…continued from The Bobbi Interview Part 1: All About The Pole
The thing I’ve always found most intriguing about Bobbi was that she spent many years as a cabaret and striptease dancer in Japan, a fact she’s always been comfortable with people knowing. So I really wanted to find out about that time of her life, when she first started pole dancing. After all, despite her being a true veteran in the industry by now, everyone starts somewhere…
Okay, so I know it was 20 years ago when you first started teaching yourself to pole dance, but what did you struggle with back then?
When I first started teaching myself, I got a pole in my bedroom and I was very determined to get the left leg hang. (aka the gemini) And I really, really struggled with it because I had no one to teach me how to do even an upside down V first! No one was teaching then. The move I knew before that, was like, the bodyroll. I didn’t know anything else! I just saw a left leg hang once, and went ‘Must do!’
So I went from standing upright, to just wanting to get into left leg hang. And I didn’t know what was in between. I couldn’t grip properly, the pain behind my leg was just crazy and I just remember trying over and over and over, and just being red and raw, and still going for it! Then eventually getting it, but with all the wrong techniques! So that is very clear in my memory… the battle to get the left leg hang!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Red wine and cheese! After a good day, I love to go home, watch a video of what I did that day, and then turn everything off and sit and watch a movie with my husband with wine and cheese. I do it every night without fail! If I don’t, I can’t unwind.
( *Inner Showgirl was BPS Sydney’s in-house ‘reality show’ about 4 ordinary women getting transformed into pole dancing showgirls within 10 weeks.)
That was fun wasn’t it! We were hoping it would get picked up by one of the TV networks, but it didn’t. I think pole dancing is a big gamble still, to the media.
Really? I thought pole was so big in Australia, like, on par with yoga!
You know what? Every country thinks that about every other country. It’s so funny!
I say in Australia, ‘It’s so cool in Singapore, that they’re really accepting it there’, whereas here, you’re like, ‘It’s so cool in Australia that they’re so accepting.’ And then I say, “Americans are so open-minded.’ But the Americans say, ‘No, they’re not, You’re so open-minded!’
So we all think the opposite, it’s really quite interesting. Australia is okay but not media.. they’re still a bit funny about it. Like I tell people I’ve had my company for 8 years now, and I think, ‘8 whole years!’ And still interviewers go, “So, Pole dancing! This is a new rage, huh?” And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you’ve just heard of it?!’
(Laughs) I love this question!! Cos it is all about the hair! Yes, I’ve always had super long hair. Have you?
Yes, I have Rapunzel syndrome.
(Laughs) Yeah that’s what it is, isn’t it! Have you ever cut your hair and gone through that heartache?
The last time I ever cut my hair short was when I was a teenager, and that was a long time ago…
Well I only got it cut short once when I was in Japan. Someone dared me $3,000 that I wouldn’t cut my hair. The next day I got it cut off and he paid me $3,000. True story!
Could you share a little of your experience from dancing in Japan?
Absolutely! It was the best time of my life, and made me the person I am now.
I went there when I was very young, about 20 til I was 27. I lived there dancing and doing cabaret shows and then I started in the striptease industry, doing lap dancing and strip tease. And I loved every minute of it!
It wasn’t sleazy, it wasn’t dirty, it wasn’t corrupt in any way. I got a very strong work ethic out of it, in fact. You learn how to take care of yourself, and as an exotic dancer, you work for yourself. So if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. No one pays you for sitting in the back corner. You have to get up and work, and get rewarded. So that has sort of played on for the rest of my life, knowing that you can’t just sit back and expect things to come to you, you just have to work at it. And if you’ve got a gift, well work harder! And it’ll reap in the end. So Japan was the background for everything.
I lived there with my sister too, so every day was a funny situation of these two young Australian girls who knew nothing about life, trying to make everything work together in a strong cultural country.
Kind of like, Lost In Translation?
Yeah! (Laughs) I think it was a good we were young, cos we were naïve and a little oblivious to things going on around us, considering most of the patrons were 40, 50, 60-year-old Japanese men, and we were just 20-year-old girls who knew nothing about life. But it worked, you know. They were amused by us, and we were amused that they were amused by us. Sort of like a poodle getting along with a great dane, you know? And going, ‘oh that’s cute!’
Unfortunately, a lot of people go, ‘oh that’s sleazy!’ But it wasn’t like that at all. That’s all it was. I think I came out a stronger person for it.
So I heard you speak fluent Japanese?
I did. That was a long time ago! I still understand it, and I speak a little bit. But I don’t get much opportunity to anymore, obviously, living in Australia. But I can understand and I could read and write it. I taught myself.
I had to! You know, when you’re there.. you just have to. I’d shop for myself, and no one was going to tell me what was toothpaste and what was hair conditioner, you know what I mean?
What’s your fondest memory, or person from that time?
I had a Japanese boyfriend for a long long time when I was there, a much older man. There were ups and downs, but he was the highlight of my being there. Being with him, being treated like an adult and being looked after. He brought me around the world, gave me beautiful things, and I got to see things that I would never have gotten to see as a normal 20-year-old.
And we’re still friends now! 20 years later, we’re still in touch! He’s married with kids now and I’m married too, but he comes to Sydney every now and then and we’ll go out for coffee! And he’s got a club in Japan and I’ve just started supplying cabaret shows. So after all these years, he ended up owning a club, and I ended up choreographing shows, and he got back in touch with me and said, ‘Do you want to provide dancers for my club?’ So yeah, full circle.
That’s so awesome!
I know right?
Do you have a most embarrassing moment?
I’ve had a few but most of them aren’t from recent teaching. They’re probably more from my strip days, like dropping off the pole naked or smashing my head on the stage naked! It’s always to do with being naked, cos that’s when you’re most vulnerable! And I wasn’t very controlled then, I wasn’t very good. So, when you’ve got no clothes on, and when you’re trying to do pole tricks and not really paying attention to your surroundings… well I had a few bumps and falls that were terribly humiliating! But you know, that’s life!
Sounds like that nightmare where you suddenly realize you’re naked in public!
Yeah! But it was real! And there were people looking at me and there were people laughing, and I was in the dressing room afterwards, mortified! It was very real!
But after you’ve gone through that, you can live through anything!
That’s right! That’s why I am who I am! Cos, if I didn’t go through all that.. well you know, I don’t care what people think of me now! Nothing’s worse than those kinds of situations! (laughs)
Just today, I was sitting at the pool with my straps off cos I was trying to get a tan. Then I totally forgot, suddenly sat up, and then my top fell off! And there were all these people in front of me, and I was like, ‘So sorry!’, and put it back on again, and was like, ‘well that was embarrassing!’
Some other women might have been absolutely screaming mortified, but I was like, ‘Oh well, I was just topless at this lovely hotel.. whatever! Maybe it made someone’s day!’ So yeah.. everything with a grain of salt. As long as you don’t hurt anyone!
Thanks Bobbi, for the fabulous interview and for sharing these awesome, rare photos with us! 🙂