My 10 post salute to Chippendales wasn't planned. It came together, as many of my pieces do, through stumbling upon an image while searching for shots for another piece. After I saw the film Razorback a couple of weeks ago, I decided to feature the movie's star, Gregory Harrison. Anyone who's hunted for images of Harrison knows that in doing so, you often stumble upon shots from his role in the early 80's stripper movie 'For Ladies Only.' It while searching for shots of Harrison that google presented the image above.
The shot, which I tired hard to find larger, is of model and Chippendales dancer Dustin Stevens. Dustin was one of the show's original dancers, hired in 1979. A professional dancer, Dustin worked in LA and in touring shows, until getting into a fight with another dancer while on the road in 1983. There is a great interview with Dustin on Youtube in which he talks in details about the show's early days and his time as a Chippendale and being in some of the first tours. (Many women tried to cut their g-strings off) Check out the Interview on Youtube HERE:
Seeing John's images from the 1981 calendar had me flashing back to the fist time I saw a Chippendales calendar in the late 80's. In all my years of working on FH, I had never thought too much about featuring the men of Chippendales until coming across the shot of Dustin. I always saw Chippendales as sort of cheesy, and more tease than anything else. Dustin had me remembering how much that early calendar viewing impacted me, and how it almost outed me to my family.
My family was visiting my mothers sister just after Christmas. She had two children, both quite a bit older than I was. Both were in college and were only home for the Christmas break. The oldest was my cousin Tara, who I think would have been about 20 at the time. I would have been about 12 or 13 I think and was still forced along to the yearly family visit. Under their Christmas tree was one of Tara's gifts, a Chippendale calendar with three bow tie wearing hunks on the cover.
I had my eye on the calendar all throughout the visit. I was dying to take a peak, but the room was filled with family. I waited for my opportunity just after dinner. Everyone was in the dining room, and the calendar lay alone in the empty living room. I grabbed it and ran into the bathroom, visually devoured it quickly. Before I was done however, the group had returned into the living room and I was forced out of the bathroom, leaving it hidden under a hamper.
I sweated my way through the rest of the visit, trying to figure out how to get it back under the tree. Finally, as we were leaving, I took my opportunity. My aunt and uncle were in the doorway saying goodbye to use as we left. I ran past them, saying I needed to use the bathroom, and quickly grabbed the calendar and stuck it again under the tree. I am pretty sure my uncle saw me drop something under the tree, but nothing was said, and I rushed back to the car, heart racing the entire time.
I remember seeing a few Chippendales appearances on TV and in magazines after that. I did buy one Calendar when I was a bit older in the early 90's. I was inspired by the loin cloth wearing model on the cover... I never hung it, just enjoyed it in the privacy of my bedroom now and then.
When I was putting together today's posts, I was most interested in images from the 80's and 90's. I love the looks and the hair and the nostalgia value in those early images. As hard as I tried, the first calendar, the 1981 calendar featuring Dustin, could not be found on-line. If anyone has it, or knows where image scans might be located, shoot me a line.
There were three other notable Chippendales I wanted to give attention to, including 'the stud' Shawn Prochazka. Every Chippendale spent a fair amount of time posing with fans for photos, but I think Shawn may appear on the social media pages of more female fans than any other. He was very... 'popular'.
Mr. Hollywood: Doug Donatelli
If Doug Donatelli's big hair wasn't enough to grab your attention, just watch him slowly bend over... Doug seemed like might take Hollywood by storm but after a couple of roles, playing a model on film, and a male stripper on Married With Children his career came to an abrupt halt. Don is one the few dancers who seemed to vanish and I wasn't able to find much about his life since his days on stage.
Mr. Personality: Michael Rapp
Michael Rapp had an almost 20 year connection with Chippendales and is not only one of the most recognizable dancers, but one of the most popular. Rapp still brings happiness to his fans with his regular Facebook video updates (HERE:)
Given his longevity with the show, he also seems to be the one who brings and connects many of the dancers together and joined many other dancers at the shows 35th reunion event which brought together four generations of Chippendale performers.
For me, Charles Wahlheim was the face, and body of Chippendales in the early 90's. His loin cloth donned body was on the cover of magazines and calendars whenever you were in a book or magazine store at the time. It was Charles iconic shot that prompted me to buy the only and only Chippendales calendar I purchased in the early 90's. His incredible face, body and blonde hair appeared exactly what Chippendales wanted as the look for their brand in the 90's.
Like many of his Chippendale counter parts, Wahleim, now 55, did turns on TV in shows such as Santa Barbara, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Pacific Blue, Coach and Roseanne. His connection to Hollywood was also cemented with his marriage to actress Teri Copley, and as far as I can tell, the two remain married today.
Wahlheim went on to focus on heath and nutrition and authored a book, The Truth: Claiming Your Birthright to Health, A Life Changing Perspective. Wahleim has a Facebook fan page, focused on promoting his book and wellness work, but he doesn't appear to have updated it in a few years. You can still check it out HERE:
Charles still rockin the 'wet look' at the beach in a recent shot.
I was surprised how hard it was to find images from the 1980's and 1990's calendars. Some of the more popular models and dancers were easily found on-line, but many were difficult to find. I have compiled some of my favorites here. Given most posed 20-30 years ago, most of the calendar boys are now in their 40's and 50's. Some look very different today, have careers in other fields, some are married and have children and sadly, some have passed away.
I was told that some of the men who appeared in calendars and other promotional merchandise weren't actually dancers/strippers with the show, but models hired by the company who they thought represented the image they wanted to project. I added some additional shots on The OVER-FLOW HERE: