If you loved the movie Magic Mike (and I know a lot of people who did), you might be wondering how much of it was factually accurate. Two Houston-based male strippers have teamed up to write a book about the Playgirl lifestyle, called Take It Off! The Naked Truth About Male Strippers, and recently talked to Art Attack about the stereotypes, their craziest stories and the, ahem, hardest parts of being a male exotic dancer.
The book, which was released last year, is the brainchild of Taylor Cole and Justin Whitfield, both in their 30s.
"We'd been talking about this for years," Whitfield said. "Then this movie comes out, it makes us look really cool, so we decided to get to work on the book."
"When we'd go on tour, we'd both tell stories about the job," Cole said. Many of those stories have ended up in the book. The men said the book is part autobiographical and part instructional. It also covers a lot of the questions most commonly asked of male strippers.
Whitfield said the movie Magic Mike is a pretty accurate depiction of what the lifestyle is like. For example, most male strippers are introduced to the job by someone in the industry. It was Whitfield who got Cole into dancing. They met at the gym, started chatting and the subject of Whitfield's job eventually came up. Cole, who is 34, had danced at an amateur night before, and Whitfield thought he'd make a good professional dancer.
"It was something that I'd always wanted to do," Cole said. He's now been dancing for ten years, and currently works at La Bare. Whitfield, who is 39, retired from dancing about eight years ago to open his own bar, the Endzone, in West Houston. Three of his employees are also former dancers.
In addition to working clubs, lots of male dancers also do tours, trade shows and modeling gigs. Cole had started modeling for romance novel covers on the side, and that's how he ended up getting hooked up with the publisher of Take It Off, an imprint of erotic romance novels called Ellora's Cave. The publisher's cover models are known as "Cave Men" and travel to romance fiction trade shows to model and meet fans.
"They're really fun to do," Cole said.
Whitfield said the book has surprised a lot of people. One of the things it addresses is the common stereotypes people have about his profession. Both men said Magic Mike helped to address a lot of those stereotypes and was pretty accurate, except for one thing.
"Except for the drugs. It's not like that at all. Maybe it was ten years ago." Cole said.
"The first club we worked for was probably the worst," Whitfield added. "It's no longer open."
"The two most asked questions are, they assume we're all gay, and do we stuff our bottoms," Cole said.
No and no to both. And Whitfield has a good explanation for the first one.
"If you were gay and you were turned on by men, who have more expendable income, why would you dance for women?"
And no, male strippers don't all have crazy sex all the time, either.
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"It doesn't matter what a guy does for a living," Whitfield said. "If he's gonna be a whore dog, he will. It goes from one side of the spectrum to the other."
As for one of their craziest stories from the club? Once a woman sitting by the stage had a seizure due to the bright, flashing lights. Her friends called 911 and paramedics came while the show was still going on. You know the stereotype that women love a man in uniform? Well, the other patrons of the club descended on the paramedic and tried to rip his clothes off.
"The audience thought he was part of the show," Whitfield said.
Take It Off! The Naked Truth About Male Strippers is available from Ellora's Cave in both paperback and ebook format.