It’s not likely that tourists who stroll by Chelsea Plymale’s pole-dancing act on the boardwalk in “family friendly” Ocean City, Maryland, realize they’re getting the tame version of what she does for a living in non-summer months.
Plymale, 27, is a stripper by trade.
She usually works at full-nudity strip clubs in Baltimore and Washington as well as at bachelor parties and private events.
“I’m not doing anything raunchy or nude on the boardwalk, obviously,” Plymale told Delaware Online. “People are acting like I am, but I’m not. I don’t wear my 7 ½-inch stiletto heels.”
Not that her choice of high-heels or the fact that she’s toned down her act matters much to some longtime businesses, especially when she slides down her 9-foot pole in front of passers-by.
A brief clip of Plymale in action. (Content warning: The images — as well as commentary by the audience near the camera — may be offensive to some readers.):
Joe Kroart, owner of art print establishment Ocean Gallery, told Delaware Online that Plymale’s theatrics — which commenced last weekend — have gummed up the normal flow of pedestrian traffic.
But that’s not all he’s upset about.
“Do we want this occurring at every street end? Would you want to take your family to a resort that had pole dancers all over the boardwalk?” he asked the news outlet. “We’re talking about respect for human dignity and decency.”
Plymale seems to revel in the attention, whatever form it takes.
“Ocean City just needs to get with the times,” the resident of Frederick, Maryland, told Delaware Online. “I’m not doing anything trashy. I’m not out there in a thong and pasties. I’m not shaking my butt.”
And her critics? “Those people aren’t making me any money — they’re just making me famous,” Plymale added to Delaware Online.
Courtesy of a pair of federal court verdicts involving Ocean City, no amount of public outcry can change the fact that Plymale has a legal right to conduct her pole-dancing operation on the boardwalk, even though children are among those who pass by her act.
Local codes now prevent any person “engaging in the permitted activity of peddling, soliciting, hawking or street performing on the boardwalk” to use nudity, pornographic materials, or obscenity in any display or performance.
Which opened the door wide for many street performers, Plymale included.
“It’s beautiful, it’s art,” Plymale told Delaware Online of her act while on camera. “It’s the same as, you know, the guys doing their spray-paint art on the boardwalk, the violinists.”
So far she’s donned a bikini for one show and a sports bra and shorts at another, Delaware Online said, hoping to clean up with tips.
“I’m just doing pole tricks, and that’s it,” she told the news outlet. “I’m doing something I really enjoy.”
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said Plymale’s pole dancing is “certainly something we didn’t anticipate or condone” but added to Delaware Online that she hasn’t violated any laws and has a right to be there.
City spokeswoman Jessica Waters told Delaware Online, “We certainly take very seriously the family friendly reputation we have. We would not want the presence of a certain street performer to make them feel like we’re not the family resort that we are.”
At this point, it seems the best Ocean City can do is to continue keeping at bay strip clubs and similar operations from springing up in town; Delaware Online noted that Ocean City is a rarity in that regard, as many neighboring resort locales allow such businesses.
With all the attention she’s attracted, could there be bigger stage awaiting the self-proclaimed “Pole Doll”?
“Maybe there’s a reality show in the mix for me,” Plymale told Delaware Online. “That would be a lot of fun. I could be, like, the next Snooki.”