The Passion of a Male Pole Dancing Champion
Now that this unconventional sport has gone mainstream, these acrobatic young men are ready for the spotlight, too.
Photos by Madeline Gray
Daniel Darling spins around a 12-foot pole, slowly undulating and unfolding his body just a few feet from the ceiling. His toes form perfect points, sometimes aiming skyward. When his feet finally touch the stage again in this Cary, North Carolina, auditorium, he bends down to pick up what looks like a cotton ball. But it’s actually a small, artificial blossom that he had tucked into the center pocket of the distressed denim overall shorts he’s wearing.
In a few hours, the Fayetteville, North Carolina, resident will perform this routine in the Pole Sport Organization Triangle regional competition, a qualifying event for the group’s national pole-dancing championship. This is his final rehearsal.
Darling, a whippet-thin 22-year-old with a quick laugh, is now shirtless, but walked in wearing a fashionably ripped cutoff T-shirt emblazoned with the word SEX in big letters. He is worried that the flower might fall out of his overalls when he’s hanging upside down or ex…
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