Inside the East Village club Drom, a dancer graced the top of a pole. Lights flooded around her form as it gracefully descended toward the audience to the orchestral ballad. She was divine. She was Jesus Christ Superstar.
Along with four others, the pole dance was part of the Schtick A Pole In It show, where the art form of pole dancing meets the satire of stand-up comedy. Each show has a theme and Saturday night's was Jesus Christ Superstar, the 1970s rock opera about the Gospels—a joke in its own right.
For nine years, the show from comedians JoAnna Ross and Dan Goodman has made the rather odd pairing work with themed nights with all music by artists such as Queen, Prince, Lady Gaga, The Beatles, David Bowie, Pat Benatar, Guns N’ Roses—music you might not always associate with pole dancing—and now, with success, it has doubled the number of events it puts on each month.
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"Out of quarantine, people started to see some shows and our audience was on fire," Ross tells us. "They were just so happy and really into it—screaming and yelling—just on another level."
She and her fiancé-in-crime Dan Goodman figured that if there are other shows that go on every weekend, and with so much enthusiasm, Schtick a Pole In It could do just as many events. That's when a "lightbulb went off" and they decided to add two more shows per month, for a total of four, with hopes of doing six to eight.
If you haven't been to the show, it at first seems like an odd coupling of talents, but when you see it for yourself, you understand that their differences actually make it work. Comedy is always a fun night out, but sometimes you need a palette cleanser between acts, according to the comedy power couple. It turns out that pole dancing is the ultimate palette cleanser.
Set to iconic songs piped through an amazing sound system and lights that help bring the house down, the dancing is completely unrelated to anything that was previously uttered by a comedian. The jokes and the dancing alternate—the dancers don't do stand-up and the comedians don't dance, which is probably for the best.
The dancers come from various backgrounds and styles and some of them are even national champions. When they do their thing, your attention is immediately fixated on these athletes who own the pole as if it were part of them. The comedians who perform at the show are professionals with previous stints on TV shows, comedy festivals and lineups across NYC's comedy venues. Unlike a lot of shows, Schtick a Pole In It gives them all exposure and pays them.
Because Schtick a Pole In It has been so successful, and thanks to a grant it won, it has been able to devote money to the artists, therefore ensuring an even more professional show. Goodman's and Ross's hope is that they not only increase the number of shows they do each month but incorporate more "bells and whistles" like costumes, set pieces, full lighting and cohesive choreography like a small Broadway show, Goodman says.
"Our plan was going to be one and done," Ross admits. The first show was done as a fundraiser for a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, but when it sold out, Ross and Goodman had to re-think it.
"Now when I see it from the back of the room, I'm like a proud mom," Ross says.
Schtick a Pole In It is on every second and fourth weekend of the month at Drom. The next show will feature the music of Janet Jackson, followed by K-Pop. Tickets are $35 or $45 for VIP seats.
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