If you rest, you rust,” says Travis Scott. A mantra that the professional pole dancer has been applying to his life for as long as he can remember.
While a gymnast as a kid, the Australian, later trained in classical ballet, modern jazz, contemporary dance, and graduated from the Queensland Dance School of Excellence and later University of Technology. He then began burlesque and cabaret dancing, rising to be one of Australia’s top dancers. Striving for more, he took all his training and gave it a vertical twist; on a 50mm chrome bar. And that was the beginning of That Pole Guy.
The result of his hard labor comes in a form of different prizes. Winner of Hong Kong 2011 International Pole Dance Championships, 2012 Australian Pole Fitness Championships, men’s division and 2013 Australian Pole Fitness Championships women’s division, this athlete doesn’t just dream, he’s an over achiever.
But unlike the chrome bars, it has not all been shiny and smooth. For starters, there was an injury that set him back a year; the devastating loss of his biggest supporter, his mum, before she could see his first pole performance; and of course, breaking into the pole dancing scene had its challenges. He had to push boundaries to step in.
Not a stripper, an athlete
There were gasps and jaw drops, condoning or admiring. “When I did the athletic and sportive side of pole, people were awed at the strength and control; and those who had thought pole dancing was more stripper than athlete were most surprised,” remembers the Australian of his early days.
One of his biggest challenges has been to promote pole dancing as an athletic activity so more guys join in. Sadly, he often hits the door of the gender stereotyping preconceptions. One thinks of a local video gaming society and it’s hard not to picture a group of guys. Someone mentions yoga and one immediately pictures rows upon rows of women stretching towards the ceiling. Pole dancing? Strippers of course. Anyone can understand the battle Travis Scott is facing.
And his fascination for the burlesque world doesn’t always help him in his quest to get more guys to pole dance. To focus on the shape and form of the body, the entertainer uses drag and gender bending costumes, but not everyone appreciate that. “When I came out in these costumes, some were shocked,” he remembers. But it’s all part of his personality. “I actually enjoy looking directly at them and watching the confused ones,” he says, thinking about his audience while performing. Whether ripped and tone or seven inch heeled and in drag, stud or seductress, That Pole Guy still shocks the audience.
These days he dances on each end and mostly in between, mixing masculinity with lava hot feminine sensuality. And he has earned the right to. The dancer, who now lives in Paris, brazenly pushed boundaries everywhere he goes from the bars to the theater Le Palais des Glaces, guest performing for the World Premier of Gala des Champions in Paris.
Though That Pole Guy has built up a name and fans, along with it comes haters and detractors. He is often called derogatory names, including freaks and even a faggot but he takes it in his stride and with a grain of salt, but not before dishing out a snide remark. If confidence seems to come easy to him, it’s only because he has suffered many verbal and physical abuse growing up; for being different. It is with self-love and living by the motto ‘you have to love yourself or you can’t love anyone else’, that he got through the tough times.
Written by Livian Lin