Patty the Pittsburgh Planker

Did you watch the Pittsburgh auditions episode of American Idol last night?

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The Idol producers did a great job of showing the beauty of the city, over and over again, with Ryan Seacrest starting the episode standing on the Rachel Carson Bridge and it was a thing of beauty. And after the initial belly-rub from the fat, screaming yinzer, the rest of the episode was mostly nothing to be embarrassed about. CBS News said:

There was, however, a suspicious amount of professionalism in Pittsburgh. There was little to laugh at, little to criticize, little to despair over.

Then came Patty the Pittsburgh Planker who Ryan indicated is famous in Pittsburgh for planking and I said WHOA! WAIT! WHAT?!

Now, to be fair, I didn’t know who the Running Lady was until you guys brought her to my attention, so maybe Patty the Pittsburgh Planker, real name Patty Bell from Sutersville, PA,  is a very well known Pittsburgh character and I’m just now learning about her. Yes?

Here’s her interview video:

She has shirts and everything!

Here’s her audition with her sister:

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Apparently the first rule of planking is that you do not talk while planking.  Not even to Steven Tyler.

Her facebook page is full of pictures of her planking in the Burgh like so:

Her motto is “Propose it. I’ll plank it.”

I don’t want to be mean, but I’m already on record in a million different places about how ridiculous I think planking is, so I can’t suddenly pretend I get it. I don’t get it, and unless you find me a picture of an Ewok planking on the moon, I never will.

“I’m not the next American Idol. I’m the next American planker,” she says in her video.

In that case, I’m the next American Extreme Sitting Downer.

Shirts will be $25 each.

Send me a check.



  1. Monty
    January 20, 2012 11:35 am

    Now I know what Christopher Reeve would have looked like in Superman if they didn’t have a special effects budget.

  2. rjq
    January 20, 2012 11:51 am

    Patty Bell is also my grandmother. I’m imagining her planking the edge of the river walk behind Heinz Field. It looks as though she’s floating on water.

    Anyway, planking is so 2011. People finally figured out how offensive it really is and put a stop to it. Figures she’s from Sutersville…

    If you’re curious, some say planking stems from slavery days. Slaves were stacked that way when traveling over water. Slavers were able to transport a greater number of people that way. :'(

  3. jennviolet
    January 20, 2012 11:57 am

    I watched the Pens kick Ranger butt last night instead. I mean c’mon, Sexhair is finally back!

  4. facie
    January 20, 2012 12:10 pm

    Anything yoga-related is tortuous to me, but I am known for neither my flexibility nor my coordination. I can get on board with your extreme sitting downness.

    More importantly, where were all the Burghers on Idol? I sat through that entire show, missing parts of the Pens gam, waiting for someone who lived remotely close to the Burgh. I know being a Pittsburgher is a state of mind, but isn’t there anyone from within a 50-mile radius of the city who can sing?! Maybe I missed it while flipping back and forth?

  5. rjq
    January 20, 2012 12:23 pm

    There’s a teenager from Wexford who I believe goes pretty far. Think her name is Keegan?

  6. John
    January 20, 2012 1:02 pm

    yeah, it seemed like most of the contestants they featured were from OTHER STATES. they inferred there were alot of YES’s that we didn’t get to see on the broadcast last night…. I hope there were at least of few of those that actually live in the city limits… so that we can hear “Pittsburgh” on the show in the future.

    Otherwise, the city backdrop, while looking GREAT, is more or less meaningless.

  7. spoon
    January 20, 2012 1:04 pm

    I think she should plank @bucdaddy

  8. Niki
    January 20, 2012 1:08 pm

    There was a girl from Upper St. Clair that made it through to Hollywood. They didn’t show her audition, but she was in a group of people at the end waving her golden ticket. Here’s an article about her:

    She is on twitter:

  9. YinzerInExile
    January 20, 2012 1:22 pm

    Re: the offensivene scourge of planking

    Plank is a yoga position. It is also a variation of, you know, lying on your face. Just because this position may or may not have been used in an oppressive situation does not mean it is intrinsically related. If that were the case, I’d certainly hope you don’t stand–because I saw in O Brother Where Art Thou that KKK leaders would stand during cross burnings. But then, shit! Can’t sit, either! Nazis sat! What’s left? Hover? Might indicate spectral and, therefore, possibly satanic inclinations . . .

  10. Amanda
    January 20, 2012 1:51 pm

    So I looked planking up on Wikipedia b/c I just didn’t get it. I learned about something even more ridiculous, plumpking. So you can plank with your head in a toilet. I don’t get it.

  11. unsatisfied
    January 20, 2012 3:36 pm

    for my feelings on planking and those who plank….I shall defer to one dwight k. schrute:

  12. dillonerd
    January 20, 2012 3:36 pm

    he was actually standing on the Rachel Carson Bridge (9th Street).

  13. rjq
    January 20, 2012 3:37 pm

    Doesn’t have to be instrinstically related to not be offensive.

    Sitting and standing aren’t offensive because they’re normal. Planking for the sake of planking, or to be *~edgy~* on the internet, is not normal.

    If a minority is offended, and not wanting to appropriate, who are the majority to judge?

  14. redram1
    January 20, 2012 4:50 pm

    That should read “American Extreme Sitting Downer Eating Little Debbie Cakes”. :)

  15. Old North Sider
    January 20, 2012 6:17 pm

    Ahem. Point of clarification. Ryan Seacreat is on the Rachel Carson Bridge (9th Street) opening the show. :)

  16. Virginia
    January 20, 2012 7:24 pm

    Fixed! Thanks. :)

  17. Kaylee
    January 20, 2012 7:59 pm

    @facie: Sutersville is within a 50 mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh (it’s not even half that distance). However it is in Westmoreland County so clearly Samantha from the above video doesn’t count.

  18. Jayne
    January 20, 2012 8:05 pm

    Shouldn’t those Little Debbie Cakes have some Nutella on them.

  19. Bram R
    January 21, 2012 1:03 am

    First of all: it looks from these pics like she can’t even plank right. Way to much cervical curvature. Put your head down! You’re a board, not a seal! Work those thoracic vertebrae!

    Second: American Idol, I’m real proud of you for trying to interest the Internet in your little reindeer games and I’ma let you finish, but rage comics and ponies are the best memes of all time. OF ALL TIME.

  20. bucdaddy
    January 21, 2012 1:39 am

    isn’t there anyone from within a 50-mile radius of the city who can sing?

    Where’s Jackie Evancho live?

    Otherwise: No.

  21. YinzerInExile
    January 21, 2012 9:13 am


    Flaw: the “minority” (I presume you mean slaves and their descendants, even though this practice, to my knowledge, cannot be verified and in fact seems contraindicated by the practice of shackling) does not own the position, as it extends from another culture and practice; nor was it the “normal” context for this position.

    Just because it may or may not have happened to one specific group does not mean that they then hold the right to appropriate it for the means of preventing other people from appropriating it from an entirely distinct practice and culture.

  22. nickrowwe
    January 21, 2012 9:21 am

    i thought sammy novaceck was one of the best singers on the show. at least she didnt have a sob story. ” ive had such a hard life growing up, my dog got hit by a train, my parents broke up, i live in the woods, this is my last chance at my dream….blah… blah… blahhhh.
    so she had her planking sister there to support her. it seems to me that patty the pittsburgh planker is proud of her sister, and it got a free trip to hollywood. id plank for that. i know alot of girls from pittsburgh who would do alot worse for a cheeseburger!

  23. Johnaz6312
    January 21, 2012 10:32 am

    And this girl and her family is NOT embarrased by the planking?

  24. John
    January 21, 2012 11:29 am

    does the sister really get to go to hollywood with her? really?

  25. Teresa
    January 21, 2012 3:45 pm

    Warning: The yoga teacher in me just has to comment. It’s an OCD thing – I’m working on it.

    For the record, what Patty is doing is Locust pose (salabhasana), not Plank pose. Plank is essentially the up part of a push up where the arms are straight with the hands positioned directly underneath the shoulders and the body is straight – like a plank. Locust pose is a belly down backbend so there is curvature in the spine and Patty demonstrates it well, although I like to see a little more leg lift from my students. I think it’s a bit odd to be doing it all over the city, but whatever – she’s not hurting anyone.

    Ginny, Extreme Sittingdownness is known in yoga as Sukhasana or cross-legged seated meditation. For those of you with kids – that’s criss-cross applesauce. If the meditation is going to last more than a few minutes, it’s best to sit up on a cushion to keep the legs from getting stiff. Oh yes, we use cushions in yoga. Next time someone tries to get you to move, just say Shhhhhhh! I’m meditating :-)

    There is also Extreme Lyingdownness which is Savasana or Corpse pose. Also nice with a cushion to elevate the legs. An y’all thought you couldn’t do yoga. Clearly you are going to the wrong classes. ;-)

  26. bucdaddy
    January 23, 2012 2:10 am

    I’d pay $22 to see Honus whack her ass with the bat and say, “Get off my pedestal.”

  27. Butcher's Dog
    January 23, 2012 8:01 am

    @bucdaddy: if anything he might whack one of the exercise-challenged two who are sharing the pedestal.

  28. bucdaddy
    January 23, 2012 11:28 am