Meet Hollywood's Pole-Dancing Guru: Actress Sheila Kelley

When she's not acting in TV and films, Kelley shows celebs how to find their "erotic creature"

Photo: John M. Heller/Getty; Fame

She’s a been a familiar face for more than 20 years, with recurring roles on such TV classics as L.A. Law and ER, and a current role on ABC’s Lost. But over the past eight years, Sheila Kelley has been known around Hollywood for a very different skill: Teaching pole-dancing to the stars.

Her list of devotees includes Teri Hatcher, Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Kate Hudson, who has proven especially adept at working the pole.

“She just loves being feminine. Every movement for her is beautiful and sexy,” Kelley, 48, says about the Nine star. “The excitement of sharing it [with her boyfriend] was big for her. She wanted to do a routine, to share it.
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Kelley started her own training company, S Factor, after researching strip clubs for a role. “I was a dance major at NYU, and had done every dance you can imagine,” says Kelley. “I have never done anything so beautiful as this. I never had the kind of long, lean muscles I have now – and I still have the curves.”

But S Factor isn’t just about the pole. Kelley also incorporates yoga-type stretches and strength exercises.

“It’s a really safe, fun, wholesome and sexy environment,” she says. “It’s not sleazy or tacky or silly; it’s really sensual and beautiful. It’s not about being naked.” Lights are kept low so clients – who include all shapes and sizes and weights, and range in age from about 18-73 – feel comfortable. “It’s really sensual and beautiful,” Kelley adds. “It’s fitness program designed for the female body.”

The Big Tease

Clients begin at level 1 and work to level 7. Hudson, a level 6, “took to it easily and effortlessly,” Kelley says. “I would say her favorite part is what I call the tease. She likes the standing hip circles. Those are big and beautiful and luxurious.”

Kelley choreographed Teri Hatcher’s upcoming pole dance on the Jan. 11 episode of Desperate Housewives. “I couldn’t even believe she’s turning 45, she’s so beautiful,” Kelley says. “She did the snake. That’s a trick where I put her in 8-inch white heels. The snake is a Level 2, and it’s an inverted trick – you have to use every single muscle in your core, and peel upside down as if you’re hanging from a tree and push your body up She’s really impressive.”

Jennifer Love Hewitt took to pole dancing when she began training for a scene in The Ghost Whisperer. “She’s a natural, she’s really beautiful when she dances,” says Caroline Netzorg, S Factor’s Los Angeles Studio Manager, who taught Hewitt. “The thing I feel that Jennifer loves about it is she seems to experience a sense of empowerment and freedom she doesn’t get to experience anywhere else.”

In 2006, she put Lohan through the paces for the movie I Know Who Killed Me, where she played a stripper.

“She worked really hard,” Kelley says. “She loved how sexy it made her feel.”

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