By Curtis L. Isom, Founder/ Editor-In-Chief
Sometimes getting behind has it’s advantages…….
This year I’ve been fortunate enough to cover two events from Sinsational Features – StripperRama 2 at The ShowPalace in Darien, WI and The Feature Dancer National Championships & Pole Dancer National Championships (FDNC & PDNC) at Mademoiselle in Buffalo, NY. I was originally going to write one article, but decide to do two with this one covering StripperRama 2.
But if you think this is going to be an ass kissing article because I support/advertise Sinsational Features events, plus have friendships with the owners Dakota Skye and Thomas Hischak, you don’t know me. From talking with both Dakota and Tom, they EXPECT me to be frank and honest when I write about their events.
I admit it had been awhile since I covered any sort of competition, and felt my skills were a little rusty, but after a few clicks of the shutter, I had my groove back. And yes, besides being good events, there were things I thought shouldn’t have happened or could have been done better. I’ll start with an overall synopsis, with some highlights, then summarize my opinion including what I had issues with. Any criticism given is from personal observations drawn from experience covering similar events combined with a wide theatrical background and expertise. So while I’m photographing a competition, I’m also viewing it with the eye of a director/actor/designer/technician/audience member which provides a wider viewpoint to share from.
So if any of the Entertainers I mention are upset by what I say, so be it. I think you’d rather have me be honest than try to bullshit you like others would. So, here we go……..
Held at The ShowPalace in Darien, WI, from July 30 thru August 1, 2015, the competition format for StripperRama 2 was simple: Entertainers have 12-15 minutes to present a full Feature Entertainer styled show. This is also one of, if not the only competition, that doesn’t have an entry fee which is nice since the competitors already spend enough money getting to the event.
Now the odd thing was neither Dakota or Tom were at this event. As I understand it, this was because the owners of The ShowPalace thought it wasn’t necessary to have them there. Interesting. But when you’re somewhat at a club’s “mercy” sometimes you have to play along, so running the competition was Tony Hall from thestripmall.com. I don’t agree with the club’s decision not wanting Dakota and Tom there because this is the Sinsational Features’ brand you’re dealing with and having someone else run their competition can have unforeseen negative consequences.
Judging this competition were five of the hottest Feature Entertainers around today – Jordan Skye, Artemis Moon, Katie Sutra, Trinity Turner, and Isis Haze. A very appropriate group of judges when you have a group of newcomers trying to break into the Featuring. Now there were only six contestants – Daisy Mae, Chanel Marie, Krystal Dawn, Stacy Lynn, Miss Kaliyah and Ruby Ryder, and from this small group I saw a number of potential Feature Entertainers in the making.
Hosting the show was DJ Michael Toast who I consider a “Gold Standard” of emcees. Most emcees feel the need to be on stage as much as possible to make the show as much about them, if not more so, than the entertainers. Not Toast. He’s on stage only when necessary and usually worked the show from among the crowd. He kept the event’s focus on the entertainers and showed a level of respect to each rarely found from other emcees. Even though he’s called a “Las Vegas Bad Boy”, he’s a total gentleman sporting an incredibly cool Mohawk.
Night One: During the opening night greeting from Toast, we learned that besides the six contestants doing shows, the judges were doing shows as well which meant each night the audience was treated to eleven (11) performances. If you weren’t there you missed out on some amazing shows. First round of the competition stated with the six contestants doing their gown walk. Then the opening act was Artemis Moon after which was the first of the Newcomers Daisy Mae followed by Chanel Marie, Krystal Dawn, and Stacy Lynn. After a brief break, Feature Entertainers Trinity Turner and Jordan Skye performed then it was back to the final two newcomers Miss Kaliyah and Ruby Ryder. Closing out the night’s performances was Isis Haze and Katie Sutra. As I stated before, from a theatrical point of view, all the newcomer’s shows were good, some better than others, but I can always tell when someone’s not into their character which affects their performance. I could tell there were some “first night jitters”, so I waited to see who would shake them and arise to the occasion. It’s also exciting to see what shows new talent comes up with because it reflects the level of their imagination and understanding that they are there to ENTERTAIN the audience. Of the six newcomer’s performances, Krystal Dawn’s Prince themed show was my favorite. Not because I’m a major Prince fan, but from a theatrical point of view, it was the most thematically cohesive and consistent newcomer’s show of the night from start to finish and the audience loved it as well. As for the Feature Entertainers, I was already a fan of Artemis Moon and Trinity Turner, so I was excited to see Katie Sutra, Isis Haze, and Jordan Skye perform for the first time. Outstanding performances from all!
The attendance for Night One, a Thursday night, was small but I could tell everyone was enjoying what they came to see.
Night Two: With “first night jitters” gone for the Newcomers, the second night of competition with all new shows began. After DJ Michael Toast’s greeting, the crowd was treated to the six newcomers in a bikini walk. WOW is all I can say! After that Katie Sutra took to the stage and the audience got an added “treat”. During Katie’s “Ride for $5” portion of her show, the other four judges were waiving their money, but hadn’t gotten on stage yet. Standing behind them, I couldn’t resist and handed Isis Haze $20. That’s all they needed. You’ve never seen four ladies clear a stage wall so fast and line up to get their turn with the “human vibrator”! Katie Sutra’s eyes got wide when she saw them coming, but I think her smile was wider and a great time was had by all! My regret is not having this on video instead of in pictures, but again you never know what’s going to happen. After that, the Newcomers hit the stage starting with Krystal Dawn, then onto Chanel Marie, Miss Kaliyah, and Ruby Ryder. After those four shows, Feature Entertainers Isis Haze and Trinity Turner performed, then Newcomers Stacy Lynn and Daisy Mae. Of the six newcomer’s shows, I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite, because they were almost all on about the same level entertainment wise. But I have to give credit to Daisy Mae and her Harley Quinn show because of the intensity and high energy she brought to the stage. Doing female comic book villains is a tough challenge, but Daisy Mae is certainly up for it. Closing out the night was a Michael Jackson themed duo show by Artemis Moon and Jordan Skye which was so hot that I’m amazed my camera didn’t melt!
Since it was a Friday night, the attendance for Night Two was up from the night before and from Katie Sutra’s “Ride for $5 Free-For-All” all the way thru to the Duo of Artemis Moon and Jordan Skye, if you were there and couldn’t find something you liked, you must have been asleep.
Night Three – Finals: The club was packed for the Saturday night finals. Usually, the competition format has the top three scorers going into the finals, but with only six competitors, the decision was made to allow all of them to do another show. By this point, I had my top three picked in my head. But knowing how competitions go, I waited to see if any of the other three would bring something new that would rank them any higher. Starting off the night was another great show from Isis Haze. Since the final scores had to be tabulated, all six Newcomers took the stage in one last attempt to score as many points as possible with the judges. Chanel Marie began the entertainment, then Ruby Ryder, Miss Kaliyah, Krystal Dawn, Stacy Lynn, and finally Daisy Mae followed. After watching these six do their final shows of the competition, my top two hadn’t changed, but I had a toss-up for third place. So after the judges sheets were gathered and the final vote tabulation began, we were treated to the remaining judges taking to the stage for their last time with Jordan Skye starting followed by Artemis Moon, Katie Sutra, and finally Trinity Turner. After Trinity’s show, and a brief intermission with house dancers, the stage was then set up for the awards ceremony. The ladies were back into their gowns and looking just as beautiful waiting to see what their hard work had earned them.
First up was the Mini Titles which were awarded as follows:
- Best Show: Krystal Dawn
- Best Props: Krystal Dawn
- Best Costumes: Ruby Ryder
- Best Butt: Krystal Dawn
- Best Legs: Miss Kaliyah
- Best Breasts: Daisy Mae
- Prettiest Face: Stacy Lynn
- Hardest Body: Chanel Marie
- Best Pole Performance: Chanel Marie
- Hottest Stage Personality: Krystal Dawn
- Audience Favorite: Daisy Mae
- Best Dancer: Chanel Marie
Now Mini Titles are always subjective in my opinion, but in this case, I agree with these choices. I also think some Mini Titles should reflect who the overall winners is, but I’ve learned that rule doesn’t always follow true. So when the Main Titles were awarded, I wasn’t really surprised. Those winners were as follows:
- 2nd Runner Up: Chanel Marie
- 1st Runner Up: Krystal Dawn
- Overall Winner: Ruby Ryder.
As I said before, after seeing the Newcomers do their last show of the competition, my top two choices of Ruby Ryder and Krystal Dawn was no surprise. Personally, I think Krystal Dawn deserved Overall Winner just as much as Ruby Ryder because both did outstanding performances. Based on my overall experience and expertise, this basically came down to “a toss of the coin”.
As for the remaining four contestants, the potential to make it as Feature Entertainers is they if they FULLY COMMIT to do the necessary work. For Miss Kaliyah though, I’m not sure the commitment to the work is there. She claims having 20 years experience as a house dancer who puts on “quality feature shows” (her words). But at StripperRama 2, I was disappointed in what I saw on stage. I also know she’s desired a chance to see if she could make it as a Feature Entertainer and was given the chance to do the “Texas Tour” as one after StripperRama 2. But after working in two clubs as a Feature Entertainer, the reviews weren’t very favorable. I think Miss Kaliyah maybe ok for doing competitions and house dancing, but don’t see being a Feature Entertainer suiting her. Sometimes you have to know your personal limits and accept them. I’m not picking on Miss Kaliyah and have told most of this to her personally because I’m not sure after 20 years, she understands the true meaning of being an entertainer. This is a honest assessment of what I saw her do during the competition and what happened after the event to serve as an example for those who want to succeed in this business.
I can’t stress this point enough – ANY entertainer who takes the stage is there to ENTERTAIN the audience and being on stage is an empowering experience! Basically walking around on stage, taking your clothes off, pouring wax, paint, etc…. on yourself, doesn’t mean you’re always ENTERTAINING the audience! You could have a great body and still bore the crowd. If you can’t understand this and take it seriously, stay off the stage, and maybe get out of the business. To really make it in this business, it takes (and needs) quality entertainers, not “so-so” performers trying to fake it. This business has to up it’s standards in who you have on stage if you want to keep your customers coming in.
But I digress.
Overall, I thought StripperRama 2 was a success. The crowd each night had a good time which is always a positive sign. Of all the newcomers shows, again my favorite was Krystal Dawn’s Prince show. Of the Feature Entertainers who performed as well, I don’t have one particular favorite because they are ALL my favorite! Each one is unique in their own way showing why they are the highly sought after Feature Entertainers of our industry today.
As to being a “fair and transparent” competition, I have no problem saying StripperRama 2 fits the bill. But as I said before, there were things I had issues with and here they are:
- Dakota Skye and Thomas Hischak missing: Again, I disagree with the club’s notion that the owners of Sinsational Features didn’t need to be present. This is the Sinsational Features’ brand and they should have the right to be present to ensure their brand and event is being handled properly. If they aren’t able to be present, then they need to have a representative that makes sure the Sinsational Features’ brand is upheld and respected in the highest regard. StripperRama 2 is part of the Sinsational Features brand in showing part of what they bring to the “industry table”.
- Signage: There was no signage anywhere signifying this was a Sinsational Features event. WTF? Yes, the emcee can state it during the event, but without proper signage, the audience can get the wrong impression. So what was interesting was on the second night of competition, banners for thestripmall.com were up. Why? If you don’t have banners for Sinsational Features, why would you put up anything else? Unless you wanted to take advantage of the situation and give a misleading impression. I heard numerous people question exactly whose event this was. Was it being put on by thestripmall.com or Sinsational Features? What does that tell you? But after watching Tony Hall being more interested in trying to recruit new girls as possible and shooting as many video promos for his website said volumes. Being disrespectful towards someone else’s brand like Sinsational Features is not only wrong, but shows what type of unethical businessperson you are.
- Judging Sheets: There is NO EXCUSE in any competition that after a competitor performs and is judged, that those judges sheets shouldn’t be collected. This is the ONLY competition I have seen this NOT happen. BIG NO NO. Even though the owners of Sinsational Features weren’t there, the one in charge of running the event, Tony Hall, should have made sure the sheets were collected after a competitor’s performance. With the judges sheets not collected, and the judges away, this allows for things like other people going through and seeing how a judge was scoring the competitors or the sheets being lost. Luckily I took the time while I was there to keep watch over them. Wasn’t my job, but someone had to do it.
- Other photographers: If you agree to shoot at an event, make sure you can make it for EVERY night of the event and don’t show up late. It’s called being professional and ensures an event is being fully covered. If I say I’ll do your event, I’ll be there for every night of it. Also unless it’s Halloween, if a photographer decides to show up, don’t wear some stupid costume like Ricky Rich did in an attempt to draw as much attention to himself as possible. It’s not only unprofessional, but shows such a blatant disrespect to the ladies performing on stage.
I could nitpick a few other things, but there’s no point because the four main things I mentioned above have a direct impact on StripperRama 2 and the Sinsational Features brand. Some may think that the four I mentioned aren’t worth much, but the Adult Entertainment Industry can be a cutthroat business like any other so protecting your company’s brand should be Priority One! So be careful of who you pick to represent it because they may not care about your business as much as you do.
Lastly, I want to give thanks to everyone who made covering StripperRama 2 a great time:
- To Daisy Mae, Chanel Marie, Krystal Dawn, Stacy Lynn, Miss Kaliyah and Ruby Ryder: Ladies, CONGRATS for having the desire to perform on stage! If you want to make it, you must work at it because I know there is some new AMAZING talent that deserves to be seen across this country. Keep up the hard work and never stop believing in yourself.
- To Dj Michael Toast: You just rock the microphone like no other! Thank You for everything!
- To Jordan Skye, Artemis Moon, Katie Sutra, Trinity Turner, and Isis Haze who took time out to judge as well as perform. You ladies should be proud of the high standards you’ve set in this business as Feature Entertainers and Thank You for the friendships new and old. My best to you all always!
- To the ShowPalace staff and management for their time and effort in help putting on this event. I have to say this was the best time I’ve had there so far.
- To the owners of Sinsational Features, Dakota Skye and Thomas Hischak: Thank You for the opportunity to cover your events. I know you may not always agree or like what I have to say, but at least you respect the honesty when I call it as I see it.
Pictures from all three nights are under the “Event Photos” portion of the website or you can click on any of the following links which will bring them up under a separate tab:
Night Three – Finals: http://eroticworldmedia.com/2015/11/2015-stripperrama-2-pic-set-3-of-3/
Part Two of these articles covers Sinsational Features’ 2015 The Feature Dancer National Championships & Pole Dancer National Championships (FDNC & PDNC). Till then, take care, and ladies….continue to ROCK THAT STAGE as only you do! Peace!