If you’ve ever seen Sammy Picone’s videos, you’ll likely agree with us on this point: pole-dancing should be an Olympic sport. A powerful mix of grace, strength, and tenacity, pole dancing is part art form, part workout, and wholly mesmerizing. If by chance you haven’t come across Sammy’s wildly popular Instagram account, see what we mean by giving it a quick scroll. Her unbridled talent has clearly not gone unnoticed—she recently went on tour with instant musical sensation Summer Walker. Read on to learn more about Sammy, from all the ways pole has impacted her life to what’s next for the rising star.
What initially drew you to pole dancing, and what are the main ways pole dancing has impacted your life?
My college best friend took me to a class just before graduation. I was going through a really rough time in my life having received a cancer diagnosis and a couple of other diagnoses in the previous years. Needless to say I was struggling to love and accept myself. The first class was difficult because I felt like I was making a very sad attempt at wearing a sexy costume.
My perception of myself changed the moment we began working on inverts in class (in a nutshell, this is where you begin going upside down on the pole). I surprised myself by being able to invert on my first attempt and it was one of the most amazing feelings I’d ever experienced. I experienced true admiration for myself and my body for the first time in a long time.. possibly ever. Pole, obviously, has been a part of my life ever since.
Everything in my life became a lot more feasible once I began progressing in pole, as it really proved to me that dedication to something will produce tangible results. And watching beautiful art, created by me and my body ignited a love for myself that, so far, has survived during my lowest moments.
What is the biggest misconception about pole dancing, in your opinion?
The biggest misconception about pole dancing is that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to do it…and if a man/woman chooses the “wrong” way, judgments about their character are warranted. There is this long-standing—and ridiculous— idea that if a man/woman chooses to take part in something like pole dancing they are making a conscious decision to be judged…they are asking for it. The responsibility of the person making said judgments and assumptions doesn’t seem to exist in the world we currently live in. I think the most important question we can ask ourselves when assuming things about people is where we learned the information we’re using and what system the information is founded in. This is going to be crucial in breaking down stereotypes about pole dancers and similar professions.
Do you have any mantras in life, in pole, in relationships?
My only mantra is that time, consistency, and creativity will open many doors. Time and consistency have allowed me—with time— to do unbelievable things with my body and pole dancing. Creativity has gotten me through the inevitable roadblocks along the way
We had such a great time with you walking around your neighborhood in Brooklyn! Can you tell us about the relationship and connection you have with NYC and the neighborhood you live in?
Thank you! NYC is and always will be my home—it’s where both sides of my family (once coming to the US) set roots in. It holds a really special place in my heart as it raised the people that make up me. While my family has resided mostly through the Bronx, Queens, and Long Island, the neighborhood that I currently live in is Crown Heights, Brooklyn. To be honest, I don’t speak much about my relationship with this neighborhood because my experience as a woman in her late 20’s, recently moved-in, is a very limited perspective—its very different from the experience of those who built the neighborhood, many of whom are now being chased out due to forces of gentrification.
You have a huge following on Instagram, but what’s something many people don’t know about you?
I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out that I am an avid YouTube surgical procedure viewer. I have always been so intrigued by the human body and physiology. I let a lot of worries about life and timing get in the way of going down the medical school path.
What would you say to anyone who might be interested in pole, but hesitant to give it a try?
No one—No. One.—was great at something on day 1. Or even year 1 for that matter. Pole dancing, like almost any other activity, takes dedication and consistency. I know you may not be able to do a pull-up right now, or you may have “no upper-body strength,” but that’s not the point. The point is to BUILD these things with time and practice.
Not trying pole dancing because you “have no upper body strength” is like never going to school as a toddler cause you just can’t read yet.
Find a beginner class in your area and give yourself time and room to grow!
What’s next for you? Any new career plans or life endeavors?
I don’t know if many know this about me but I recently graduated from a master’s program for acupuncture and am on my way to being a licensed acupuncturist. That being said, I am happily planning the opening of my very own pole dancing studio and acupuncture practice in NYC. I want to be able to change people’s lives the way that both pole dancing and Chinese medicine have changed mine.