World Champion Pole Dancer Marlo Fisken
photo: New York Times

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ariel Interviews with Pole Skivies

From pin-up modeling to pole dancing, Ariel is taking New York City by storm!

I understand your background is in modeling and pole dancing in NYC. What has that experience been like?

Pin-up modeling is fun and helps to pay the bills, and pole dancing is my passion. I was born and raised in New York City, so instead of seeing it as a large, daunting metropolis, I see it as my quaint, little home. Everybody does a little bit of everything in NYC. A lot of my pin-up model friends are also amazing photographers and journalists, and some of my pole dancing friends are lawyers and engineers.

How did you decide to take up pole dancing?

About two years ago, I was booked to go-go dance this show at a venue with these huge poles. I thought I would make a lot more tips if I learned just one or two things to do on those poles, so I started taking classes at Crunch gym about a month before the show. Pretty soon, I was hooked. I kept taking classes and noticed that I was getting stronger, more flexible, and more in tune with my body. Pole dancing has changed my life, it has given me mental and physical strength, introduced me to magnificent people, allowed to me express myself, and restored flexibility that was compromised from back surgery. I recently started teaching pole in order to share its benefits with others.

You are one of the PoleRiders pole dancers. How’d you land that gig? What’s it like poling down the streets of New York?

My friend PlayJoy was one of the first PoleRiders. After hearing about all of her amazing rides, I contacted Andrew Katzander, the genius behind PoleRiders, and arranged to take a spin. My first pole ride was last November; it was freezing, yet exhilarating. I love creating a spectacle in the streets of NYC, I love how everyone whips out their camera phones and asks, “What is THAT?!” when we peddle by.

What do you like to do when you’re not pole dancing?

Hip-hopping, go-go dancing, rock climbing, biking, yoga, lots and lots of stretching. I like to be moving all the time.

Favorite makeup tip:

Apply mascara with a mini-fan brush instead of a mascara wand.

Barefoot, sneakers, or platform heels?

Pole dancing in heels – I like to clap them together to make certain tricks more dynamic.

Favorite grip enhancer:


Pole dance move that made you proudest to learn:

Right now, it’s the twisted grip handspring, but I get excited when I learn anything new.

Pole dance pet peeves:

Cattiness and cliques among dancers. Let’s support the crap out of everyone we dance with, no matter where they are in their pole journey!

Favorite treatment for bruises and sore muscles:

Figuring out what animal my bruise looks like.

Who would you most like to have in the audience when you pole dance?

Dita Von Teese!

Who is your hero or role model?

All of my friends and fellow dancers are superheros. They look damn fine in a cape, too.

What are your favorite words of encouragement?

“Me, We” (Muhammad Ali).

Favorite pizza toppings:

Cayenne pepper, basil.

Cupcakes or ice cream?

Lychee ice cream.

Anything else you’d like to share:

NYCers: take my pole dancing class at, or email me about private lessons.

I admit I’m a little crushed out on PoleRiders – it just seems like the coolest way to travel I’ve seen yet. If you want to know more about them, read these other interviews about PoleRiders.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cannondale Hooligan Review

I have never done a product review on this blog but the Cannondale Hooligan has captivated my interest to such a degree that over the last few days since I first spotted one at my LBS I have felt compelled to tell all of my cycling friends about this very cool little ride. As best as I can tell the Hooligan has been available in Japan, UK and Europe since 2008 in a single speed or 3 speed version. The US version is available with an 8 speed derailleur listed for $649 or a Sram internal 3 speed for $979. The 3 speed also comes with better brakes and better tires as well as the single bladed Cannondale Lefty Fork. The Delta-V frame and Lefty fork are borrowed from Cannondales progressive mountain bike designs.

I would describe this bike as fun, quick, agile and durable. The front end picks up very easily to wheelie over obstacles and the handling is very responsive; more like a road or 20" BMX bike than a mountain bike although I am curious to see how it would handle on a trail with fat tires. Visually the Hooligan is unique and almost futuristic. At first glance the form of the bike reads "folder" but conceptually it is really much closer to the Moulton Bicycle which has broken speed records and has been ridden around the world. Alex Moulton has a lot to say about the advantages of small wheels that is worth looking into especially in light of the 29er/ bigger is better philosophy that currently prevails. Briefly, smaller wheels accelerate faster, are stronger, lighter, more aerodynamic and provide a lower center of gravity for better turning.

I don't own a Hooligan yet but I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 3 speed in black. Here is the 8 speed in white with a conventional fork. I wish they painted the fork white. The plainer paint jobs on the earlier versions are less distracting and do a better job of showing off this beautiful, well resolved design. I also prefer the old stem and bars.
Previously I have not been a huge fan of the Lefty fork because I tend to favor symmetry however in this instance I think I would be willing to try it and I am sure it will perform just fine. Despite my prejudice I know that there is a lot of reasoning and sound engineering that has gone into Cannondale's development of the Lefty and it has been use for years on the most demanding race courses not to mention the use of single bladed forks on motorcycles and airplane landing gear. On this bike I think it enhances its hip visual appeal.

I see the innovative Cannondale Hooligan developing a cult following and becoming the Beetle of bikes. I predict a lot of people will buy these and customize them and a lot of accessories will become available such as a seat post mounted water bottle cage and rack/panniers as well as fenders to make it even more commuter friendly. The compact size makes it perfect for small apartments, parking next to a desk at the office, throwing in the car, or carrying it up a few flights of stairs without hitting the walls on the turns. It seems like it would be the perfect bike for so many types of riders. Especially pole dancers!