by Curtis L. Isom, Founder/Editor-In-Chief
(Note: If you haven’t read the article: “Sinsational Features: Part 1 – StripperRama 2”, I suggest you do that before you read this one. You’ll understand why later on.)
As stated before, I’ve so far covered two events from Sinsational Features. The 2015 StripperRama 2 was Part 1 of these two articles and was held at The ShowPalace in Darien, WI. Part 2 here covers The Feature Dancer National Championships & Pole Dancer National Championships (FDNC & PDNC) held September 17, 18, & 19, 2015 at Mademoiselle in Buffalo, NY. This is the second year for the FDNC & PDNC and for Mademoiselle hosting the event as well. If you haven’t been to Mademoiselle, I highly recommend you go there if you’re ever in the Buffalo, NY area. An article on Mademoiselle will be coming soon after this one, so be looking for that as well.
Again, despite what you may believe, this isn’t an ass kissing article because I know both Dakota and Tom, EXPECT me to be frank and honest when I write about their events. If you have read Part 1 of these articles, then you know I talked about the issues I had with the StripperRama 2. And yes, I had issues with FDNC & PDNC, and will address those accordingly. Any criticism given is drawn from a wider range of personal observations and expertise than most gained from covering similar events combined with my wide theatrical background. As always, any of the Entertainers (or anyone for that manner) I mention get upset by what I say, so be it. I believe in being honest in my opinions rather than try to bullshit you like others would.
I also know there’s some “bad press” being spread around about the FDNC & PDNC, so I’m going to set the record straight. Although owned by Sinsational Features, the FDNC & PDNC is open to ALL Feature Entertainers and has NO entry fee. So if you’ve heard or been told different, now you know the truth.
The FDNC & PDNC format is simple: Entertainers have 12-15 minutes to present a full Feature Entertainer styled show. Since this is their National Championships, the Feature Entertainer part of the competition (FDNC) is divided into three categories:
- Newcomer – for those featuring for less than one year
- Masters – for those featuring one year to less then three years
- Elite – for those featuring for three years and more.
Since this competition has a separate pole portion (PDNC), competitors have the option of also doing a 4-6 minute pole routine as well. You can compete in the PDNC, but don’t have to compete in the FDNC and both have numerous Mini and Main Titles.
Emceeing the event again was DJ Michael Toast who always brings his best and keeps the crowd going. Judging the competition was a panel of five comprised of Tony Lowry, Tony and Allison Hall from thestripmall.com, the GM of Teasers Montana – Henry Kinnick (aka “Buddha”), and Dezarae Hoppe from Bozeman, Montana.
Got it? Good, because here we go……..
Day 1: The day officially started with a meeting of all of the twenty-one (21) competitors. With so many competitors, the Pole portion and the Newcomers Divisions had to be split into two groups with one group performing on Night One and the other group performing on Night Two. The pole portion had eight competitors and first to draw numbers to determine the two groups of four. Next was the Newcomers Division with fourteen competitors drawing for positions in the two groups of seven. For the Masters and Elite Divisions, with only three competitors in each, they drew numbers to determine their position. The Masters performed on Night One and the Elite performed on Night Two. After all the numbers were drawn and other business taken care of, there was a break before everyone headed off to Club Mademoiselle.
Once at Mademoiselle, the ladies headed off to the gaming area of the club which had been curtained off to be used as a dressing room. I have to say that with twenty-one competitors, I know everyone may not like everyone else, but I’ve have never seen so much “sisterhood” in all my years of covering events. Speaks volumes of the professionalism of the entertainers competing. As for myself, I just stayed out of the way while getting ready to photograph the event.
DJ Michael Toast opened the night, welcomed everyone, and introduced the judges. Toast then got the competition started by introducing the ladies as they stepped onto the stage for their gown walk. After that was a brief intermission of house entertainment while the competitors got ready. Then the action began with the first set of pole competitors comprised of Chanel Marie, Calie Rose, Annie Lane, Krystal Dawn performing in that order. After another intermission, the first set of Newcomers to take the stage starting off with Ginger Snaps followed by Daisy Mae, Layla Lynn, Callie Jane, Chanel Marie, Alliyah Doll, and finally Ruby Ryder. Of the first group of seven, Alliyah Doll’s show was the most unexpected surprise of Night One. I loved it! Not saying the other six didn’t do well on stage, because I had a great time watching them all. You just have to see the pictures (and look closely when you do) of Alliyah’s show to see what I mean and I wish I had it on video. Since there was seven more Newcomers competing on Night Two, I “ranked” the first seven in my head, and waited to see what the next seven would do to make it to the top.
After the Newcomers finished, it was time for the Masters Division to perform. This was going to be a treat for me because I’d never seen any of these ladies perform before, just knew their reputation. Angel Beau started off with a show that included a “ladder of swords” and Lego walking, then Reagan Reilly debuted her new vocal skills in an “Alice in Wonderland” show, and finally Cali Rose and her pirate themed performance. All three did outstanding jobs and everyone watching, got their money’s worth. For a Thursday night, the attendance was high which was impressive for any club, but I think the overall quality of the entertainers was the main draw.
Day 1 done, two more to go. Pictures from the first night are here: http://eroticworldmedia.com/2016/04/2015-fdnc-pdnc-night-1-pics/
Day 2: If the first night was any indication, then everyone was in for another treat. After DJ Michael Toast’s greetings, and a competitor’s bikini walk, the second night of all new entertainment began on stage starting off with pole artists Callie Jane, Trinity Turner, Marina Dancin, and Kitty Krossbones showing off their skills.
After seeing all eight pole artists perform, I have to say this: From covering previous events, I have developed a great appreciation for pole artists and what they bring to the pole. I also understand some floor work may be required going from pole to pole. The PDNC doesn’t judge on floor work as other competitions do so if a PDNC competitor was awarded points on their floor work, then the judges weren’t doing their job. They shouldn’t get points towards it, but maybe points deducted if they were doing it more than needed in my opinion. It’s how I scored things in my head. Also when photographing a pole artist, I expect to see numerous pole tricks with transitions in between. If they do floor work…..well……this is a POLE competition and that’s where I expect to see the competitors “strut their stuff” and get the best shots. Just saying……
With the pole portion completed and an intermission of house entertainment, the second group of Newcomers took to the stage. Annie Lane started off with doing her show roller skating on stage then progressed to doing pole tricks with them on as well. Outstanding! Next was Meggie Mayhem, Stacy Lynn, Mile Lucchese, Kitty Krossbones, Krystal Dawn, (doing another version of her Prince show), and finally Alexis Novak. Of all the Newcomers performing over the first two nights, the variety of amazing talent they brought was not only great for competition, but to the industry as well if they continue to hone their craft and get to tour.
The last group for the night was the Elite Division consisting of Trinity Turner, Lisa Licious, Artemis Moon. I’ve seen Trinity and Artemis perform numerous times before and it’s been a honor to watch them grow as true entertainers from the beginning of their careers. Having heard so much about Lisa Licious, I was more than curious to see if she lived up to the hype. Her “Time Travel” show proved she did and along with the performances by Trinity and Artemis, it’s easy to see why they are MUST SEE Feature Entertainers.
So after two nights of some of the best Feature Entertainer performances I’ve seen in years was completed, I had everyone from each division “ranked” in my head. All that was left was to see who made the Finals. Night 2 pictures are here: http://eroticworldmedia.com/2016/04/2015-fdnc-pdnc-night-2/
Day 3 – The Finals: “Moment of Truth” time. For the Entertainers who moved into the Finals, all previous scores were discarded and used only if there was a tie. Since the Masters and Elite Divisions only had three competitors in each, everyone moved into the Finals. For the Newcomers Division with 14 competitors, the decision had been made before the competition began to have six finalist compete for the top three spots. But when the six finalist were announced, I could see on the faces of the competitors they felt something went wrong. The six Newcomer finalist announced were (in no particular order): Chanel Marie, Ruby Ryder, Alexis Novak, Annie Lane, Krystal Dawn, and Stacy Lynn. As for myself, when these finalist were announced, I agreed with three of the choices, was on the fence for two of the others, and disagreed with one in particular.
The one that I thought shouldn’t have been a finalist was Alexis Novak. On Friday night, she did a “Tank Girl” themed show (tank prop included) that fell so far flat on it’s face that the crowd was visibly bored. I’m serious folks. I saw SO MANY of the crowd YAWNING during Alexis’ “Tank Girl” show! Also, myself and several competitors looked forward to seeing this show with high expectations that were never met. When you watch a show with big gaps of no action, the huge tank prop failed to work right, and “performing” that seem so unrehearsed and improvised that you have to wonder what the fuck is going on? Competitors know you don’t always make it to the finals, but when Alexis’ name was called as a finalist, dead silence fell on the room, and some of the other competitors faces showed disbelief. I have nothing against Alexis Novak, but she should have realized she wasn’t judged impartially. Especially when people tell her, “No more tank shows.” If I was in Alexis’ shoes, I would have stepped aside so the 7th highest scored competitor could compete in the Finals. But then I think there was more to Alexis making the finals because I learned one judge scored Alexis higher than they did any of the other Newcomers. Really?
Now before I go any further, I have to say something about judges and judging. Judging any competition is a bitch and I’ve done it myself. Most competition owners claim they want judges that can be impartial as possible, but in reality some want judges that go along with the competition owner’s wishes. And if those wishes aren’t met, I know some owners go as far as changing the judges scores to fit their wishes. It’s dishonest, I’ve seen it done personally, and I HATE rigged competitions. And to say in this industry rigging isn’t happening is utter BULLSHIT. I prefer covering fair, honest, and transparent competitions. But even a fair, honest, and transparent competition can find itself faced with unfair judging. When it is clear you have unfair judging, the question becomes what to do? You could throw out that judges scores, but that could make things even worse. The sad truth is that if you don’t abide by the judges decisions, then you’re seen and known as having a bias and unfair competition. So you learn, by trial and error, who are the impartial judges are and aren’t.
And this is what I feel happened at the 2015 FDNC & PDNC – A fair and transparent competition got screwed over but at least one judge, Tony Hall, wasn’t being impartial. I knew beforehand who the finalist were and was livid because of the blatant bullshit that occurred.
So why do I believe Tony Hall wasn’t impartial towards Alexis Novak?
One, the fact Tony Hall not only brought the tank prop to the competition, but understand he built it as well. So there’s a wish on his part to see it well received by the audience – which it wasn’t. NEVER bring a prop to the stage without having fully testing it properly! Also, with the exclusion of Finalist Annie Lane, the remaining five Newcomers finalists are all part of Tony Hall’s thestripmall.com website. To me, it looked like Tony Hall, with possible cooperation from other judges, did what he could to see that he could gain some promotional material for his website by supporting his girls over other contestants. Again, nothing against any of the competitors at all, but I thought Tony Hall and the judge who scored Alexis’ higher than the other Newcomers didn’t judge the competition fairly. I’ve been around enough competitions to be able to have a “feel” for when things aren’t on the level. This is how we live and learn people – by paying attention when they think you aren’t.
It’s my opinion and I stand by it.
But Dakota and Tom deserve credit for making the right decision (as much as it sucked) to stick with the judges choices instead of changing them as other competition owners would. How to fix this issue I will address after I finish telling you about the Finals themselves.
So Mademoiselle had a packed house for the Finals. In the Pole portion, the three finalist were Annie Lane, Trinity Turner, and Callie Jane and performed in that order. Great final pole performances, but I refer you back to my previous comment about floor work. Next was the Newcomers Division. Ruby Ryder started off the lineup followed by Annie Lane, Krystal Dawn, Stacy Lynn, Alexis Novack, and finally Chanel Marie. After the six performed, Nothing for me really stood out because I’d seen some of the shows before. But I had a good idea who the top three were going to be. For the Masters Division it was Regan Reilly, then Angel Beau, and finally Callie Rose. Then finally it was the Elite Division, but with only a quarter point separating the three from Night 2, this was going to be fun! Lisa Licious started off with her “Star Wars” show, then Trinity Turner’s cheerleader show, and lastly Artemis Moon’s salute to the troops. No matter what the outcome, I was truly blown away at the level of talent that all the divisions had and knew there were numerous MUST SEE talents for all to enjoy. Sometimes it sucks to be behind the camera shooting, but every entertainer gave me more than ample opportunity to capture some of the amazing things they did. Photos from the final performance are found here: http://eroticworldmedia.com/2016/04/2015-fdnc-pdnc-finals/
With all the performances done, there was about a 30 minute break to set up for the awards ceremony while all the ladies had changed back into their gowns. No 2 1/2 hour plus wait (like some competitions) here. With everyone changed and lined up on stage one last time, the energy in the entire room was electric waiting to see who had won what. First up were the All Divisions Mini Titles which were awarded as follows:
- Best Buns: Miss Meggie Mayhem
- Best Legs: Kitty Krossbones
- Best Breasts: Reagan Reilly
- Prettiest Face: Mila DeLuna
- Hardest Body: Stacy Lynn
Next was the pole division (PDNC) Mini Titles:
- Best Execution: Annie Lane
- Miss Flexibility: Chanel Marie
- Most Original Performance: Callie Jane
- Best Choreography: Trinity Turner
- Most Difficult Tricks: Trinity Turner
- Best Transitions: Annie Lane
- Audience Favorite: Marina Dancin
After that was the FDNC Newcomer Mini Titles:
- Best Props: Alexis Novak
- Best Show: Krystal Dawn
- Best Costume: Layla Lynn
- Hottest Stage Personality: Daisy Mae
- Audience Favorite: Ginger Snapps
- Best Dancer: Ruby Ryder
- Miss Sensuality: Aalliyah Doll
I thought Krystal Dawn’s Little Red Corvette performed much better than Alexis’ tank hands down. My opinion. But with that said, I see the Masters Division being very competitive for any of these Newcomers who come back to compete again at the 2016 FDNC.
Then came the FDNC Masters Division Mini Titles:
- Best Props: Angel Beau
- Best Show: Angel Beau
- Best Costume: Reagan Reilly
- Hottest Stage Personality: Angel Beau
- Audience Favorite: Reagan Reilly
- Best Dancer: Cali Rose
And the final Mini Titles awarded were for the FDNC Elite Division:
- Best Props: Trinity Turner
- Best Show: Lisa Licious
- Best Costume: Lisa Licious
- Hottest Stage Personality: Trinity Turner
- Audience Favorite: Artemis Moon
- Best Dancer: Artemis Moon
With all the mini titles given out, it was time to award the top three winners in each division. First was the PDNC Winners:
- PDNC Grand Champion: Trinity Turner
- 1st Runner Up: Annie Lane
- 2nd Runner Up: Callie Jane
Then the EDNC Awards starting with the Newcomer Division:
- FDNC Newcomer Grand Champion: Ruby Ryder
- 1st Runner Up: Stacy Lynn
- 2nd Runner Up: Annie Lane
Next the FDNC Masters Division:
- FDNC Masters Grand Champion: Angel Beau
- 1st Runner Up: Cali Rose
- 2nd Runner Up: Reagan Reilly
And finally the Elite Division:
- FDNC Elite Grand Champion: Lisa Licious
- 1st Runner Up: Trinity Turner
- 2nd Runner Up: Artemis Moon
Like I said for the Masters Division, the same goes for the Elite Division. The 2016 FDNC will be exciting to watch!
There were also two special awards given in honor of two very special Feature Entertainers that this industry has lost. The first was the “Sondra Saxon Award for the most Heart, Soul, and Desire” award in honor of the late Sondra Saxon awarded to Artemis Moon by Sondra’s husband Tony Lowry. The second was the “Vayda Kiss – Pole Angel Award” in honor of the late Vayda Kiss and was awarded to Reagan Reilly by Bob Layton, a close friend of Vayda’s. I know Bob had a hard time in deciding who to give the award to, but made the best decision in my book for the first one. Looking forward to seeing who wins this award in 2016. I decided to post a separate photo gallery of the winners which can be found here: http://eroticworldmedia.com/2016/04/2015-fdnc-pdnc-award-winners/
Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone for providing three nights of great entertainment!!
Even with the issues I have mentioned previously, the FDNC & PDNC is still one of the two true “fair and transparent’ competitions of our industry. The other is Nudes-A-Poppin. I also know that Dakota and Tom will make the necessary corrections to keep everything fair and honest. As I stated earlier, I knew who the six Newcomer finalist were before they were announced and argued hard with Dakota Skye about replacing Alexis Novak with someone else and even suggested possible replacements. But even though Dakota wasn’t happy with very questionable voting that was clearly unfair to some of the other competitors, she assured me that changes would be made to help prevent this in the future.
That’s integrity. If you don’t understand why, I feel sorry for you.
Now with that being said, I do have some recommendations to make:
First, based on the actions of Tony Hall during StripperRama 2 and what I observed at the FDNC & PDNC, I wouldn’t allow ANYONE associated with running thestripmall.com to act as judge or be in any type of authoritative position. Since they are sponsors and have numerous competitors representing them, there is NO way they can claim to be impartial. To continue to allow thestripmall.com management/personnel to judge will give the FDNC & PDNC the appearance of being unfair and rigged. I do have a couple of serious questions and WILL NOT support any rigged competitions. There’s enough bullshit competitions in our industry as it is now.
If anyone from thestripmall.com disagrees, I invite them to respond here and I will post that response in full.
Second, in selecting judges, I think the following areas are good places to look for judges:
- Retired Feature Entertainers who show they can be impartial act as judges. I believe there are a few out there who would like to pass on their expertise and knowledge.
- The burlesque community. Why? Because I think they are more qualified to judge competitors on their stage skills and overall showmanship.
- The theatre community, especially directors. Like those in the burlesque, they are more qualified to judge competitors on their stage skills and overall showmanship.
Third, have at least one or two on the judges panel from the pole community to help judge the pole portion (PDNC). I do know a few pole artist who have also done “feature style” shows which is an added bonus. I say this because I don’t know of the five judges at the FDNC & PDNC, if anyone of them were FULLY qualified to judge someone doing pole tricks. Honestly, how many of them could name all the tricks performed and know if the transitions were done smoothly and effectively?
Fourth, I’m not sure “outsiders” like club owners and managers could be better judges than your peers. Not that club owners and managers couldn’t be judges, but unless they have backgrounds in stage performing, I think they might not have an objective point of view and would tend to judge on who they could have in their club than who is showing the best stage skills and overall showmanship.
Again, if you don’t know the difference, I’m not wasting time to explaining it to tell you.
In closing, I want to thank the following: Mark Whipple, the owner of Mademoiselle, and the club’s staff. Always a pleasure to see a club adapt so well professionally when a competition “invades” your clubs for a few days. I had a great time and look forward to coming back in the future. To Dakota and Tom for putting on an incredible event even though at times it sounds like I’m ripping it apart. To all the competitors for your time and energy in developing your individual crafts, keep up the hard work ladies!
And finally to all of you who read these articles and passed them around. You may not like what I have to say at times, but at least I’m willing to say it!
Thank You Everyone for your support!!!