This is the fourth in The Tyee’s Love on the Edge series.]

On any given night at Brandi’s Exotic Nightclub in Vancouver, the women equal, and sometimes outnumber, the men. Sure, it’s touted as a bridge between a nightclub and a venue for adult entertainment, a comfortable place for couples and women, but you can’t escape the fact that women on stage are incrementally peeling off their clothes. The advent of what some people are calling “raunch feminism” is what is driving a whole bunch of trends like this lately – from pole and lap dancing lessons under the clever marketing guise of fitness, to Girls Gone Wild, and its Canuck counterpart Wild Canadian Girls, where young women at Mardi Gras and Spring Break flash, spread and simulate lesbianism – not for money, but simply for cameras.

Sexual power, a well-practiced special talent of women, could be one reason why so many of us are frequenting strip clubs these days. Another might be women’s well-conditioned habit of competing with each other for the attention of men. It cold be that we simply want to keep a watchful eye on our boyfriends / husbands. Or maybe that we want to learn a thing or two to keep him happy. One woman I spoke with confessed that ever since her boyfriend cheated on her with a stripper, she goes to the clubs to prove to herself that “they’re all skanks.” But I get the feeling it has more to do with taking away a few tips to ensure that it never happens again.

Occupational hazard

I’ve spent some time over the years at the clubs. It was plain old curiosity that started me. I once had a boyfriend who visited a certain popular strip club in Toronto every Wednesday night. He was a journalist, so to put a sugar coat on it, he confessed his “sin” very carefully over dinner one night, telling me it was “research.” He needn’t have bothered; just about every guy I know goes to watch women take their clothes off. But I was struck by the regularity of his visits and it made me want to go find out what the allure might have been.

I got my chance one night while out bar-hopping with my friend Jay. We ended up at his army alumni Christmas party at one of Toronto’s less seemly gentleman’s clubs. Not counting the strippers and half clad waitresses, I was the only woman in the room. Among all the testosterone, I felt like I was finally getting a glimpse into the secret world of men. It didn’t take long to figure out that although sex was the commodity, the trade was in money and, mostly, power. As I sat front and centre watching the women, and flirting with Jay and his buddies, I realized that although fully clothed, I had my own particularly enjoyable hold in the room.

I admit, I liked that feeling and started going to the clubs whenever I got a chance, always with men. It was, after all, at such odds with my strict Catholic upbringing to enjoy looking at naked women while talking so openly with men about their desires and how I might learn to fulfill them.

Popular disappointment

That’s why I was disappointed at Brandi’s recently, when I first noticed the marked increase in the number of women milling about the club. I told people I was upset on behalf of men at the invasion of one of their last bastions of male-hood. But that was only part of it. No longer could I portray myself as an evolved, accepting, un-jealous woman, all the while secretly loving the attention I got in a room mostly full of appreciative men. In the past, my only competition for the male gaze were the untouchable fantasies bumping and grinding on stage.

Here, all kinds of women were annoyingly causing distraction from the main event. Some were sitting in “gyno row,” offering their breasts for the strippers to grab, while others were kissing and groping right in the eye-line between men and the stage. I asked former stripper Annie Temple about this. She said, “Those are the women I used to drag on stage since, obviously, they wanted to be there. But is it better to act glaringly rude for attention and not get paid? Or, to dance in a legitimate occupation of
r
the same attention and be paid well?”

Of course, I never put myself in this scenario since I wouldn’t considered being up on stage. I only wanted to bear witness to the goings-on.

I wonder though, is there anywhere men can go anymore just to be men? Don’t they go to strip clubs for the fantasy of it all, for a little tease by the unattainable, to get a good look at a hot woman but not have to be responsible for how she feels? Mix real, live, available woman with fantasy prototypes in a sex club and watch what happens. I suspect we’ve reached a point where the line of demarcation between the two is barely visible.

It wasn’t that long ago when strippers occupied the low end of the social and professional stratosphere, but with women so keen to emulate them, it seems their stars are on the rise. Are strippers the new superwomen? I am woman, watch me strip! It used to be, you weren’t a real woman unless you had a kid. Now it seems imperative to learn to dangle upside-down on a pole. If pole dancing is fitness, (and I’m not saying strippers aren’t talented acrobats) then why are students entering competitions in stripper gear and featured at consumer events like the recent Naughty But Nice Sex Show? When I asked Aradia Fitness co-owner Tracy Gray how “fitness” includes the vinyl thigh-high spike heeled boots she said, without a shred of irony, “They help grip the pole.”

Stripped-down celebrities

Stripper culture’s bleed into the mainstream has been enthusiastically led by some of the most popular celebrities like Carmen Electra, Britney Spears, Teri Hatcher and even Oprah, who took a whirl on the pole during one of her trend shows. Women are now staging stagettes at male strip clubs instead of going to see men take it all off. In an age of deconstruction of norms and traditions, young women truly seem to believe that this anything-goes-and-shows attitude is just an inherited right, fought for by feminist foremothers. New York journalist and feminist Ariel Levy calls this new breed Female Chauvinist Pigs: “She is post-feminist. She is funny. She gets it. She doesn’t mind cartoonish stereotypes of female sexuality, and she doesn’t mind a cartoonishly macho response to them. The FCP asks: Why worry about disgusting or degrading when you could be giving – or getting – a lap dance yourself? Why try to beat them when you can join them?”

If this is truly the trend, I’m a little concerned that we might be selling ourselves short. Each of us, after all, has our own instinctual sexuality that’s what makes chemistry so interesting. So, I don’t really get why we have to borrow someone else’s idea (or a whole culture’s one-dimensional idea) about how to be sexy.

What I was discovering, though, is that my own observations in the clubs were enhancing, and maybe even altering, my sense of my own sexuality.

On another trip to Brandi’s, I met Crystal, a lovely, tall brunette whom, you could say, initiated me into the “female” experience of male strip clubs. I joined her all-girl table to find out why they were there and she was only too happy to tell. “I love to look at naked women,” she said, adding that she appreciates the athleticism of the strippers. She had recently become engaged, but that didn’t stop her, though her fiancé didn’t ever care to join her. Leading me up to “gyno row” she asked me if I was married. No, I said. She leaned intoxicatingly close to advise, “Before you get married you should be with a woman, at least once.”

It wasn’t long after we sat down that the man next to me offered me five bucks to give to the stripper. Earlier, a couple of men told me they were annoyed at the presence of so many women, that it changed the experience for them. Not this guy. He was paying to see me interact with the dancer. Now, after reading about female chauvinist pigs, I’m wondering if my own behaviour makes me one. I’m certainly not consciously aware of recasting my feminism as “empowerment” to behave badly, but there was something exciting in this new and seemingly forbidden world. Here was a woman thrusting her private parts very close to my face. The pull to look was strong and I pushed the default Catholic shame aside. She looked the same as me, only intriguingly different.

Private dancer

Sitting with the twenty-something Crystal, it occurred to me that consuming pornography of any kind is fairly normal for her generation (hence the female chauvanist pig trend) while for me, in my mid-forties, it’s still in many ways taboo.

This experience, and Crystal’s advice, stayed in my consciousness so much that a few months later at Brandi’s, a little more inebriated than usual, I allowed myself to be escorted to the back, curtained area for my own private “non-contact” lap dance. My dancer, another brunette, was the perfect mix of athletic and feminine – petite with smallish breasts, a well toned, tanned and unmarked body. I found it utterly uncomfortable to be in a sexual situation without being able to touch and yet exciting to want to. She told me she thought I was pretty and I hoped she really did. Was this normal procedure? While there’s no shortage of men willing to escort me to the peeler bar to do my “research,” they sure are reluctant to admit to paying for lap dances, let alone to reveal the appeal. So I have no idea if this woman really liked me or if she was just earning her keep. But I do understand how a man, lonely or not, with a satisfying personal life, or without one might be flattered and attracted to such attention. No strings attached. Just a little harmless exchange of discretionary cash. What happens at the club stays at the club.

In an essay from What I Meant to Say: The Private Lives of Men, writer Ian Brown breaks his experience down like this, “I went to the club to bring lust into a more honourable place in my life, to normalize my desire, to make it less of a big deal. For a man, looking is part of his education. It’s one way he learns the difference between what he wants and what he can have; or between what he thinks he wants, is supposed to want and what he actually needs.”

Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing in the strip clubs; coming to terms with my own sexuality which I’ve always worried I placed in too high prominence; trying to understand what men want, why they want it and how I can give it; and dealing with my curiosity about women without having to consummate it. For now, I think I’ve had enough and I’m only too happy to leave these dens to the men who, at least according to some I spoke to, are hankering to reclaim their territory.

Carla Lucchetta is a freelance writer and TV producer. Her commentary on “the way we live today” can be found at HerKind.com. [Tyee]

We are acquiring power. But is it feminist or chauvinist?
By Carla Lucchetta, 16 Feb 2006, TheTyee.ca

So late last night, I went with a bunch of gal pals to the 10 p.m. screening of Magic Mike at Chinook Centre.

At least, that was the plan. However, we seriously underestimated the appetite of Calgary women for an abtastic serving of Hollywood man meat. When I went to buy a ticket at about 5:45 p.m., I was told the late-night sneak peek was sold out. Many indignant Facebook postings followed.

All week, we’ve been having fits of giggles in the newsroom as we chatted about the movie (and watched the NSFW trailer, purely for research purposes). For the uninitiated, Magic Mike is the latest Steven Soderbergh film. Loosely based on the experiences of its star, Channing Tatum, the movie tracks Mike, a guy who has it great working as stripper in Tampa, Florida. But he realizes that life can’t be all lap dances and gold thongs. It’s been getting solid reviews, with many a writer pointing out that exploring subcultures is Soderbergh’s wheelhouse, body glitter be damned. And it doesn’t hurt that the ad campaign includes the chiselled physiques of co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Andrew Pettyfer and Joe Manganiello of True Blood.

There’s one thing some reviewers have been missing, however. While there is bare bums aplenty, full-frontal is not Magic Mike’s bag. As FFWD Weekly’s Danny Austin wrote, “I know next to nothing about male stripping, but aren’t penises kind of the point?”

Umm, no. Most definitely not. In another lifetime, in a land, far, far away, I was known to frequent a ladies’ night (or three) with a gaggle of girlfriends. And back in the day, the male rippers in Vancouver went the distance, as in the full monty. However, the big reveal, as it was, always came up short (ahem). Ladies night is all about fun, not having some pencil pushed in your face. Not for nothing is there an emcee to goad the crowd on, to direct the groundswell of energy created by women letting loose in a safe environment and get everyone going. There are (were, I should say, not having been to a ladies’ night in more than 15 years) games, prizes and dance breaks so the girls could shake their groove thangs, too. Then, when the dancers were done, the bar doors would open to the men, who would try their luck in a room full of amped-up women.

In a NYMag.com article, Charlotte Cowles visits Hunk-A-Mania, the Manhattan location of a male-strip-club franchise. (When did this happen? As co-worker Gwendolyn Richards points out, “We really get the shaft in Canada. Actually, we don’t.”) Cowles talks to the dancers about their wardrobe, but other topics take over the undies debate. (FYI: briefs win.) “Really, the women look more at each other than anything else. They’re far more interested in snapping photos of themselves — sometimes with the strippers but more often just on their own — and their friends. The men understand this completely. ‘When a man goes to a female strip club, a lot of times he just wants the proximity to an attractive woman, and it’s a sexual thing,’ said D (a dancer). ‘But a lot of women who come here aren’t in a sexual mood. They’re in a silly mood and they want to share something that’s novel with their friends.’ Ironically, the experience winds up being much more about female friendship than it is about sex.”

That was totally true of my time at ladies’ nights. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the routines, the six-packs or the costumes. What I do remember is the good times I had with my friends, the shrieks, the laughs, the capital-F Fun. And I’ve also seen women strip. I used to work at a nightclub and would pick up the occasional shift in the establishment’s neighbouring pub that featured exotic dancers. Some men came with their friends and treated it like a social outing, albeit one with a smorgasbord of silicon on view. But the guys in gynie row (front and centre) weren’t whooping it up or laughing. Rather, all their attention went to the woman (or women) on stage. It’s like if they concentrated hard enough, the dancer would stop mid-routine, look directly at them and decide then and there that this was the guy for them. I always found it more sad than sexy. Double standard on my part? Maybe.

At ladies’ night, though, the dancers got that it was a lark, a bit of fun and something, that when you think about it objectively, is kind of ridiculous. I mean, dancing around in front of a crowd of strangers, removing your clothes in a routine choreographed to Euro-trash disco? How can you not laugh at that? One of my best friend’s boyfriends was a stripper, and one of the guys I worked with at the nightclub went that route, too. (Other male co-workers, it should be noted, were just happy to take their clothes off in public after a few hours of drinking. Must be genetic.) With the guys I knew, just like the other male dancers, the end of the routine was anti-climactic. The big “ta-dah!” reveal was generally followed by a quick cover-up and a little bow. (Note: that is bow, as in bend, not bow, as in gift wrapping, although that might be a fun way to end a routine.) Any protracted displays of the dancers’ equipment was inevitably met with averted eyes and flat-out “I really don’t need to see that, thanks”. We get it: you have a penis. Good for you! Now, let’s move on, shall we?

So while the girls and I are sad we missed Magic Mike Thursday night, we’re not upset that we didn’t get to see Channing Tatum in all his glory. Rather, the good-spirited camaraderie, the sharing of laughs and time spend with friends is what we missed out on. We’ll just have to plan it for a night when the other women in Calgary aren’t as eager for a ladies’ night of their own.

RUTH MYLES
More from Ruth Myles
Published on: June 28, 2012 | Last Updated: June 28, 2012 2:54 PM MSt
Calgary Herald

Channing Tatum has joked that Joe Manganiello likely has a sex swing installed at his home.

The two stars are good friends having worked on 2012 stripper movie Magic Mike together, as well as its sequel Magic Mike XXL which hit screens earlier in 2015. One memorable scene in the latest flick sees Joe’s character Big Dick Richie incorporating a sex swing into one of his routines, with Channing joking it could be a case of life imitating art – which may be embarrassing for Joe’s new wife Sofía Vergara.

“Well, I mean the sex swing was all Manganiello’s idea, he pushed for that,” Channing told Britain’s Heat magazine. “It gives me an idea of what goes on at his house. That’s what we wanted to do with this film. I never thought the first would take off like it did – I was astounded by the response, so we knew we had to do something that gave the audience more. So we just went XXL – we went for it.”

Part of the cast’s full-on approach saw them agree to don skimpy stage costumes for some scenes. Channing is glad he did it, although it was a terrifying experience.

“Those thongs!” he marvelled. “They seemed like a good idea at the time. We thought, because we were going out on this one last ride, why not have all of us embarrassed onstage in thongs. God, once you actually have to step out on stage in that thing, it’s a whole other playing field. One false move and the whole goods are on display.”

Magic Mike was loosely based on Channing experiences as a stripper when he was younger, but the 35-year-old feels a world away from that period. He may have donned a minimal set of underwear during that period, but he has vowed never to again.

“The difference is that I am not a 19-year-old kid anymore,” he laughed. “I am an old man and there is stuff you can’t get away with. I can honestly say that will be my last dance with the thong.”

© Cover Media Group 2015

In case you can’t get enough of your favorite semi-fictional male exotic dancer, you’re in luck. After two scantily clad film installments, it looks like Magic Mike is indeed on course for its much-anticipated Broadway treatment.

Playbill reports that a reading of the musical was held last week for producers in New York City. It featured Curt Hansen as Mike and Will Swenson as Dallas, with Nick Adams, Christopher Jackson, Jon Rua, Steel Burkhardt, and Nikki Bohne also involved.

With a book by gay scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and a score by Tony-winning duo Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, neither a director, nor a opening date, has been attached.

Instead of retelling Magic Mike or Magic Mike XXL, the stage production will serve as a prequel to the films. It tells the backstory of struggling college student, Mike Lane, as he becomes the titular stripper we’ve all grown to love.

Although it’s been reported that Channing Tatum is on board as a producer, it does not appear that he’ll be showing any flesh in a live stage production. Nonetheless, the ensemble will undoubtedly feature a hunky roster of talent. So don’t forget the singles.

https://www.out.com/authors/glenn-garner

Male strippers have never exactly been unpopular among the masses. They’re hot men taking their clothes off, after all. But with the sequel to Magic Mike erupting, ripped and glistening, on to cinema screens this summer, the demand for gyrating, barely-clad male ‘entertainers’ has reached new heights. Bruno Gabriel, who performed a raunchy routine at the Hong Kong premiere of Magic Mike XXL, is an industry veteran and founder of HKmen, a company that provides male strippers for hire. “I started to dance when I was 22, to impress a girl I liked,” he chuckles. “I answered a casting call in a magazine. Stripping was a hobby at first and then it became a full-time job.” With a sultry demeanour and an incredibly muscular body, a legacy of his bodybuilding days, it’s not surprising that Gabriel also juggles his stripping gigs with modelling and personal training jobs.

Born in Romania and raised in Italy, Gabriel stripped his way around the world before settling in Hong Kong seven years ago. “I moved around after my contracts ended to find new ones,” he recalls. “I travelled across Europe for a few years, I slowly moved to Asia and my last stop was Hong Kong. When I came here, there was already a market for this job and that’s why I stayed! I created the [HKMen] brand in 2009. I’m getting older, so now I’m looking to promote younger guys. I still have many bookings, but in 10 years the clients will want new guys and this is what I’m doing with this company – giving them what they want.”

Gabriel explains more about the client-orientated mindset that is, ultimately, the essence of being a successful male stripper. “We get pretty naked, of course! It’s an interactive show, we do party games involving baby oil and whipped cream. If a girl wants to touch you, it’s okay but you cannot touch the girl. You need to be careful.” He goes on to reveal some tricks of the trade. “If people like your work, they will come back! So, with shy clients, you need to be more gentle. Once I was at a party at a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui and the girls were so shy they hid in the bathroom!”

Gabriel and HKmen are booked, mainly, for private events, such as hen parties. “We’ve performed on trams and boats! Mostly the girls who book us are locals who have studied overseas and have a European mentality, so they are comfortable seeing this kind of show. In Europe, they also have male strip clubs – but here you can’t find that,” he says. “People with a more Chinese mentality tend to not understand what we are doing!” When we ask if Gabriel ever ends up going a little further with his clients after a show, he replies ambiguously. “We try to not mix work with personal life. Work is work. But of course, that happens in any other workplace, so why not in our work too?”

The work schedule of a male stripper is predominantly from 8pm to 3am on weekend nights. In this window, Gabriel averages four to six shows. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I never feel that it’s boring or repetitive,” he says. “If the girls themselves are bored, you need to do something to change it up. Maybe they’ve had a bad day and you’re an entertainer, so you need to change their mood. Every crowd is different, every party is different. You just do your job. In the end, when you can see the people are happy, it’s the best thing you can have happen that day. Of course, getting the payment is important, too.”

As a male entertainer, Gabriel has been met with mixed responses regarding his career choices. “[When I say what I do], some people smile and say ‘What a nice job, you just work part time! It’s an easy job, good money, you have fun with the girls’, while others, they look at you strangely, like ‘What kind of job is that? It’s naughty, not nice’.”

But overall, Gabriel is unfazed by any stigma. “In the end, it’s entertainment,” he says. “You’re an artist. You don’t sell sex, you’re not an escort. You just go dancing and then you leave.”
Rhoda Kwan
time out , hong kong .

The nominees for the 2016 People’s Choice Awards are here and the list is jam-packed with Hollywood’s biggest and brightest. Voting is now open at Vote.PeoplesChoice.com and will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 3.

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The full list of winners will be revealed live (for the first time!) at the 2016 People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 on CBS.
Favorite Movie Actor

Channing Tatum. The 35-year-old actor is best known for his portrayal as Magic Mike in the 2012 comedy film Magic Mike, and its 2015 sequel Magic Mike XXL, which he produced and was inspired by his early life. Tatum received critial praise in the 2014 drama, Foxcatcher.

Chris Pratt. Ana Faris’ husband began his film carreer with supporting roles in mainstream films. The 36-year-old achieved leading man status in 2014 after starring in two commercially successful films: The Lego Movie, a computer-animated adventure comedy, and Guardians of the Galaxy, a superhero film produced by Marvel Studios.

Johnny Depp. The actor, producer and musician is regarded as one of the world’s biggest film stars. Depp has been nominated for major acting awards, including three nominations for Academy Award for Best Actor. The 52-year-old rose to fame on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, becoming a teen idol.

Robert Downey Jr., Avenger’s Tony Stark was successfully portrayed by the 50-year-old actor. He has starred in several movies that have each grossed over $500 million at the box office worldwide. Downey has topped the Forbes list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors for three consecutive years.

Will Smith. The 47-year-old actor achieved fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He is now ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes.

Favorite Movie Actress
Anne Hathaway. Adam Shulman’s wife, the American actress, singer, and producer. In 2008, she won several awards for her performance in Rachel Getting Married, also earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In 2010, she starred in the box office hits Valentine’s Day, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Love and Other Drugs and won an Emmy Award for her voice-over performance on The Simpsons. In 2011, she had a voice role in the animated film Rio.

Melissa McCarthy. The American actress, comedian, writer, fashion designer, and producer. McCarthy achieved major success and fame for her breakthrough film role as Megan Price in the 2011 comedy hit Bridesmaids, which garnered her numerous award nominations including an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, a BAFTA nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Meryl Streep. A three-time Academy Award winner, Streep has also received 29 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight—more nominations, and more competitive (non-honorary) wins than any other actor (male or female) in the history of the award, five New York Film Critics Circle Awards, two BAFTA awards, two Australian Film Institute awards, five Grammy Award nominations, and five Drama Desk Award nominations. She was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004.

Sandra Bullock. The 51-year-old American actress and producer. She is one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, and is the recipient of one Academy Award from two nominations, and one Golden Globe Award from five nominations. She was named the “Most Beautiful Woman” by People magazine in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson. The actress, model, and singer. Johansson is considered one of Hollywood’s modern sex symbols, and has frequently appeared in published lists of the sexiest women in the world, including when she was named the “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire magazine in both 2006 and 2013 (the only woman to be chosen for the title twice), and the “Sexiest Celebrity” by Playboy magazine in 2007.

Nov 04, 2015 07:40 AM EST | By Karen Jean N. Tiongco

They say the show must go on — even if it’s a male strip show in a province where stripping is banned.

About 100 women are expected to be in the audience Friday night at the “Regina ladies night out” event at Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge.

Despite the province’s crackdown on stripping earlier this year, the event is sold out.

For about year, stripping where alcohol is served was legal after the province reversed a long-established ban.

Then, in April, the government did an about face, making stripping in bars illegal again.

There is one important exception: charity groups are allowed to sponsor one event a year. Total nudity is still banned: pasties, g-strings and other covers must be worn.

Upsides and downsides

Emily Kempin, part owner of Pink Champagne, a company of exotic dancers in Saskatoon, said it’s been difficult to book gigs since the change because bar owners are afraid to break the law.

“It dramatically affected all our bar performances and what we could do on stage. And it affected our stage performances in general because a lot of it we do routines and in those routines we do take off clothing — even though it’s not full nude,” she said.

However, there has been an upside.

“More and more people have been talking about our company, and more and more people are discussing how this is against women’s rights and how it’s stopping us from working.”

Province has reinstituted ban on stripping in bars
CBC News Posted: Sep 18, 2015 2:10 PM CT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2015 8:07 PM CT

Did the new Magic Mike XXL movie have you salivating more than a dozen of Pavlov’s dogs listening to Big Ben’s midday bongs?

If so, you might want to book a ticket to see Adonis Cabaret: ‘the leading firm in the world of male stripping’ (‘firm’ being the operative word). Their Full Monty shows combine raw sex (does anybody ever have cooked sex?!) with a very British sense of humour; think butt naked dudes playing the piano with their plonkers and routines involving MN8 songs and Lidl carrier bags.

What happens on stage is unashamedly cheesy and proudly outrageous – but it’s what goes on behind the scenes that’ll really make your jaw hit the floor. I spoke to four Adonis Cabaret hunks and got them to lay bare (heh) their craziest tales.

Male strippers have inventive (and painful) ways of making their willies look bigger
Tristan Tristar founded Adonis Cabaret 19 years ago. ‘Back then, guys would grab a copy of Razzle, or some other porn mag, and have a quick wank backstage to make sure their willies looked impressively plump,’ he reveals. “These days, a lot of blokes rely on penis pumps, using strong suction on their sausages to make them look bigger.”

‘However, once you’ve pumped your peen up, you need to make sure it remains that way for the duration of the show by “tying off”: stopping the blood from flowing out of your engorged willy, so it stays looking bigger for longer,” he explains.

‘Some strippers do this by stretching a cock ring tightly around the base of the penis and underneath their balls,’ he says. ‘This also pushes their whole package forwards, so their junk looks more weighty inside their trunks. But if you’re getting 100% naked like Adonis boys do, you need something that can’t be seen, so some dudes tie a thin piece of elastic or rubber tape around the bottom of their todgers to keep the bloodflow in there instead.’

‘Back in the 80s, I used to wrap my Old Man with flesh-coloured bias binding – the stuff you use to hem curtains,’ Tristan winces. ‘I’d wet it, wind it round my willy, then it would tighten as it dried, and look almost invisible. But one night, the drag queen presenter introducing my performance waffled on for 20 minutes longer than normal… I thought my bits were going to turn blue and fall off by the time I got on stage. If you’re not careful, tying off can make your knob go very numb, especially if you’re doing several shows a night.’

‘It’s hard to maintain an erection when you’re doing backflips and complex dance routines for half an hour, so you can’t use Viagra,’ adds Marshall Arkley, a 28-year-old bodybuilder who performs with Adonis in London. ‘I once tried Tristan’s old-school wrapping technique, and it was excruciating – plus, you have to be careful not to trap any skin or you can get a blood blister that could pop over the audience.’

Note: For purely journalistic reasons, The Debrief had a close look at Marshall’s meatstick IRL, and can confirm that it has about the same dimensions as a Pringles can. Seriously – it’s like a bollard. He’s a living aubergine emojii.

They also have nifty tricks to handle out-of-control audience members who’ve had too much to drink
It’s common for Adonis strippers to get brides-to-be or birthday girls up on stage to give them a personal lapdance. But often, women are in such high spirits – or have downed so many spirits – that they don’t want to leave once the dance is done.

Tristan’s favourite way to deal with an overenthusiastic/overenbooozed-and-plastered female is to slide his hands sensually down her hips, grip the sides of her knickers… and then pull them up to give her a wedgie

‘The crowd think it’s hilarious and all part of the flirtatious fun,’ he winks, ‘but you can actually steer someone safely back to their seat very effectively when you’re leading them by the pants.’

Britain’s got talons…
Richard Joker has been going about in his birthday suit for two decades, and his story is infamous within the industry.

‘A woman tried to rip off my G-string and one of her false nails actually tore into my testicles,’ he recalls. ‘I had to have the acrylic fingernail surgically removed and get my sack stitched back up in A&E.’

HOLY WANGBANGLES, THAT IS FUCKING GRIM.

The oldies are the worst, apparently
‘I find the older ladies are the worst for trying to tug at my tackle while I’m dancing,’ Marshall says.

‘One of my stripping routines involves me being completely starkers and soaked with water, with a Union Jack flag draped over my family jewels. On one occasion an OAP in the audience, who was well into her 70s, shuffled towards me with her walking frame, jammed her hand under the fabric, and grabbed my bits in her fist. She gripped like a vice. I had to pry her off my penis. Actually terrifying.’

Hens + peckers = things can get nuts.
27-year-old model and stripper Shane Tyler says ‘I’ve seen a different side to some women in this job; some of them seem to think that because you’re performing for them, they have a right to grab your crotch or touch you however they like, even when you’re off duty and trying to chill with your mates after a show. I do wonder what would happen if a man tried to do that to a female dancer. I’ve heard shocking things from ladies about to get married, who try to get strippers to sleep with them, proclaiming that their soon-to-be husbands are probably out shagging prostitutes anyway. The lack of trust can be depressing.’

(This insight would be more saddening if Shane’s pet African grey parrot hadn’t been shouting obscene phrases in an Irish accent and imitating vintage Nokia ringtones throughout our interview.)

Sometimes shows get too hot to handle (literally)
Richard was once stripping for a crowd of 300 ladies in Brighton when a fire started in the venue’s kitchens. ‘Rather than panic a huge room full of very pissed, very hyper chicks by getting them to formally evacuate, I led them all in a giant conga line out to the beach,’ he says. ‘They thought it was part of the show. I was there waggling about along the sand wearing nothing but a flourescent banana hammock, followed by hundreds of inebriated lasses, while firemen extinguished the flames.’

Strippers also have jobs that don’t involve their knobs
When not getting his pipe out for the gals, Shane is training to be a plumber. Marshall is a personal trainer, competes in bodybuilding competitions, and models for an ‘erotic underwear company’ called SUKREW (google their ‘U Trunks – see goolies encased in baffling lycra fandanglement). He’s also sponsored by exotic meat vendor Wildefeast, who sell a hamper named ‘Marshall’s Well Hung Meat Package’. Appropriately enough, it contains horse.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

A Straight Girl’s Guide To Visiting A Strip Club

The Worst Hen Party Stories The Internet Has To Offer

‘I’ve Got A Degree. But I Chose To Strip’

Follow Alix on Twitter @AlixFox
THE DEBRIEF: REAL-LIFE MAGIC MIKES REVEAL ALL ABOUT SHIT-FACED CHICKS & ENHANCING THEIR DICKSTags: Sex, Sex Ed

So late last night, I went with a bunch of gal pals to the 10 p.m. screening of Magic Mike at Chinook Centre.

At least, that was the plan. However, we seriously underestimated the appetite of Calgary women for an abtastic serving of Hollywood man meat. When I went to buy a ticket at about 5:45 p.m., I was told the late-night sneak peek was sold out. Many indignant Facebook postings followed.

All week, we’ve been having fits of giggles in the newsroom as we chatted about the movie (and watched the NSFW trailer, purely for research purposes). For the uninitiated, Magic Mike is the latest Steven Soderbergh film. Loosely based on the experiences of its star, Channing Tatum, the movie tracks Mike, a guy who has it great working as stripper in Tampa, Florida. But he realizes that life can’t be all lap dances and gold thongs. It’s been getting solid reviews, with many a writer pointing out that exploring subcultures is Soderbergh’s wheelhouse, body glitter be damned. And it doesn’t hurt that the ad campaign includes the chiselled physiques of co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Andrew Pettyfer and Joe Manganiello of True Blood.

There’s one thing some reviewers have been missing, however. While there is bare bums aplenty, full-frontal is not Magic Mike’s bag. As FFWD Weekly’s Danny Austin wrote, “I know next to nothing about male stripping, but aren’t penises kind of the point?”

Umm, no. Most definitely not. In another lifetime, in a land, far, far away, I was known to frequent a ladies’ night (or three) with a gaggle of girlfriends. And back in the day, the male rippers in Vancouver went the distance, as in the full monty. However, the big reveal, as it was, always came up short (ahem). Ladies night is all about fun, not having some pencil pushed in your face. Not for nothing is there an emcee to goad the crowd on, to direct the groundswell of energy created by women letting loose in a safe environment and get everyone going. There are (were, I should say, not having been to a ladies’ night in more than 15 years) games, prizes and dance breaks so the girls could shake their groove thangs, too. Then, when the dancers were done, the bar doors would open to the men, who would try their luck in a room full of amped-up women.

In a NYMag.com article, Charlotte Cowles visits Hunk-A-Mania, the Manhattan location of a male-strip-club franchise. (When did this happen? As co-worker Gwendolyn Richards points out, “We really get the shaft in Canada. Actually, we don’t.”) Cowles talks to the dancers about their wardrobe, but other topics take over the undies debate. (FYI: briefs win.) “Really, the women look more at each other than anything else. They’re far more interested in snapping photos of themselves — sometimes with the strippers but more often just on their own — and their friends. The men understand this completely. ‘When a man goes to a female strip club, a lot of times he just wants the proximity to an attractive woman, and it’s a sexual thing,’ said D (a dancer). ‘But a lot of women who come here aren’t in a sexual mood. They’re in a silly mood and they want to share something that’s novel with their friends.’ Ironically, the experience winds up being much more about female friendship than it is about sex.”

That was totally true of my time at ladies’ nights. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the routines, the six-packs or the costumes. What I do remember is the good times I had with my friends, the shrieks, the laughs, the capital-F Fun. And I’ve also seen women strip. I used to work at a nightclub and would pick up the occasional shift in the establishment’s neighbouring pub that featured exotic dancers. Some men came with their friends and treated it like a social outing, albeit one with a smorgasbord of silicon on view. But the guys in gynie row (front and centre) weren’t whooping it up or laughing. Rather, all their attention went to the woman (or women) on stage. It’s like if they concentrated hard enough, the dancer would stop mid-routine, look directly at them and decide then and there that this was the guy for them. I always found it more sad than sexy. Double standard on my part? Maybe.

At ladies’ night, though, the dancers got that it was a lark, a bit of fun and something, that when you think about it objectively, is kind of ridiculous. I mean, dancing around in front of a crowd of strangers, removing your clothes in a routine choreographed to Euro-trash disco? How can you not laugh at that? One of my best friend’s boyfriends was a stripper, and one of the guys I worked with at the nightclub went that route, too. (Other male co-workers, it should be noted, were just happy to take their clothes off in public after a few hours of drinking. Must be genetic.) With the guys I knew, just like the other male dancers, the end of the routine was anti-climactic. The big “ta-dah!” reveal was generally followed by a quick cover-up and a little bow. (Note: that is bow, as in bend, not bow, as in gift wrapping, although that might be a fun way to end a routine.) Any protracted displays of the dancers’ equipment was inevitably met with averted eyes and flat-out “I really don’t need to see that, thanks”. We get it: you have a penis. Good for you! Now, let’s move on, shall we?

So while the girls and I are sad we missed Magic Mike Thursday night, we’re not upset that we didn’t get to see Channing Tatum in all his glory. Rather, the good-spirited camaraderie, the sharing of laughs and time spend with friends is what we missed out on. We’ll just have to plan it for a night when the other women in Calgary aren’t as eager for a ladies’ night of their own.

the Calgary Herald
RUTH MYLES
More from Ruth Myles
Published on: June 28, 2012 | Last Updated: June 28, 2012 2:54 PM MDT

If there’s one thing that makes me sad for heterosexual men, it’s that so many of them haven’t seen Magic Mike. They assumed they’d be in for nonstop tight close-ups of Spandex-packaged junk, exposure to unrealistically chiseled and waxed male bodies, and barely plotted sexploitation aimed at the gaze of those who are sexually attracted to men. They were therefore deprived of one of the most joyful cinematic experiences of the last five years, a great Steven Soderbergh movie that contained only maybe fraction of the brazen sexuality they probably feared.

What I’ve learned from watching other male stripper movies is that nothing else compares to them. Unfortunately, in trying to track down selections from before the year 2000, I was stymied by the fact that they’re only available on foreign DVDs or collectible VHS tapes that sell for $80 on eBay. That said, I was able to watch two early-2000s efforts based on the life of Chippendales founder Steve Banerjee and the two post-Magic Mike efforts that have come to market. It wasn’t necessarily a cinematically rewarding task, but it was a fascinating one.

Here’s an amuse-bouche: this scene from Slapshot, in which Michael Ontkean performs the single greatest striptease in film history. Also, before we start, a note on The Full Monty: That movie predates all of these films and makes for a tidy midpoint between the lost-to-VHS sexploitation of the ‘80s and more recent attempts at male-stripper storytelling, but the beloved working-class film about unemployed steel workers who put on a male revue to earn quick cash lacks the actual strip-club setting or professional stripper characters who populate the movies below. While The Full Monty touches on common themes of stigma and economic necessity, there’s a real difference between stories about strippers and stories about that one time there was a strip show, and I’ve focused on the former.

This feature takes on the bloody, crime-ridden history of the Chippendales. After watching it, I can say it’s a triumph of the brand that we don’t hear “Chippendales” and immediately think of murder-for-hire and suicide.

The story goes that Chippendales founder Steve Banerjee was arrested for hiring a hitman to kill business partner/troupe choreographer Nick De Noia and some strippers who formed a rival troupe. (The first hit happened; the second didn’t, and resulted in his indictment.) Plot twist! Banerjee killed himself in prison before sentencing to ensure the business would pass to his wife before the government could seize it. Also, he was partners at one point with Paul Snider, the man who murdered Playmate Dorothy Stratten. No Bob Fosse has yet stepped up to make the Star 80 of the Chippendales.

Just Can’t Get Enough is told through the eyes of Chad (Jonathan Aube), a recent MBA grad who becomes a host at the Chippendales club. As a newbie, he receives advice like, “Look each and every one of them in the eyes like you’re about to penetrate them. Even the fatties.”

This film takes an odd approach to Banerjee’s (Shelley Malil) being Indian—he’s dressed in collarless shirts and cardigans and saddled with a speech impediment, plus there’s a pointless scene where he randomly starts talking about samosas and Diwali in a bathroom. At one point, a homophobic dancer who fetishizes Indian women gets a BJ from a man dressed as an Indian woman.

De Noia is also a caricature here, telling the dancers he wants to take this show to “BROOOOADWAYYYY.” He induces gay panic in them before giving a little speech about how much the artistic integrity of this male-stripper troupe means to him. The acting is terrible, across the board; it’s so reminiscent of porn that, for a few moments, I forgot I wasn’t actually just watching porn. It’s got 1986 Cinemax quantities of boobs, largely because the dancers are nonstop fucking their customers backstage and in private rooms. There’s also one (flaccid) penis.

At 95 minutes, this thing is too long and absolutely grating: It’s one of those movies where you hope everyone dies. Not to mention that this story might be slightly cursed: Tony Scott talked about doing a Chippendales movie, and he’s dead now. Malil, who we all know better as Haziz from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, is serving a life sentence for stabbing his girlfriend 20 times. There have been reports that Alan Ball is planning on making a film based on these events, with Ben Stiller as De Noia. Someone should tell them.

This USA Network original film stars a pre-Lost Naveen Andrews in the Steve Banerjee role, here portrayed as an ambitious nightclub impresario, bent on cultural assimilation, who is also quick to point out the difference between real and knockoff Chippendale furniture. His obsession foreshadows his disputes over copyright and licensing of the Chippendales with De Noia (Paul Hipp). This version of Banerjee gets mad at De Noia for doing unauthorized shows, but weird time jumps and sloppy writing make it hard to really understand how the subsequent crimes went down.

For a made-for-TV movie, the dance numbers are surprisingly edgy: It’s got a lot of exposed butt cheek for basic cable, and the Rocky Horror tribute costumes in one scene get pretty close to being drag. It’s better than the actual feature made about this story, but it isn’t good. At the time, a review in Variety concluded, “Moral of the story? It’s hard to feel sympathetic for a couple of strip-club operators.” Which is harsh, but understandable after sitting through this.

This movie about young Michael (Robert Ri’chard), a college student who stumbles into stripping to the chagrin of his churchgoing mother (Vivica A. Fox) and delight of his slacker older brother (DeRay Davis), was released straight to VOD in May despite the fact that it featured Ginuwine himself stripping to “Pony.” Magic Mike is mentioned almost immediately in the first strip-club scene. Unfortunately, this is no Magic Mike, and when the movie is brought up again, all it does is remind the viewer that they could be watching that instead of this weirdly conservative ripoff.

Director Jean-Claude La Marre is best known for his Pastor Jones movies and television series, in which he plays a pastor who struggles to stay on the righteous path. And the tone of Chocolate City made a lot more sense taken in the context of La Marre’s previous work, but it means the movie awkwardly tries to be both titillating and preachy. For instance: Mike’s mom is horrified when she finds out her son is having sex and tells him not to bring condoms into her house, but laughs with relief when she finds out he’s a stripper and says, “You are a cutie pie!”

The movie pulls a reverse Showgirls when the evil established star arranges to have Mike’s ass beaten in the parking lot, after which drama ensues with his barely characterized good-girl love interest. She doesn’t catch on for real until she sees him at the club; he promises to quit, but it ends with him receiving an offer to do a private party in Japan for $100,000, upon which he looks at the camera like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

While the strip club scenes are hot and the dancing is great—and I would have watched this for Ginuwine alone—the movie doesn’t miss a chance to remind us that Mike wouldn’t have gotten mixed up in this whole business if he wasn’t trying to help his mom out in a pinch, which is a major buzzkill. Can’t we look at some obliques without having to think about this kid’s mom and JesusAfter

Magic Mike, Joe Manganiello decided to make a documentary about Dallas’s La Bare, the legendary male strip club and home of Randy “Master Blaster,” the man who partly inspired the character of Dallas Rising in Magic Mike. La Bare is a Texas institution; Texans may not have heard of the Chippendales, but they know what goes on there.

The La Bare dancers are fantastic characters: Besides Randy, there’s the goth surfer stripper named Austin, the almost-too-convincing cop character JD, and a military man-turned-punk Cesar. Like most documentaries about strippers, it’s best when it’s just left in a room with the performers … or their moms … or their multigenerational fan clubs. (Related: Randy’s been dancing for all the women in one family since the ’70s).

But a weird tonal shift handcuffs the fun. A major tragedy that befell La Bare—the murder of a star dancer in a nasty self-defense incident—just sort of pops up all of a sudden, complete with archival video footage and somber music. Once they tell that very sad story, it’s BAM, right back to the butt cheeks on stage, making for viewing whiplash. OKAY, MURDER OVER! BACK TO THE SHOW!

Still, the footage of Randy (and his business-manager mom) alone is worth the time spent watching La Bare, although I wish that Confederate Flag underpants weren’t in his wardrobe. Or at least that he’d pick a song other than Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” while wearing them. (Speaking of which, this film’s soundtrack includes Purity Ring, Grimes, and Holy Ghost!, which makes for a stark contrast to the actual songs played in the club, like “Dazzey Duks” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”)

I’m still basking in the afterglow of Magic Mike XXL—and Joe Manganiello’s stunning “Closer” number, which made me engage in the shameful act of movie theater tweeting for the first time in my life. Assigning it a proper ranking now would be impossible, but I need to get this off of my chest: What the hell is wrong with all of you who didn’t go see the first one? Do you see now what I was talking about?

I’m still mad Matthew McConaughey didn’t get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as Dallas Rising, the role he was born to play: He nails the constantly hustling strip-club manager and actually says, “All right, all right, all right” while carrying bongos to a beach party. I will look back on this as a turning point in his career, and at Dallas Rising as the role he had to play to get to Ron Woodruff. I’m not entirely convinced that, when he won the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, the Academy wasn’t really voting to rectify their mistake in not recognizing him the year before.

Ignore Alex Pettyfer as newbie Adam and Cody Horn as his sister Brooke; he’s annoying and she’s flat, though the latter is possibly the result of direction. They’re Plot Device 1 and Plot Device 2: Mike is trying to move on from the business and maybe find real love, but it’s fun and his credit is bad, plus he can’t stop himself from helping the idiot baby stripper who gets involved with drugs.

One of my favorite things about how this movie treats stripping is its portrayal of the physical toll of the work. Kevin Nash wears a knee brace, and Manganiello hurts his back doing a stage trick; stripping really is a sport at times. Even though female strippers don’t have to perform choreographed group numbers every night or literally pick up customers to perform fake oral sex, it’s a tough business, and this is the one movie that acknowledges that.

This is a visually glorious movie, too, starting with one of the single most memorable shots of the last 10 years: Big Dick Richie (that’s Manganiello) pumping up his namesake in the dressing room. The dance numbers work on their own and give us important information about the characters; one of the group numbers, a military-themed bit, plays with homo- and gun-eroticism and lets McConaughey either pay tribute to or totally mock Uncle Sam, depending on your reference points. As for Mike himself, one of his best scenes comes when he’s doing a vigorous, impassioned Dark Dubstep Dance; the stripper burnout shows in his eyes and the angst of his performance. These numbers are in this movie so we can see shirtless men dance, but they also do serious storytelling work.