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Life's Rich Pageant

The Case Of “Pole Assassin” And The Monkey-Child Halloween Incident

The phrase "There's a lot going on here" is overused, especially on the internet, but in the search for the truth of a rumor about whether a college football special teams coach's partner's emotional support monkey bit a trick-or-treater over Halloween weekend, it does seem appropriate to say that there's a lot going on here.

Tom Campbell, a Texas sports photographer and former USA Today stringer, tweeted on Monday what he had heard: Texas Longhorns special teams and tight ends coach Jeff Banks's monkey had attacked a trick-or-treating child on Halloween. "The monkey's jaws apparently had to be pried off the small child," Campbell wrote. He also attached this Nextdoor screenshot of Danielle Banks inviting neighbors to her house on Sunday:

That definitely looks like Jeff Banks in the photo. How he and Danielle became an item is not urgently necessary to this specific story. What's clear is that he was at some point married to someone whose name is not Danielle, and he has three kids, and now he's with Danielle.

Danielle is the main focus of this story, anyway. In addition to being Danielle Banks, she is Dani Thomas. She was also at one point a stripper nicknamed "Pole Assassin," and she performed on The Jerry Springer Show a few years ago.

The first half of the performance gets the crowd amped up with some fast-paced, generic music. It might have gone better if the show had licensed a better track, but Pole Assassin still does some moves worthy of her name. She wowed this couple:

In the middle of the routine, there's a sound effect of glass breaking, but instead of the expected appearance of wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Pole Assassin moves to a freestanding pole for a second routine to a slower song. It's really tender, but don't take my word for it. The standing ovation from the studio audience is the only review required.

By this point, you're probably wondering, When do we get to the monkey? Right now. Pole Assassin used to perform with a Panamanian white-faced capuchin named Gia. She is described as an emotional support animal in her dedicated Instagram account. Here's an old video of Gia on the pole, doing a good girl high-five with Pole Assassin.

So as to avoid defaming Gia, I will note that it's undetermined as to whether she was the monkey at the center of the Halloween bite rumor. However, we have established a few pieces of information: Danielle Banks/Dani Thomas is in a relationship with Jeff Banks, she was at one point a stripper who went by Pole Assassin, Pole Assassin performed with a monkey, and the Jerry Springer Show audience can be really supportive sometimes. Last night, Danielle used her Twitter account to set the record straight, then nuked everything after a couple of hours, so you'll have to rely on these screenshots and a video.

"People lie so much it's ridiculous," Danielle tweeted. "Stop believing everything u hear ! And more of what you see ! SMH !" She also confirmed that the monkey in question was female and an "emotional support animal."

When someone replied that her lawyer would hate her tweeting right now, she said the parents haven't even contacted her.

In another defensive tweet, Danielle tweeted, "A 11 /12 year old child should know better then to enter someone yard without permission and old enough to also follow the rules . The rules were when u get to the gate turn around and come back out for candy every other parent and child did so !"

The last part I saw firsthand was her tweeting the video below with the following text: "Proof ! Stop with the lies and this is my monkey not Jeffs , so why try and bash him for something that at has nothing to do with him !" In the footage, Danielle demonstrates "how far the kid went in my backyard without permission, all the way over here to where my animals live," before she showed the "Do Not Enter!" sign. "How could she viciously bite someone if they don't stick their hand in there where it don't belong?" she asked.

While I'm not a lawyer and don't want to rush to judgment, I will say that if a person was trying to dispel the rumor that her emotional support monkey bit someone, it wouldn't be the smartest move to refer to a kid at a specific age, or a specific set of parents, or show how far "a kid" walked into the backyard to prove that said kid couldn't have been bitten if they hadn't stuck their hand in a cage.

When I first saw Tom Campbell's tweet, it instinctively felt too good to be true. Nothing against the source, but college football is full of entertaining yet bullshit rumors. The detail of how the monkey's jaws had to be pried off the child felt like the tell, the gilding of the lily that put it just beyond the realm of plausibility. But after reviewing Pole Assassin's explanation, especially with how she worded all of it, it seems very plausible that there was a monkey-child Halloween incident of some kind. If you have any more information, please email

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