Coping with the dark side of Internet fame: the Prancercise Lady.
July 17, 2013 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Simmons, speaking from his Los Angeles residence, began to weep into the telephone and took several deep breaths to calm himself. "You can tell that what Joanna does comes from her soul, and that's what makes her stand out. She's precious. If she was here, I'd do her nails." A reporter from the New Times spent a month with the Prancercise lady and interviewed her friends and admirers. This amazing profile is the result. (Previously.)
posted by liketitanic (46 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
What a fantastic local paper article. Seriously, one of the best I've ever read.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:33 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just heard of this thing this week, caught an interview with her, and she seemed sweet.
posted by sonascope at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2013


This is great. It is a wonderful thing to flesh out and humanize the cartoon versions of people the viral (maybe that word is more apt than we realize) internet feeds us.
"We're in the business of getting people to feel primal emotions that don't require a lot of thought," says Gawker's viral wizard, senior editor Neetzan Zimmerman. "That's where the money is.
Mm hmm. Yeah, we can do better, and this article shows that.
posted by Miko at 7:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Five years ago, we would never have known Rohrback or Prancercise®, and her sudden emergence represents a new age of celebrity.

Odd, obscure people become viral sensations on YouTube, and the New Times is on it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:42 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know if the Broward - Palm Beach New Times is usually this good in general, but several of the author's other articles seem worth reading:

CIA Operatives, Barrels of Whiskey, and a Biker Named Thor (I feel like there's a "previously" here, but can't find it.)

Raees Qazi: Accused Terrorist's Real Story

Those were just the ones that popped out of the list. The guy seems to be batting above his league.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:46 PM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Embarrassed?" asked Rohrback, who's amassed a cult following thanks to the revealing tightness of her spandex. "If my camel toe doesn't embarrass me, why would this? I'm not embarrassed at all!"

She's really all kinds of awesome.
posted by xingcat at 7:47 PM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


Rohrback cannot overemphasize the importance of brand maintenance. She trademarked the term Prancercise® and founded Prancercise LLC last year and frets over scenarios of intellectual property theft. (She warned New Times that to be on the safe side of a potential legal thicket, we'd better trademark Prancercise®. Other media outlets have not, and she's currently consulting her legal team, she says, to see what there is to be done about that.)

She can't do anything about news media not using mark. That the New Times marked every instance of Prancercise came off as mocking her.
posted by birdherder at 7:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, I read about the Star Wars kid and how he suffered because of his fame, and then I read this, and the Numa Numa guy, I really have to think that this stuff is what you make of it.

I mean, yeah, the world is chock full of hating moron douchebags. But if you go and do what you do and are awesome, then fuck those asshats. But you can't let them win.

It's given me a lot more confidence in myself, honestly. That plus, I am going on 42 - the perfect age. Fuck the haters, I'm awesome and I know it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


"I don't pay attention to the neighsayers," she announced. "Get it? N-E-I-G-H."

Be the Prancercise® you wish to see in the world.
posted by oulipian at 8:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


I wish more people were like her.
posted by mochapickle at 8:07 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose that one: the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times - noisy, aggressive revving and roaring - belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars."

Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium
posted by oulipian at 8:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Wow, I always assumed it was a joke. Some sketch comedy troupe trying to break out.

What an era we live in.
posted by Eideteker at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2013


I wish more people were like her.
I can't tell if her attempts at legal intimidation are evidence of assholery or highly relevant performance art. The whole joyfully prancing about thing is fine, but the attempt to legally protect a series of body movements is absurd. And not the good kind of absurd.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:21 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Richard Simmons : Ms. Prancersize :: Moth : Lightbulb
posted by tservo at 8:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The whole joyfully prancing about thing is fine, but the attempt to legally protect a series of body movements is absurd. And not the good kind of absurd.

She's an older lady who has no husband or children, and does not speak with her sisters. Prancercize is the only thing in her life: a way for her to be healthy, express human warmth and hopefully make some money. She's terrified that someone will take that away from her. I'd cut her a little slack; she's not going to be setting new precedents on intellectual property.
posted by Edgewise at 8:50 PM on July 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


I couldn't help but admire how graceful she is. She looks happy, light, like I hope I could be at 60. Sure there's a silliness to it, but I think that is part of the recipe.
posted by andsometimestea at 8:59 PM on July 17, 2013


This article is fascinating, thanks so much for posting it. The author seems amazing.

I hadn't heard of prancercise; I guess I should go watch her videos now. She sounds so joyous and positive about her creation, I can only wish her well.

What's the deal with the John Mayer video, was that mocking her as well? That's how it sounds in the article.

Is all the online attention mocking her, or is there anyone out there honestly trying to learn prancercise?
posted by medusa at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2013


Five years ago, we would never have known Rohrback or Prancercise®...

And by we the author means... the Times' target demographic of out of touch middle aged luddites?

I mean, we didn't specifically know about Prancercise five years ago, but the concept of the viral video and Famous On The Internet and the like is at least twice as old as that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Frankly, I'm just in it for an excuse to watch the Prancercise video again. Few things are that delightful.
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


the attempt to legally protect a series of body movements is absurd. And not the good kind of absurd.

She's hardly the first, or the greediest. I mean, Bikram Yoga is called Bikram Yoga because this one guy "invented" the idea of doing yoga in a hot room. All the other hot yoga places have to call themselves something else, because the Bikram name is trademarked. It's all very serious. And, again, Mr. Bikram did not by any means invent yoga. At least Prancercise lady actually invented Prancercise.
posted by Sara C. at 9:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ok, I'm reading the previously link and catching up on this. A quote from the hairpin interview with Rohrback:

Number one, I want people to benefit from expressing themselves as individuals. I don’t want them to worry about what they look like and their exercise schedule and how it measures up to other people’s workout regimens. Prancercise can be customized to everyone’s own particular style, and it’s a form of self-expression that people could really gain from. Through self-expression I believe that we can diffuse pain and violence.

Number two, I want to support and promote vegetarianism, which is better for environmental conservation and better for people’s health.


Wow, she sounds totally awesome. Why can't all our exercise gurus be like this?

The comments on that same interview describe introduced me to the useful acronym DGAF and described her as "the walking definition of zero fucks given". I'll say.
posted by medusa at 9:24 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish more people were like her

Really? The Internet and Youtube has given rise to countless twits with the sole burning desire of finally garnering the attention and admiration they feel they heartedly deserve...despite a distinct lack of ability or talent. "She's" a dime a dozen.
posted by Nibiru at 11:43 PM on July 17, 2013


the attempt to legally protect a series of body movements is absurd.

That's what you drew out of this? I suppose the attempt to legally protect a series of words, or musical notes, is similarly absurd.

If you ask me, she's entitled to every bit of intellectual property protection the law extends, and more power to her.
posted by dhartung at 1:21 AM on July 18, 2013


> The whole joyfully prancing about thing is fine, but the attempt to legally protect a series of body movements is absurd. And not the good kind of absurd.

Somebody's jealousss! ♪
posted by ardgedee at 4:48 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


if i were her, i wouldn't be in such a hurry to claim ownership of the name or the concept. people who take this on as a form of exercise are going to learn, down the line, that wearing ankle weights while you walk, run, or prance is going to pretty well fuck up your knee and hip joints. weights are good for resistance within a particular range of motion; gait is a complex system of alignment and mechanics with which one should not mess. if she's going to own this idea, she needs to take responsibility for this horrible advice.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:59 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Horses don't have arms. This seems more like Product Displayercise. Someone should be running next to her with a tray of zirconium tennis bracelets.

I'm sticking with the techno-viking.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:38 AM on July 18, 2013


Richard Simmons : Ms. Prancersize :: Moth : Lightbulb

I don't know if that's a fair comparison. Simmons was a pioneer in many respects and probably paved the way for Rohrbach to present her unashamed exercise regimen.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:40 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sticking with the techno-viking.

Why not both?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:45 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This seems like a good place to mention that if you are not following Richard Simmons on facebook you are really, really missing out.
posted by something something at 5:47 AM on July 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wonder how the ponyplay people feel about Prancercise [too lazy for unicode symbols]

Why not both?
That's kind of amazing. [mute the prancercise side for instant win]
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:49 AM on July 18, 2013


mute the prancercise side for instant win

Definitely, I should have put a note for that above!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:59 AM on July 18, 2013


I wonder how the ponyplay people feel about Prancercise

Catering to that market would probably be her best avenue to success, actually.
posted by Miko at 6:22 AM on July 18, 2013


We're in the business of getting people to feel primal emotions that don't require a lot of thought

How can you say that in any other context than a letter of resignation?
posted by yoink at 7:26 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Richard Simmons : Ms. Prancersize :: Moth : Lightbulb

Ladies, gentlemen, Springfield Home Security is pleased to present its latest intruder deterrent.

Release the robotic Joanna Rohrback.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know at least two people quite like her. Good-hearted, odd, slightly maladroit, unselfconscious, occasionally obsessive, earnest, and prone to epiphany — they're dear to me.

I'm drawn to good-hearted people who are off-kilter, people who don't quite fit in but aren't aware of it or don't care, people for whom the banality of daily life is an adventure, people who say surprising things with the absolute ingenuous honesty of a child, people for whom regret is never an anchor.

They can be maddening and obtuse and a little self-involved, sometimes insensitive but entirely without malice, yet they are always genuine and their friendship abides.

I see these people as small treasures of the universe, I'm often thankful to know them and know my life is the better for it. They remind me of what I love about other people, they are minor revelations.

Over the years I've found that they make good litmus tests. People who only find them irritating, or mock their good nature and ingenuity, or feel certain that their oddness must be a manipulative affectation — these are people to keep at arm's length because either they are shallowly and stiflingly conventional, or they have a darkly cynical view of human nature that is all-too-often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The truth is that many of the most beautiful things are the small things, beautiful in their imperfections and their particular singularity. Joanna Rohrback left her handsome and charming dentist fiancé and their boring days and boring weeks and boring months to unleash the wild, joyful mare inside and prance and prance and prance.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:16 AM on July 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


I mean, Bikram Yoga is called Bikram Yoga because this one guy "invented" the idea of doing yoga in a hot room. All the other hot yoga places have to call themselves something else, because the Bikram name is trademarked.

You know, I'm not involved in yoga in the *slightest*, but whenever Bikram comes up I can't help but say 'Man, FUCK that guy.' It's weird, almost like a neurological tic.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:43 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Horses don't have arms. This seems more like Product Displayercise.

On the other hand, what she's doing in the video is pretty much EXACTLY what my friends and I used to do when we played "My Little Pony" on the elementary school playground. We'd prance around just like that and say, I dunno, My Little Pony-ish things and give each other My Little Pony-ish names and the whole thing would eventually come to blows over the difference between violet and fuschia.

(I just want to clarify that I'm talking about seven year old girls and neither Bronies nor "Pony Play" fetishists.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, did the earlier MLPs use their forelegs to do stuff? I don't remember that. And my little sister was big into it. I'm so confused.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2013


No, but, you know, humans have arms, not forelegs. So to approximate the idea of pretending to be a sparkly pink horse, you'd "prance" with your legs and do sort of cutesy fluttery movements with your arms. Not unlike Prancercise.

I mean, I'm not saying it's exactly the same thing, just that, having been a little girl going through a horse phase, I can totally see how Prancercise is horselike.
posted by Sara C. at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2013


"So to approximate the idea of pretending to be a sparkly pink horse, you'd 'prance' with your legs and do sort of cutesy fluttery movements with your arms."

That's usually how I do it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why didn't I title this "I Wanna Prance With Somebody" UGH
posted by liketitanic at 6:37 PM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I tried Prancercise at work after watching the videos. I am in really good shape but MAN it is exhausting! Don't think I will work it into my training regime but if you need a laugh break, prance up and down the halls at your place of employment.
posted by rachums at 7:22 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sticking with the techno-viking.

Technoviking prevails in court, still can't erase Internet fame
posted by homunculus at 11:28 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back before YouTube, we used to call this sort of thing "outsider art".
posted by evil otto at 12:18 AM on July 19, 2013


I just assumed she was the Local Crazy.

And, any publication that uses registered/trademarks where asked?
Bin it.
posted by Mezentian at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2013


I think in this case they used the registered trademark symbol affectionately, so to speak. Someone up-thread thought it was done mockingly in a mean-spirited way. But I think it was done jokingly-but-affectionately. Of course it was because she insists on it, but I doubt the paper would have been accommodating in other circumstances. You could just search for "realtor" to see if the paper always uses a symbol for it — I'm sure they don't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:42 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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