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The Weekend Shift

Human Disco Ball

Lauren Kirby

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Jessie Sorrentos: The Human Disco Ball
(Kirk Torregrossa)
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As part of our series Weekend Shift we're always looking for stories about people working on the weekend. Sometimes we see someone in a job that seems so strange we can't imagine how that job possibly came to exist. That's what reporter Lauren Kirby thought when she first saw Jessie Sorrentos performing at a club in Portland, Maine. Jessie was hanging from the ceiling, acting as a human disco ball.

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Around 9 PM Jessie Sorrentos arrives in the back dressing room at Styxx Nightclub in Portland, Maine to begin her transformation from human to Human Disco Ball. She shimmies into two reflective scraps of fabric: a pair of itty-bitty sparkly briefs and a reflective tube top that looks like it was made for a Cabbage Patch Kid. And while she is smearing silver paint and glitter across her abdomen and up her arms, she explains how she got here. To be more specific, how it came to be that for a living, she is a Human Disco Ball.

Jessie always wanted to be a performer. She started stripping when she was 17 to pay for performing arts college. She made it to college, but when the money ran out, she went back to stripping, turning it into a career. She spent the majority of her 20s working at various clubs along the east coast, but she felt like a sell-out. She felt like she was neglecting her inner artist; she felt like she had a true performer inside her that wasn't being seen. Until one day, out of the blue, a woman saw through her stripper exterior to the performer inside.

The woman was the former prima ballerina of the Moscow Ballet. She grabbed Jessie's arm and told Jessie that she was a real dancer. It was a light bulb moment for Jessie. She realized she could never be happy as a stripper and moved back home to Maine, where she found work as the Human Disco Ball.

When Jessie is done getting ready, she says she looks like "a science fiction fairy," which is pretty accurate. And then she leaves her dressing room, weaving through the bowels of the club to the "secret back entrance" onto the dance floor. Once on the dance floor, Jessie moves quickly onto the platform where she will perform.

What Jessie does looks something like a very sparkly cross between a figure skater and a contortionist who was formerly employed by Cirque du Soleil. There are two long strands of silk hanging from the ceiling that she wraps around her limbs, hoisting herself about eight feet off the ground. She twists her body into a complex pose and spins. It is strange and beautiful.

At last call, she slides out of her silks and makes her way back to the dressing room. She looks drained, but she also looks happy. "What I'm doing now might not make me a lot of money," she says, "but I feel like a performer. And that's that little piece of magic that really feeds your soul."

Although Jessie is using many of same skills as before, she feels as if this time, she is using her powers for good, not evil. She feels redeemed as a performer. And sometimes, redemption comes from strange places and in even odder forms.

  • Music Bridge:
    Beach Towel (I Cube Cosmix Marathon Remix)
    Artist: Karma
    CD: Versatile (Versatile)
More stories from our The Weekend Shift series

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