Six Finalists to Fight for Title of Pole Dancing Superstar in New York City Thursday

Pole dancing has transcended the domain of strippers and go-go girls to become a bona fide competitive sport — now with $10,000 in prize money.

Tonight marks the first of what organizers hope will become an annual Pole Superstar competition in New York City, with six finalists from Florida, New York, California and Utah taking to the pole in what’s sure to be an acrobatic extravaganza.

Think it’s easy to work the shiny metal? It’s anything but — these moves require real strength.

“All of the girls come to the stage with different styles,” explains Diane Passage, the founder of Pole Superstar. “Some are more athletic, some are more dance-oriented, but all of them are extremely sexy ladies.”

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Passage was inspired by the pole dancing exercise craze, which has gathered steam nationwide in the past seven years through exercise studios like S Factor. Founded by actress Sheila Kelley, 47, the nationwide chain blends ballet, yoga and striptease into pole classes. Poles are now found in gyms all over New York.

Passage launched the competition this year to support S.P.I.N., a charity for struggling single parents.

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