Monthly Archives: November 2010


My first real article was posted a couple weeks ago in Sacramento News and Review. It’s nothing big, but being a young, barely published writer, I’m kind of stoked to see my by-line. Enjoy! My internship with SNR ends soon, but I should be working on an article soon. I’m thinking of ideas..have any story ideas?

The link is here:

Strong and Sexy

By Jamie Santiago

This article was published on 10.21.10.



Most dancers who want to learn something new might take a ballet or jazz class to sharpen their skills. But Sacramento Pole Dance Studio owner and instructor Lisa Hellmann teaches a challenging sport that not many people have mastered—except maybe the strippers at your local club. Hellmann teaches pole-dancing and lap-dance routines that can seriously tone your body and give you an extra boost of confidence. For more information,

What types of classes do you offer?

Pole, lap, burlesque, and we do private classes and private parties. We do fitness-oriented classes every day, and we do private classes for whatever the meaning is. We get a few dancers in who want to up their game, and we get a lot of women that just want to do something special for their husband, or they’re too intimidated to take a regular class. Then we do a lot of private and bachelorette parties.

Who is allowed to take classes?

Well, technically, anyone is allowed to take classes. I always prefer girls to be older so that they’re aware of what they’re doing. I have had moms bring in their daughters. And as long as I get a release of liability from a parent, they can.

How do you feel about people who think pole dancing as a sport is inappropriate?

I think they need to watch us, and find out how gymnastics- and artistic-like it is. Pole dancing can be done in different ways, and [you can] approach the pole in a manner that’s very gymnastics-like and very smooth. My background is ballet, and if you approach it from that aspect, it becomes something totally different than if you approach it from a seductive point of view.

None of our teachers here have been strippers, and so we all have an athletic or gymnastics or ballet or fitness approach to it. There’s so much creativity in the positions and the things you can do, and you’re figuring out how your body works. It’s really not [as] seductive [as] people think it is. It can be, if that’s how you want it to be done.

What made you want to teach these kinds of classes?

I did have ballet, and I’ve always just loved dance. I started doing it for myself. I was in my 30s, and I was attracted to it. And I put a pole in my house and started playing on it, kind of figuring out what I can do and started dancing with it, and I got pretty good pretty fast, and I didn’t tell anybody, because it seems taboo. Like, “What are they going to think of me?”

And then I got to the point where I have to find someone else to do this with, because I have to feed off of somebody. So I started telling my friends, and they asked me to teach them.

Do you ever have girls come in with the intention of wanting to become a stripper?

I do have students that come in with the intention to be a stripper. Basically, they’re coming in to get comfortable with the pole before they audition, and I can certainly teach them how to do that. I can teach them spinning. I can teach them to become confident with the pole, but I know nothing of stripping, and so I can’t teach them anything but how to act confident and comfortable and move loosely around the pole so they’re not as nervous when they do audition.

What kinds of things do you teach your students?

Everything is very progressive. We start with movements of how to move on the floor, how to do leg movement, how to make your legs look more attractive, how to be more confident, how to walk more confident, how to move smoothly around the pole and how to spin. And basically we just go from these very small things.

And there’s always another step and then another step, so as they progress and build their strength they’re getting stronger within the movement and building on the same movement. So if you really break it down, we have probably 25 different movements, but you just keep building on and making them bigger.

Is it hard for people starting out?

Yes, if you want to become good. Anybody can come in and do it, but to become good, yeah, it’s really hard. It’s hard on your skin. A lot of it is just traction on the skin and gripping the pole on the right spot and finding where your core has to be or where your head has to be in order to balance it out. It is very hard. It is very challenging.

What are the benefits of taking pole-dancing classes?

Extreme toning. But that’s why strippers have good bodies, because floor work and pole work is constant toning. It burns like 400 to 500 calories an hour, and you have another aspect of it: That you’re more confident and you move different. Anytime you’re stronger or more confident, just the way you walk and you talk will become more confident.

What’s the sexiest move you’ve taught students?

I can suspend and shake my butt. So you’re pulled up on the pole suspending and pushing out and popping your hips. And I can do splits upside down. It’s pretty provocative.

Do you get a lot of thank you notes from boyfriends or husbands of students?

I had one today. It was the strangest thing. Yeah, we do. Women talk about their confidence that it brings to their relationship. And yes, men are very eager to get their women in here so they move different.

Thanks for reading,



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One of my biggest regrets in life is never being able to fully communicate with my grandparents. My grandfather turned 91 last August, and my grandmother will be 85 in December (or at least according to the American government she will be). They emigrated here legally from Guadalajara, Mexico fifty plus years ago and still live in the same 2 bedroom house in Midtown Sacramento that has once been inhabited by my mom, her 7 sisters, and 3brothers.

When I was young Mama Oti and Papa Pepe were able to speak English. We could communicate a little but for some reason I don’t remember words being said. I remember my grandmother dancing in the living room twirling her long skirts and singing songs in Spanish. Sometimes my sister and I would put on my grandma’s reading glasses and run around the living room like little assholes because it looked like you were running right into the ground. My grandfather who made his living as a carpenter would make me and sometimes my cousin’s wooden swords out of thin pieces of plywood. His workshop always smelt of fresh wood and saw dust. My aunt whom I grew up next door to tried to teach my little ignorant ass to speak Spanish, but I was so clueless and young to even care about what negative effects of not being bilingual in the environment that I live in, and living with the regret I have now. What’s strange is I was there all the time. I grew up not far from my grandparents dwelling only a few blocks away in New Era Park. But I honestly can’t remember making an effort to communicate with my grandparents then, and now I live with this burden.

The house on 22nd and E Street with its pale pink color and chipped white lion statues mounted on the stair case is legend. Not only has my mom told me countless stories of her and her sibling’s wild antics from childhood to adolescence, but each and every one of my cousins, aunts, and uncle’s has their own stories about that house. Before my grandparents got sick the house was almost a sanctuary. Every weekend it was full of my family members just hanging out, but now there are probably only a few people at a time.

My cousin Sebastian has been living in the house for about three years now. He moved here from Juarez, Mexico to go to school and study music. He calls him and me the artists of the family, and when I stay the night to help my mom with my grandparents my cousin and I do our art homework on the kitchen table. He writes his compositions for music and I work on whatever it is I’m working on at the time. We talk about art, culture, music, and his trips to foreign countries. He is a true bohemian and it’s really a great feeling to have someone like that and as passionate as I am about art amongst other things in my family. My cousin would only visit a few times when we were young but now that he lives here he has really made an effort to speak English and has been working hard to make his goals. I’m glad that we are becoming closer and closer as the years go on.

It’s a shitty feeling to know that someone that has been so close to you your whole life feels so far away. Well metaphorically speaking. But how many of us would want to go back and change the past? Change something we said, something we did, something we didn’t do. The list goes on. I guess we are only human. We make mistakes. But sometimes it takes years to realize it.

* I sieved through a ton of pictures and albums but suprisingly did not find the particular ones I wanted. I will update if i find them. these will have to do for now.


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