Interview with Poler and Competitor, Baby Stud Muffin

This is the transcript of our Episode 10: Meet Poler and Competitor, Baby Stud Muffin from Pole On The Call that aired Thursday, March 10, 2022.


You can watch this episode on YouTube, or listen to it on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite podcast service.



Instagram: @baby_stud_muffin

TikTok: @Muffin_Papi


Baby_stud_Muffin is a competitive pole dancer and an aspiring performance artist based in New York City. Without any previous background in movement or dance, he started his journey in pole dancing at Body and Pole 4 years ago.


In no time, pole art, with its diverse art form and inclusive culture, became the air he breathe and the one thing that he could not live without. To him, pole dancing gifted him a way to express himself artistically and to develop a sense of community and friendship.


Over the past 4 years, he has performed in various public and virtual performance venues, including Body and Pole Showcases, Summer Street NYC 2019, and Let Them Eat Cake. In November 2021, he competed in the PSO Boston Dramatic category Level 4 section.


Profoundly affirmed by the camaraderie and dedication showcased by his fellow competitor, it is his goal to persevere in his pole journey by competing in PSO Championship Level 5 by the end of 2022. He is delighted to have the opportunity to share his journey with like-minded pole enthusiasts like you.



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Welcome everybody we’re back with Pole on the Call! I’m Cris Rivers.


And I’m Mændy Mac.


And we are so excited — I am like super so excited to be here today with Baby Stud Muffin!


Hello everybody!


Yeah so excited! So to start I guess would you like to introduce yourself? We learned, we met you as Baby Stud Muffin in PSO, but would you like anybody else to know anything else about you?


For sure! So hello I’m Baby Stud Muffin. In real life I go by the name of Justin. I’ve been poling for four years now, and I’ve been super happy because since pole dancing has really gave me a sense of community, a family, as well as kind of gave me a personality — which I’ll talk to you guys a little bit more later.


I love it.

I mean I feel that way too so I really feel that.


So awesome!

You mentioned that you were, you’ve been pole dancing for four years. What made you get started in pole dance?


Yeah that’s a great question. It’s actually, I would summarize it as upon serendipity, you know. One night I was bored at home, watching YouTube videos and I actually came across a dance video of Evgeny Greshilov who is a very famous Russian pole dancer, dancing to one my favorite song. Slow dancing in a burning room, and the way that he kind of harnessed grace and power in perfect harmony made me really, it really inspired me! And made me think, it he made it look not hard at all. I feel like I can do this with no effort at all. So like the next day I signed up to my very first class at Boston Pole Fitness and the rest is history. I got that along, I have got gotten so far, and gotten so many friends because of it. It’s a really fun journey.

That is awesome, I love that — omg. I’m gonna need that link to that pole dancer I feel like I’ve heard of him years ago but I haven’t seen him in a while. So I would love to see that again.

And so you say like it seemed like really easy, was it really easy for you when you first started?


Let me just say that I got soul crushed so much during the first few classes because even though pole dancers makes defying gravity look so easy, the actual mechanics of movements is not easy at all. Since like no matter whether or not you’re a dancer or a person who hasn’t moved a lot in your past life, to move with a instrument and around an instrument and to maneuver around it gracefully is not necessarily natural for anyone. So just by learning how to walk around the pole without looking like you have two left legs is a big challenge for me, and coming from a person who has not taken any dance classes before I take my very first pole class, it was really eye-opening. But I guess that video of that Russian pole dancer dancing really informed my principle of how I view pole dancing, and how I think pole dancing as an art should be. So from that day forward, even though I did struggled a lot, I tried to strike for that perfect balance of dance and art and strength.

Love it! You have a history with, a little history with dance before? Was like this your first time getting into it?


Pole dancing class is actually my very very first dance class in my entire life, so it informs my movement pattern very greatly. And I think that this is the beauty of pole dancing right? You don’t have to be a professional dancer to really work hard and put in the work to excel at what you like and what you do.

Yes yeah I think it really allows like everyone who is a dancer inside to have it to come out! Because maybe like dancing on the ground is you know, without an apparatus, doesn’t interest us as much as you know, when we see everyone flying around the pole.


As long as you’re having fun!

There are some pole walks that make me want to be like, yeah I want to just hop — they’re not even in the air!


That’s true.

Awesome! So I think I just asked — what do you want to ask? what or I could ask another one, I don’t mind?


Yeah I mean, so you didn’t have any dance background or anything, where you into gymnastics or any others like fitness? Do you go to the gym?


Ah that’s a good question. Right before joining pole dancing I really did not have much hobbies really so I really did not move. I’m not a good mover. When I was a child I did not play sports. That’s not surprising, but you know. So pole dancing is really the very first movement-oriented sports or fitness that I got myself engrossed in. So at first I have zero upper body strength and I don’t know how to hold myself up, and the idea of climbing a pole from the floor up non-stop to reach the ceiling is a miracle to me! So but, I’m really into the art of pole dancing and see how people just really put in the work to express themselves in any way they can, really inspired me to work, work out, and join other type of sports. And also taking yoga classes to supplement my journey of pole because I do think that without proper strength training or flexibility training it will take a very very long time for anyone to progress appropriately in a timely manner in pole dancing.


So to answer your question, while I didn’t have any movement background, now I take crossfit training as well as like tae kwon do, which is a martial art that requires a lot of flexibility, to support my pole journey. And I recommend people do that too!


For sure yeah! I’ve always wanted to start some kind of martial arts because I know it’s incredible with physical strength and flexibility, so I’m glad that you share that! That’s incredible!


So you really did go from like just nothing, to like seeing that video, and then being like now I’m this! That’s so awesome!


Look at me!


You went all in that’s awesome!


I was talking to one of my friends, who is also won my my coach and three years down the road of pole dancing, I was, I told him, "look at me! my body is really built for, to be a pole dancer!"


To which he responded, "you really worked hard to train so that you can pole dance."


And I think that you know, having a goal and determination of where you want to be, really kind of alleviates all these strains and like challenges that comes with pole dancing training right? As long as you have a goal to work towards, the rest is history. You will feel empowered and driven to put in the work to train as a weight lifter or a tae kwon do artist just so that you can achieve all those pole moves.

Hell yeah. Yes, yeah! I feel like a lot of us do have like the pole has changed my life story. It’s just so special. I feel like it instills so much discipline and resilience. It really kind of helps you kind of put your goals into a perspective.


Yes and then, so now, you you explain that now you have like a fitness regimen. Do you want to talk about kind of what keeps you in shape for a pole?


Yeah so I do a lot of open workouts. So training on my own at least three days a week, and then I go to, before before that, open workout I would go to crossfit to do a lot of weight lifting exercises. And I see it as a warm up for my pole exercises. And sometimes I, and for two days a week, I go to to tae kwon do, so that I can stretch and get my splits eventually, you know. I try to use every part of my free time to really harness my body, so that my body can eventually achieve my nemesis moves and all the goals that I set for myself.

I love that it’s so important that we cross train, and I love that you do that and share that because we forget. Even i’d forget. And which brings me to your pole nemesis, that you already brought it up! What are your pole nemesis and your pole goals?


That’s, I have a lot of nemesis right now. I’m working on fonji's, and you know it’s really really difficult. But you know my training philosophy has always been just to break it down into incremental little pieces so that you can work on it. And do the little piece for example, casting, or like re-grab, just little, little goals that makes you feel like your your nemesis is still attainable, but still challenging. So that it keeps yourself from being burnt out but still being inspired, and other than that I am interested in learning how to do a broken split which is a very flexibility driven move where you basically break your shoulder, you know, getting into it! But yeah these are my two nemesis.


In terms of my pole goals, I am working on a piece, or maybe two pieces to compete in PSO again, either entertainment level 4 or championship level 5.

That is so exciting! OMG I love it! All like, the fonji! I can’t even believe you said that because I was looking at it, I was like I want to do that this year, but I have no idea if I could do that, so it’s inspiring that you’re trying it and working on it and conditioning on it. And I can’t wait to see it!


Right so there are progressions though for every level! So if you want those bigger tricks, you know you have to start at the bottom, and then you you keep working it and then…


I know I can’t wait to see! OMG so exciting! Speaking of PSO, you said you’re working on some new pieces. Before we talk about those new pieces, let us talk about this past PSO in November. Your experience, and the amazingness, because I was, I felt so blessed that we were able to watch it — even Mændy, you were able to watch it, and it was such a beautiful piece — you really kind of just gave it your all, your soul told your story. I actually shed a tear which is rare for me!





So it would do you want to share that share the process of making it and share the whole experience and the win and everything?


I love it....


Well thank you so much for your kind words .... I’m glad that I was able to bring something to the to the stage that left an impact to my audiences because I do feel like the reason why I compete is to actually present a testimonial.....testimony of how hard how hard work can transform into something beautiful so in the by by the end of 2020.


I feel like I have been training pole dancing for three years and every year pre-covered my studio body and pole would host a few PSO run through for all the competitors days before their competition and as a young pole dancing pole dancer I was able to see how the big dog put on their best to snatch the trophy and that really inspired me to to be something that I can I see see it is possible for me to to to do so..... in 2021 and I decided to sign up for this competition not only to show my my coaches and my friends that I have I have transformed so much but also to tell a very honest story to really .... to be be brave enough to be vulnerable and honest to show my most stigmatized part of my identity....


And you know I used the stage as a portal to tell the story of me being diagnosed as hiv positive as well as me fighting off depression of course. The training and I think that it’s very important for me to serve the meaning or purpose for this performance so that I don’t get burnt out because the the process of selecting and a concept and then creating a whole routine without a dance background and then continuously failing and falling out of the tricks and then still pushing through during the training the process is very tedious but as long as I believe in the outcome or the intention of this performance is to not only tell my story...... but also tell my audience that it’s okay.


Like life living with hiv can be very very depressing and hot difficult but there’s always hope as long as you fight so that really motivated me a lot to getting that story out there and my coach Donna Carnell which who is a very formidable artist helped me a lot in refining the piece and during the competition day I remember I was really nervous but everybody at PSO has been so supportive that really made me feel good and empowered enough to really put through the piece and usually in real life whenever I disclose my hiv status someone just kind of kind of evaporates and disappear but you know the the stage PSO was able to provide really was a indeed empowering experience I remember so many people come up to me telling me that I was doing great and how my peace touched their soul and I was able to meet you which is really really surprisingly pleasant and I feel very blessed to have this opportunity.

Thank you so much for sharing that and for sharing your vulnerability and everything going on I’m a big hiv advocate living with hiv myself .... and I know online advocacy is very hard and just what you did with creating a piece with a dance piece..... we all got the story we all understood what was going on and it all gave us emotion with incredible tricks incredible transitions ...... it was really what I wanted to do and didn’t know how to do it and express and you just like inspired me and even my partner who says hi by the way.

You just like inspired us to just not only have fun with pole dancing but really truly truly tell your story and really nail it in the head like this is who I am and this is my story and this is what I made of it because yeah you had hiv but you anybody there so that was like incredible and I want to thank you personally for sharing that you have inspired me as a dancer and as a hiv advocate so thank you .


Truly thank you for having me yes awesome so I can’t even remember who asked the last question is it your turn well we could talk about it since we’re on the pso loop we can talk about maybe your upcoming performances maybe you can give us a sneak peek idea yeah of course?


So my the current piece that I’m working on is for championship level five of course it’s it’s exciting to progress and compete in a a level above what which you have competed before the concept will will be a continuation of what what my performance at PSO in the past in the in the past piece I was kind of being willing to be vulnerable and emotional and still fighting off a adversity..... for example hiv positive .....about being hiv positive and the next piece I’m looking at is to embody the spirit of badassery you know.


Now now that I have triumphed my stigma and now it’s time for me to flourish and let the people know that I i don’t care what other people think and I’m here to own the stage and because I am awesome even if I live with this stigmatizing condition so the music will be read by zappo and it will be a lot of power tricks and a lot of powerful transitions because the concept will be I am the star and you can’t stop me.

Which PSO..... so will this be if you don’t mind sharing okay again I’m sorry which pso will this be if you don’t mind sharing?


There..... it’s either in philly or next year because I want to have it something good to showcase the world instead of having something rushed oh that’s that brings me to one of the things that I want to talk to to you about rather why I chose competing versus performances because pso is really as you guys know pso has been a very supportive stage for novice or experienced competitors and whenever I put something out or a piece out I want to have the control over thinking through the concept and really create something real make that make sense to the audience but also ....


I want to deliver it with perfect finesse so joining competition and having a timeline that you can control and you can take the time to plan out and execute the training is what attracts me to the route of competition rather than performances not because performance is less appealing it’s just that I’m a stress I’m I usually am stressed out easily so performance can be a little stressful timeline wise.

That’s so interesting yeah pso is so awesome we’re so thankful and like they’re everywhere and they’re even online it’s so accessible and anyone could have like a platform for whatever is in your heart facts which brings me up to the next question is there any like tidbit or advice you might give someone who’s thinking about competing or who might be scared who or who already competed and it like went awful and they don’t want to ever do it again yeah so if you if you fail at doing something my typical go-to comment is do it again.


Because right now as soon as you can because if you don’t you will never do it and when you lose the opportunity to you will regret it because if you don’t do right you’ll never know what will happen you might fail that you might as well win from and I have a lot of I have given a lot of thoughts to this from a overall overarching level for a com to join a competition is a very emotionally and physically draining up journey and it’s gonna be a lot more difficult than you think because it has a lot more tiny granular details of things that you need to go through from music to prop to choreography so not only when you’re deciding to compete but also training for pole dancing you need to have a clear idea of what your relationship with pull is and why you are pole dancing having that very clear idea of like why pole dancing appeals to you and what it gives to me a gift to you will always tr p all those little challenges that will enrich us that joining a pole dancing competition won’t throw at you and you know for me to understand that pole dancing really gave me a community who cared about me and it gave me and I’m just simply half happy whenever I am doing a portrait is enough for me to keep on pulling joining competition or keep up pole dancing and the fact that junior com comp competitor should not seem see joining a competition as an end goal but rather a just a milestone so that you have a goal to keep on working towards instead of being burnt out and quit pole dancing all together.


That is also why I decided to keep on competing in championship level five because I just want the the goals to work towards rather than having all these excuses in life like oh I’m too busy oh my gosh these tricks are too hard I will never achieve it it’s very easy for you to lose sight and quit pull easily but competition really give you that opportunity to harness what you want to do and also in a granular level for a junior com competitor to really pay a close attention to the rule book and to understand as you said the differences between the artistic scoring system versus championship and to whether or not you can switch whether or not you can switch the position of spim pole.

Spin pole versus static pole and also try to arrive early so that pole testing is very very important because you never know how spin pole will react if you don’t I don’t know if chris you remember this but in our competition the spin pole just spin like there’s no tomorrow.....


yes omg was it was so interesting .....


Yeah and never give up during the performance never give up because people are there not to talk you down but they want to see you succeed you’re gonna dishonor your your your audience if you just give up once if you can’t do a trick yes and like he said that spin pole beware y’all it’s faster than you think.

I almost died when I went into my head where I was like holy.....

It was so awesome thank you for sharing it.

Hold on well ......they’re like it’s faster than your studio....... I was like okay it can’t be that fast because the studio poles are already fast.

They always feel like lighter too I’m always like oh is this gonna be like is this gonna be okay the whole thing’s like ....yes...... and it’s terrifying because it’s like the pole doesn’t necessarily connect to the ceiling so that when you look up you usually expect a ceiling that is like on the top of your pole....... but when you look up at the top of the pole and the ceiling is really really up high and it’s a very trippy in in the middle of the competition.... that’s just my side note .


Yeah oh my god I don’t look up because like you said you see the ceiling and then you see the bars it’s attached too shaky .....that’s it right in that like that combined with all the adrenaline that’s happening you’re just like......

Well let’s get into do you have like a favorite style of pole you do mostly ?


Contemporary ....I.... am. I have a philosophy of training where I want to train every style and there is so that I can be as as rounded as possible...... you know ..... but I’m not doing a good job at it.


But my favorite pole..... my favorite pole style would be contemporary or any type of pole dancer who combines the musicality and choreography with the poltrex .......you know I want to me pole dancing is called pole dancing not only because there’s a need for a lot of portraits but also you need to harness it with a lot of soft skill of musicality and movement to make it interesting right..... for example again going back to what you should do in competition not only you need to do what you do well but you also need to have a very general or overarching perception of whether or not you’re a piece it has a concept whether or not it is it has flexibility strength or dance as well as floor work and whether or not these five different factors goes well together where your movement pattern or your routine has an overarching system or a coherence so that it leaves a leaves your audience whether or not you’re competing or performing at all you know....

Excellent I love it....... we all try to be well-rounded but it is so very hard......


Yeah but pole is a journey it’s fine.....


I know facts sometimes you have to go to the one step forward to step back exactly do you gravitate toward more flexible moves or do you enjoy more strength based?


My body is gravitate towards strength-based move .I try to do as much flexibility tricks as I can because I only have splits so I over...... I’ll do an overkill on splitting moves whenever I can so that keeps it interesting instead of just okay one power move after another power move..... that that way you know audience lose interest and you’re not out of breath .....that is very important too .....sometimes I forget how to breathe during.. before... everyone yeah we all know I’m glad to know that’s all of us not just me too.

Even though we all know it’s so much better when we do breathe yeah I know I think we’re just in the moment yeah.

Do you want to take another question chris?


Sure ..... so I guess tell us about your like pole training style and your philosophy like is there specific things you have to do or that anything like that?


Yeah so I always warm up beforehand because I have thrown my shoulder out before before without warming up..... that’s very important so that’s my one routine that cannot live without.


Every time I train myself and like I said before I try to take a generalist approach in training I train a lot of different type of styles so that just ....just so that I’m not bored but also my body has different vocabulary of different tricks right I even throw on a pair of ..... like heels once in a blue moon to try to be sexy..... but yeah you know in a granular level.


I think I usually come to the training with a list of you know list of movements that I wanted... when I wanted... I want to train but also to organize them with my body parts with a progression of difficulty so that I can build one movement onto the next for example if I were to work on spin pole today I might just zero in on a lot of splits or stuff like that so that my body is warm enough to progress into harder tricks that has that involves splits .


And if I were to.... for example.... I will start with jade and then I go to a brass monkey split and then other broken splits to bondage splits you know those progression of difficulty of tricks and then I will also do .....and then when it comes to strength stuff then I would just do a lot of to in a similar vein.


I would organize my tricks into difficulties and really shouldering zero in on shoulder movement or leg hangs so that you know you don’t j p j p between body parts where your body is cold and not sticky that’s not very efficient but overall if you are not sure about organizing.


I just strongly recommend you come in with a list of at least a list of movements so that you know what to work on because if without the list what will always happen is that you will stare at yourself in the mirror for 30 minutes not knowing what to do and that’s not very efficient .I hope that my advice will help.

Yes I love that you say you know bring a list because you know something might be working and then you’ll just go to the next thing and go to the next thing and whatever will happen at least you had your plan.


Yes I love it ....I find for some students and even teachers ...lists help and they don’t know it until they actually try it..... until they actually start making it ...bring in the list it’s awesome you know.


I love hearing about everyone’s different training styles too because I have to admit I’m going to try your training style it’s a little bit different than mine so I’m going to see if it works out for me.

And then do you have a particular pole hand grip that you like the best?


I prepared for you this little thing..... I tried a lot of but my fav