Pole Cat

OC portable-pole mogul Keith Scheinberg has turned brass into gold

The Weekly got the call hours after the issue hit newsstands. A fast-talking man from Newport Beach claimed not only that the gleaming pole on our "Polar Opposites" cover (June 22) was his, but also that he was the inventor of the portable stripper stage pole that was used for our cover photo shoot.

"I know all of the OC pole-dance women," said Keith Scheinberg. "They all get their poles here." He was referring to Platinum Stages, the company he runs out of a nondescript warehouse in Newport Beach and which, he says, distributes 400,000 dance poles per year.

His main competition seems to be Lil' Mynx Removable Dance Poles, run by a husband-and-wife team in Fresno. "They are the two premier companies," says Chaton Anderson, head of publicity and communications at Sheila Kelley's S Factor, the biggest pole-dance studio nationally. "We get our poles from Lil' Mynx as of now," says Anderson. "We may be selling Platinum Stages poles in the near future."

Scheinberg says demand for dance poles is skyrocketing, especially for the kind you can take apart, throw into a rifle-sized suitcase and set up at home. "I've got all sorts of ladies coming in here who are worried about what their kids will think," he says. Although he outfits hundreds of strip clubs with his portable stage poles, his business has also grown alongside the pole-dance fitness wave. "Dancer poles aren't a novel concept," he says. "But we gave them novelty. We gave them portability."

A stocky 31-year-old with a voice like an auctioneer and shiny ocean-blue eyes that dart around looking for familiar faces, Scheinberg surrounds himself with girls, girls and more girls: a giant painting of a busty blonde with wings in his office; the all-female wait staff serving tacos in teeny shorts and tanks at Chronic Cantina, his Spring Break-vibed venue in Triangle Square; his MySpace page, with its legions of photos of Scheinberg posing merrily with pretty face after pretty face; and, of course, his booming dance-pole business, which was born out of Scheinberg's desire to boost the dating life of lonely college boys.

He had a vision predicated on one girl-crazy belief: Present a pole to any young woman, and she wouldn't be able to stay away from it. When he sketched out his idea for a stripper pole with a mini stage that could be packed up and shipped off by UPS to any young man who wanted one, his friends in law school laughed at him. But Scheinberg didn't relent. His friends talked to other friends, and pretty soon, the idea caught on, earning him the seed money he needed to get the business off the ground. He designed a prototype: a small, 4-foot-by-4-foot stage with a pole jutting out of it that could fold up and be neatly packed away.

"But we didn't know if it worked yet," he says, so he set about testing and retesting until it did. This was around the same time the pole-dance fitness trend took off; suddenly, Scheinberg had a successful niche-market business.

Regardless of its salivating-college-boy beginnings, his clients today aren't frat guys, but mostly women, among them 400 pole-fitness instructors nationwide and a growing band of clubs housing poles for go-go dancers and patrons alike.

Scheinberg, relentless and excitable when it comes to the subject of his various business pursuits, swears by Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the New York Times best-seller that admonishes readers who are caught in the "rat race" and gives them the tools to get rich quick via real estate. He's a Republican (socially liberal and politically conservative, he says), hates Michael Moore and blogs about why he's a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger on his MySpace page. He also sports one of his poles on the deck of his boat in Lake Havasu. He says his parents, a teacher and a doctor who moved him to Newport Beach when he was 9, never handed him anything, instead impressing upon him the idea that "if I didn't make it happen, it wouldn't happen." He first made it happen for himself in college, when he founded PimpIt.com, an online clothing store for men who hate to shop.

He now has several businesses in addition to Platinum Stages: a real-estate group, a law firm, his co-owned Chronic Taco business. His pole business alone now generates $4 million in revenue per year, he says. And business seems to be paying off: He's got girls. Lots of them, working at his restaurant, calling him by his first name wherever he goes, blowing him kisses on MySpace. "It's like Cheers, where everyone knows your name," he says of the county.

He likes to boast about "being the Donald Trump of Orange County" and has thought about running for City Council in Newport Beach. "I think I would get frustrated because I like things to move quicker," he says. "Plus, my life is fun, and that's how I'd like it to stay."

daltan@ocweekly.com

 
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