This months featured dancer is Ava Hennessy. She is an Irish stripper, pole dancing instructor and the head of Taboo, a sex worker and LGBTQ+ friendly pole dance event that had its beginnings throughout Ireland and will soon hit the UK. Strip Magazine caught up with her to talk mental health, body image and her plans for Taboo in the near future.
Strip Magazine: Hi Ava! So if we can start with your history in the industry. How long have you been dancing for and what got you into it?
Ava Hennessy: I started dancing in 2015, so almost 5 years. I quit my “regular job” after a really bad depressive episode and needed money fast, a friend of mine worked in a club close by and suggested I try it.
SM: Mental health is so important so how would you say you found the transition into dancing after struggling in a ‘regular job’? Would you say it helped and if so, why was that?
Ava: I think that repetitive jobs have always affected me mentally so I really enjoyed how the club was different every night. I was also happy to have more freedom and I only learned how to save when I started dancing as I was making more money and could see the physical cash
SM: Were there situations where dancing didn’t help mentally and, with hindsight, you would have handled differently?
Ava: The only down side to the job was drinking too much in the beginning and struggling mentally after I gained weight , customers would point it out and I became really body conscious (more than I already was anyway).
SM: I have found that weight gain rarely affects money, it just changes the types of customers you get! What loses the money is the confidence dip that comes with it. Has this been your experience?
Ava: Yeah totally! I found that I had to hustle a lot harder against the other dancers who were slim / had surgery. It’s hard to let the negative comments about your body go all of the time but it was a learning curve for me definitely
SM: With these experiences in mind, what advice would you give to other dancers that are maybe struggling with similar issues?
Ava: Well the first thing I realised is that I could still make good money even after gaining weight. How you feel in your head is the biggest struggle and customers can tell if you’re insecure. If you have confidence , a good personality and conversation, then that can get you a long way. I started to wear outfits that hi lighted my best areas as I couldn’t wear some of the stuff I could before. I finally realised that some men get a kick out of putting you down so I’d try and figure out if they’d spend money on me and if they wouldn’t, I laughed and walked away. It’s hard but you feel so much better knowing that some stranger hasn’t got the better of you.
SM: Solid advice. Would you say learning to let things go has empowered you in other areas of your life?
Ava: Yeah definitely! I think that working in a strip club will make you mature a lot mentally. Especially if you work in a bitchy / competitive environment. You learn to not take everything personally . At least that was my experience.
SM: It’s good that you learnt more positive ways to view things. So tell us about Taboo.
Ava: Living in Ireland it was and still is rare to see a pole dancing event that shows authentic, sexy pole dancing. I think the main reason is because venues don’t want to be associated with strippers / stripclubs. I really wanted an event that showcased sexy pole dancing and was sex worker inclusive. It was also really important for the show to be LGBTQ+ friendly
I always try and hire as many strippers as possible but we’ve also featured burlesque artists and drag queens. We’ve had multiple events in Ireland in Kerry, Galway and Dublin. Now I’m living in the UK I’d like to run the show over here
SM: Ireland is known to be fairly conservative. How was the response there?
Ava: It was more difficult than I expected. We had some great shows but I found that some of the venues were unprofessional towards us and we got turned down a lot , some venues even cancelled on us after agreeing on a booking or told us that “the show didn’t suit their schedule” I found it frustrating as we have so many talented dancers and have a following but I believe that we were discriminated against because of the nature of the show.
In saying that the show is pretty tame. There is no nudity but because it’s a sexy style show and there’s a pole involved some people have an issue
SM: Catholicism also takes umbrage with the LGBTQ+ community so there was probably a lot going on! It’s a shame that there is still some way to go with the stigma. You will most likely have an easier time of it in the U.K.
Ava: Yeah I think so ! I’m really excited to check out venues in Bedford and London eventually
SM: With you being in the UK, does that mean the Irish events are going to be on hold for the foreseeable?
Ava: Yeah I feel like I want to focus on UK events for now . We loved performing around Ireland but moving to England gives us more opportunities to try new venues , hire new performers and have new experiences. Having said that, I’d definitely love to hold shows in Ireland again when we find a suitable venue.
SM: I’m sure you will find success. What do you look for in performers and how can dancers get involved?
Ava: For me it doesn’t matter how much experience a dancer has performing but how they dance . I always want to hire people who have an authentic, sexy style of dancing, especially with women who are strippers.
SM: Finally, is there a good place for readers to keep up to date with future events?
Ava: The best place to keep up to date with Taboo is on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/Taboopoleshow/
Facebook events group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/155880511924471/?ref=share
And our website blog: https://taboopoleshow.com/blog/TABOOIreland’s hottest pole dancing event! Keep up to date with our latest shows: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=155880511924471&ref=content_filter