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.


Burlesque fever is currently sweeping New Zealand, bringing with it the inevitable discussion about whether this is vaudeville with pasties or strippers who can sing.

Either way, it’s all about torturing the inhabitants of Planet Man with the possibility of a glimpse of bare female flesh. And because said inhabitants can never see enough breasts in their lifetime, burlesque is suddenly very popular.

I won’t be going to any of the shows. I had my fill of naked women hanging upside down from metal poles when I was younger and easily impressed and, according to Viking Woman, not yet trained in the art of appreciating the female of the species. And by that I mean I had yet to learn to cook.

Actually, I was well into my 20s before I attended my first peeler show. Oddly enough, it was also the first time I’d been in a room with a naked woman I wasn’t about to, you know, engage in a discussion with about the differences between Star Trek and Star Wars.

I was embarrassed and nervous. And slightly confused by the logic behind having to occupy the table closest to the stage. I kept my head down during the first performance, staring into the watery depths of my Coke. When I did happen to look up, if only to see what had prompted all the hoots and whistles, there it was, the Danger Zone, pretty much in my face. Oh, hello. Fancy meeting you. And, yes, it is rather hot in here.

It wasn’t the close encounter with, um, you know, female genitalia that concerned me. What I dreaded most was having a stripper exotic dancer watch me as I watched her. I mean, how embarrassing would that be?

But, of course, when I was finally brave enough to elevate my eyes, she was staring straight at me.

That’s right — while I’m gazing upon her baby maker, she’s looking at my face. And we’re both thinking the same thing: I sure hope I unplugged the iron.

And then, just as the first song was winding up, she happened to catch sight of one of my tablemates.

“Roger?” She squatted down and started chatting while the men on the other side of the stage were left holding their dollar bills in one hand and their, uh, wallets in the other.

As it turned out, Roger had gone to high school with the young lady and, after her set, she donned a robe and came to sit at our table.

Can you believe it? I’m a friend of a friend of a stripper. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that now, does it? On Planet Man, I practically rule.

High five! Oh crap, I spilled my Coke!

Actually most of my stories about strippers involve Coca-Cola. Funny that.

For example:

A family jaunt to Las Vegas, about five years ago. My brother JK and I decide to check out the Glitter Gulch on Fremont Street. After all, we both live on Planet Man, which means we are cool, and by cool I mean sophisticated, and by sophisticated I mean we’re standing outside on the sidewalk hoping to get a sneak peek every time the doors opens. As you do.

We’d actually made it inside the doors during an earlier visit years before. At that time, we’d caught a quick sight of a stage at the front of the room, with tables filling the space in front of it. And then, noticing it was almost time for the Fremont Street Experience, we’d turned right round and walked out. Light show in the sky? Would not want to miss that.

But now we’re back, standing in front of the doors again, double-dog-daring each other to go in, two 40-somethings acting like 10-year-old boys egging each other on to enter the creepy abandoned house and silently praying the other one says no so we can leave and never come back.

But then somehow we’re inside and this guy is leading us further into the twilight that passes for illumination. While attempting to avoid walking into walls, I realize the interior has changed. The stage is gone, the tables and chairs are gone. In their place are small platforms, surrounded by bar stools.

“Whaddya want ta drink?” the guy asks after depositing us at one of the clusters.

I look at JK. He nods. I waggle a pair of fingers. “Two Cokes, please.”

He brings them back to where we’re now perched on bar stools. “Eighteen bucks.”

I don’t blink. I don’t breathe. I don’t crack wise with some comment about how I just wanted to buy a drink and not the entire company.

I hand over a twenty. “Keep the change.”

There is movement behind us. A woman is now standing on our platform. We’re practically nose to kneecap. The music blares. The clothes start to drop. We grab up our expensive glasses of ice-clogged Coke and back away.

This must be some kind of signal because, from some nearby darkened alcove, another woman appears. She puts an arm around my shoulders.

She leans in close. “How’s your day going?”

There is an ice cube in my mouth. I bite it in half and swallow the chunks whole.

“Fine,” I say. “My day is going just fine. Thank you for asking.”

“You boys wanna come in back with me?” She’s running her fingers across my neck. “I’ll give you a dance.”

I look at JK. He nods.

Later, when it’s over and our hearts have stopped galloping, we compare notes.

Yes, that was the fastest either of us had ever chugged a glass of Coke. And, no, neither of us had ever run away from a woman before.

We’re returning to Vegas this year. We won’t be going anywhere near Fremont Street.