Why you should care
Because “badass” comes in unexpected sizes and shapes.
Welcome to OZY Confidential, OZY’s new weekly podcast — you know, the one your mother warned you about — for people who think pushing the envelope is the only way to deal with both envelopes and pushing. Subscribe now to follow OZY Confidential on Apple, Spotify, Himalaya or wherever you get your podcast/audio.
The legend has been larded on somewhat, but Andrei Suhenco, a crack Ukrainian engineer at Microsoft, had the basic story right when describing a co-worker on the engineering team. “One day in a meeting, she stood up and said ‘Fuck this. I quit!’ When I asked what she was going to do after she quit, she told me that she was going to be a pole dancer!”
That’s the life left turn of Taiwan-born Renee Wu, who quit her job at Microsoft and left her Ph.D. program in physics for ceiling-to-floor steel poles, high-heeled shoes, scant outfits and, well, a very definite kind of artistic freedom — a freedom she wouldn’t have bridled by what she often calls the “sport” and its connection to strip clubs, strippers and anyone else’s inability to see that what she did on the pole was way more significant for her than what she wore while she was doing it.
Now Wu is winning competitions, opening her own studio and not missing physics — outside of how it applies to the pole — at all. Call it steel pole semiotics: Wu’s star turn exploits all the promise of pole, a sport she expects to do well into her 60s. And more so than anything else, the benefits of doing exactly what the hell you want.
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