Health

06.20.13

Prancercise: The Sequel! How John Mayer Singlehandedly Revived the Craze

The horsey dance craze is back—with a shocking twist. Winston Ross talks to its creator about her 15 extra minutes of fame, hooking up with John Mayer, and whether she’s rich yet.

If you thought the exercise craze Prancercise had ticked through the last of its 15 minutes of fame already, you don’t know Joanna Rohrback.

Or John Mayer.

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That’s right. The infamously sarcastic crooner, who dated country music star Taylor Swift and then broke her heart and then had to listen to a song about how he broke her heart, has injected new virility into a Florida woman’s strange exercise routine, catapulting her back into the international spotlight long after you may have thought you’d never hear from her again.

To the world, the odd pairing of Mayer and Rohrback popped up on the Internet out of nowhere this week when the pop singer released a new music video starring the 61-year-old woman who boasted to The Daily Beast last month that she could have been bigger than Zumba. There it was on Mayer’s website, right in the “official videos” category. There was Rohrback doing her thing again, this time trading the white yoga pants for (much more conservative) black ones and the salmon-colored jacket for a white lace top and a pearl necklace, prancercising down an unnamed street in Florida. But only after this bizarre intro:

“Hello I’m Joanna Rohrback of Prancercise LLC. And by now you know the four modes of prancercise. However, what about a prance to romance to? What about romancercising to John Mayer’s ‘Paper Doll’? If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should consult a physician before you romancercise. However, if you’re not pregnant or nursing, why not consult Jarrad?” at which point an image of actor Jarrad Paul flashes on the screen, labeling him “Jarrad Rohrback.”

Surely Mayer’s website would explain all of this. But it doesn’t:

“Paper Doll is here! With a little help from our friend, Joanna Rohrback, we give you the official music video. Get ready to Prancercise to #paperdoll.”

So, Joanna Rohrback and John Mayer are friends, now? How did this happen? Mayer didn’t return our calls, but Rohrback squeezed us in between CNN and The Wall Street Journal. (We are honored.) Here’s how this new magic happened:

Mayer’s people called Rohrback’s people—her person, actually, because it’s just her—right around the time she appeared on the Today show on May 31.

“Point the venture capitalists in my direction, like a Shark Tank gang.”

“He was watching my viral video, from what I understand,” she told The Daily Beast, “and he had turned down the music while he was working on this new song of his, “Paper Doll,” when he realized my movements were synchronized to the music.”

It was fate, in other words. Mayer’s label reached out to Rohrback and asked her to shoot a new video, her moves still timed to the soothing chords of “Paper Doll.” So she did, and sent it in, and Mayer’s people mucked with the editing a little more than Rohrback would have liked but “it’s cool,” she said. “It was a very unique and bold move that he made, utilizing me. It was innovative, it was bold, I am thrilled.”

While you may have been surprised to see Rohrback in a music video, it makes perfect sense to her. She’s still a phenom because of her exercise routine, she said. Because people realize it’s “awesome.”

“I know my program has something you can sink your teeth into,” she said. “It’s got some meat.”

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Prancercise has developed a cult following on the Internet, and YouTubers can't seem to get enough of the dance workout sensation.

Reviews of Rohrback’s book“Prancercise: the Art of Spiritual and Physical Excellence”—back her up, too. Of 72 ratings, the average is four and a half stars. Negative reviewers, however, make little effort to hide their intolerance in diatribes like this one:

“Like Harry Potter, Prancercising is Satanic and will cause homosexuality. ‘Prancing’ is code-word for gay, and these exercises will lead you into the path of The Devil. Furthermore, the vegetarian diet espoused in this unholy book go against the Lord's commandment to eat small, delicious animals.”

Whatever, Rev. T.J. Bigglesworth. That’s a minority opinion.

What Rohrback isn’t sure about is whether any of those rave reviewers are actually buying her book—whether all of this interminable fame is actually going to turn into cash at some point. She said her publisher won’t give her sales figures for several more months, which means there’s no way to tell if Rohrback is rich and famous, or just famous.

“I’ve only been viral for three weeks now,” she said.

Regardless, she has no intention of slowing down, demonstrating Prancercise at a “big casino promotion” on Tuesday night and filming a taping for a reality show in progress last week. But the real money will come when some wise investors start knocking at her door, she says.

“Point the venture capitalists in my direction, like a Shark Tank gang,” she said. “I can give them 20 ideas right off the top of my head.”

In the meantime, she has no plans to help Mayer out with future music videos.

“It was an unusual circumstance,” she said. “I don’t think all his new singles and videos are going to warrant the same treatment. If he wants to meet me, I guess I’ll hear from him. I don’t solicit business meetings right now.”

In other words, you’ll have to come to her.