IPL cheerleaders are bound by contract to keep mum about their experiences during India's cricket extravaganza. But one of them could not take it any longer and anonymously took to Reddit with the username IPLcheer to talk about what it feels like. Here are excerpts from her AMA (ask me anything) session:
Q: First things first, how often do you get ogled at the stadium while dancing? And how do you feel when you get ogled at so much?
A: I'm ogled at all the time. I hate it.
There's just so many nasty men making kissy faces and taking my picture that I tend to just block it all out. Often I'll lock eyes with some nice people that are smiling and those are the people I'll focus on for most of the game. So I haven't really seen many funny things. If someone genuinely made me laugh though, that would be a welcome thing.
Q: What annoys you the most during an IPL game?A: Gross men being vulgar.
Q: What about handsome men being vulgar or gross men being nice?
A: Handsome men being vulgar are the same thing as gross men being vulgar. Vulgar is vulgar. I'll respect someone being nice to me no matter how they look.
Q: Do you find any difference in the crowd when cheerleading in India vs other countries?
A: I've only cheered in India and one other western country.The men in the crowd in India are much more intrusive. But you'll find pigs wherever you go.
Q: What else bothers you about cheerleading in India?
A: I hate the racism. Why is my team made up of 99% white girls? Why do Indians feel it's ok to dress white girls up in skimpy outfits but they wont let their fellow Indian women do it? It's messed up.
Q: How do you cope with the non-stop ogling and taunting?
A: For the most part, I can't hear them. The music is loud enough and the accents are thick enough I'm mostly oblivious to the words. This doesn't mean I can't tell that there are some obvious slime-balls behind me. I try my best to ignore them.
And I've made a personal rule for myself not to take pictures with fans unless they're women or children. I'm not keen on becoming someone's fap bate for the night.
Q: Are all IPL cheerleaders sluts?
A: We're not all sluts. You might get the odd one or two out there in the world, but the mass majority of cheerleaders I've worked with are perfectly respectable women. I'm currently not working with any sluts, and for that I'm grateful. They tend to cause drama.
Q: Is the management nice to cheerleaders?
A: I don't work with the management directly, that's what my manager does. But when I've met them they've always been very accommodating, upbeat, and nice.
Q: What about your accommodation?
A: Conditions aren't the best. If I were back in my home country I'd be shocked at the state of our toilets, changing rooms, and on occasions our hotel rooms.
The first two games they were more like 1 star hotels. Cockroaches, I saw a rat and rat droppings, it was pretty bad. But we quickly spoke up and realized our manager for that trip had been skimping us and pocketing the money he was saving on a cheaper hotel. Now they're more like 3 star. Perfectly comfortable but not over the top.
Q: Do the jibes and taunts take a mental toll on cheerleaders?
A: I am a feminist, and I admit that I am bothered. When I danced in my home country I felt less like that. If you were to watch female dancers on Broadway, regardless of their outfit, you probably wouldn't call them a sexual object. You'd call them a dancer. I went into this contract as a dancer, finding that I'm treated more as a sex object.
Q: Lastly, would you return to India as a cheerleader for the next IPL season?
A: I try to be forgiving of human nature so I'm rolling with the punches. I also enjoy what I do regardless. But I wouldn't renew this contract for another year unless things changed.