IndePOLEdance Day Does Not Go As Expected
Here at UPA, we were recently informed of a situation with an event held in Mexico City, which took place between October 9 – 11, 2015, called, IndePOLEdance Day (IPD) and was organized mainly by Ferios Avelar and Bernardo Casillas.
IPD hosted a number of performers including Kenneth Kao, Nadia Sharif, David C. Owen, Felipe Mendoza, Anastasia Skuktorova and more. There have been disagreements between the organizers and the performers/instructors since the completion of the event.
There were different agreements between the organizers and polers when it came to flights. Some had one way flights paid for, some were meant to be reimbursed and never were.
There were reports of the stage being potentially dangerous. One poler said “specs weren’t accurate, rigging not ideal, we performed on a raised piece of plywood under one pole, and I could kick the trusses and other pole.” But the polers agree that the organizers were upset that the stage was not how they wanted it. That they were apologetic that things did not go as they planned regarding the stage.
Regarding payment from the organizers and the polers, there seems to have been different agreements between each of them. Some were promised payment on the day of the event. Some were promised 7-10 days after the event. But at this point, the polers involved can’t remember the original agreement as the payment date has changed so often over the last several months.
Ferios and Bernardo (Berios) are still trying to work with the polers and get them full payment, five months after the event took place. There have been only been a couple polers involved that have been paid in full. Only partial payments have been made to some and others have not been paid at all.
Kenneth Kao was one of the performers that was paid in full via Paypal with a credit card used by organizers. The transaction went through successfully. However, very shortly after, the sender disputed the charge, therefore the money was taken out of Ken’s account. The sender (IPD organizers) claims that the credit card company is disputing the charge. Upon speaking to two paypal representatives, we were told that the only way a card would go through and then be taken back is if the sender disputes the claim. Eventually, Ken did receive his money, after much back and forth with “Berios” it was resolved. (We have a copy of a letter to Ferios from Paypal saying that the funds were released and did not post as the image provided was too small and was not readable) Paypal did release the funds back to Ken, however, because of the original dispute the money was in limbo for 75 days. Ken has finally been paid in full plus interest. Marlo was also paid in full plus interest.
Kenneth Kao told UPA that they sent a contract, included here, that promised to resolve payment only if Marlo Fisken, from the time of the contract signing, refused to speak about or write about IPD. In this contract seen here, there is language attempting to create a consequence to Marlo speaking about the issues. Kenneth Kao was able to get his hands on this contract, although it was not sent to him by “Berios”. Marlo will neither confirm nor deny this when we asked her about it.
Felipe Mendoza has told us that he has not been paid at all by the IPD team for the workshops he taught or for his performance as he was initially promised.
We have also received the following statement from Saulo Sarmiento regarding a different event with Ferios:
“[They owe] me money and he put all the responsibility in other people. But more important than money, is to respect the people in Mexico that work hard for the industry, I am right now on my tour here and I can say that is one of the best tours I ever did, for the professionalism of studios and managers. So, obviously, I won’t take part of any other event organized by ferios, and I know there is some people coming for a next event when he is still [owing] a lot of money to people from the last one. I do that only to protect the Mexican people that I met here, and to say how Professional they are no matter if ferios is not. Also, to [advise] international to chose the right people to come to this beautiful and powerful country that I love.”
David C. Owen has also come to us with his official statement:
“Though the overall experience of being in Mexico City for Indepoledance Day was a positive one, the substantial monetary loss taken on attending this event leaves a sour flavor on my palette, as do the months of dishonest communication which have followed and are yet to be resolved. I and some other cast members of the show had viewed Ferios and company as friends and would have been happy to show great leniency had he and other organisers of this event been honest at any point in our dialogue. However the combination of failure to pay for our performances and the classes we taught is now felt as a deep burn not only economically, but personally as well. To date, I have received $360.00 USD, which is less than the cost of my flight, and includes nothing of the $400.00 promised for performing nor of the sale of the classes I taught.”
IPD admits to making mistakes and admits to not being completely transparent with the performers. This event was a big one, and sometimes people make mistakes. IPD has been helpful in corresponding with us and sharing their side of the story.
They have stated to a UPA representative and others that they have had a string of bad luck, including Facebook hacking. When Anastasia Skuktorova noticed she was unfriended by Bernardo, one of the organizers, he stated their Facebook page was hacked. Anastasia has also not been paid at all by IPD for workshops and performing as originally promised.
All the polers were given food vouchers and had free breakfast every morning, fed at the event itself and very well taken care of over all. There was transportation organized for the polers throughout their stay in Mexico for the event. The polers do agree that the organizers went out of their way to make them comfortable and happy.
None of the performers went into this event with written agreements between themselves and the event organizers but instead had verbal agreements. Many went into this event banking on friendship and trusting one another as they have stated. Now there are disputes between the organizers and most of the performers/instructors. There has been months of mixed questions and answers and what appears to be a lot of miscommunication.
There is also a mixture of languages here in this situation (English, Spanish, Russian), causing further miscommunication and confusion. Some of the polers involved including “Berios” themselves have English as their second language. When writing back and forth to each other, sentences get confusing due to misuse of words based on the language barrier.
The organizers have found themselves in a situation where they are scrambling to pay the money owed. Although it’s taking time, they are doing it bit by bit. When they can, about once a week, they send at least one poler from the group a few hundred dollars at a time. The total monies owed to the polers vary from $600.00 – $1700.00 USD each. Below is correspondence between Ferios Avelar and Nadia Sharif regarding payment.
We asked the IPD team to comment on the facts that we have presented. To this article they have stated the following:
“1. The information UPA state is not accurate; either is wrong or taken out of context.
2. The language used by UPA lead the reader to find “Berios” as abusive. There are adjectives and affirmations to make the reader think that there has been malice or bad intentions from either IPD or “Berios”.
3. Now, you are taking advantage of the hacking of a personal facebook account to justify the so-called block of some performers.
4. UPA seems to have special interest on a situation that you define as “fraud”. IPD has sufficient evidence to prove that there has not been such thing.”
We have asked them to send us proof of what is inaccurate in this article and are waiting for their response.
All of this does bring up an interesting topic in our industry…. How do we protect ourselves going into events and/or running events? It’s no secret that the pole dance community is one built on love. But at what point do we stop hugging and start signing documents that enhance our business tactics?
To this the IPD team says “Precisely, trust goes hand to hand with love and we -as IPD- have demonstrated to be open and willing to resolve this situation on the best possible way. This doesn’t mean though, that we will sacrifice our reputation nor will break the confidentiality agreements we have, only because there have been misunderstandings.”
UPA’s mission is to inform the pole industry of goings on in our industry. We work diligently to publish the facts and the truth. If you have any information pertaining to this story that can either confirm or dispute what we have published from our findings, please let us know. There had been several people come to us making allegations about “Berios” and their team that we will not publish. Many have expressed to us discomfort or fear of allowing their names to be involved with this story.
We are planning a webinar for April 27th in which we discuss as an industry ways to protect ourselves. As an event producer, a studio owner and a traveling pole dancer. As we are a new industry with new ways of operating, we need to work together to remain professional, to protect ourselves and do right by others.
Stay tuned to UPA for a webinar on what to do and not do when deciding on a new venture as a performer and business owner. We have put together a cast of experts to speak on the subjects of procedures and ways to protect oneself. If you are interested in contributing to this webinar, email us: email@example.com to be considered.
Note: All items in this article were shared with UPA, were asked by at least one party to share and/or all excerpts were made aware to parties involved that they may or may not be published. Anything that was asked to remain confidential was made so.