Thanks to the lithe-like movements of beautiful women on a pole, I was instantly drawn to pole-dancing as a gawky teenager. Perhaps it was the oozing sexiness of the dance form or the way the dancers performed confidently around a metal bar, pole-dancing opened the gates of understanding female sexuality and confidence for me and I was determined to pursue it as an adult.
But as time passed, my view of pole dancing slowly underwent a change as I realized there’s more to pole-dancing than just ‘oozing sexiness.’ In fact, feminism began to brew inside me after realizing how the art-form has been degraded to only be seen as means to titillate male gaze. Soon, I realized that pole dancing was beyond the seedy clubs and scanty outfits and there’s more to pole-dancing than what mainstream media displayed.
But Clark changed the rules with her determination and emerged victorious in the in July 2017, when Clark competed at the IPSF World Championships (Spanish Pole Sport championships) and won a silver medal for Spain, paving the way for disabled competitors in pole-dancing and proving the adage true—nothing is impossible.
Erin: My coach Salima is the reason I pole dance. She taught me everything I know about the pole. She has a vision of how the sport can be inclusive and the drive to fight for it – even when it might cost her. She stands up for what she thinks is right, she does the work of 5 people, and she believes in me in a way that makes me work hard, take risks, and really care about how well I do. Salima inspires me.
Erin: I’m a writer, I publish my own magazine about my life as an International Sex Icon, artist, and traveler. I do all the photography, modeling, writing, and layout design. I also have several essays published in various journals and magazines online and in print. When I’m not traveling, my everyday routine is pretty relaxed.
I enjoy a lot of solitude and free time to let my ideas and creative impulses steep. I live about a 45-minute wheelchair-role from the Mediterranean Sea in Catalunya. I go there a lot. I love the exercise, the scenery, and that I can see the sea in so many different moods. In my town, I go to the same cafe every day. I call it ‘my office’.
When I finish a piece that has taken a while to work on, it feels very similar to when I return home from a trip. I have to recalibrate to my present surroundings. Generally, I do that by relaxing at home, going to the studio to dance and train and, you guessed it, visiting the sea.
TDN: How’s life changed since your first competitive pole dancing championship? Do you notice a change in people’s attitude towards yourself?
Erin: Pole dancing hasn’t changed anything – it’s a continuation of the things I have always done. Physically and creatively. I was a circus aerialist for 6 years before I started doing pole. The inclusion of pole in my life wasn’t a shift for me or the people who know me.
TDN: A hyper-sexualized world has unfortunately diminished the athletic and acrobatic importance of pole dancing. As a pole-dancing athlete, what can be done to bring about a change in the perspective?
The IPSF is taking care of the way the sport is perceived quite well. They worked really hard to have the sport recognized officially and continue to work hard to have it included as an Olympic sport. They present their athletes and competitions with consistent professionalism. Whereas I publically refer to myself as a sex icon. I have a magazine I publish called SEX ICON magazine.
I post a lot of pictures of me wearing very little clothing, I have an erotic story available for download on my website and was just featured in an article with the heading ‘pole sport and sex’. As an athlete, I might not be helping to change the perspective at all.
Erin: In a sense, I feel like I can change anything I want to at any time – a narrative is a powerful tool that way. I can’t change actual events, but I can choose what they mean to me, and use writing to explore that. Memory is so fickle anyway, if I don’t like something that happened, I can just wait a couple years and I’ll remember it differently! Life is so fluid and mutable to me that it feels unproductive to take my past too seriously or concretely. I’m really curious about it, though. I use it so much in my work, I’m glad all that background is there to create from.
TDN: If I am allowed to scratch the surface of your dating life, I would like to know what are the challenges you have faced in your love life? How do your dates react to your line of work and lifestyle?
Erin: My biggest dating challenge is that I am constantly moving and traveling. I don’t really date in a traditional sense. I just go right to falling in love with interesting and compassionate people that I meet as I move through the world. The challenge is finding ways of staying connected despite the inevitable distance.
TDN: Do you see yourself married in the future?
Erin: Married? Yeah. I can see it.
SCENE: I’m wearing the most unrealistic dress a woman in a wheelchair could possibly wear. It is NOT possible to move in it. I’m a bridal sculpture. In an art gallery, I’d be titled: An ethereal re-imagining of Erin in organza and chiffon. Wildlife figurines and fresh flowers are nestled in my acres of the train. I’m arrayed at the top of the aisle in all my immobilized glory. Music starts, friends, and family stand. But I don’t make my way down the aisle. There is no one to give me away. I am my own. But I will share – with him.
I take a breath and watch as my groom makes his way to me, not too quickly, this moment is too sweet to rush. And we like to let our romantic tension build. When he gets to me, he lifts me into his arms. My dress falls in a perfect cascade around us. I press my forehead to his cheek. We whisper to each other as my husband-imminently-to-be carries me, on equal footing and as dramatic as possible, to the altar. END SCENE.
For me, weddings are theatrics and I love theatre and creating theatre. As an artist, I am always thinking of iconic imagery that represents key and regular moments in people’s lives – how I would arrange them to include a wheelchair in a way that evokes the emotion of the moment, not the sentiment of tragedy and overcoming traditionally, pervasively and aggressively applied to wheelchairs and disability.
TDN: Other than pole dancing, are there any other interests/hobbies you are pursuing to keep your spirit kickin’?
TDN: Have you been recognized on the streets? If so, tell us about that experience. Any celebrity mentions?
Erin: I mention celebrities all the time. Hey, Beyonce! As far as I know, none of them have mentioned me.