‘I don’t live for me anymore. I live for her.’: Exotic dancer Leo Heng, 28, on how fatherhood has changed him

He has no qualms about telling his daughter about his job when she's old enough to understand.

Natalie Teo |
June 18, 2023, 10:00 am

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Leo Heng is a man who wears many hats: dancer, physical therapist, model, yoga teacher and dance instructor.

The 28-year-old is also the Creative Director of the TikTok-famous all-male exotic dance crew, Queen of Hearts.

Some call them strippers, and Leo is totally okay with that.


What colour were the beach umbrellas? 🙃🙃🙃 #queenofhearts #QoH #QoHsg #sweepthefloor #sitthefuckdown

♬ Beat It (feat. Chris Brown & Wiz Khalifa) – Sean Kingston

Leo has also become quite the online personality on Instagram and TikTok, where his content largely consists of fitness, dance and modelling.

All while showing his hard-earned, chiseled physique, of course.


Shirt Choreography Workshop ✅ Thank you to all the lovely students for an amazing Saturday! June sign ups for my 4 week beginner course is open. DM me on Instagram to register. Information in the comments 🙌🏻 P.S. I’m dubbing that shirt move as “The Twister” 😁

♬ original sound – leodoesalot – leodoesalot

“I don’t live for me anymore.”

But perhaps the most important hat Leo wears, is father to his three-year-old daughter, Bailey.

The birth of Bailey, which was unplanned, has meant that Leo’s had to tamp down on his “free spirit” and numerous passions.

“I don’t live for me anymore. I live for her. If I go too much into being indulgent with chasing what I love, then I don’t put time into the relationship.”

Realising that has made him learn to restructure his life and put Bailey first, he says.

A typical day for Leo goes something like this:

  • 7:30am: Bailey wakes up
  • 9am: Leo takes Bailey to school
  • 9am to 12pm: Physical therapy or training at the gym
  • 12pm to 2pm: Lunch and administration work
  • 2pm to 5pm: Physical therapy for clients
  • 5pm to 7pm: Watch Bailey after she comes back from school. If Leo still has to work, his parents watch her.
  • 7pm: Dinner
  • 8pm: Playtime with Bailey
  • 9pm or 10pm: Bailey’s bedtime
  • 10pm onwards: Continue working

Co-parenting as a single father

Leo is no longer married to Bailey’s mother, but says that they have “learnt to find peace and… support one another” through the parenting journey.

“A lot of parents like to tell me that I should have stuck together with my then-wife, for the sake of the kid. That’s horrible. I do not subscribe to that.”

Nevertheless, despite their marriage not working out in the end, the two decided to co-parent and “at least try to provide the best life for [their] kid”.


“Bye bye!” 👋🏻 • Hahaha gosh… my heart ❤️ Growing up so quick. I love you #fyp

♬ original sound – leodoesalot – leodoesalot

It wasn’t always like that though.

Leo admits that the divorce took a “very big toll” on his mental health.

“I was always trying to find temporary relief. You know, I just meet friends, hang out… drink. [I’d] still be present for the baby, but [I wasn’t] actually present, just going through the motions.”

When the pandemic hit, Leo had to stop dancing as well.

Coupled with his mental state, Leo confesses that he was “very not in shape”.

The turning point came when he was given the opportunity to perform after restrictions were lifted, but had to get his six-pack back within 10 days.

Leo managed it, but doesn’t recommend such extreme measures to anyone as it’s “not healthy”.

But that period of extreme discipline made him ponder: “What if I did continue to stay the path?”

Leo says that for the past one and a half years, he has been “furiously attacking everything with this intense consistency”, and this in turn has helped him to become a better father.

“I just really want her to look at me and be like, proud that I’m her dad,” Leo says.

While he considers Bailey’s presence “fulfilling”, life as a single father has not been without its struggles.

“I’m so busy, right? So it’s very hard to find people and talk to people. So I spend a lot of time in my own head. And sometimes, I don’t really have anyone to ask for help.”

He clarifies that his parents and grandparents do help out with caring for Bailey, but says that it would be nice to “have a community”.

Thank you, dad

With his parents being actively involved in helping him care for his daughter, I asked Leo about his relationship with his own father growing up, and how it has changed over the years.

Leo says that he grew up being told not to talk back to his elders, but often not being offered an explanation for why.

This, he says, is something that he’s trying not to do with Bailey.

Leo describes his father as a “strong, very firm, very assertive, aggressive” man who built a fruit and vegetable import/export empire for himself.

For a period of time, that was mostly what he knew his father for.

It was only later in Leo’s teens that his father became more present in his life, but they still faced difficulties communicating.

For example, after his divorce, Leo described his father’s attitude towards him as:

“How come you’re free from the shackles (of marriage), but you’re still acting like a bit*h?”

But his father also offered him support, in the form of providing him with a space to do his physical therapy sessions, and buying groceries for him as he began to see Leo become stricter about his diet.

“I think it’s just sometimes we just gotta let go that male ego and just support one another. It’s not a competition. It’s not about putting someone else down.”

And while Leo describes his relationship with his father as “kind of dysfunctional”, he is still thankful to him for giving him opportunities to chase his passions.

Lessons on fatherhood

While he used to receive rude comments about his chosen profession in the past, Leo says that most reactions towards him now are more positive.

He also doesn’t let insensitive remarks hurt him as much anymore, saying:

“I have confidence that whatever I’m doing can show to my daughter: ‘I’ve never had a victim’s mentality to whatever I’ve been through. And I really work hard to make myself the victor of my story. And I will never use you as a reason why I can’t pursue my dreams. I’m going to be very uber successful with you by my side, and I want you to have that same spirit.'”

Leo also has no qualms about letting his daughter know what he does for a living, as soon as she is old enough to understand.

However, he does admit to being “a bit worried” about what her peers might say to her, though he also adds that he’s “always here to educate”.

When asked if he had any advice for other young fathers, Leo said that one thing that had always stuck with him was the fact that his daughter didn’t ask to be born, so it was his responsibility to do his best for her.

“It’s gonna be uncomfortable, it’s gonna be very difficult… there are going to be times where it’s going to defeat you. Find those lessons and realise how grateful you should be to have a child. It is one of the greatest blessings to see someone take on their own personality, their own opinions or viewpoint towards life.”

Top image via Leo Heng’s Instagram.

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