Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Art of the Tease

'Whenever a male stripper takes their clothes off, they've still go, like, a fireman's hat on, or a tool belt on, or a policeman's gun on a hostler, right? Because even when a man's naked, a woman wants to know that he has a job.'
Comedian Jim Jefferies

Next three shots from Annika Hoogeveen

I didn't know much about the history of Chippendales until starting to work on this series of posts. Many of you may be aware of the sordid past of founder Steve Banerjee, but I was fascinated to learn of his violent history and death in 1994. I would guess most fans of the show and dancers don't research it's history, but to me, the history of Chippendales is one the most interesting pieces of the story.

'Chippendales was founded in Los Angeles in the early Eighties by an American called Somen 'Steve' Banerjee. He wanted to transform male stripping from a sleazy hen-night sideshow into a kind of mini-Broadway extravaganza that would attract middle-class women. It was successful. But then Banerjee went bonkers. Because he hired a hitman - yes, you read that correctly, a hitman - to wipe out some of his former strippers who had set themselves up as competition in other strippering (if that's the word) troupes. Banerjee was apprehended by the FBI and hanged himself in prison in 1994. No strippers died, but it cast a dark shadow on the Chippendales' world.'

One thing I may have in common with Banerjee is the art of the tease. I purposely structure FH to have an element of tease. When I'm sent images, I am sometimes disappointed when they're all nudes. My favorite sets usually start with portraits, and clothed shots, then shirtless and nudes. For me the tease, the build up, add to the enjoyment of full nude images. Now Chippendales, except for the occasional wardrobe malfunction, doesn't provide the full Monty, but then again if it did, it most likely would not have reach the levels of popularity that did in the eighties and nineties.

In addition to being all tease, one of the biggest complaints I have heard about Chippendales is that it's geared towards a mostly female audience. For some reason this never really bothered me. I understand that women need a place to enjoy themselves, away from men, a place that is just for them. I get that when Chippendales began, there weren't as many places for men to see male strippers, but I understand it from a marketing stand point, especially in the eighties. We also all know that there were a fair share of gay dancers, and the company was fully aware that many of those buying the calendars, playing cards and merchandise were men. Today, men are welcome to attend the shows but from what I have read, very few actually attend. I'm not really sure I would have any interest today, but would have loved to have been in the audience at some of the shows early performances.

Pocket full of Singles

Chippendales in the 80's, big hair, big bulges and dollar bills

The classic tight black pants, black bow tie and white collar

It was't just calendars and posters, Chippendales merchandise exploded in the eighties and included playing cards, greeting cards, mugs, t-shirts, videos and more!

' I lost my virginity to _______ ________________ years ago when they came to my town, we went to their after show party and then we went to his hotel room'

I think this is one time that Dolly doesn't have the biggest hair...

Next two shots from the Andy Warhol Collection

Brad Davenport: The Blonde with the Mustache

Chippendales, especially in it's early days, wasn't exactly known of it's diversity, it was rare to see a dancer who wasn't white, in calendars or promotional material. Although today, there are men of color in the cast, in the eighties, having a mustache was about as diverse as it got.

In the shows first few years there were two sexy stached studs who got a lot of attention. The taller dark haired Dan Peterson and the blonde with the mustache, Brad Davenport. For some reason I find Brad's images some of the hottest. I say 'some reason', as I am usually not drawn to mustached men, but Brad wears his very well.

Davenport middle & Dan Peterson (far right)

In many ways, Brad and his stache, and his perfectly feathered blonde hair perfectly embodies those early days of Chippendales. Brad's appeal obviously was widespread as he was front and center on more than one calendar and in many of the promotional images from the show in the eighties. I couldn't find a video of Brad dancing solo, but there's a great video featuring Brad on Youtube HERE: which also features a young Steve Bond before leaving the show to join General Hospital.

Above: Brad's image on a Birthday Cake for a Chippendale Birthday party

John Gibson: Ill Fated

One of the original Chippendales dancers, John Gibson danced way into many ladies hearts in the early 80's. Jon parlayed his Chippendales fame into acting, appearing on eighties shows like Eight is Enough, The Fall Guy, CHiPs and Three's Company. John also played Cash on The Young and The Restless in the early 80's.

Sadly, just as John was reaching the height of of his fame, as the pilot and sole occupant he died in a plane crash in May 17, 1986, trying to land at Van Nuys airport. Gibson was engaged to Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White at the time of his death. Although my Chippendale dancers have appeared in Playgirl, most keep their g-strings on. Gibson appeared fully naked in the magazine before he began dancing for Chippendales in issues in 1975 as Man of the Month, and again in 1977

So great this early video is on Youtube, amazing how John is kissing all of the women in audience on the lips without any hesitation. Not something you would see today.

For me, John epitomizes the 80's California hunk look with his blonde hair, great face and smile and a fit, muscled thicker body than most dancers who followed him the later decades.

With Vanna White

Playgirl (1975/1977)