Now You See It? No, You Don’t: Notes on the Male Revue
By Alexa Day
I’m no stranger to the male revue. I’ve tucked my share of bills into my share of waistbands. My lap has been danced on. I’ve kept my hands to myself and … I haven’t. You know, depending on what’s allowed.
I’ve been around. It’s a privilege of being single at this age.
Sadly, I live in a place that has no male revue. This is a sexually repressed place that wants desperately not to appear sexually repressed, just like that one person we all went to high school with. Remember her?
Anyway, Facebook spread the word that the Magic Men (a shameless knockoff of Magic Mike) were coming to the Land That Male Strippers Forgot. Pretty exciting, right? I waited just a bit too long to buy the tickets — thinking that more of my friends would join me — and ended up in the nosebleeds of this smallish venue with esteemed colleague Shara Lanel and an intriguing crowd of women. Lots of women with a Specific, Acceptable Reason to be there (birthday, bachelorette, divorce, what have you). Lots of women in my age bracket who were happy to be there as long as no one looked at them. And lots of very young women who perhaps grew up in the Land That Male Strippers Forgot. This last group is very excited to be here.
None of the sisterly camaraderie I’m accustomed to at the finer entertainment establishments. But whatever.
We waited a good long time for the show to start. Then we waited through two video countdowns, a loud voice-over, and a lengthy monologue from the MC. And then the Magic Men took the stage to the deafening screams of this crowd of women.
They started with the raincoat dance — you know, the one from Magic Mike. And from there, the standard repertoire. Soldiers, firemen, cowboys, black vest dance (also Magic Mike). It’s a reasonably diverse bunch of fellows; at least I think it was. I was way up there, and honestly, it was kind of dark. And every so often, they’d pull a chair or two out onto the stage and invite a guest to sit up there for a closer look.
Not a lap dance. Just a better view.
Toward the intermission, the guys pulled six or seven chairs onto the stage and went looking for volunteers. I glanced over at the edge of the balcony and saw one of the Magic Men up there with us. Shara tapped my shoulder and pointed — sure enough, another one had come all the way up into the nosebleeds to cavort about with us. And before long, one of them was right in front of us. Seriously, I could have patted his head.
I can’t describe him terribly well, sadly — it’s really dark in the nosebleeds. But he was an attractive enough guy with his tattoos and close-cropped beard.
He asked me and Shara the question every male stripper in the world asks.
“Are you ladies having a good time?” he shouted.
And I couldn’t answer him. I just stared.
I think Shara must have convinced him that we were having an adequate time. He made a great show of undulating against the row of seats ahead of us. Then he gave us a hug — and I’m sorry, brother, but you caught me at the end of a long day at the end of a long week, and my own mother would not have hugged me before a shower — and moved on.
Behind me, a very young woman let up an ear-splitting shriek and fell onto her ass. I tried hard not to stare at her.
And that’s it. That’s all the excitement I could muster for these hard-working gentlemen. I touched one of them, and I couldn’t even lie to him about whether I was having a good time.
This was the cause of some concern.
Why couldn’t I find my usual joy in the fine male entertainers? What was wrong with me? Had I already enjoyed my last male revue? Was I on the way to the scrap heap?
Had I crossed over from being difficult to impress to being impossible to please?
More importantly, why had no one warned me this would happen?
I was still scared the next day, and so I told Denise Golinowski, a colleague and good friend, the story I’ve just told you. “It’s happened,” I said. “I’ve become impossible to please.”
She reassured me, as she always does when I’m wound up about something like this. “No, you haven’t. You just have discernment. You know what makes a good show a really good show.”
See? That sounds better than “impossible to please,” right?
And I did notice that none of those fellows used breakaway pants. Seriously, dudes, nothing is sexy about you taking your shoes off, removing your pants one leg at a time, and then replacing your shoes. You are burning up all kinds of music that way. But with breakway pants — that great rip-swoosh gets everyone screaming, am I right?
There is more cause for hope.
As I watched these guys rip their shirts open and throw them into the crowd, I was reminded of a Chippendales show in Las Vegas. I stood next to a wonderful friend, wide-eyed with delight, who caught a ripped T-shirt tossed from the stage. I still remember the joy on her face. It had less to do with the shirt (although that was a mighty big part of it) and more to do with the spirit of Vegas, the lighthearted, consequence-free, kind-of-naughty, just-us-girls fun that informed the whole trip.
She’s no longer with us, gone way too soon. But what a blessing to see anyone so happy, even once. Preferably often.
There’s a larger meaning, a depth, beyond the male revue. I will make that assertion with a straight face.
But until you fellows find some breakaway pants, I don’t know if I can be bothered to seek that depth. Just saying.
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