SMOKE: A Career In Male Stripping
Originally published: 5 August 2005
I once considered a career as a stripper. I never followed up on that idea because I was afraid of instant stardom and success beyond my wildest dreams, but there you have it.
Yesterday I was reading a SAPA story about the first ever male stripping classes to be offered in Sweden - odd, that, as you'd expect them wild and crazy Swedes with their progressive society and big-breasted, clean porn would have had male stripping classes since the early Iron Ages.
Apparently not, and indeed the classes don't allow students to strip nude as Sweden has legislation which bans nudity at live sex shows. It teaches them to "cope with wearing almost no clothes", and involves lots and lots of dancing.
That's where I start losing interest, I'm afraid, because there are few sights more ridiculous in the world to me than a man gyrating a filmy, g-string-covered genital package all over the place, lapping up his own sexuality in a feast of hedonistic narcissism and exciting himself somewhat.
I've seen plenty of pictures of women at male stripper parties - you know the ones. And they're never swooning about in lust - they're always screaming and screaming and screaming with laughter.
I would be too if some twattie was writhing around in front of me, trying to be sexy but just looking a bit stupid. With one or two stray hairs peeking out of the side of his bulge.
Okes just don't look sexy doing the whole pole routine thing. And no, that's not because I'm a man - it's because okes don't look sexy. They look silly.
What I loved about the movie The Full Monty was the humour with which they approached their strip act - they did 'sexy' moves but in the full knowledge that they weren't really buying their own hype, and the chicks loved every minute of it.
I think the 'bloke next door' appeal was definitely there as well - they were shapeless potato people yet they were somehow sexier than the polished, greased-up muscle boys so typical of the normal male stripping scene.
Not that I'd know anything about that, you understand.
I was the worst male stripper ever, once. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but I've only ever referenced it - never really described it.
I was in my second year at drama school and still struggling to break free of a certain conditioned rigidity I had carried with me my whole life. My Afrikaans acting and voice coach decided it was time for me to push the boundaries a little.
A well-known Afrikaans playwright had written a very dark, gloomy, cold play about a real-life SS guard called Ivan The Terrible who performed grotesque atrocities on prisoners in the infamous Treblinka extermination camp in the second world war.
The play was to be performed in the middle of winter at the theatre on our campus (the time of year is important to the story, as you shall learn later on), and as with all plays you were cast in you rehearsed for them after hours.
The lead actors were all third year students and being quite a small cast I was the only second year. My role was as a Nazi captain who doubled as a stripping transvestite in seedy German clubs by night, and although I didn't say much (I spent most of my time standing around in a full Nazi uniform, trying to look like a cruel and vicious bastard) I did have one very memorable scene.
It was extremely gay - underneath my Nazi uniform I had on a brassiere, stockings, garter belt and a pair of tiny pants that could be likened to a swimming costume - a Speedo.
They were black and had a gold clasp on the side for easy access, and considering the fact that they came from the personal wardrobe of my lecturer you'd have to know there had been plenty of access to them before. Very easy access.
The strip act happened towards the end of the play, with me alone in a spotlight. If I recall correctly I had a pink feather boa to complete the ensemble, and although I can't remember the music it was no doubt some obscure kinky German cult group from the 1940s.
The strip act itself was the usual gyrating nonsense, but the good part was when I got to the gold clasp. There was a whole dramatic timing moment: I would pause with my hands on the clasp, do some lip-pursing and the like, unhook the clasp and pull the pants wide open to the other side - revealing Monty - stand like that for a beat and then the spotlight operator would cut the light, plunging the stage into complete darkness and allowing me to scurry off into the wings, wang-and-nuts flapping everywhere.
Problem is - it was winter. The dead of. All okes and most chicks know what that sort of cold does to a gentleman's privates, and suffice it to say it's not flattering.
The theatre we were performing in - The Little Theatre - is an old, damp building built over a raging river (which once rose through the floors and flooded the beneath stage area).
It's colder than hell in there - the audience sits with puffs of breath rising into the rafters and you don't even really need smoke machines - you just get a stage manager with huge lungs to sit in the wings and breathe.
Icy shit, man.
What you don't know was that TT Administrator Grey was the very spotlight operator I was talking about (he was a year below me at drama school - a budding first year venturing forth into the dangerous, helter-skelter world of after hours lighting), and Grey - bless 'im - has always had what he perceives to be a reasonably good sense of humour.
Now - Grey + sense of humour + me + strip act + winter + Cold Monty = fun and games for everyone other than me, because at the crucial Moment du Revelation he was supposed to wait one beat then shut down the light ... but nooooo - our laugh-a-minute jolly swagman decided nobody was prescribing this lighting shit to him - he was gonna improvise, baby!
Each night he left that light on for longer and longer. I couldn't escape with the light on me - there are few more terrible sights in the world than an oke running away, balls dangling beneath his hairy ass-crack - especially when said ass and balls are in the full glare of a high-powered, performance-quality, industrial spotlight.
So I had to stand there while Grey cackled away up top behind his light, the stage managers giggled in the wings and the chicks in the cast gathered next to them to watch. Not to mention the audience, which consisted mainly of elderly folks from somewhere who were getting definite value for money.
Depending on how you look at it.
See - on opening night the lead actress brought her grandfather backstage to greet the rest of the cast, and apparently he'd insisted on meeting "that nice young lady who did that dance".
His granddaughter carefully explained to him that it was a young man - not a young lady - who had performed, but he was having none of it:
"I was watching very carefully, dear, and it was definitely a lady."
Ah well. At least I got to be in a play in which I dressed up like a woman, wearing the gay, well-used knickers of an old theatre pouffe and giving senior citizens the old flutter in a darkened theatre in the middle of a Cape winter.
Not many folks can say they've done that. I hope.
All Smoked Out,