He’s a young man on the go — literally as well as figuratively.
Derick Pierson recently returned from Singapore, where he came in second place for the third time in the International Pole Championship Competition. Pierson also provides lessons when he travels so there’s not a lot of time for sightseeing but he said he’s happiest when he’s teaching.
At 22, Pierson is a native Floridian, born and raised in Palm Beach Gardens and currently living in Jupiter. He attended the William C. Dwyer High School and went on to Palm Beach State College and FAU for pre-med but dropped out to “join the circus,” much to his medical professional parents’ dismay.
SFGN caught up with this champion shortly after his return from Asia.
SFGN: How did you discover pole dancing?
DP: I suffered serious spine injuries from two automobile accidents when I was a child. As a result, I stopped being the active kid I had been and I became a chunky teenager. I got fed up with that and decided I didn’t want to deal with doctors any more, and that I wanted to do cheerleading. So I pushed through the pain and headaches I suffered since the accidents and started building strength. Cheerleading was great.
When school ended I didn’t know what to do for exercise. I hated the gym. It was boring. Then my best friend, Tara, bought a pole and started doing dancing. At the time I wasn’t old enough. I had to be 18. So my mom didn’t know it but we installed a pole at my house and Tara would teach me what she had learned.
I caught on quickly and about 6 months later I found my first formal teacher, Allison Sipes. She taught me the beginning of my career. From pole, I started doing circus stuff, then silk, contortion, the rest.
SFGN: There’s more to what you do than just pole dancing. What else do you do?
DP: A lot of people have a single mental image of pole work but there’s much more involved. There are also aerial silk, contortion, trapeze, and lyra hoops.
SFGN: Did you study all the disciplines with one instructor?
DP: No. I had a lot of different teachers – between ten and twelve. I can’t think of them all off hand.
SFGN: How many hours a day do you practice?
DP: It depends if I’m traveling – teaching or performing at home. If I’m not performing I train almost every day for five to six hours a day.
SFGN: Where in the world have you traveled?
DP: bI’ve visited about ten different countries. My favorite city was Tokyo — or maybe Montreal. My ex-boyfriend lives in Montreal. Sigh.
SFGN: How many awards/competitions have you won?
DP: I’ve won about seven major awards, including three-time National Pole Dancing Championship for the U.S., and three-time second place international champion. I also won for best technique in an international performance program.
SFGN : What is the one you’re most proud of?
DP: None. I hated them all. I’m my own worst critic and saw every flaw.
SFGH : What do you have your sights on next?
DP: In July going to London to compete in the World Pole Sports Championships. That’s like the Olympics of pole dancing. All the national champions will be competing.
SFGN: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve done?
DP: I don’t think I’ve done it yet. There’ve been things I’ve been nervous about going into but I feel every time I’m done with something that I found extremely difficult something else comes along that is more difficult. I think that’s life. Successful people always find the next thing that’s more difficult and they just keep moving on.
SFGN: What’s the life-span of this career?
DP: Who knows? I know a Vegas contortionist who is still working in his 50s. Besides, if my body gives out I can fall back on teaching. I love doing that.
SFGN: So you’re openly gay?
DP: Yes. I am. I’ve been open about it since the end of high school. My sister is lesbian and told me about Compass Youth Group. That was a great experience.
SFGN: Do you perform locally?
DP: I get booked for a lot of different events. I’ve performed at Mar a Lago, the White Parties, corporate gay and straight events, fundraisers, whatever. I perform at the annual Broward House charity event, Broward Bares It.
Anyone interested in learning more about pole dancing and aerial acrobatics can visit Derick’s website at derickpierson.com. To hire Derick for an event contact Rainbow Circus Productions in Miami.