BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
ONE of the pioneers of pole dancing in Zimbabwe, Norleen “Zoey” Sifelani has said professionalism has helped her overcome temptation that come in her line of work.
Off late, Zoey has expanded her art off the stage to establish an academy named after her (Zoey Academy) that offers massage sessions and sex tutorials in line with chinamwali traditional practice where women are taught sex moves and positions to enhance their sex lives and relationships.
Chinamwali is practiced in most southern African countries by cultures like the Chewa, Nguni, Venda, Tonga and Sena, but with the advent of urbanisation and inter-marriages, the practice has spread to other ethnicity.
Through the academy situated in the capital, Zoey also offers aerobic exercises designed to increase cardiovascular efficiency under the African Yoga theme.
Becoming a pole dancer
“I ventured into pole dancing in 2009 when I was in South Africa. I got impressed by white ladies whom I saw doing this, so I asked them to teach me. I trained in Johannesburg and Pretoria. That is how it all started and I am the one who introduced it in Zimbabwe.
“I was in trouble with my family during the early days because they did not understand such form of art as pole dancing is often mistaken with strip-tease. In strip-tease, you will be naked while in pole dancing, it’s playing around the pole. So at first they thought it was strip-tease, but after realising that it was different, they began to support me and my dad even started to buy me uniforms.
Pestered for sex
“The pole and dancing industry is not for unprincipled ones as there are a lot of temptation faced in the line of duty. Several men salivate at me during my performances at live shows to the extent that some of them have been pestering me for sex.
“Some men are never satisfied with their wives, so I have come to accept that by not entertaining them off stage. I have also decided to have own security personals each time I will be performing so that professionalism is maintained.
“Men must respect their marriages and wives. For those who are in the habit of pestering me for sex, I will not hesitate to name and shame them. So, for them not to be embarrassed, I think they have to bring their wives for African Yoga (chinamwali) lessons and that is the only way they can get what they salivate for when I am on stage.”
“I am a qualified Chinamwari teacher because I went for lessons and passed. I also come from Malawi. Under our culture, every girl child should pass through that.
“I have taught a number of women with the help of my dancers since opening the academy and from the responses I was getting, women appreciate what I do for them, especially those in marriages.
“Before the outbreak of COVID-19, things were looking good as both local and international women were coming for bedroom lessons to spice up their sex life. Before the COVID-19-induced lockdown, we were offering our services at kitchen parties and other social gatherings that have anything to do with love and bedroom enhancement.”
Business under COVID-19
“The sex academy and massage parlour business is dry at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to curb the spread of the virus. Before lockdown, the sex academy and massage parlour used to pay more than the dancing profession.
“Then I used to be hired in neighbouring countries to teach them how to spice-up their bedroom acts. Ladies would organise themselves into groups then invite me to come and teach them. Mostly, I used to travel to South Africa three times a month to conduct my lessons.”
“When I offer bedroom lessons to fellow women, it does not mean I am a prostitute or advertising for sex, but what I am trying to do is to fill in a critical gap by playing the role of an aunt to women.”
“As a pole dancer, I have been subjected to widespread criticism from religious figures and traditionalists, arguing that my activities represent the height of moral decadence in society, yet dancing is a profession just like any other.
“The criticism has, however, made me strong in showbiz and I will strive to get where I am destined with my career in showbiz.”
Standing against criticism
“I am now used to women’s attitudes. Men are even afraid to come to shows with their wives because the latter will be just criticising. I tried to make them understand that it is only about work and not about snatching their husbands. I won and eventually, I was prompted to establish the Zoey Chinamwari Academy.
“Pole dancing has been destroyed by newcomers who lack a sense of directions. They have brought confusion which makes other people think it’s stripping. I was once called by some authorities in Muzarabani warning me that my fellows had been exhibiting immoral performances. I clarified that those were not under me.”
From the bed
“When I wake up in the morning around 6 o’clock every day, no matter how late I would have gone to bed, the first thing I do is to exercise so as to keep my body in shape for continuous flexibility.”
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