dressed, you got ready, you smell good, your hair looks good, your makeup’s on, your outfit’s kicking, and you’re killing it on the pole. God. 

AMD: That takes time.  

NS: That’s a real job. 

AMD: Yeah. That takes time. Even when, um, people hit me up on Instagram and they’re like, Hey, do you sell your panties? And I’m like, I’ll send them like one picture and they want all these other pictures. I’m like, pay me now. Yeah. It takes time to do that, to get the right lighting, get the right angle. Then I might want to edit, like, my skin graft scar out of the picture.  You know what I mean? So, and then they always ghost at that point. So yeah. Gross. 

NS: Thanks for wasting my time.

AMD: That’s why I don’t do that anymore. Um, but yeah. Okay. So. Anything else? Wasn’t there something in Florida?

NS:  Um, oh yeah, so I did, uh, I think it’s called, um, Pole Champ USA or Ms.

Pole. 

AMD: Ms. Pole Champ USA, 

NS: that’s right. Ms. Pole Champ USA. I, um, I judged that competition and it was literally the best competition I’ve ever seen. Okay. So for anybody that doesn’t know me or follow me, a big part of my, um, career in the last like five to seven years was  I was traveling to judge all these competitions and all of them were not in the strip club. They were all in theaters or, you know, venues. And so this was the first competition that I was judging in a strip club. And now these girls have to do a 10 minute act.  Okay, there’s three songs. The first song they come out, they got all their gear. They got a two, three thousand dollar worth of costume, okay?

You know, it’s like, sequins, custom, you know, props. And then they sort of strip down to something more like a regular sort of pole dancing wear, you know, bikini ish. And then they, you know, they do their acrobatic act. And then their last act is like, the highly sexual, like, you know. Glitter oil and, you know, water, whatever, you know, something when they lay down the towel, they get in the g string and 

AMD: highly sexual, 

NS: highly sexual, yeah, it’s super like, it’s the part that’s the most interesting to watch because you’re just like, wow, watching glitter just drip down somebody’s butt crack. It’s like,  where else are you going to get this? You know, this is the best kind of entertainment you’re going to get. And so I was really inspired by the whole entertainment factor on top of, I mean, obviously the acrobatic skill is kind of always there in pole dancing, But in the stripper clump competition, they’re not just getting some little rhinestone bullshit bikini. They are going next level on costume props, song choice, theme 

AMD: and tying it all in together. To create a story and an experience. 

NS: Yes. It’s brilliant. 

AMD: Yeah. That, how, the Experiment Rhino Entertainer of the Year competitions used to be like that and I did that three years in a row. So very immersed in that culture and it was like extremely important to, you know, make eye contact and smile. And All of your music had to flow into the next one and had to do with what you were doing on stage. And, you know, I, and I think for me as a pole dance viewer, when I would watch these pole dance competitions, I would just get so bored. So bored because they would pick one song and it was like very contemporary, which listen, I’m no hate on that, but it’s just not, I’m just coming from like the Super Bowls of pole dancing. Um, To, like, let me dance barefoot to, like, classical music. 

NS: Wah wah.

AMD:  You know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. So, anyway, I’m, I’m glad that you were able to see that and participate in that because you’re definitely, like, identify as a pole dancer. 

NS: Yeah. 

AMD: And that’s how people see you. Have you, have people ever thought or asked you if you were a stripper before a pole dancer? Was that kind of a misconception?  

NS: Um, I used to do dance class in, when I was in community college, and all the girls there used to ask me like, oh, are you a stripper? And this was even before I even taught pole dancing or did pole dancing. So I think maybe people used to be like, oh, this girl, she doesn’t give a fuck, you know, she’s down.

AMD: So even before you were pole dancing, people thought you were a stripper?  Okay. 

NS: Yes! Which is weird, because like, I’m a stripper. I’m not really slutty by nature or like, that skanky per se. I was an engineering student. You know, it’s not like I was dressing up to go to school. 

AMD: Maybe it’s because your hair was really long.

NS: Maybe. I don’t know what it was. But like, you know, so in the pole dancing world, yeah, I think a lot of people thought I was a stripper. And I never like, told them I wasn’t. Because I was like, well, I worked at Jumbo’s, and I’d be down if I had better hygiene practices or whatever like, you know, like I, it’s not that I’d be opposed to it. It’s just not what ended up happening. Sure. And so then I, I didn’t want to say I was a stripper because I don’t feel like I got the street cred. Right. So I don’t want to claim something I’m not, you know, it’s like saying, Oh, I’m a doctor, but I don’t have a PhD. It’s like, uh, yeah, so I can’t really say I’m a stripper because I didn’t really do the time, you know?

AMD: Yeah, totally. 

NS: But I’m somewhere in between, I guess. 

AMD: So, what do you think about what, as more of a pole dancer, what do you think about when you see these, like, comments and hear these conversations that people are having about, like, you know, “not a stripper” or, you know, “I’ve never been a stripper and I would never do that.”

Or my favorite, “pole dancing comes from Chinese pole from the 15th century.” Yeah, what do you think about all of that? 

NS: Um, well, okay, let’s start with the Chinese pole thing because that’s like I can’t. The easiest one to just like 

AMD: So annoying. 

NS: I mean, here’s the thing is like, let’s look at all of the skills that we learn and practice in a typical pole class today. Right. Not from Chinese pole. However, like me personally, I mean, I studied everything on YouTube when I first started and Chinese pole was part of it, which was like, you know, that’s why I always called Chinese handspring Chinese handspring, not because of Chinese people or whatever, but from the Chinese pole, that’s the grip they would use.

So you know, I do think that there obviously is a crossover when you’re talking about serious acrobatic skill set. But that’s like at a comp, you know, competitive level and you’re really trying to get all these skills. Most things that are happening in a pole dancing classes like, you know, exotic, sexy dance, sexy flow, low flow, you know, which is more stripper ish.

AMD: Yeah, definitely. I think that, I think that you just made a really good point that there are some aspects of pole dancing that could be tied and linked to Chinese. Um, like if we look at Ken Cao as an example, like he’s, a male and he jumps from pole to pole like right, but I almost said strippers have don’t do that But depending on what club you go to wait, 

NS: I seen you know, Cricket jumping off the ledge  exactly  

AMD: Yeah, she’s referring to Cricket at Jumbo’s clown room who stands on the railing in 8 inch heels and jumps back backwards onto the pole. You’re right. Yeah, you’re right. And then like, I’ve even seen strippers like hang upside down by their feet from the rafters. Yeah. So again, like, okay, I’m flip flopping. I’m flip flopping. 

NS: I mean, obviously some acrobatic ideas also come from anywhere. It could be a Chinese pole. It could be a leaf blowing in the wind. You can get acrobatics ideas from anywhere. air, you know, so, but when it comes to like actual stripper content and people saying like hashtag not a stripper, this, this can be also helpful to the industry, right? So I could see why strippers would be irritated about it because it’s kind of like saying, “Oh, I’m not doing what you’re doing.”

But. We don’t know the tone when it’s a text, you know? Like, what if I put a, this, you know, crazy acrobatic combo and then I, you know, did some highly sexual movement, stripper style, and then I wrote hashtag not a stripper. I might be trying to educate people into saying, pole dancing is also outside the strip club. 

Which is kind of what tends to happen a lot, is like, oh, I run into somebody from high school, like, hey, I heard you were a stripper. It’s like, okay, if I want the conversation to end there, I’ll just say, yeah, I’m a stripper, because I don’t want to explain to you, “well, I’m not really a stripper, I really do,” who cares? 

So, but then the other part of me wants to explain to this person, well, there is an industry outside the club. And in case you didn’t know, I’m not a stripper. Even though I kind of look like one and I like to dance like one, but I’m not an active stripper, right? 

AMD: Yeah, that’s an excellent point. There definitely needs to be education on the different styles and I suppose you’re right in In one way, I’m sure there’s someone who would argue and I like to invite anybody listening to this show to make an argument against Nadia saying that using hashtag not a stripper can actually be helpful. 

NS: It can also be hurtful. It can also be like “I would never strip because I’m too good for that,” you know, we don’t know how the context, you know, 

AMD: Yeah, but I want to invite another perspective, not because I want to like, make you wrong, but because just to open up this dialogue in this conversation, because honestly, that’s the first time I’ve heard that perspective on that particular hashtag, and I think it might be because majoritively in text, it is that way. It is the way of, I”’m not like that.” So, I’ll give you an example. I came across a dancer on Instagram. I don’t remember her name or who she is, um, but she definitely wasn’t a stripper, but she was wearing a dress, the high heels and she was wearing dancing exotic and wearing the little shorts and then one of her posts was an image of  It said it was some meme that basically was like “I’m stronger than you and no I’m not a stripper “or something like that and I was like girl like I wrote to her. 

NS: Why are you so mad though?

AMD: I wrote to her and I said I understand you’re not a stripper, but could you Could you be more friendly in your explanation because now you’re just marginalizing this group of people that you’re emulating like you’re dancing like strippers and dress like strippers, but you’re making very clear and sort of like, “fuck you, I’m not a stripper kind of way. And it’s, it’s not very chill. And I think that’s where a lot of strippers are like…

NS: “What are you doing? 

AMD: What are you doing to us? 

NS: Wait, you want to look like me, but you don’t want to be me. Right. 

AMD: Right. Because what I actually do is something you would never do, and you think it’s cool. It’s gross. 

NS: Or frowned upon or whatever. 

AMD: And at the end of the day, it’s, it’s my choice. Like what does my choice with my body have to do with you? And they will argue because I’ve seen it before. “Well, by you doing that, it makes me look bad because I’m pole dancing.” Like I’ve seen comments where it’s like, “we need to separate from strippers because it will, it makes pole dancing look bad.”

NS: But to who though? 

AMD: To pole dancers, because the strippers are doing it and claiming that they originate and then the poll, the pole dancers get mad. We have these debates on United Poll Artist posts all the time.

NS: I mean I could see, I could see it. Like let’s say, example, you’ve never been a stripper and you live in corporate America and you pay hundreds of dollars a month to go take all these classes, you’re learning all this stuff, feels so good. You, you go out and you’re, you’re posting and then a co-worker’s like, “Oh, you look like a stripper”, you know? And then more, I’m just mad that you don’t know how great what I’m experiencing is. You know, this man only knows pole dancing from the media or TV and says like, “Oh, I know what strippers do”, you know, like strippers, ride my lap for 20 bucks. Uh, you know, You know, like he could easily be saying that. Yeah. And she’s just irritated that he doesn’t get it. Yeah. Like, look, bro. Like, sure, strippers do lap dances, but also like, look at all this cool stuff I can do. So it might be more anger towards the people that only want to categorize you as a stripper. And it’s more just lack of education for everybody. 

AMD: Well, yeah. And most people, especially the person who’s getting mad at the uneducated person. Right. That means that. That person who’s getting mad also needs to be educated, that everyone around you is uneducated. 

NS: So your job is to educate. 

AMD: Educate yourself, educate others.

NS: Yeah, spread the word. Yeah, yeah. 

AMD: And so my message has been like, just, you don’t have to get angry or defensive when someone’s like, “Oh, are you a stripper?” Because when you do that, you’re sending the message that 

NS: You’re against that. 

AMD: You’re against it or you’re better than that. And by, by, and that’s why I talk about classification a lot because if you’re trying to be like, I’m above that, then it sends the message to the already uneducated that-

NS: They’re below 

AMD: They’re below and therefore we can treat them like shit, but not you because you’re somewhat better than them. But you know what I mean?  Like it really, yeah. And that’s why I really try to. In my messaging, be clear, like, just calm down if someone gets the wrong idea, and just explain to them calmly, and if they don’t get it right then, they might later, or they’ll hear it again, later.

NS: I think it’s more about, like, patience. Like, “look bro, I’m at work”, you know, what if you are that crazy? corporate girl that is doing pole dancing after work and you’re just like, “I don’t want to have to explain this to you, but like you’re so wrong”, you know, like I’m definitely not a stripper because I’m in a pole studio and we already discussed the things that strippers have to do. Right. It’s really not related. 

AMD: No, it’s not. So I always say that some pole dancers strip and some strippers pole dance,  you know, and so you take the two circles and then the little Venn diagram, there’s. Yeah. Stripper pole dancer.  you know, and that’s one of me. I’m that exactly. Yeah. 

NS: That’s perfect description. So it’s more just about like getting irritated on having to feel like a broken record to some people. 

AMD: Definitely. 

NS: Because even, I mean, I experienced that too. Like when I first started pole dancing, my boyfriend was like, literally the words that came out of his mouth were, “why are you pole dancing? That’s for girls that are dumb. And you’re not dumb.” Frisco. And I was just like, obviously I wanted to, I was so hurt and aggravated and frustrated that he didn’t get it. Right. You know, and at that time I wasn’t even in the studio. I was just ignoring him and pole dancing in my bedroom. You know what I mean? So he was just upset that I was ignoring him and found something that I loved. And then I would show him my videos and be all stoked and he’d be like, “what are you doing?” You know, and so it took so many years for me to try to explain what All the good feelings and all the accomplishments I was, you know, getting from pole dancing. And so it took years to be able to educate him enough. And now he’s like, you know, fully supportive. But it took years. And I couldn’t be mad at him because what the fuck does he know? He knows nothing, you know, about the pole dancing industry or strippers. 

AMD: Yeah, you’re right. It’s just constant education. Do you remember the one time we were, it was me, you, and Mina, we were in a van going from the airport to somewhere in New York. Okay. And the driver, first of all, how we even got in that car, this van, is shady as fuck. Do you remember we were all of a sudden, we were like, “wait, what the fuck, whose van is this?” Cause they came up to us at the airport and they’re like, do you need a ride? And we’re like, Oh yeah. And so we skipped the taxi line. Yeah. And so we get in this guy’s van and we all like, we’re like maybe a mile into the trip and we all start looking at each other like, “wait, what did we do?” And then he asked us all, “Oh, what are you guys here in town for?” And all three of us were like,  “Silence. Crickets. We don’t want to tell you.” A book convention. We already think maybe we’re getting sex trafficked. Yeah. And if you think we’re strippers, then, you know, we’re just perfect candidates for what you’re looking for. 

NS: It’s not funny. It’s not funny, but yes, I remember that. 

AMD: It’s not funny. Yeah. And, you know, just, 

NS: But we’re laughing because it does. Yeah. Yeah.

AMD: But we, none of us wanted to tell him what we were there for because we didn’t want to have the conversation. And this was back in two thousand and Nine. Yes. Nine.Nine or ten. Something like that. So, in, that’s like a long time ago. Oh my god, that’s ten years ago. Bruh. Oh my god. So long ago.  Um, but yeah, and then we ended up saying a dance, dance competition. We didn’t say what type. 

NS: Classic move. Yeah. 

AMD: Cause back then it was like Even worse than it is now. We just didn’t want to have the same conversation. 

NS: It’s annoying. And then it’s, it’s never short. Right. You know, you gotta go back and forth and explain the whole thing and then you’re like, for what? You know? But it is our job. In my, in my mind, that is our job. We have to continue to educate people so that they can stop acting so stupid. It’s the only way. And only we know. Right. So we’re, we’re that people. Right. To have to do that. 

AMD: So, your story, I’ve heard it a million times, I think it’s like one of the most interesting stories ever because you used to be an engineer and then you quit that life to pursue pole dancing. Yeah. So, you know, tell us a little bit about that, what that was like.

NS: You know, I’ve always been passionate about dance and it was always something that was like part of my blood and I just loved it. And so when I was in community college, I got to do dance class. And then when I moved to a technical university, they didn’t have any dance classes. And so I was kind of trying to find something that was like, you know, for adult females, which there’s not that much dance available.

And I was always like, you know, there’s around the time when YouTube was booming. And so, you know, there was like, 20 pole dance YouTube videos. And I watched them and I was like, these are, this is so cool. And so I put a pole up in my room and I would just do it on my own time while I was, you know, getting my education.

And that’s how I discovered X-Polesitions and that’s how I discovered the first pole dance and competition outside of this strip club. Pole Star Invitational 2008 ran by Miss AMD . And you know, that was huge. That’s like, you know, how we met and everything. And that was in 2008. And so. I just like immersed myself in pole dancing, you know, through my education as like a part time job. It was just super cool. And I did competitions and really loved it. And as soon as I graduated, I kind of thought,  okay, well that was fun. And you know, everything in society leading up to that moment said, “you did a good job, Nadia. You graduated and here you are. Here’s your, your big fat corporate paycheck and your 401k and your PTO and your medical insurance.”

Whoa, you know, and I was like, this is cool. I had a great run with pole dancing I have some some titles and I’ve done some things and I’m feeling really good to just leave it behind me and I started my engineering career and it was exactly what you think it is. It’s waking up early dressing in Drab clothing and sitting in a cubicle and trying to accomplish somebody’s task. It’s a lot of work. 

AMD: Like somebody else’s idea. 

NS: Well, yeah. You know, it’s like, hey, we’re, uh, we’re going to take this whole, uh, oil refinery and make it from an analog to a digital system. Here you go. Oh, tons of fun. Super fun. Right? And so, you know, I was working on that and it was a great job. I had more money than I ever knew what to do with. It was four miles from my house. It was incredible. But honestly, like six, seven, eight months in, I realized like- Holy shit. This could be the rest of my life. I see nothing but old people here. Is this gonna be me? 

AMD: And there’s cubicles, right? Yeah, you know fluorescent lights.  

NS: Yeah, AC blasting. Water coolers. Totally. Shitty coffee. Yeah, the whole thing. So it’s just like these people are so content and happy and comfortable And this is what they do. All day. Every day. Monday through Friday. And it was just like, it started to weigh on me and give me anxiety and be like, you know, how do I, how do I do this for decades? And at the same time, I was starting to get emails like, “hey, do you want to come teach in Brazil? “ And I’d be like, well, fuck yeah, I want to go teach in Brazil. Mm hmm. Um, but I have a job, like, let’s see. And so I basically used all my PTO, all my sick leave within the first six months of the job. 

AMD: I don’t know what PTO is.

NS: It’s paid time off. 

AMD: Okay, thanks. 

NS: Things we don’t know nothing about in this world. Yeah, so we don’t know about that anymore. I haven’t got PTO since 2009 or whatever.  

AMD: Oh my god, I wish I could get PTO. 

NS: Oh, can I just take a PTO day?  A sick day where I still get paid? 

AMD: That’s so cool. 

NS: That’s crazy, right? So then, so then honestly, I, I, I tried to, to have both lives where I was like traveling for pole dancing on the weekends and then, you know, not being able to come in, jet lag, trying to work 60 hours. It was insane. So I ended up just completely losing my mind, having a mental breakdown at work, crying, screaming, and like ending up in one of those like 72 hour holds at Kaiser when they’re like,  

AMD: Were there like, was it like walls? It’s like, where they-

NS: I mean, it’s like, it’s kind of like a nice jail.

AMD: Do they take your shoe laces? 

NS: Um, they give you issued clothing  They basically, you know, try to treat you really nice because this is what happens like mental breakdown from corporate America. This happens to people, you know, they lose it and that’s pretty much what happened. It was like “Wow” I was trying to juggle 15 things at the same time and I couldn’t and I just burst into tears started cursing I was like Um, I threw like a miniature stapler towards my boss and it was like, I just completely lost it.

AMD: Like one of the little guys. 

NS: Okay, not the super little ones, but more like a medium one. 

AMD: Oh. 

NS: Okay, but not the heavy one. And it was just more of a reaction. Not that I was really trying to hurt him, you know, but that’s what happens when you just lose it. When you don’t have enough support, sleep, you’re overworking, and you’re working on a project that does not feed you passionately. You know, it doesn’t, it didn’t speak to me. I was just a slave to this, you know? 

AMD: Didn’t you have to go to Alaska or something?  And there was like polar bears around? 

NS: Yeah, we had to do like, literally 48 hours of polar bear training for, you know. Which sounds cool when you’re talking about like polar bears, the type of polar bears we are, but no, not those kind of polar bears, like real polar bears. And I was like, I don’t want to go to Alaska. Like, I want to go to someplace warm. Like, why can’t you put me on this project or that project? Like you’re gonna send me to Alaska? Like, not that interested. And so like, you know, all these things, like none of it was feeding me. It was just a paycheck.

And it was just a security blanket. And I think that’s why I ended up just like losing it. And So what happens in corporate America when you have a mental breakdown is they pay you to go get help. So I was issued anger management and stress management. I had to go to Kaiser like, you know, ten hours a week to do these therapy classes.

And they gave me the maximum, which is six weeks paid time off because of a medical condition. Okay?  So I was like, okay Nadia, you know, you take the six weeks because clearly you need them.  And I did all the stress management, anger management, blah, blah, blah. Those six weeks finished. And I was like, okay, here’s that Monday, I’m gonna get up, took a shower, get dressed, drive to work.

And I saw the parking lot and I started getting like a panic, you know, like a panic attack or some shit. And I was like, I’m just gonna drive home and I’m gonna try again tomorrow. And I didn’t go to work. I did the same thing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 

AMD: Panic attack in the parking lot.

NS:  Got ready. Drive. Look at the parking lot. Say,  I can’t do it. Friday, I was like, bitch, you ain’t going back. And that was it. So then I was like, okay, I need all the poll gigs that I could get because I don’t have a job. Anymore. And so I’m going to say yes to everything. And so that was, I want to say that was early 2012. So since early 2012, I’ve been a 100 percent fully funded pole dancer. You know, like. That’s the only, my only income. 

AMD: Yeah. And so, you have won. competitions all over the world as doubles with Mina Mortezaie, now Mechanic, and as yourself. Can you just like, name a few? 

NS: Um, I think the one that really like, gave me something and like sent me off to my first European tour where I actually made money was, um, California Pole Dance Championship 2012. And that was a big one. I think because I had placed second in 2010 and 2011, so many people were just rooting for me. And they wanted it so bad. so bad and that year was like, 

AMD: Well, I was there in person for it. It was actually really incredible. I’m going to see if I can like pull a clip for that one for the, uh, good old channel. You can hear my voice in the background during certain yelling moments. Yeah, it was a really incredible moment  for you. And for all of us, quite honestly, you changed a lot of people’s lives that night. I’m sure. 

NS: Like, honestly, that was the piece where I was like, I am down to die on stage. I don’t care if I lose my teeth. I don’t care what happens. This is mine. I am taking it and I’m putting everything that I’ve ever had into this because I just left an engineering career. I just left like all this stuff and it was just like, what is happening to my life? Let me leave it all on stage. And that was the first time I ever like danced in a way that it was like, just, I had to. It was like there was no maybe. It wasn’t for funsies at that point. It was real life. 

AMD: Yeah. So like all leading up to that, you just knew it was yours basically. Yeah. Like you made yourself believe it. 

NS: Yeah. I was like, sorry, everybody else in line, you’re not getting it. Yeah. And it was the only time I ever really felt like that. Because I needed it. Yeah. I left a fucking career. I just spent six, seven years in, in, in school to study and I just left it after six months, seven months. Can you imagine what that’s like? 

AMD: Yeah, no. I’m trying to think. 

NS: Like, where you just dedicate all this effort. My full time student, student loans, all my life was just dedicated to education. And then I just left. 

AMD: Well, I think that you’re really fortunate that your, your body, And you’re like subconscious was communicating with you because I’m sure that there’s plenty of people that are receiving messages from their subconscious and they’re just not able to listen and to, to make that choice you made. And then they do find themselves as an older age, like what have I been doing? And it always reminds me of this comic, this one particular comic by Jacq the Stripper where it’s like a woman in a cubicle. 

NS: Oh, I love that. 

AMD: And on the other side. Inside there’s a stripper peeking over and she’s saying, you’re so much better than this job.

NS: I love that one. It is my absolute favorite. It’s like tattooed in the brain. I thought I remembered it as like, the stripper crawling and she’s got like her stilettos and her fishnets and she’s like.

AMD:  Yeah, well there’s probably more than one. This one she’s like peeking over, she’s like, her knees are on like the rolly chair and she’s got her stripper shoes on. But yeah, it’s yeah, but it’s just like, because the way I feel about corporate America is like you’re just wasting away indoors all day. Like how is that any better than what I’m doing? 

NS: Yeah, it’s not right. It’s equivalent. It’s a job, right? 

AMD: That’s what I guess. I think that’s when people start to insert like morals.

NS: And that’s like a whole other conversation, right? Because like none of us would ever dare want to see a. pretty dancing lady. Yeah. How immoral is that?

AMD: So they partake and then they call us immoral and shit on us in the process. 

NS: Now here’s another theory I have about all this is that this has to do with like sexual fantasy and stuff like that. And honestly, like personally for me, I can’t really get off, um, with the idea of knowing that what I’m doing is like fully accepted. It almost turns me on knowing that like, you know, Jesus thinks it’s a sin. 

AMD: He doesn’t by the way. He doesn’t. 

NS: Well, aren’t we supposed to get married or whatever? 

AMD: Most people think that Jesus- the real Jesus didn’t think that, but that’s what people want you to think.

NS: Well, I wanna, I wanna, like, believe that Jesus is upset with me when I’m having sex. And it makes me- 

AMD: Oh, okay. Sorry, I didn’t mean to fuck up your fantasy, friend. 

NS: Well, yeah. Thanks. You know? Like, now I gotta dig deeper. And so, you know, like, there’s something that’s really highly sexual about like, it being bad. Okay. And so like that’s, I think maybe another reason why people wanna be like, oh, strippers are so bad. But that’s only like to turn me on more as a 

AMD: Oh, gotcha. 

NS: As a customer. Okay. So like, it might not really be shitting on you directly as Annemarie, you know, this dirty, bad stripper. It’s more just like, oh, like, oh, you’re a bad girl, right? This is bad, right? Yes. Please tell me it’s bad. 

AMD: Yes, daddy,  I’m so bad. Yes. I’m a freak 

NS: But exactly. I feel like that’s kind of why we as a society want to shit on strippers is really just to get ourselves off a little bit more. 

AMD: Man, you’ve got some really interesting perspectives.  It’s just, so it helps them help us for them to shit on us. because it makes them feel better, more turned on, and therefore they’ll give us more money. And  so it’s like this. 

NS: Yeah, if you just say, Hey, it’s okay to strip. It’s okay to go to a strip club. Suddenly it’s not that cool anymore.  So we kind of need it to remain taboo. We need to remain like dirty, dirty sluts. 

AMD: That’s fine. I’m fine with the taboo. But what I’m not fine with is like the abuse that takes place and that that’s where and then it starts to get gray that you know what I mean? 

NS: Well, it’s like do you want to get choked only sometimes? And not that hard. Yeah, you know, so it’s like this fine line of abuse and sex that’s like when is it hot and when is it going too far? 

AMD: I’ve done that. I’ve almost choked myself out on sex  

NS: Oh, I know that act. 

AMD: Like passed out. Yeah, I would like tie a thing and some, I just get really into it and I pull too tight and before I knew it I was like, oh right, I can’t breathe and there’s like 200 people watching me. You start clutching at the thing at your neck. 

NS: So you know, it’s the line, it’s the fine line where, you know, we exist.  

AMD: Um, yikes. Okay. So, you know, you’ve also. After, like, throughout your pole dance career, you transformed yourself once again into a business owner, clothing designer.  Tell us about Twisted Movement and what that journey has been like for you, and what inspired you, also.

NS: God, there was, there was so many things. I’ll be dead honest. It was like, after about four or five years of traveling, um, it’s not fun anymore. I was sick of living out of a bag I was sick of not really being able to claim my income so I look like a loser to the IRS I was you know sick of just not  having the things like an adult would have in corporate America and because it would take so much more for me to do that and I was like making money but not enough to have great medical insurance and not enough to have a 401k and not enough to do.

You know, all the things that I could have had at that age. And so I started getting aggravated and every time I would say like, fuck, I got to leave somewhere. I was getting stressed out. I wasn’t like. 

AMD: To leave home, you mean? 

NS: Yeah, I wasn’t enjoying my traveling life anymore. And what sucks was that I still love traveling not as much and as heavy and heavily reliant,  you know,

AMD: let’s explain to people who don’t know what it’s like to travel as an instructing pole dancer. So you’re staying in other people’s houses. Very rarely do you get put up in hotels because events are right because everyone’s trying to save money. You are beholden to like whatever the culture and the food is there. So your diet is constantly changing. Um, And we have to fly under the radar because there’s no, there’s nothing that supports us in our work because society is still like,

NS: It’s really difficult to get the right paperwork for every country. It’s very expensive.

AMD: It’s nerve wracking as shit. And then when you’re traveling with eight inch heels, you’re always worried that you’re going to get searched and they’re going to think that you’re doing all kinds of illegal shit. So that even for me, even, um, Even if I was traveling for fun or whatever with my heels, I was always stressed out because they will always have the wrong idea  Because they’re uneducated So yeah, it just got it gets stressful..

NS: Yeah, my body was not happy My inner energy was not happy like 

AMD: You’re not really sightseeing as much because you go there to work. 

NS: We’re working Yeah, so even if you’re jet lagged your belly hurts, you haven’t ate right you’re tired. You got to teach you got a show Perform you got it Do what you’re hired to do. And so I started just like basically becoming bitter and I was like, “Hey, Nadia, this isn’t fair. There are so many people that would love this job and now you’re just being a little bitter bitch and you need to make this better for yourself.” And so the way it kind of started was.  I arranged six weeks off for myself.

AMD: PTO? 

NS: I gave myself PTO.  I paid myself. Where I was like, you’re staying home. Yeah. And you’re just going to listen to yourself and you’re going to catch up with your friends and family that you haven’t seen. And you’re going to just immerse yourself in what life at home is like. And I loved it so much and I just thought, how can I still travel, but do it less often and make more money? This is literally what I want. I didn’t hate my job, I just It was too much. I was traveling too much and missing a lot, but I needed to travel a lot because it was the only way I could make money. It was my only income. And so I started like wondering, like, what could I do, you know, I want to, I want to be able to sell something on the road.

People are so excited to take my, my workshops and, you know, they could easily like buy a tank top or buy something to help, just help me make a little bit more money if I can make a little bit more money at all my gigs and give something, you know, valuable in return, then I wouldn’t have to go as often.  But I didn’t want to rush the process and I wanted it to be something that was close to my heart and something really close to me and something that I really loved and something that was functional.  You know, so I started with like my little bandanas and warmers, and that was super dope. 

AMD: Yeah, because nobody had those.

NS: Yeah, and it was like, you know, my picture and my, my skeleton tattoos. And it was, it was really nice. And I didn’t feel bad selling them because it’s a good product. You know, cool. Now I have 200 bucks in my pocket. So now that’s already more helpful. You know, it’s a little by little, I was like, you know, just trying to give myself more time at home and trying to just enjoy my life so that I would be happier when I was traveling. These people pay a lot of money to take these workshops And so when I show up, I know my job is to give to them, you know give me to them and my energy and so-  Then I came across this onesie in a discount like on a discount rack and it was sewn like backwards So like the front was facing the front but then the pants was facing the back. It was all messed up. It was snakeskin. It was like five bucks. I was like, you know what? I’m gonna figure this out Okay, I’m just gonna take this home And so I started cutting it up and I made it like a halter top so that even though the top was backwards It didn’t matter cuz I just made it work. I lived in it until it died. It lived like two years. And I was like, Oh, I just can’t let this onesie die. Like, it’s my favorite thing. Yeah. And so I took it to a seamstress. And I was like, Could you remake this? And then the onesie was born. And so then I would make like two or three for myself.

And then my friends would borrow it and not give it back. It started looking good on everybody. And I was like, I’m gonna sell onesies. And I would make 20 and then they would sell in a few years. fucking day. Yeah. And now I had a little bank roll and eventually what happened is I, I put 1,500 into a business account.

And then I said, okay, I’m going to build a website. AM came through. Yes. I built your first website. You built like my first three websites. I mean, we got better every time. Yeah. And so, you know, I started putting business money into business and I, I let that continue to grow. And essentially what happened was it would take me two or three weeks to get onesies, you know, to get the fabric, get them made, take the pictures, list them, and then sell them. They would sell out in a day. And I’d be like, okay. 

AMD: In one day? Yeah. All that work, one day, gone. 

NS: And now I have nothing to sell for three weeks. 

AMD: Shit.

NS: Okay, so then I was like, oh, what do I do? Okay, I’ll think about it later. It’s Pulse Show LA.  I need to perform and I’m dancing a seven nation army and it was like around Trump time and I was fucking pissed Yeah, like, you know, it’s time for war or whatever, you know Mm hmm, and so I had this like really cheap on like 10 forever 21 army, you know leotard and I was like But I really want to do this like jade allegra thing where I need some hip and so I just started cutting this 

AMD: She’s just talking about pole dance moves right there.

NS: I don’t even know 

AMD: Jade Allegra. 

NS: I don’t even know if that’s the right name 

AMD: Well, yeah, so she needed skin extensions So, um, I’m not really exposed to be able to stick to the pole is the point. Right. And that’s why you cut up the outfit. 

NS: Yeah. So I did that hip grip. Yeah. And so I started cutting up this like, you know, cheap bodysuit and it turned out super cute. And I was like, Oh my God, I love this. You know, people are like, Hey, where’d you get that? I’m like, Forever 21. They’re like, Forever 21 like, Well,  okay, okay, I did it. And the girls started giving me their bodysuits. Like, could you do it to this one? Could you do it to this one? I’m like, for the homies, sure. But if not, I’m like, Oh, it’s 20 bucks or something, you know? And so one thing led to another and I like released, uh, a sliced bodysuit that said vibing on it. Yeah. And then that was like sort of the beginning of this sliced collection where it was just started cutting up all these basics. Yeah.

AMD: And now you have your own work studio space because you used to work from your home.

NS: Oh my god. I used to work from my 700 square foot apartment. That I shared with somebody. Like, shared with my boyfriend. It’s awesome. Really difficult task to try to run a website.  

AMD: Yeah, it was awkward. 

NS: Yeah. You know, you can definitely see all kinds of crazy designs on twistedmovement.com. Okay. And, you know, the space that I have is a dream come true. It’s 1 750 square feet, and it’s like an amazing studio, crazy lighting. We have parties in there. We do videos in there, photo shoots. We make all the pieces. It’s like a Amazing. Yeah, it’s my little haven. 

AMD: Yeah, so in the last like 10 years, you’ve definitely reinvented yourself again and again and again.

NS: I feel like that’s a necessity for people in the arts. You know, it doesn’t matter what art you’re doing, you eventually, like, I think you have your like staple, you know, the, the vision that people have when they think of you. And that’s kind of in your control and kind of out of your control. Right. And then, you know, you could just- that in itself can, can hurt, hurt you or make you. And so like, you know, you were talking about contemporary pull. It’s like when that was hot,  I was not. Nobody was hiring Nadia. 

AMD: 100%. I was the same, same position. 

NS: Like we didn’t get gigs. Cause we were, you know, we looked too much like strippers. We still wore heels, hair down, rock and roll music. Like, you know, that wasn’t the jam. It was like, wear nude and be barefoot and dance to some mwah mwah or whatever, you know what I mean? 

AMD: Do interpretive style dancing. 

NS: Whatever, you know, whatever. Like we were all just trying to prove to whoever that we were, you know,

AMD: legitimate or whatever. 

NS: It’s so stupid. Like, who cares? Once again, it’s less cool the more people understand. Accept it. You know? So let’s keep it raunchy. Exciting. And so like, because that was so popular then, like, I think that’s what really sort of slowed my career start. And then everybody was all of a sudden like, “Oh, I want to wear heels.”

AMD: Oh, yeah. 

NS: Oh, like, Oh, it’s super cool to look like a Russian stripper. You know? 

AMD: Oh, yeah.

NS: But thank you. Because now I have lots of work, you know, and now it’s, you know, relevant to dance that way. And so we’re kind of dictated by whatever is trending and depending on how versatile you are. You know, how much work can I get? It’s like, oh, sporty camp? Well, okay, I got some tricks. Whatever. I teach barefoot often. Um, and then it’s like, oh, okay, it’s an exotic. Okay, well, I could kind of tap into that too. Or, you know, just having to be versatile enough to stay relevant or reinvent yourself to say, I’m, I’m still here, I’m still available, and I’m still, I still have something to offer. But it’s really difficult in the art,  

AMD: Yeah. You’re right. I guess it does. A lot of things go with trends and then like, there’s the, like the way social media kind of ebbs and flows and changes and switches and having to keep up with that and maintain content and like, what’s the next hot platform to be on and am I being shadowbanned? Yeah. So it’s like constantly thinking on your feet, reinventing, trying to figure out how to stay relevant. Definitely. 

NS: Yeah. It’s a lot of work. It’s the type of work that you wake up thinking about and go to sleep thinking about. Yeah. You know, it’s like, how do I book this thing or how do I, you know, um, get people to be interested in learning from me, you know, or whatever it is, or how do I get them interested into buying the products that I sell without, without it being 

AMD: like a whole other game. 

NS: Yeah. Pushy or weird, but just like genuine passion. 

AMD: Well, because that’s trending  marketing and sales without being pushy and salesy is, is actually trending. It’s being more like real. And I said this before. to somebody not that long ago, it’s like, being more authentic is actually trending right now. 

NS: I’m dead.  

AMD: But it’s true. It’s true. And I hated that I said it, but it’s real. Being authentic is trending. What the fuck? I don’t know. It’s like It’s true.

NS: It’s like artificial genuineness or whatever, you know, because it’s It’s not that genuine. You can’t get the real feeling unless we’re talking just like this. Yeah, that’s true. So you’re asking me to type my authentic or genuine feelings. I’m like, But it’s it’s really hard to do. 

AMD: It’s it works better. I think I don’t want to be like and today on 30 percent off on all things Queen of Sexy like it can’t talk like that.

NS: It’s a whole nother game to be honest. Like that’s the first thing I’m happy to pass over to somebody else. Like could you just post this for me? Yeah, I’ll just think about it too much. Yeah. And then I’m like, what am I thinking about? Like the whole the whole social media thing. Do you remember when we didn’t have social media? Like before Instagram? 

AMD: Yes. Before Fa I’m trying to think before Facebook. We had MySpace. Yeah. But that was different. Yeah. Oh my god. It’s so crazy.  Remember when we didn’t have cell phones? 

NS: Yeah!  Remember we used to play outside and have fun?  It’s crazy, you know? It’s a new world.

Stripper Tip

NS: So I think here’s my stripper tip is, and this is again, to just like help with the educational process of just like  helping all of the ignorant people out there. Mm. Is if you are a stripper and somebody’s acting  not right at the strip club Try not to just get angry and at them and try to kick them out. Try to actually explain to them why what they’re doing is wrong and that you’re actually a person and this is the way that you should act and don’t do that again because it’s actually disrespectful. And when you do that, I think they’re going to feel really stupid and they probably won’t do that again and they’ll probably tell their friends not to do that either.

AMD: Would you suggest that if If like a civilian person sees that same type of action and if they have an opportunity to like basically see something, say something. 

NS: Yes. And I think it’s about all of us. It’s all of our duties for those of us that know better to do better and share that information with other people. You know what I mean? Like for example, like don’t put a 1 bill in your mouth and can we talk about that? And hang over the edge and expect this dancer to be like, Oh, let me come close to making out with you for $1. Right. If you’re going to do that, at least put a 20 

AMD: Or a hundred

NS: A hundred, obviously. Okay. But at least realize what you’re doing costs more than a dollar. Okay. So realize like, we’re not, we’re not, you know, make believe people. We have to go to the grocery store too.  You know what I mean? Like, dancers have bills, too. 

AMD: We do eat food. Yeah. Like, we go to the bathroom. 

NS: Like, a lot of times people dehumanize. Yeah. I do that, too. Like, think about when you’re in third grade with your teacher and you saw your teacher at the grocery store and you’re like, that’s weird. Yeah. She goes to the grocery store, too. Well, yeah. You know? So, like, sometimes we  make up these stories about these dancers that they just, they must have all the money in the world because that’s all civilians think is that strippers are just full of money.

 And so-.  Don’t put a 1 bill in your mouth. Yeah. And if you see somebody doing that, ask them to exchange it for a bigger bill. 

AMD: Yes. Yeah. Yes, queen. There we go. Nice tip.