From bricklaying in Germany to dancing with Kylie Minogue, Manchester born Conna Lee leads a varied life but finds true happiness when pulling up turnips. Although originally a Lancashire lad, Conna has lived in London and abroad while pursing a successful dancing career but has now returned North crossing the border into Yorkshire. Mark Davis got down and dirty at his allotment in Holywell Green to find out more about his contrasting life and why although he may have a few kisses planted on him on stage, he’d much rather be planting his seeds back home.
By day, Conna Lee is a doting dad and keen gardener. You might be forgiven for thinking he’d long forgotten his roots in dancing, but by night he likes to strip down and get dirty in a completely different way. Conna runs Flirt Productions and Entertainments, a production company that runs strip shows as large theatrical productions.
“It’s a matter of bringing theatre to the adult industry. It’s not just strippers going out, it’s a more entertaining experience. We have different themes for every show, from Fantasyland to Jingle Balls (the Christmas special). We have both male and female strippers but we only do the shows with male strippers. It’s taking the game a bit higher. We have a massive unit full of props and backdrops. It’s giving people value for money.” Conna and his team travel all over the UK and abroad covering all types of events from hen parties to birthdays. They’ll go anywhere.
“Night clubs, hotels, holiday parks, theatres, wherever!”
But although his work may take him all over the country, Conna admits he likes to get back home to Holywell Green in Yorkshire as soon as he’s finished.
“It’s the only place I’ve never wanted to leave”
“I’ve lived here three years and it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in a house and the only time I’ve felt like I’m home. It’s the only place I’ve never wanted to leave.”
Conna first began stripping when he was twenty one but what planted it in his mind? “I was studying to be a dancer at Phil Winston’s Theatreworks in Blackpool. I got into it to pay my college fees. Then when I did start dancing, I was performing in musicals and cruise ships but in between contracts I could either be a waiter or go out and strip. I was earning a fortune back in the day, going to a house, stripping for people then going to the next one and the next one but now it’s all about the shows.”
Conna has taken his stripping to the next level. Since moving up North, he has worked hard to bring art and fun to the world of stripping and refute the sleazy stereotype often associated with it.
“It was about getting it all choreographed, getting it all tight and giving more fantasy to girls. There are fun shows I put up but then there are things like Fantasyland which is darker and we really push it to the limit. There’s a fine line and we touch it. It’s classy. It’s choreographed. We know what we are doing. I’ll set off at 11 and be on at midnight. I only need five minutes to get ready then I’m straight on stage.”
“His life away from stripping couldn’t be more contrasting”
Did he ever dream when he was training to be a dancer that he’d be doing this?
“No, but I’ve done everything I want to I’ve danced with pop stars and on cruise ships and in musicals. I’d achieved my dancing goals.”
Conna, whose dancing interests include modern jazz and ballet, may have still been dancing for pop stars if it hadn’t been for the birth of his daughter, Summer.
“When I had Summer, I couldn’t just go back on cruise ships. I have new responsibilities. For a dancer it’s hard to make money without having to travel so my idea was to set this business up and be successful. It’s not just ‘get up there and take my clothes off’. I’m dancing every night and dancing the way I want to dance.”
Despite travelling around numerous venues with girls screaming at him most nights, his life away from stripping couldn’t be more contrasting.
“No one thinks I live the way I live. They think I take a girl home every night, but I don’t. I get in my car, put Classic FM on and drive home.”
But what gives Conna the biggest buzz away from stripping?
“Walking. I walk as far and fast as I can and always on my own. Self discovery is very important to bring yourself back to earth. I always find myself when I’m walking and I like to explore the world as much as I can.”
Conna doesn’t just go for casual strolls; he’s completed a variety of huge walks including walks in Switzerland, Iceland and the Pennine Way. “I did the Pennine Way for charity. I’m doing coast to coast for a dear friend of mine who’s suffering from prostate cancer to raise money.”
And as if walking coast to coast wasn’t enough, Conna also plans on wild camping along the way.
“It’s camping where you want but not putting anyone out. It’s illegal these days which is disgusting. You just find a bush and camp behind it so no one can see you. Gone are the days where you could camp on some green outside and no one would say anything. The problem is there have been a few people who leave a mess. They don’t want people leaving a mess but if you don’t leave a mess and don’t light fires and stuff then people do tend to turn a blind eye.”
Wild camping may not be up everyone’s street but Conna is no stranger to living in strange
accommodation. “I’ve lived in the back of a Peugeot car. When I was a bricklayer’s labourer in Germany living out of the back of a Vauxhall van. In Ibiza, I lived in a toilet because it was quieter. I was living in a caravan when Summer was born.”
As well as walking, Conna also enjoys getting his fingers green tending to his allotment which he’s owned for a year. “It’s my first summer. I get away from things, have some time to myself and listen to music. I love my thoughts and being on my own. I take each day as it comes, as long as I’m happy I’m not bothered but as soon as Summer is older I will get a canal boat and live in the South of France!”
Visit Conna’s website at www.connalee.co.uk.