One of the underlying themes in Sexy Baby is the idea of “owning” one’s own sexuality—you talk about how that’s why you first stripped in front of your high school classmates, to show them that it’s something you have control over, and Winifred’s mother comments that she respects Lady Gaga for “owning” her sexuality. To you, what does owning sexuality entail?
Sex is everywhere now. It’s thrown in [teenagers'] faces constantly. For kids, it’s normal—they don’t know anything else.

I got into the industry because it was something that I wanted to do. It is, and always be, a form of getting attention, but I enjoy getting attention for something I’m good at and can do well. To be in control of my own sexuality, my own body—nobody told me do anything. I shared it with the world; from the very beginning, I shared it with friends and family, and anyone who would watch or listen. But it was something that I wanted to do. No one told me to do it, no one encouraged me to do it—in fact, people tried to discourage me from doing it.

It was something that I knew I would be good at, and it was something I knew I could do on my own with my interests and under my own terms. My entire adult career was on my own terms. I wasn’t exuberantly successful, because I didn’t listen to anyone else; I wanted to do what I was comfortable with, but I owned it and knew how to present myself in a very sexual manner, the way I was comfortable doing it.

And some young girls don’t understand the fact that your kind of perspective is even possible.
I think that, also, the digital age has both helped and hurt that issue. Meaning, when stars have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, or whatever other way they can connect with fans, and they post a picture of them having dinner with their family, or just hanging out with a girlfriend—something very, very normal.

When stars get caught by camera carrying their child down a street, and they’re not wearing their full rock star get-up—those kinds of things help, too, because it shows that they’re real people. Like, when stars do zit cream commercials, kids can see that they don’t always have perfect skin. Things like that make them realize that stars are real people, and that they’re not perfect 100% of the time. Well, hopefully they realize that.

They should check out magazine photo shoots before they hit the printing press, too—sometimes, they might even recognize that sexy, “perfect” female celebrity.
[Laughs.] Yeah, it’s all lighting and air-brushing.

At the end of the film, you and your husband welcome your first child into the world: a boy. How has working on Sexy Baby informed how you’ll try to raise him in this digital age?
He’s a year old now, and I think everyday about how I have to raise a gentleman in this society. My husband thanks God everyday that he doesn’t have to raise a daughter in this society. [Laughs.] Not that we won’t ever raise a daughter, but he thanks God that he does have a son. I think everyday how I have to raise a gentleman who respects people, and I think everyday about what digitally I am and how to expose him to that.

I still 100% believe that computers, iPads, tablets, and things like that should not be with a child alone in a room. I do understand that in ten years, when it becomes a necessity for homework or such, it’s going to be a family affair. Keeping my son honest and respectful is definitely more so on my end now, not just because I have one, but because of this project.

Your husband makes a good point: It has to be much harder and more stressful to raise a daughter these days.
[Laughs.] Chris Rock said that his entire fatherhood is about keeping his daughter off of the pole. And I do understand that. I don’t necessarily 100% agree with the wording, but I do understand what he means. [Laughs.]

Obviously, I’m retired from doing films, but I’m still involved with the industry, and it’s an industry that I can see myself staying involved in for the rest of my life. It’s an industry that I grew up in, and one that I love. But, going back to what Chris Rock said, I have been doing national pole dancing competitions all over the country to find more people who have the same enthusiasm and who have natural ability on the strip club stage.

Do you find that a lot of women approach your pole dancing lessons with the wrong motivations or intentions? Meaning, they just went to drop it like it’s hot?
There’s probably four genres of women I work with in the pole dancing arena. One is a plain stripper: She’s going to be a stripper until she figures out what to do with the rest of her life; she just happens to have some dance or gymnastics background, but she found the pole and it came really easily to her. That’s usually a young girl who doesn’t have any other communication skills—she doesn’t know how talk to men in the strip club, so she just hangs out on stage and does her thing.

Another type of girl is someone with a dancer/gymnastic background, she stumbles onto dancing in strip clubs for necessity purposes or whatever, but she really wants to be a competitive pole dancer and step outside of the adult world.

Then, as a teacher, I get two kinds of people. One woman is bored with every other type of fitness, and she thinks that maybe she’ll try the pole to work out. I love that woman. [Laughs.] I absolutely adore that woman, because they respect fitness; they respect the process of pole dancing. It’s very, very intense, and there’s a lot of danger involved, and they’re patient with it.

My least favorite, which is kind of how Jill and Ronna started this project [Sexy Baby], is the woman who thinks that she’s going to learn how to pole dance and go upside down and learn all of these crazy, sexy, awesome things in five minutes, so that she can take it to her boyfriend or husband at home, or to a nightclub, and go, “Yeah, I’m hot!” That’s my least favorite person, because they don’t understand it, they don’t respect, and, most importantly, they don’t have the respect understand that the pole is a very dangerous object, and something that should be treated with a delicate balance of, “I’m a responsible adult, I don’t need to be shaking my butt at nightclubs for guys, for attention, because it’s just not necessary.” [Laughs.]

And does that least likeable woman make up the majority of people who sign up for your lessons?
Yes. I’d say at least 60% to 70% of the women just want to shake their butts and look hot, which I usually pawn off on my assistant. [Laughs.] I can’t deal with those women. I have a hard time if they don’t take it serious; they’re not very respectful to it, and this is something that’s been near and dear to my heart since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 35 now. Anybody who doesn’t take it seriously and isn’t able to learn in the way that I teach, I’m not very patient with those people. [Laughs.]

Who knew that the world of pole dancing was so fascinating—it sounds like you have another documentary just waiting to be made.
[Laughs.] Yes, it actually would be a great one.

Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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To find out more: Sexy Baby

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