04/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pole dancing For Haiti and Other Charitable Causes

Tired of black-tie benefit events and walk-a-thons to to fulfill your philanthropic responsibility? How about watching sexy dancers work the pole while your cost of admission goes to charity?

Charitable pole dance events are a growing trend among the community of pole dance studios and entertainers. My first experience with a pole dance benefit was my own Pole Superstar competition in October of last year. I raised a quarter of a million dollars for my new charitable organization Single Parents In Need, and donated a portion of the money raised to the long-established New York City based Single Parent Resource Center.

With pretty much everyone in the world giving money to the Red Cross' Haiti relief fund, I was sure that someone was going to organize a pole dance for Haiti event, and yes - it's happening. Several different groups set up pole dancing for Haiti, and lap dances for Haiti. One event in particular is "Couple's Night" benefitting the Red Cross' Haitian relief efforts, organized by Dolores Benford, owner of Ris-K Lingerie and Sensual Fitness in the Poconos. The benefit is taking place on Thursday February 11th, 2010 at their store, and studio, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The event will feature performances by their top pole dance instructor Ryssa - who recently starred in my Pole Superstar NYC showcase - and other instructors and student volunteers from Sensual Fitness. Benford rallied many of the local Stroudsburg businesses to offer door prizes, gift certificates and food donations to create an exciting event. This was originally organized to benefit the local volunteer fire department to raise money for a new fire truck, but the generous offer was turned down for being too risque for the fire department. Fire department, poles... seems like a natural fit... but not for the Poconos I guess. There is a $10 cover charge for the "Couple's Night" event benefitting the Red Cross' Haitian relief fund, and Benford's goal is to have a full house of 300 people in attendance.

There is a major pole dance convention coming up this year in the Washington D.C. area that will raise money for the National Federation for the Blind. Jessalynn Medairy, owner of Pole Pressure fitness studio is coordinating The International Pole and Exotic Dance Fitness Convention and Expo of 2010. The event will be held at the Gaylord National Convention Center and Hotel on the National Bay Harbor on May 21st-23rd, 2010. It is open to the public and Medairy believes she will mostly attract pole fitness students and enthusiasts. Some of the highlights of the convention include pole and burlesque workshops with some of the world's most elite entertainers in those areas, including Australia's top burlesque performer Amber Ray. Other features of the weekend-long convention are lectures and forums, pole dance performances, and international vendors displaying their newest products. There are various ticket price levels, and proceeds will go to the NFB. This cause hits close to home for Medairy as she has a family member that was born blind who is now a chairperson for the NFB. Medairy has worked with this organization in other capacities and noticed a distinct lack of fitness opportunities for the blind. She anticipates her contribution will raise awareness of this deficiency as well as provide money to help the organization.

A few years ago when I first took up pole dance classes, I was also becoming more involved in charitable work so I produced the Pole Superstar competition to merge my two interests. In my world, formal or cocktail events are the most common way of raising money for charities and it's nice to see a break from traditional fundraising methods where organizers are applying their expertise for fun and unusual ways of helping charities.