Monday, August 30, 2021

Happy Birthday, Annie!

Today is my lovely daughter, Annie's birthday.   She and her husband, Jonathan, are comedy writers, currently Co-Executive Producers of THE UPSHAWS on Netflix.  I thought to celebrate her birthday I would re-post an essay she and Jon wrote for this blog in 2013 about another birthday and the charming gift she received.  I think she entered the right field.  Happy Birthday, Annie.  I love you.

Everyone likes to think their coworkers respect them…

Mine bought me a Groupon to a pole dancing class for my birthday. (Based on the average age of my coworkers, I chose to take this as a sign of admiration for my functional hips.)

I didn't plan to actually use the thing until my dad demanded I do a blog post about it. Most parents tend to discourage their children entering the world of erotic dancing. Mine bought me kneepads and offered to drive.

I'm lucky to have found the place at all. There was no sign out front, no mention on any directory, absolutely no distinguishing marks of any kind. Areola 51.

I finally discovered the way in and was rewarded for my perseverance with a dimly lit studio whose windows were blacked out by feather boas. It was like stumbling into RuPaul's doomsday bunker.

The class was called Pole Diva (Level 1) and the teacher was a pocket-sized Latina woman who kept criticizing everybody's "sexy pushups."

For the uninitiated, "sexy pushups" are when you caress your body before Shamu sliding along the hardwood and pulling yourself back up. Making sure to rub your hips again for good measure. Based on how my classmates looked doing them, I think "sexy pushup" is meant to be one of those ironic terms like "FOX comedy."

Not that everyone was bad at it. The woman in front of me was clearly the star pupil, and by the end of class even I was throwing her a few singles.

The humiliation of the "sexy pushup" (thoughtfully enhanced by the floor to ceiling mirrors we performed in front of) finally came to an end. It was time to strap on our kneepads (thanks again, Dad!) and pick our pole.

They offered us bottles of alcohol to disinfect the poles before use. I requested penicillin.

We learned a few different spins over the course of the hour. They all had fun names like "the sunburst" and "the firefly." Each one a new way to wind up with my ass on the floor and legs spread wide. The actual spinning was fun, though, until my teacher scolded me for yelling, "Wheeee!"

A large part of pole dancing seems to be walking around the pole, doing a sort of Igor foot drag. I pictured Martha Graham spinning in her grave every time this was referred to as choreography.

By the end of class, I was so black and blue my dancer name would have been Hematoma. (In actuality, I would choose something a little more exotic if I ever entered the profession. Right now the top candidate is Treif Magnifique.)

The staff knew most of us were only in it for the one class. Still, they kept pressuring us to come back. On our way out, they made sure we knew that they were available for parties. I'm still not clear if they were talking about the studio or the instructors.

I'm sure if I kept at it, I could graduate to Pole Vixen (Level 2). I would love to see that ceremony. No gowns or mortarboards; just the tassels.

That said, I think it's safe to say pole dancing is not going to be added to my list of hobbies. I'd much rather bake the cake than jump out of it.


Michael Hagerty said...

Oh, yeah---she's absolutely your daughter, Ken! And we benefit from having two devastatingly funny Levines write for television in our lifetimes.

Craig Gustafson said...

You must be incredibly proud. She is SUCH a funny writer.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

If I ever tried pole dancing, it would end up like that scene in MASH where Winchester takes down the tent pole at the swamp.

But good on your daughter for giving it a try. I can say that in general, I'm a fan of the art.

Jack Spitz said...

Hopefully, NBC will hire her as an expert analyst when pole dancing becomes an Olympic sport. Very funny!

Brian Phillips said...

Happy Birthday and thanks for re-posting that! It made my morning.

Bill in Toronto said...

Ken, there are many examples of networks ruining shows with their casting, writing and scheduling interference. But it can't be an absolute; there are surely many times networks saved shows from their creators. NBC and CBS, respectively, showed patience while Cheers and WKRP found their audiences. Although NBC hurt Newsradio's chances through schedule-hopping, the freedom afforded the bizarro finale episode each season is a paradigm of tolerance. Softening the Penny character, recasting the actor and tossing out the unworkable scenes in the Big Bang Theory pilot famously resulted in a money-spinning turnaround. Please share your thoughts and other examples of success.

Brian said...

That's funny. Like father like daughter. Happy birthday Annie.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Happy Birthday, Annie.


Lemuel said...

Kevin James did a funny pole dance on KING OF QUEENS. Say what you want about James, he was good at physical comedy.

tb said...

Happy birthday to Dow Chemical!

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Uh oh Ken: the pole is writing a tell-all book.

Charles Bryan said...

"Areola 51"! Laughs all the way through, but that was my favorite.

Michael said...

Happy Birthday, Miss Annie. Sorry I missed that post the first go-round, but so glad Ken did the re-post.

In another post Ken talked about funny stuff having to be cut from scripts for various reasons, but I am glad "Areola 51" made the final cut here. :)