18 May 2019

Glynn Owens, the retired professor who's one of NZ's best pole dancers

From Saturday Morning, 8:45 am on 18 May 2019
Glynn Owens  Poledancing

Photo: Supplied / Scott Marks

You meet the most wonderful people pole dancing, says retired psychology professor Glynn Owens.

"We've got doctors, we've got accountants, we've got people who work behind the counter in shops. Nobody really cares what you're doing when you're not on the pole."

Last year Glynn – who's known as 'The Prince' by his fellow pole dancers – competed in New Zealand's Pole Legends competition as one of the was one of top five male pole dancers in the country.

As a child in the English town of Oldham, Glynn was "totally unathletic", he tells Kim Hill.

"I would wander around in short trousers and people would shout 'hey Glynn, there's a couple of pieces of string hanging from your shorts! Oh, no. they're your legs'."

Yet as a teenager, Glynn took up judo. Within three years he had a black belt and only retired from the sport at the age of 40 – after winning a silver medal in the 1997 New Zealand national champs.

Along the way, the former Auckland University professor has also been a pilot, contemporary dancer, distance runner, decathlete, pentathlete, rock climber and circus performer, among other things.

Professor Glynn Owens

Professor Glynn Owens Photo: University of Auckland

Then back when he was 63, Glynn watched a Pole Legends competition and decided to give it a go himself.

He prepared for a year for the 2018 Pole Legends but had a serious setback – "probably my favourite injury" – just three days before the competition.

"My final move in the routine involved hugging the pole tightly and I hugged the pole tightly enough to dislocate my own rib.

"I've still got a lump sticking out of my chest. You'll see little bits of me sticking out where they shouldn't. Thanks to the wonders of determination and painkillers I still managed to perform."

Glynn's performance won him the 'Expert' award.

So is Glynn Owens the oldest pole dancing 'expert' in the world?

Not quite – the 69-year-old American Greta Pontarelli has about a year on him.

"She would probably be my hero were it not for a woman called Deb Roach who is even more impressive because she performs brilliantly and she has only one arm."

You can catch Glynn Owens performing a poles double act in the upcoming musical theatre show Meera (Auckland - 31 May - 2 June)