In this era of inclusion, how welcome are men at various male stripper shows?
Back in 1985, John Travolta played a Rolling Stone reporter in the semi-fictional drama Perfect. Assigned to cover the singles scene in Los Angeles, Travolta finds himself attending a male revue (save the jokes for later). Interestingly, he is forced to watch the proceedings from behind a screen. According to Laraine Newman’s character, men are forbidden from attending the show (a thinly-disguised Chippendales).
That was 35 years ago. These days, you’re as likely to see men in the audience as on the stage. I can say that from experience, as these shows are one of my favorite things to do when in Sin City. And they’re an absolute balls-to-the-wall blast!
While I attend as an openly gay man, not every guy in the audience is homosexual. It’s worth pointing out that women of all persuasions have been attending topless revues for decades, and that has always been acceptable.
As we gravitate towards an era of full inclusion, the lines of sexuality have blurred. But that doesn’t mean that men will get the same level of welcome and interactivity at each and every show. Many readers have asked me to recommend guy-friendly male revues, based on my personal experiences. Please note that this article in no way reflects the sexuality of the performers appearing in their respective shows.
So here they are, rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.
MAGIC MIKE LIVE – 1 out of 5
The stand-and-model troupe at Magic Mike Live disappoints on all counts…
A stillborn offspring of Channing Tatum’s film franchise, Magic Mike Live really isn’t recommended for anyone. It’s a difficult slog to sit through and already my choice for the worst new show of 2017. The guys remain clothed for much of the running time, which is somewhat of a blessing in disguise (see below). Worse yet, a screeching female host makes the production nearly unbearable by squawking post-menopausal life lessons throughout.
It’s a bumpy road to Magic Mike Live. Don’t take it…
Public relations insiders have told me that the team at Magic Mike Live has shown little interest in marketing to the lucrative gay demographic. There’s very little reason for me to doubt that, especially after on my own experience.
Men hoping to get a lap dance or a round of onstage excitement will leave feeling disappointed…and out of lots of cash. Drinks and tickets are quite expensive. On the upside, cocktail servers are attentive (not to mention especially attractive) and save the evening from being a total loss.
THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER – 2 out of 5
Thunder From Down Under doesn’t rank high on the list for guys…
The long-running Aussie revue Thunder from Down Under at Excalibur allows men to attend (as do they all), but don’t expect to get more than a fist-bump from the dancers as they work their way through the audience. The rough-and-tumble men of the Outback are dripping with testosterone, but only seem interested in sharing it with the ladies.
Straight men will find the atmosphere completely “non-threatening”. Don’t expect to see guys brought up onstage for any audience participation segments, either. But they CAN purchase a group shot after the show.
Said one former member of the troupe “Guys don’t go to ‘hen shows’ where we come from. We just aren’t used to that.”
Chippendales – 4.5 out of 5
Chippendales is shy of getting a perfect score, but an absolute favorite…
The grand master of all male revues, Chippendales still packs them in and keeps up with the times. There is a moderate amount of interactivity with guys during audience numbers and plenty of shout-outs to gay members celebrating birthdays and such. I’ve even seen a guy celebrating his 21st brought onstage for a free calendar.
Straight guys should find this one well within their comfort zone. It’s kind of like hanging out with the bros…and single straight men should have a good time in the Flirt Lounge before and after the performance, chatting it up with the female attendees.
What keeps Chippendales from achieving a perfect five-star rating is that, after attending dozens of times, I’ve yet to see a man brought onstage for any regular segments. If you’ve witnessed otherwise, be sure to hit me up in the comments.
I’m giving Chipps an extra half star since the production is a huge public supporter of gay fans. They’ve even featured an openly-gay host or two. Gentlemen are welcome to purchase group photos with the cast, and you can chat with the guys one-on-one after the final performance of each evening.
Aussie Heat – 5 out of 5
This upstart group takes on the big boys…and wins top honors. Not to be confused with Thunder from Down Under, the Aussie Heat show is a no-holds-barred fest of boy-flesh for men and women equally. Held in the intimate second-level V Theater 2 at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops, Aussie Heat fills the space with abs, biceps, butts and pecs. No audience member is ignored, and that’s the case from beginning to end.
Men are regularly selected for an onstage lap dance contest where three participants are blindfolded. They’re then asked to identify a particular dancer based on other senses…including taste and touch!
The Aussie boys spend plenty of time in the audience, often draping themselves across laps and inviting you to lick, fondle, rub and squeeze. Every dancer is an equal-opportunity flirt, besides being classically-trained performers in their own right. So this one is only recommended for open-minded straight men with a sense of adventure…and fun.
I’ve written two previous articles regarding the willingness of Aussie Heat to entertain male audiences. They’ve even gone so far as to have their nightly after-party once a week in a short-lived gay venue nearby.
Pre-show VIP experiences allow you to meet and photograph the guys in the prep room while they stretch and pump up their muscles. Photos with the cast are available for purchase after the show (proceeds go to Opportunity Village, a local charity), which can be as naughty as you want.
Men Of The Strip – 5 out of 5
I debated whether to include Men of the Strip in these rankings, as the production is currently on hiatus. What started as a planned residency ended up as a 6-night stint in Vegas with a possible tour on the way. But since there’s a chance of it returning with a regular schedule, I’m listing MOTS here with the others.
And Men of the Strip is certainly worthy of a gay male audience. Emcees address both genders in the audience with equal enthusiasm while lap dances and interaction are guy-friendly (cash tipping is allowed). Straight guys might be squirming in their chairs, but won’t mind hanging out with the worked-up ladies at the bar afterward.
MOTS ranks right up there with Aussie Heat in bringing guys onto the stage and into the action. If you want to see what I mean, check out the clip above from a performance at Hard Rock Cafe. Be aware that it’s not safe for work.
Black Magic Live aka Vivica’s Black Magic – Rating to be determined
This one is a toughie, compounded by the fact that I haven’t actually seen it…or spoken to anyone who has. This all-black male revue, currently playing at Ron Decar Events Center after a stint at Tommy Wind Theater, gained notoriety when actress Vivica A. Fox angered members of the LGBTQ community in a radio interview suggesting that gays weren’t welcome to attend. She later apologized.
Fox and the show’s executive producer Jean-Claude LaMarre have entered a legal battle over the issue:
“As a result of Fox’s defamatory social media campaign, LaMarre’s customers canceled ‘Black Magic Live’ tickets and demanded refunds at shows” the suit states. VARIETY 6/5/17
It remains unclear at this point whether Fox is still affiliated with the production, as the official website refers to the show with two titles, one conspicuously removing Vivica’s name. A very well-known member of the media, who was previously in a Vegas male revue, wrote to me directly with this information:
The owners are actually very gay friendly. I know some of the cast too. Sweet guys. All very gay friendly as well. I’d hate to see them get shot down before ever given a chance.
If you’ve seen Black Magic, please leave your impressions in the comments or drop me a line directly.
Photos by Sammasseur, VivicasBlackMagic.com