In what can only be considered the perfect example of a double standard, women are practically wetting themselves at the sight of Channing Tatum and his spunky co-stars dropping trou in the movie Magic Mike. And yet, should a man cock an appreciative eyebrow at a comely lass, he is instantly labelled a boorish pervert.

When I confronted my female Facebook friends about their disgusting behaviour, the answers ran along the lines of “It’s our turn to leer.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but if women are suddenly so desperate to treat men as little more than meat puppets, so eager to demean us for the sake of their depraved fantasies, then the least I can do is give them something to stare at. Which is why I’ve decided to become a male stripper, um, exotic dancer.

I mean, seriously, how hard can it be? I’ve done my research — and by research I mean I’ve watched the trailer for Magic Mike — and have narrowed down the attributes a successful exotic dancer needs to a mere three.

One: The ability to dance. No problem: I’ve been wriggling my booty ever since the Frug was invented. Why, just the other day I was gyrating around the bedroom with a look of pure intensity on my face. The routine featured me hopping on one leg while clutching my other foot with both hands. That particular shimmy may have been the result of a close encounter between a baby toe and a bed post but picture that performed in a thong and suddenly it takes on a whole new context.

Two: Muscular build. According to Gray’s Anatomy (the medical research text, not the TV series), all men possess the same muscles. Some of us just prefer to keep our six-packs wrapped in several layers of protective insulation.

Three: Hairless body. OK, this one could be a bit trickier, especially for those whose body hair most closely resembles a pelt. Once considered a desirable indication of virility, back hair is now somehow considered, well, gross. Apparently 21st century women prefer their men as sleek as an otter. Or as a 10-year-old boy.

But how does one achieve a fur-less body? Lawnmower? Line trimmer? Secateurs? A female acquaintance recommended laser hair removal. A full-body Brazilian, as it were. Maybe I’ve seen Goldfinger one too many times, but just the mental image of a red-hot laser scorching one’s nether lands is enough to cause me to shrink in fear. However, if that’s what it takes to make women salivate, then let the zap-zap-zapping begin.

So there you have it: I’m turning in my journalist’s notebook for a spangled g-string and taking to the stage. Prepare to be astounded.

There is only one small detail I have yet to work out. Magic Mike is set in America, a country which still uses $1 bills, perfect for stuffing into skimpy outfits. But no matter how skilled I am as a dancer, I still may find it tricky to shake my money maker with my stubbies full of gold coins. And then there’s that whole chafing thing to consider.

It will all be worth it, of course, when the women start screaming. Too bad the music will be so loud I won’t be able to hear what they’re yelling.

This column originally appeared in the August 8 edition of the Napier (NZ) Courier.

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When people discover I was a syndicated film reviewer for 15 years, it prompts the inevitable question: “What’s your all-time favourite movie?”

That always stumps me because I really don’t have a definitive No. 1. But I can name several movies that have given me much viewing satisfaction, including the likes of The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, Jesus Christ Superstar, Deliverance, Jaws and Alien.

You’ll notice that The Sound of Music is not on that list. There’s a very good reason for that and it’s because I have spent the past 44 years avoiding it.

That’s quite the feat because SOM (as I like to call it) just happens to be my parents’ all-time No. 1 favourite movie.

In fact, I can quite easily picture the following scenario:

Mom and Dad encounter St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

St. Peter: Welcome to Paradise.

Mom: Do you play The Sound of Music in Heaven?

St. Peter: Um, no.

Dad: That’s OK. We’ll just wait over here in Purgatory until you do.

Mom: Nuts to that. No probs, Pete my man, I brought my own copy.

St. Peter: Jesus H. Christ!

I was hoping a move to New Zealand would make it easier to avoid hearing Julie Andrews warble on about love and sashes and female deer.

If insulation and central heating and high-speed Internet have never reached this distant outpost of civilization, then surely the Von Trapp saga must also be unheard of.

Nice try.

Upon discovering that I remained an SOM virgin, a workmate was kind enough to loan us her copy. Well, not exactly “loan.” More like “bestow.” There is, apparently, no one quite as fanatical as a SOM-bie.

And so it came to pass that I lost my do-ra-me-fa-so-la-te-cherry.

Here are my thoughts on the experience:

* I knew the plot centred on events in Austria leading up to the Second World War. What I didn’t realize is that the movie actually runs longer than the war did.

Now I know what they mean by “timeless” classic.

Seriously, 168 minutes?

Director Robert Wise should have cut loose one of those annoying children (preferably the youngest girl, the one with a face like a slapped arse) and used that money instead to hire an editor. There are no deleted scenes in the DVD Extras. That’s because there aren’t any.

* There are approximately six songs in this movie. You hear each one of them approximately 30 times. I understand foreshadowing. I understand introducing a song under seemingly innocent conditions so, when it is used later, when the plot calls for both poignancy and tissues, the audience is already primed.

But if I had a dollar for every time I turned to my wife and said “Again?” I’d have enough to buy my own copy of this movie. And then burn it.

* According to imdb.com, Christopher Plummer hated every second of making this movie. I now know how he feels.

* I spent the entire running time trying to remember what TV series Angela Cartwright (Brigitta) starred in later (it was Lost in Space) and thinking she was part of the crew of the Nostromo in Alien (in fact, it was her older sister, Veronica). For most of the other child actors, SOM was the beginning and the end of their careers. So karma does work after all. Who knew?

* The movie just ends. With everybody gaily strolling through fields of that bloody edelweiss. Walking to Switzerland.

In reality, the Von Trapps drove to a train station and crossed into Italy via the railway before making their way to America. But that mundane mode of transportation isn’t particularly photogenic nor does it tie in with the ongoing theme of climbing every frickin’ mountain.

Proving yet again that real life is a not a musical. Which would explain why I can’t sing.

Despite the above grumblings, I did not exactly hate The Sound of Music. That would be like saying you hated raindrops on roses. Or whiskers on kittens.

And no one is that miserable. Right?

I let a lot of things go when Viking Woman and I embarked on our Damn The Pension World Tour earlier this century. One of those was a 15-year career as a syndicated movie reviewer. In the line of duty, I once sat through five movies in a single day. My ass has never forgiven me.

My movie viewing is now done in the comfort of my own lounge, courtesy of a nearby movie store and its collection of DVDs. Truth be told, I can’t afford a ticket at the local cinema. I’m also deathly afraid of encountering my worst nightmare: a grotesque (yes, I did just make up that collective noun) of teenagers, preening, giggling, chatting, answering their cellphones, throwing popcorn, kicking the back of my seat and just generally ruining the viewing experience for every other living person in the theatre. Little bastards that they are.

I made an exception to my stay-at-home rule last week when Viking Woman and I, clutching freebie tickets, actually left the house of an evening and rode a red double-decker bus to Havelock North and the Black Barn OpenAir Cinema.

This is the sixth season Black Barn Vineyards has hosted this series in its Amphitheatre but the first time we had participated in one of Hawke’s Bay’s summer traditions.

Of the eight movies on the schedule, we chose The Rocky Horror Picture Show because, well, it’s fun, we know all the words, and a young Viking Woman once tapdanced at the front of a theatre during midnight screenings, dressed as the character Magenta in a French maid’s ensemble of her own making.

There were probably close to 400 of us in the Amphitheatre, camped out on assorted chairs and cushions. Some people had dressed up as characters from the movie, including a group of drama students from the local high school. There were also a number of older men who arrived in corsets, garters and fishnet stockings — as worn in the movie by Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter — who probably thought it was a good idea after a glass or four while still at home, and then blanched at having to parade in front of a wolf-whistling crowd as they scurried to plop down in the nearest available space.

One costumed young lady named Olivia stopped to chat with us. While her body said Hello, I’m 24!, her birth certificate said, Back away, perv, I’m 17!

You could buy popcorn or cotton candy or ice cream and, because we were in a vineyard, wine by the glass or bottle. Viking Woman opted for the latter, plus two glasses, of course, lest anyone think she was going to slurp back the entire contents by herself.

The kids danced during the Time Warp scene and some people,  led by Viking Woman, sang along, but, for the most part, people just sat quietly and watched.

I felt bad for those in costume when a wind that had been merely annoying during a hot, summer day, suddenly turned cold once darkness descended. And then, in the midst of the final musical number, the rainstorm that had been promised all day, finally arrived.

Cue a mass exodus to the parking lot. I scrambled to fold up my chair and gather up our things and protect my camera from the wet. For her part, Viking Woman simply draped one of our picnic blankets over her head and sat there giggling.

She was either reliving her youthful exuberance or feeling the effects of the wine. Either way, she was enjoying herself and that, when it comes right down to it, is exactly why we were there.

We had so much fun, in fact, that we’re going back again this week for another movie. This time we’re taking warmer jackets. And an umbrella.

In his new biography of former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, Wellington journalist Dennis Welch notes that Kiwis “don’t understand humour.”

Whew! For a minute there I thought there was something wrong with me.

Humour, of course, is subjective. What tickles one person’s funny bone doesn’t necessarily turn someone else’s crank. My children, for instance, practically pee themselves at the mere thought of their father falling down. Me, not so much.

I like to think I laugh easily but I also appreciate a dollop of wit with my funny business. I’m not big on moronic, pie-in-the-face antics but a good double entendre always gets my juices flowing. As it were.

I consider the writers of Two and a Half Men to be masters of the double entendre, even if they do at times stray into the pie-faced territory of the single entendre.

And then I read this in the July 2 issue of the New Zealand Herald’s TimeOut section:

“We’ve yet to meet a single person who will admit to watching Two and a Half Men, yet every week it tops the country’s ratings for the 18-39 market . . . Who are these people and why are you watching this rubbish?”

No one puts their bylines on these kinds of editorial blurts, so I wasn’t sure where to target my wrath. And then I read Welch’s comment and realized, hey, the writer is a Kiwi.

And they just don’t get it.

An Aussie falling down? Hee-larry-ous. Someone talking about eating a woman’s carpet? Huh?

Actually, it goes deeper than that. The writer is a * trumpet fanfare * critic for a TV section. The writer — drumroll, please — needs to be “critical.” And by that I mean controversial. And by that I mean, “hey, look at me!”

I worked for three years with Famous Players, a Canadian theatre chain. I was a syndicated movie reviewer for 15 years. I’ve met a lot of “critics.” I liked very few of them.

You see, these people — all black bo-ho with their berets and messenger bags and French cigarettes and tight pants and pointy shoes (I am not making this shit up) — feel the urge to rise above the great uneducated masses.

For instance, if you love the same film millions of movie fans are going ga-ga over, then you are just one more voice in the chorus of approval. No one will remember your review because you are simply agreeing with everyone else.

However, should your review rip a movie to shreds (ideally because it can’t hold a projector bulb to the work of some 19th century Russian director), then people will be talking about your comments. They might very well want to string you up with a length of celluloid from Twilight, but at least you will have accomplished your goal — people talked about you. And by you, I mean the narcissitic wanker part of you.

Example:

In 1988, we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Willow, Ron Howard’s followup to such successes as Splash, Coccon and Gung Ho. And then Michael Walsh, writing in Vancouver’s The Province newspaper, slagged it. We in the industry were gutted. It’s Ron Howard, for chrissakes, Michael. You just kicked Opie in the balls.

That’s right: the day the review appeared, everyone was nattering on about Michael Walsh. They weren’t talking about Willow. (The fact that, when it came right down to it, Michael was correct about this movie didn’t save him from, soon after, being shifted out of the paper’s Entertainment section and into a copy editor’s desk, where he would be less likely to piss off movie distributors who paid millions in ad revenue for their product.)

It’s right there in Critics for Dummies (or should that be the other way around?): be outrageous and people will turn their attention to you. They may be calling you a “dumb f**k,” but, hey, that’s the price you pay for the spotlight.

The problem is, after awhile readers grow bored by this premeditated buffoonery. A reviewer who is predictable becomes a reviewer who is ignored.

Katherine Monk, she of the Vancouver Sun, falls into that category. Ms. Monk appears to have one rule when writing about a movie: The more vaginas, the higher the rating. For every penis on the screen, take away one star. A movie like The Women? Thirty stars! Out of five!

As a reviewer, I had two rules:

1) Don’t bore me

and

b) If your movie is longer than 2 1/2 hours, you owe my bladder a family-size bag of M&Ms. The good kind. And by good kind I mean peanut.

There’s nothing funny about wetting oneself in a theatre. Unless it’s an Aussie doing it. In that case, even the no-name nincompoop at TimeOut would be roaring.