I was on one of those full-body-experience, internet trawl marathons the other day and stumbled across an article about a guy who claimed to be the only Swedish male pole dancer. I'd heard of male strippers – the guys in the red polyester thongs who try to make you touch their shaved balls at hen parties – but didn't know any male pole dancers existed, let alone Sweden's highly-revered, only man of the pole.
Turns out the dancer in question is Ibrahim Tunc, the first ever male Swedish pole dancer and one of the four guys who will be competing in the Swedish Pole Dancing Championship this Sunday, November 11th. Judging by last year's results, chances are Ibrahim will storm his way to victory, so I rushed to interview him before he gets swooped over to the global stage and becomes a national treasure.
VICE: Hey, Ibrahim. You're competing in the Swedish pole dance championship soon, right?
Ibrahim Tunc: I am indeed. I took part in it last year, as well – that was the first ever Swedish pole dance championship, actually – and won. It felt great and it was a lot of fun, so I'm really looking forward to this year.
It sounds like it's gonna be a piece of cake for you.
Well, I mean, this kind of thing is still pretty new in Sweden and I've only been doing it a couple of years, so I found last year pretty tough, actually.
How did you get into it?
It was through a friend who opened this Pole and Fitness Studio where I'm working out in Gävle. My friend asked if I wanted to try it out, so I did and I got hooked. I've been doing break dance for three years as well, though, which is really my main thing.
How was it competing in the pole dance world championship?
It was great fun. I got to travel to London just ahead of the Olympic games, but I didn't make it to the final, unfortunately. I think it still went pretty well anyway, though.
Was it a different kind of rivalry on the global stage than in Sweden?
Yeah, definitely. The guys competing in London have been pole-dancing for such a long time, but I don't think that really makes that much of a difference in terms of talent. It was more a question of rivalry based around experience rather than technique. I just like to compete because it's fun, though, so I don't get too into that.
Has the pole-dancing you do got anything to do with striptease?
No, I'm doing Chinese pole dance, which is the circus branch of pole-dancing. Pole-dancing initially comes from Chinese pole dance and that doesn't really have anything to do with striptease. It's more of a gymnastic and acrobatic sort of thing. I've never done strip pole dance and I probably never will.
That's a shame. Do you experience a lot of prejudice because you're a pole dancer?
Yeah, I definitely had a bit of that in the beginning when people didn't really get what I was doing, but now people know more about it, they all think it's really cool.
Do you have a pole at home?
Yeah, but I don't use it very often. It's not really the same thing at home as when I'm at the studio. My girlfriend is a pole dancer as well – she was the one who wanted to have one at home.
Alright, so she's the one putting on shows for you?
No, not really.
Fair enough. I read on your blog that you're also about to take part in a competition called Man of Sweden 2012. What's that?
It's a modelling competition similar to Miss Sweden, but for guys, obviously. It's Sweden's biggest male modelling competition. The winner gets to represent Sweden in Manhunt international, which is the world's biggest modelling competition for guys. I've already won the best looking body prize for Man of Sweden.
Oh wow. With all that competing and winning and stuff, are you starting to feel unbeatable?
Definitely not! I'm working really hard on everything I do. I really hope I get to the final of this and win. It's on December 6th, but for now, people can vote for me online.
Okay. Good luck with that and thanks, Ibrahim!
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