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My Life as a Male Stripper
How I Became a Stripper
Okay, the title is somewhat misleading. I was not a stripper per se. I stripped exactly one time as a part of a theatrical troupe I belonged to at the time named Lagniappe, a Cajun word meaning “an unexpected surprise.” What we did was party stunts, for the entertainment of the crowd. John Lovitz was a member of that group, and we thought he was a big goofball. As you know, he went on to stardom and the rest of us are either gone from show business or operating on the lowest most tattered fringes. One day, the founder of the group announced, “I got a call from the Cousteau Society today, and they wanted to know if we would send a male strip-o-gram to perform for the head of the New York office, Jacques Cousteau's daughter. Is anybody interested?”
Nobody jumped at the offer. Lot's of questions were asked though, especially “what's it pay?” I mean, if the money was right, lots of things might be done by a starving actor paying New York rent. This was at a time when all of us in the group had just graduated from the National Shakespeare
Conservatory, except for Lovits, and our iconic teacher Philip Meister had always said we should do the things we were afraid of to further our experience, which would contribute to our acting skills. No one was more afraid of stripping than I. So shy I was that I was uncomfortable taking my clothes off for a doctor, and when they start that hernia checking crap, the fiddling with my gravity locator spheres, well, let's just say I expected a nice dinner at the very least, and maybe a marriage proposal.
The Big Step Into My Disgrace
So I finally, perhaps regretfully, definitely meekly, I said voice a cracking, “I'll do it.” The group was slapping me on the back and congratulating me on my approaching embarrassment and demise, and it was then I realized I was doomed to a life of dirty sex and selling myself in Times Square. I couldn't sleep as the day approached. My nightmares were hideous, stinky old fat ladies with rotting teeth lining up for the newest whore in town for 5 bucks a pop. I knew to survive the ordeal I'd have to have a story, a theme, a plot if you will, something to turn it into acting. I could not take myself seriously. No strippers body had I. Just a normal guy. So maybe comedy was the answer. I called the guy who had booked me to see if I could get some information, anything I could latch onto and make a skit of sorts. And I think I found my answer.
The Plot Thickens (or is that engorges?)
He told me that she was having some unauthorized remodeling done to the interior of their rented quarters in the fancy high rise where they were located, including tearing down walls and Ms. Cousteau was terrified that the building managers would find out. That would be my catalyst. So I worked out a scene, including how she might react to any development and how I, in turn, would react to that. I practiced and practiced. What would I sing? I had always done a spectacular Elvis. Not the Vegas version, jumpsuit wearing, sweat flying, sequin popping, drug swallowing, side burn wearing, karate kicking version, but rather the young version, leather jacket wearing, girl fainting, hip swinging, rubber leg vibrating, sex oozing version. The Jail House Rock guy. My Elvis was spot on, both in voice and movement. It should have been. I was from Memphis and had started doing him when I was five. So Elvis it would be.
My Stripping Costume
The day arrived and I dressed in a suit and prepared my briefcase with it's secret stash. I looked like a young businessman as I walked across town to the Society. To say I was nervous would be misleading. I was trembling, but somebody once said the day you don't get nervous before you perform is the day your going to screw up. I arrived at the entrance of their office, took a deep breath and...took another deep breath and....come on, you can't just stand here all day taking deep breaths, you'll hyperventilate for crissakes, so I took another deep breath and knocked with only mild oxygenated dizziness.
The door to the office was opened by a secretary and I introduced myself as the building inspector. They knew the stripper was going to play the building inspector, so she automatically knew what to do. “Wait here,” she said, “I'll go get her.” She giggled and walked – nearly ran – down the long hallway to the big office overlooking the city.
I heard the secretary whisper into the office door, “The building inspector is here.” “What!” came the reply. “The building inspector...he wants to see you.” Quickly, Ms. Cousteau emerged from her office and made her way towards me. As she passed each office door, heads popped out to catch the show, knowing that the stripper had arrived. She introduced herself and putting on my smarmiest smile, I introduced myself as Michel LaCroix, Building Inspector.” I told her what I wanted. “I understand your doing some structural changes in here...would you mind showing me?" My shark smile got even larger. She led me down the hall and I could see the tenseness in her body and hear her brain clicking.
“Here,” she said, “We're tearing down this wall to.....” I cut her off. “Just a minute. I see lots of problems here already.” “What problems?” she said. I had opened my briefcase. “Well, first of all,” I pushed the play button on the tape player secreted withing my briefcase. Music from Elvis' “Treat Me Nice” began playing, and then I began singing. Her mouth dropped open. She couldn't understand why the building inspector was singing to her, but as I loosened my tie and took off my coat, it hit her: She was the proud birthday girl recipient of a baby male strip-o-gram. She covered her face with her hands and continued to watch the show between her splayed fingers. Laughing and enjoying herself and my spot on performance immensely. The group of people, who had followed us en mass to the scene of the crime did as well. In fact, seldom have I performed before a more appreciative audience. I stripped down to a muscle shirt with a dancing lobster on it and boxer shorts. Once, near the finale, I exposed my bottom to her and wiggled it. It was after all, my most pleasing physical attribute, but I never went any farther, instead going for the comedy.
If you've never seen Elvis sing “Treat Me Nice” it's worth watching and imagining - if you will - a stripping building inspector singing just like Elvis, attitude, voice, bedroom eyes and hips included, to Jacques Cousteau's daughter. From the film, Jailhouse Rock.
"Treat Me Nice" from Jailhouse Rock
A good time was had by all, though my
heart was still beating at 500 mph, and I was invited to the
following party. I attended briefly and had a drink, basked in their
accolades and answered their questions, and had a wonderful
conversation with Ms. Cousteau who called me, lovely, charming,
talented and handsome. She didn't comment on my bum. She was attractive though, and I wondered if there was any future for us, an out of work actor and the formidable head of The Cousteau Society. Naw, I think not. Perchance to dream.
Did the experience help my future acting? I'd have to say it did. I was asked to do a lot of things in the many years that followed as a professional actor. I still was nervous doing them, terrified in fact, but I never once balked, not once. Now I look back on all that stuff and think, "What a load of crap. I NEVER should have done THAT. Of course, I never did a strip-o-gram again, but I don't regret having done it. It has been one of my favorite stories to tell, lo these many years later.
Is this ever going to end?
At the rather persistent request of mistyhorizon, who felt I should post this in that it would have made a good stripping get-up for me in my stripping day (note the singular), I am posting it. Did I say she was persistent? More like rabid. Nag, nag, nag, she won't stop. Pus is running out my ears and all I hear is this incessant nattering with a Guernsey accent, which under ordinary circumstances would be pleasant, sexy even, but Noooooo, instead I get the harsh scraping of an incessant wasp, the drone and buzz and whine that makes one run for the hills, and so, here it friggin' is, so SHUT UP ALREADY!!
But seriously, I love ya', baby!
CHRIS: There. Happy now?
MISTY: LOL, nearly, but that isn't the same one as in the original version you were doffing your hat, (about to) in the picture "nag nag nag, whinge, moan etc".
CHRIS: DOH! The hat doffing one? Oh gawd....!!!!! Oh crap. I'll have to go dig one out of a musty, moldy box in the basement...somewhere...(27 minutes later....) Damn! I got bit by a spider...probably a brown recluse. Geez! It hurts! It's poison is working it's way to my heart. I'll probably die and stuff, but don't mind me...I'll just see if I can get this stupid picture posted for you.
Chris: Okay. There's the hat doffing one. Will there be anything else, Queen? Any messages to be delivered? Any battles to be fought? Shall I poison the Duke for you, or perhaps dispatch a dragon? Shall I feed you grapes?
I trust this is the picture you had in mind. Um...may I have the rest of the day off? I really need to go to the poison control center.
Misty: Perfect at last, happy now, (please note big smiley face :) :) :D) ) Now just wait for the bookings to roll in.
Chris: Glad you approve. For those wishing to "book" me, I can be reached at "The Mayo Clinic Poison Treatment Center," 200 First Street S.W., Rochester, MN 55905, 507-284-2511.