Take Off All Your Clothes

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – October 7, 2004

“I’ll be dreaming of the kissing that I’m missing truly wishing that you listen when I simply say to you, striptease for me baby.” ~”Striptease” by Hawksley Workman

In most sexual contexts, and certainly in sexy films, magazines and Harlequin Romances, aren’t men stereotypically depicted as experienced studs whose technique between the sheets will blow your head off?

What is the allure of seeing that kind of persona reproduced on stage at a strip joint? What is the appeal of the peelers in general? Do we really find these strangers attractive? What’s with the business of paying someone to act attracted to you, anyway?

Since men are the major patrons of strip clubs, I began my research with them. I turned to the handy-dandy Shere Hite sexuality bible, The Hite Report on Male Sexuality.

A “controversial coast-to-coast bestseller,” the book aims to be a comprehensive compilation of men’s thoughts and feelings about love, sex, and relationships. Among other things, the index includes companionship in marriage; feminine-hygiene sprays; full-length embracing; K-Y cream; faking orgasm; rectum; sports; squeeze technique; stomach, sensitivity of, and foreplay; suicide; testicles (that’s where I paused for a cheap laugh at combining terms to read “suicide testicles”).

Like that chick from Romper Room, I too saw this and I saw that, but I didn’t see no “stripper.” Is a trip to places like The Playmate or Pigale’s such an inevitable institution that it didn’t seem necessary to ask men’s feelings about it? If so, wouldn’t “sports” be just as easily omitted? Even a search for euphemisms turned up nothing. There were no entries for “exotic dancer,” “peeler,” “nudie,” or “Sylvie Hill.”

OK, so the last omission wasn’t so surprising; of course, if I were taller and wore bras bigger than your teenage sister’s then I wouldn’t hesitate to try my luck as a topless dancer. Think of it, the power and the prestige and appeal of moving exotically around a pole to SEAL or something from the Lost Boys soundtrack for a group of adoring men. I think these Bare Fax girls have got something going on.

I don’t think the same is true for male strippers, though. A few of us women at Hot Shots one night for a bachelorette party found ourselves most attracted to the dancer who kept falling out of sync during a group routine.

It was weird, our reaction amounted to “awwwww, poor guy, he’s so sweet, look at him trying.” Who would have thought a weak male would be attractive?

Maybe he came across as more “real” than just a pin-up boy. Or, maybe it’s a lot more work to see a man strut his shit on stage and think it’s something new and exciting. Clearly, I needed a one-night stand with a different kind of male exotic dancer to check this all out.

Picture it: Friday night, September 24, at Capital Music Hall with 500+ other women watching “One Night Stand, the Second Coming” direct from New York City. It was an interactive fantasy show for ladies only.

Not just a strip show, but a live, simulated-sex-with-audience-participants show. Investigative reporting at its finest.

“How many ladies here like to get their pussies eaten?!” shouted the announcer. “Well, the guy coming to stage next luuuuuvs to eat pussy!”

Out walks a powerhouse dude named Unit (or maybe that was “Unique”).

To any question directed their way from the stage, the women roared their approval, celebrating their desire in an uproarious display of sorority. Dancer after dancer selected women from the crowd, then got busy with them on stage. This, and the beat of the sexy urban/dance/rap songs, whipped the ladies into a mad frenzy.

Women at the show had no hang-ups about expressing their sexuality and desires as an audience. And yet, as my friend said, “the show had about as much to do with sex as a pie-eating contest has to do with food.”

This could be said about most strip club experiences. A lot of my male friends tell me how boring or sad they find the whole experience, despite showing excitement and oohing and ahhing-stripping is not about prowess, it’s simply an unhappy woman doing a job in heels and a G-string.

I’m heterosexual but would rather watch female strippers because I want to learn the moves. Although, there are Ladyfest courses in Ottawa like Stripping for Your Sweetheart which can teach a few tricks of the trade in a very different atmosphere from most strip clubs. As for watching male strippers, I’m more taken by Hawksley Workman gyrating against a microphone stand on stage wearing a leather ballsack contraption over his tight trousers and sweet-talking me into some sex down by the Canadian lake. His talent is sexy, and his postures quite camp and feminine. No greasy buff macho dude on stage is going to do it for me.

And maybe that is why the two girls I ran into at the One Night Stand show, who knew me from high school and university, were shocked at my attendance: “Sylvie?! You’re the last person I’d ever expect to see here!”

Either they thought I was gay, or still a square, or they just don’t know about me and Hawksley yet.

Watch very sexy rock stars The Setbacks, get naked on stage and release their One Track Mind CD along with Les Pugilists and The Heelwalkers at the Dominion Tavern, October 9, for only $8.

– Sylvie Hill