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This week in love
May 3, 2011 6:05 PM   Subscribe

This week in love: the winning submission of the NYT's now-annual college Modern Love essay contest, the 2011 US pole dance champion (probably NSFW), and a Japanese kissing machine in development.
posted by wpenman (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Re: kissing machine.

Seriously, get a pet or something. Then again, maybe that's not such a good idea.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 6:23 PM on May 3, 2011


I think the kissing machine people may possibly be doing kissing wrong.
posted by gracedissolved at 6:25 PM on May 3, 2011


I can't wait for the kissing machine Turing test.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:41 PM on May 3, 2011


I'm an American kissing machine, if you want to keep it domestic.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:54 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That essay was total boomer-pandering. It was basically saying to the older generation, "Technology has dulled our ability to meaningfully connect; you were totally right! Spread the word through your dying print media."
posted by randomname25 at 7:00 PM on May 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Nice post.

I've never attend the US pole dance competition, but I did attend a Miss Nude Oregon competition, which is essentially a pole dancing competition only with a lot more theatre and a lot more...uh...nudity. I went not knowing what to expect, and was blown away (though in retrospect it seems obvious) that there was so much loyalty and enthusiasm, and how much work went into it. Here's a brief synopsis, if anyone is interested what being at such an event is like, or was in this case:

It happened that I became a regular at this 'strip club' in Portland. My then neighbor was a then dancer there, and after turning down many requests, I obliged to go watch her dance one night. It was the first strip club I'd ever been to; I was 23.

As it turned out, it was basically a neighborhood crowd, mostly regulars, an eclectic cast of dancers, nearly none of which I would have considered to be of the stripper stereotype, or at least as I had conceived it before I went to one. On top of that, they had the best happy hour in town ($2 pints of local brews all day), and an all local and organic food menu (oh, Portland). I then moved to the neighborhood shortly after (unrelated, I swear), and it became one of my haunts. Furthermore, my girlfriend loved the place because no weirdos hit on her there, she loved talking to the dancers, and everyone was extra respectful to women in the place, which was only due sometimes to the large bouncer in a tactical suit and with facial tattoos intensely watching the crowd after 9 pm.

So when it was announced that two of the dancers had competed through two qualifying rounds and were selected to compete in Miss Nude Oregon, a 'party bus' was quickly booked and posters printed and routines practiced and the hype built.

When I showed up that night, having bought my party bus ticket without having a clue what that meant, the bar was packed with people clad in the bar's t-shirts and drinking lots and lots of beer which was just being handed out willy-nilly. We all filed onto the bus, the regulars and the dancers not competing in the event. The bus was an old Tri-Met bus, painted white. We hurled down 26 and coolers full of beer were opened and bowls were passed and the dancers and other free spirited sorts danced around the poles on the bus.

When we got to the club where the event was to be held, everyone piled on the bus and headed to the section reserved for our bar's fans. Out of large garbage sacks people produced posters with pictures of the girls they were rooting for. As the place filled with buses full of fans from every club with a dancer in the competition, it became basically like a scene at a hockey game. Everyone holding up posters and signs and screaming and the non-competing dancers having their own sort of side competition on the un-used poles.

The competition was based on votes from the crowd - with each vote costing $1 - and votes of the expert judges (who sat at the competition stage, and still threw dollars, as is part of the, uh, sport, but their votes didn't depend on the rain they made). Some of the performers were just quietly artful, demonstrating advanced pole tricks and insane ways of taking your underpants off while hanging upside down from a pole and looking quite elegant doing it. There were wings and zombies and yoga. There were plots. One of the dancers from my bar did a Michael Jackson's Thriller routine (it was the year he passed) and was carried in in by two auxiliary dancers in a coffin, from which she emerged covered in day glo and proceeded to do a routine loosely based on the original choreography but with more, uh, stripping (she placed third).

The dancer who ended up winning had done a rather pat (in my opinion) cops and robbers thing where she spent a good deal of the time hand cuffed to the pole, albeit doing some pretty amazing things, considering the restraints. But the reason, as it later began to leak out, that she won was because the owner of her club had bought $3,000 worth of votes from the club's account.

Of course, this is not a competition overseen by an ethics committee.

The winner gets $5k, the cover of Exotic magazine, and, most importantly, fame and renown, at least for a year.

In any case, and I can't make a value judgement of it, but it's amazing that America will find a way to turn every last thing into a competition. It's nice that some of them, like stripping, are in good fun (no one was really that upset about the whole owner dropping tons of cash; it's part of it, to an extent), while some of them, like mortgage sales (oh yes I did!) have much more dire consequences.

This got long, apologies.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:01 PM on May 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


Pole-dancing is one of those things I would have pooh-poohed until I watched the videos from the official US pole-dancing association, or whatever it is. Those women are beast. I saw it through a gymnastics forum (members ranged from casual enthusiasts to coaches of Olympians) during a discussion of the differences between men's and women's gymnastics, and why women didn't do routines that were as specifically athletic as their male counterparts. The consensus was women lacked the physical strength to perform them until someone linked a video that was a mix of performances from that year's national pole-dancing competition. Most people there had never encountered women executing moves requiring that level of gymnastic strength. I certainly hadn't. They're pretty amazing.
posted by schroedinger at 7:11 PM on May 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


schroedinger, I agree.

Sunday Morning had a special on the pole-dancing championship (here's the clip), and at first I was super judgey, but damn. I was blown away by the athleticism of the competitors and to top it off, the segment ends with a pole-dancing version of Black Swan! These performances are a lot more like performance art/gymnastics than what you normally think of when you think of pole dancing.
posted by mmmbacon at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2011


How is pole dancing not an Olympic sport yet "rhythmic gymnastics" is? Yow! That's some impressive talent. Having once attempted pole dancing (it's a hip fitness thing) I'm extraordinarily impressed.
posted by Go Banana at 7:39 PM on May 3, 2011


What do these three links have in common?
posted by crossoverman at 7:44 PM on May 3, 2011


What do these three links have in common?

Aha! So you didn't notice the man in the gorilla suit.
posted by danb at 8:54 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is pole dancing not an Olympic sport yet "rhythmic gymnastics" is?

Why does this deserve an NSFW warning? Nobody ever says rhythmic gymnastics is NSFW...
posted by Chuckles at 9:41 PM on May 3, 2011


Thanks kissing machine, for destroying kissing.
posted by DU at 4:56 AM on May 4, 2011


There was some intensely awesome, impressive stuff in that pole-dancing championship video. I'm super impressed, and it leaves my muscles shaking from the effort of just imagining what it would take to hold some of those positions.
posted by entropone at 5:45 AM on May 4, 2011


If you think that guy is going to stop with a kissing machine, you are wrong.
posted by Silvertree at 6:03 AM on May 4, 2011


My better half, whom I met on MetaFilter, emailed me the NYT article with the following comment:
WE WIN AGAIN.
posted by Phire at 6:58 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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