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When the Claws Come Out

Instead of killing them with kindness, torture them with success” – David Goggins

Recently I’ve had 2 dancers who were dealing with negative, spiteful attitudes from other dancers within the industry, reach out to me for guidance on how to deal with these things. Both ladies are awesome entertainers with some successes under their belts, one in particular, is a rising star and slaying the Exotic dance scene. Very popular with audiences, winning awards and loved by some industry heavy weights. The bullying began once she started winning contests and was booked for her first feature week. In one instance, when she walked into a changeroom there was a comment written in permanent marker on the wall saying, “So and so is an escort and is sleeping with the agents.” She also had other people making degrading comments about her while she was within earshot in the changeroom…you know, HIGH SCHOOL SHIT! lol When we worked together, she said, “You know Janine, I try to be nice to everyone and treat everyone with kindness but it just doesn’t matter. Should I stop making such an effort to be kind? Is it always like this? Is it really this lonely at the top?”

I giggled and replied, “Welcome to the big girls club! You are now on a different playing field and are ruffling some feathers. Congratulations! This is not a bad thing. You are achieving success, and some people will feel threated by that but NEVER let that change you, being kind and a great performer is GOLD in this industry. Don’t allow them to make you jaded. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to everyone you will still be the villain in somebody’s story, so just be the hero in your own. Don’t stop being kind but don’t be afraid to create a boundary when one is needed. And NO, it’s not lonely at the top if you bring ‘your people’ with you. Your vibe attracts your tribe. Be clear with what kind of people you want to surround yourself with and you will connect with them. And sometimes, the toxic shitheads will maneuver their way into your circle-moths are attracted to light. But when the first red flag appears-LISTEN! And don’t ever beat yourself up for trusting the wrong the person and having rose colored glasses. Those qualities are tremendous and rare, just dust yourself off, cut the ties and move on.”

The best thing about success being the sweetest revenge, is that once you are having success, you are so damn happy that you don’t even give those negative Nancys a 2nd thought. They may have fueled your motivation in the beginning, giving you something to prove but then, are no longer are on your mind….but you are on theirs, as they watch your socials like a hawk. at one point, those haters might even start turning into your biggest fans. You won’t even be in a place where you spare a thought about them but there probably isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t think about you. How powerful is that. That’s why success is the sweetest revenge. And when I do hear the odd garbage talk about me by someone, my response is, “So what. Awesome! Good to know that they still think of me and I’m so relevant to them. Who are they again?” It has zero weight on how I feel and most certainly doesn’t penetrate my self worth or my ‘Awesomeness’ armor. 

I have said more often then not, “I don’t get bitter, I get better and better then colossal!” For me, when someone is gossiping, I’m not really paying attention about who they are gossiping about but why and where are they on their journey to be spewing such stuff. Sometimes people need to feel popular, approved of, special or they just aren’t in a happy place. Happy, successful people don’t go around hating on others and trying to destroy them, they are too busy being happy and successful!

Online is such an easy place for cyber bullying to take place, I call them keyboard warriors. There was an incident where an entertainer I had adored and vouched for down here in the US, who used a lame excuse to create a hate train of online comments and bullying towards another dancer, that was completely unprovoked and unwarranted. As I watched this unfold, I was appalled and so disappointed. I decided to sleep on how I was going to deal with this episode. I really, REALLY wanted to stay out of the drama….but this dancer that was being ganged up on is someone I’ve mentored AND I just don’t agree with this bullshit behavior! As a mentor and veteran, I felt like I needed to lead by example and do something about this. It is fortunate that the dancer attacked is my girl and we’ve had many talks about dealing with people and situations like this and that she is so strong. If this were a woman who wasn’t so strong and/or struggled at all emotionally/mentally, the consequences to such bullying could be fatal. I myself, have gotten into it with people online and the one thing I’ve learned is that you can never argue with someone irrational and committed to their way of thinking about you. You can’t argue with crazy! Waste of time. So instead of jumping on the hate train newsfeed, where I’d probably just go back and forth with a lot of the minions of the attacker (there was an entertainer that did stick up and say something on that feed and that’s exactly what happened), I decided to post on my own social media my disdain for such acts and then went out of my way to help elevate that entertainer’s career by landing her an Australian Feature Tour, which isn’t easy to come by. Not going to engage with the peanut gallery and waste my valuable time, instead, I uplift and help elevate this dancer’s career even more. This entertainer went on to win a big award in the US after this. Yay, success!

In my interview with Peeled, the documentary, they asked me if since Vayda’s death, had I noticed a change within the industry. Vayda Kiss, was one of the most sweetest souls you’d ever meet and was an amazing entertainer. Though I don’t know her full story as to what lead her to take her own life, I do know that she dealt with some bullying from other dancers. Not saying it was the reason but I’m sure it didn’t ease the pain she clearly was going through. I actually hesitated for a minute. I had a flash of the ‘mean girls’ clique. But then thought of this industry 10-15 years ago, opposed to now and the truth is, the sisterhood is stronger and continuing to build and grow. When I look at the ladies in the industry right now, there are so many kindred spirits, so helpful, genuine. In my last few contests, you wouldn’t believe that we were competing against eachother because all the ladies are helping eachother with their shows. My answer to that question was, “Yes, there has been a change within the industry since her death. The sisterhood IS stronger and I believed that dancers such as myself, have been catalysts and leading by example” I do feel that I am continuously beating this drum of uniting women and building eachother up, not tearing eachother down. I even coined the hashtag #yesyouCANsitwithus demonstrating inclusion opposed to exclusion.

Yes, there are still going to be some ripples in the pond with people who don’t get along but it is way better now than when I first started dancing! Boy, the stories I have! And I will share! When I first started dancing, it was cut throat, it was a, “Fuck around and find out,” mentality.

I’ve also heard someone gossiping about another dancer, saying the same old same old: slept her way to the top. Bahaha! I think these types of things are often said about successful women. They need to sleep with someone to get ahead and/or some sort of accusation to discredit their character. Typical things said about women in hopes of destroying their reputation. I don’t take anyone’s word for it, ever. I need to see the video footage with my own eyeballs. Actually, with most accusations, I need to see it to believe it. There needs to be a, ‘For sure this person said or did this.’

You can’t sleep with the public and in the entertainment industry, it’s all about cultivating a fan base. If a feature is successful, being booked consistently, winning contests in different organizations, has a high showprice, invited to headline events…that comes from HER. And if she has a connection with a man in our biz, who the f$%^ cares?!!! That’s their business. He is not going to make her career. Maaaaybe a dancer has won a contest or an award from being involved with the right man at the right time but that doesn’t guarantee a successful, sustainable, CAREER. That’s going to come from her. There are entertainers who have won titles and still weren’t booked.

So, for the ladies out there feeling the heat from the peanut gallery, move through it and then move up from it, flying so high those opinions have no weight with you. Allow them to fan your flames. Fly so high that when you do look down, they just look like ants. You can laugh and add onto those rumors about yourself, keep them focused on you. No such thing as bad publicity. Keep talking shit, you’re making me famous! When there was another entertainer slagging me on Instagram, my followers increased by 200! I didn;t care what she was saying, I thought it was awesome that her fans were becoming mine! 

Keep reaching, keep focused, keep happy, keep kind, keep humble and keep believing in your dreams. You will be the one living them, just don’t get distracted by the haters, that’s exactly what they want.

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