World Champion Pole Dancer Marlo Fisken
photo: New York Times

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Austin Lee Dylan: Pedicabbing Pole Dancer

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to finally meet Austin Lee Dylan at Yaffa Cafe. As far as I know she is the only pole dancing pedicab driver in existence and will be joining PoleRiders for the 2010 Gay Pride Parade in NYC. Lee has generously shared her story for the PoleRiders blog.

How did you get into pole dancing, how did you learn and what do you like about it?

I don't know if I should respond with my life story here... I started dancing as a stripper to support my nomadic lifestyle in Sept '06, mostly in NY and SC. I was always fascinated by the pole dancers. Every clubs had at least one. The first pole dancer I remember seeing was Gucci at Masters in Myrtle Beach when I first started )Autumn '06). The poles there were like 30 ft tall and she would climb inverted all the way to the top and then hang like a monkey off the ceiling. Later (Autumn '07), when I was living in Savannah, GA and dancing just over the bridge on Hwy 17 at the Gold Club, I remember all the black girls having the sickest pole tricks. Outside the club I'd hang out with a lot of stinky hippies and weirdos, and my friends outside the club at the time kept telling me about this girl Stacy, and how I had to meet her now that I was a dancer cos she knew pole tricks and would probably teach me. Every one built her up too much in my head so that when I finally met her with a dude we'd both slept with in between us, I couldn't fucking stand her. So I packed up all my shit and moved to Texas. I decided she was my arch nemesis, and I would learn to pole dance and I would be better than her. Even though I'd never actually seen her pole dance.

So I got to Texas and started working at the Yellow Rose where I first saw fliers for Brass Ovaries pole dancing lessons. The Yellow Rose was home to feature entertainer and winner of many, many Miss Nude Pole Dance competitions Erotic Rain. She would get on the pole and her feet wouldn’t touch the ground for her entire set. I remember standing by and watching her set with my mouth gaping open on many occasions. She was so inspiring to me, but pole dancing lessons weren't really in my budget, as my income had dropped significantly since leaving the east coast. However, Miss Natasha (who was taught by Pole Dance Hall of Famer Mercy Killings, and who teaches/owns Brass Ovaries), was one of the first acquaintances I'd made in Austin, also at the Yellow Rose, and we had become pretty good friends. My stage dancing was crazy and I had a lot of potential, so eventually when she started hosting an open practice at her home for her students (where she wouldn’t teach anything new, but the girls could all practice together), she invited me to come along. I never actually took a Brass Ovaries pole dancing lesson, but I learned from all the Ovaries before we were Ovaries. Mostly I learned just from watching the other girls practice, and we all learned from watching other girls on YouTube. Felix Cane was one of our early heroines. Nashvillepolequeen was my first favorite. There was a lot of Tara Karina in the beginning too. Then Jamilla Deville and Pantera. and Jenyne Butterfly. Its crazy to think right now as I'm writing this how I've only been doing this pole dancing thing for a little over year now..

How would you describe your style?

I stand out from the rest, that’s fer sure.

What inspired you to become a rickshaw rider?

There's an urban legend here in Austin that you have to really hit rock bottom before you end up becoming a pedicab driver.

I got really depressed during the spring for 2008 when the economy first started to take a downturn and there was a lot less money being spent. It's hard not to take that kind of thing personally in the adult entertainment industry, cos you start wondering what's wrong with you and why nobody wants you… the dressing room in the strip club in a recession is not a fun place to be. So eventually I got so crazy with depression that I decided to quit dancing. I didn’t know what I was gonna do, but I was gonna figure something out. I remember being stuck on really wanting to do something sustainable. There was this one Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer I remember being so broke and so hungry I decided I was gonna go downtown and something was gonna happen for me. I thought about dressing up like a bum and sitting on the street with the rest of the crack heads begging for change just to see what that would be like and if I could even get any money. As I was walking up and down 6th looking for something to happen to me, I saw this guy with a pedicab posted up on one of the street corners downtown and I just got inspired to ask him about how his job worked and how he liked it and what kind of money he made and can I just tell you how psyched I was when he told me he worked for cash tips as an independent contractor and paid lease for the trike just like a dancer pays a house fee? I was so sold. Only it took like 2 months to get all my paperwork together cos you need a permit to ride one of these things here in Austin..

What is the pedicab scene like in Austin?

Oh my god I love the pedicab scene in Austin so much. So much. Sooooo much. It is the best boys club I could have possibly gotten myself into. Don’t get me wrong, chicks pedicab here in Austin too, but you know, they're the kinds of chicks that make unshaven grease-smeared legs look damn good. I ride for Capital Pedicabs. There are several flavors of average pedicabber in Austin really, probably the most common is a kind of hipster/bike-punk hybrid—but nobody wants to be identified as a hipster, even though they tend to be some forward-thinking people around here. Personally, my favorite part about the scene here is getting together at the pedicab shops after work where the drinking/trading stories/bonding/competing with each other takes place [the drunker they get, the more likely a 'cock comparison'—like the time there were the arm wrestling tournaments, or the time they were measuring each others calves with tape measures to see who had the biggest legs, or the one time ill never forget, the mud wrestling on the floor of the Dirtnail shop- it was literally pedicab fight club till dawn.

Do any rides or customers stand out?

Somewhere on somebody's computer somewhere there is video footage of hopefully the only ride I ever really, really wanted to punch in the face. Oh, man! This woman just got under my skin with her self-righteousness, but she tipped me $40 at the end of a downhill ride 4 blocks down 6th st. Good thing I kept my mouth shut even though I kept giving her the evil eye, huh?

What other kind of riding do you do beside the pedicab?

I don’t really ride at all other than pedicabbing. Part of the reason I was so enthusiastic about pedicabbing when I first started was cos I hoped it would get me to ride my bike more. So far it hasn’t. I'm a driver. Have been since I could drive. I would love to transfer the security I feel in having a motor vehicle onto my bike.

How does being a cyclist impact your life?

I'm not really a cyclist and so I feel a little shame at being such a car driver.

Please describe your other bike(s)

I have this one piece of shit 13 yr old brand new bike (I got it for Christmas the year I was 12, rode it once, and that year decided I was 'too cool' to ride a bike-what foolish nonsense!) sitting in my living room that I had spray painted gold in hopes that it would motivate me to ride it more. But I don’t ride it at all.

In your bio you talked about quitting a lame mall job and hitting the road. Was that a positive experience? any good stories?

Did I not include the part about where I cut off all my hair? Of course it was a positive experience! I was breaking away from all the standards and boundaries and limitations and expectations that I felt had been placed on me all my life because I was finishing school, and I remember thinking about how all my life I just obeyed what I was told to do cos I was in school, but now that I was done with school, I was FREE. Totally free to do whatever I wanted. And I wanted to travel, cos I thought travel was the best way to get a real education (as opposed to an institutionalized education). Growing up in New York, you get to thinking the only places in America are New York and LA, and everything in between is a wasteland full of stupid uncultured people. I didn’t really believe that could possibly be true, especially after all the Jack Kerouac novels I'd read throughout high school and college, so two weeks after I graduated college, I packed up my little Toyota Camry and, as I like to say, turned my license plate into my address. I spent the next two and something years going back and forth between driving around the country [mostly up and down the east coast] and squatting around in Westchester County where I grew up in New York. If I start to think about it, there are probably too many good stories from that period of time for me to even begin getting into them.

As a pole dancer and pedicab rider, what did you think when you first heard about PoleRiders?

Oh my god I wanted to pole dance on that thing SO BAD! I entered Pole Superstar just so I could ride on it if I won…I didn’t make it past the semi finals tho..i had a horrible video..

Would you like to be a PoleRider? Any plans to visit NYC?

I would LOVE to be a PoleRider, and I look forward to doing so for NYC's Gay Pride Parade!!!

What are 3 or more cool websites you would like to share with readers. (Any topic)

I'm gonna be shamelessly self promotional here, check out, [cos shes our photographer and she is BAD ASS] and our flickr is You can also follow me on Twitter @Thunderpusss.

What is your ideal vacation activity and destination?

I have a hard time taking vacation cos I'm addicted to working. But I do miss the beach.

Please describe Brass Ovaries where you work.

Although we now have a studio location, Brass Ovaries isn't so much a where as a what. And I say this because were kind of all over the place (we have semi-secret half-serious fantasies about being a traveling circus--probably because Brass Ovaries as a performance group has roots that spring from traveling to New Orleans for Voodoo Fest in '07 and '08).

We've been in our current studio on South Congress in Austin for 6 months, but we had another studio just up the street for 2 months before that. We teach mostly private pole dancing lessons and pole dancing parties at our studio. But we also teach a group beginner class outside our studio at our sponsor (Forbidden Fruit is the first and oldest female owned sex shop in America)'s retail location on North Loop. But Brass Ovaries isn't just a pole dancing school, we're also a performance group as I mentioned above, and we perform mostly at various locations around downtown for various events all the time. More often than not, we get hired by a band playing at a bar downtown to dance to them playing live, though we have also been hired for some swanky stuff, like the Austin Ballet fundraiser. Currently we've got two Platinum stages with I think 7 or 8 foot poles and a ton of sandbags to weigh them down. Before we had the studio, we used to actually go to people's houses for pole parties, and we'd be hauling all this stuff around all weekend till your arms just wanted to fall right out of the sockets and you never wanted to see another sandbag again. In the end though, I suppose it made us a lot stronger for better pole tricks...

What are your current favorite songs to dance to?

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

CCR – I Put a Spell on You

The Beatles – Come Together

Heart – Barracudda, Crazy on You

Cage The Elephant – No Rest for the Wicked

Pony – [covered by] Far

David Bowie – Lets Dance

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams

Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus

Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box

NIN – Physical, Head like a Hole, Closer, etc[pretty much anything by NIN]

The Sword – Winter's Wolves, The Horned Goddess [they're from Austin..]

And I have a minor crush on Lil Wayne, I never pick his songs to dance to on stage at work, but hell, its good music to dance it was written for the strip club.

What is your favorite food?

Currently, rice. I love rice. I love pretty much any kind of rice, but my favorites are probably wild and brown. heh. And you thought I was going to say pancakes ;)

If you could spend 24 hrs with any person from past or present history who would it be and what would you do with them?

I would want to spend the day with Ninon D'Enclos, a famous seventeenth century french courtesan whose, in my opinion, 'feminist' thinking was radically well ahead of her time. She's kind of an idol of mine.

What do you do for fun when you're not working?

I have a lot of fun socializing with the world thanks to all three of my jobs [adult entertainer, pole dance instructor, pedicabber], so when im not working, I stay home, tidy my apt, do dishes, smoke out the window and sleep all damn day cos I hate alarm clocks. Its not a bad life. Not bad at all.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Did I forget to mention I plan to take over and own the pole dancing industry? Cos I do.


misschee_vious said...

Makes me so PROUD that this type of BadA$$ery is happening only in Texas. She's one heck of a NY who honorably holds the name of AUSTIN LEE.

Scarlet Charlotte said...

Fantastic interview! I often forget what an amazingly varied scene Austin. Austin Lee is going to be divine as an NYC PoleRider.

pole dancing lessons said...

Great interview. Always good to see how others got into it.

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