This article is writtenfrom the perspective of stripping in the UK. Male strippers live a very different existence to our female counterparts and stripping is one of the few industries where women consistently earn more than men. The female stripper typically has an “office” in which to ply her trade. This is usually in the form of a lap-dancing club where the punters are largely straight men, some of whom can be very generous with their tips.
Female strippers typically work a normal ‘shift’ as many times a week as they feel comfortable with. Male stripping is very different. Reverse lap-dancing clubs (where women buy men) have sprung up over the last few years. However, they are few in number and often are a monthly event at an already established lap dancing club, which decides to run a ladies night. My experience of these suggests that there are as many strippers who perform in these clubs for the kicks as the cash.
Those that run on a commission only basis seem to attract those that rate the blowjobs as much as the pay. The demand of the two sectors is vastly different. Historically men have always been willing to pay for sex and sexual services. In this new era of enlightenment, the number of women willing to pay for sexual services is still small. They simply don’t want to and probably don’t have to.
Male strippers typically earn their money from performing in gay clubs, at ladies or hen nights and private parties. Male strippers are paid a flat fee that is pre-arranged before the event. The average male strip show will last about 15 minutes. My experience would seem to suggest that this is too long on ladies nights and sometimes not long enough on gay shows!
Ladies nights are typically hosted by a drag queen and usually feature two male strippers. In the south of England these feature one show by each stripper. In the North of England the strippers are frequently expected to perform two shows; the first being a striptease and the second a full strip. Despite the frequent calls of ‘get em off’ during a ladies night the stripper is unlikely to cut his show short. This seems to have a habit of offending the drag queen who frequently doubles as the booking agent. If the stripper cuts his show short the drag queen seems to feel obliged to fill the gap.
Ladies nights are seasonal in nature, with the busiest period between November and December and the quietist in January and February. Strippers usually attempt to bolster their income at ladies night by flogging either a poster of a Polaroid picture of the punter in the arms of the stripper. The digital camera and the advent of cameras on mobile phones are starting to erode this practice. However, the 5GBP for a Polaroid picture always seemed a little steep to me !
There is some debate about the decline of male stripping on the straight scene. The general consensus is that the first real wave arrived with the advent of the Chippendales in the late 80s and received another boost in the mid 90s with the film The Full Monty. This heralded the arrival of many new strippers and a surge in the demand for Ladies nights. Ironically, the film led to a decline in the amount of work available for the then established strippers due to the influx of newcomers outweighing the increase in demand.
Today many of the relics from twenty years ago are still plying their trade. When I perform in the gay clubs a frequent jibe is often directed at certain strippers in their 40s and how they have let themselves go. Yet they are still invited back and must therefore be doing something right. All of the strippers from that ‘golden era’ tell me that it just isn’t as good as it was back in the day. Apparently fees are down and demand is less
Given the seasonal nature of the ladies nights, male strippers (at least those who are gay or without prejudice) survive during the quiet time by performing at gay shows. These vary from large gay clubs that have regular theme nights to small country gay pubs. Most gay clubs/pubs that have strippers tend to have them on a fixed night once a week in the hope of bringing the punters in to consume their liquor. However, even the gay scene is in decline.
Many venues that used to have strippers have ceased and changed their entertainment. In London about fifteen years ago there were approximately 20 venues that had a regular stripper, now that figure is nearer five. The venues argue that strippers were just attracting a band of hard-core regulars who never bought enough drink. Some have griped about a lack of new faces, others simply say that stripping is old hat and is not in fashion anymore.
If that is the case it will no doubt see a revival some day soon. Some gay venues will always have strippers thanks to the whim of the owner/manager. Typically, these venues will also only receive visits from strippers that please the booker
Personally, I have often found it easier to play the gay scene, simply because you tend to be looked after better. Because the gay venues are used to receiving strippers, they have somewhere for you to get changed, they offer you a drink and although a gay crowd are frequently very expectant they are usually very appreciative and rarely malicious.
This applies also to the majority of the female audience, but there is usually a far from silent minority who find it amusing to heckle. Such behaviour has to be expected by any performer, where it becomes more annoying is when people try and invade your dressing room while you are changing or steal your costume as a memento of the evening. This rarely happens at the gay venues, but frequently does so on ladies nights. I have lost count for example of the numbers of pairs of underwear and Sailor’s hats that I have had stolen.
Male strippers generally have a very bad reputation for punctuality and frequently don’t turn up at all. Various theories abound for this. One of these is that a fair proportion of strippers are mind-altered through drugs and simply forget.
Also, a disproportionate amount of male strippers seem to carry a lorry worth of personal baggage that seems to upset their work. I don’t know why the profession should attract so many such people; I’ll leave you to work it out. Certainly this applies to more than might be
Most non turn-ups occur because the stripper is simply offered more money to play elsewhere and seems to have no booker loyalty. He typically phones up offering the ‘my car has broken down’ line. I have always found this astonishingly short sighted as a car only breaks so often and not every other week. One would assume the strippers that practice this would soon be devoid of work, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. More fool the venues that still book them. The moral of this story is let the booker be aware and ensure you ‘qualify’ your booking well.
Male strippers are also well renowned for their bitchy streak, particularly when referring to other strippers. The ego of the average male stripper often arrives at the venue half an hour before they do ! When male strippers gather to form a pride (such as on a large hen night) there is frequently much strutting around and preening in an attempt to form a hierarchy and intimidate the lesser pride members into knowing their place.
Male strippers are also well known for their tall tales, particularly regarding their own exploits. These range from the numbers of women they have shagged post show, to the exotic locations of the venues they have played and particularly the amount of work they have had. The standard question when strippers meet is to ask “have you been busy ?”
The recipient of the question may respond with a figure saying how many shows he has performed in the last month.
This will instantly bring about a rebuke from the questioner, who will instantly double the figure of the recipient (no matter how large) in order to establish his dominance. One stripper is in the habit of telling all the punters how popular he is by listing the exotic cities worldwide where he has just returned from plying his trade. On one of the dates in question he was in two locations simultaneously !
It is well known on the gay scene about the practice of tying off. This is the trick that strippers use to give the illusion of being extremely well endowed. The process involves firstly obtaining an erection before tying an elastic band (or other material such as bias binding) around the base of the penis. This prevents the blood flowing out of the penis.
The result is that the old man goes limp but retains about 80% of its erect size, thereby impressing a naïve audience. Of course, the illusion is further enhanced if the stripper is already well endowed (and some most definitely are). A number of times I have been approached by punters (mainly women or gay venue virgins) asking if I exceed 10 inches when fully erect. If only…That said, I am not aware of any strippers that I would call small downstairs. However, the art of tying off certainly allows Mr. Average to join the party.
When I tell people that I am male stripper, one thing men often say is that they couldn’t do that because they are not large enough downstairs. They obviously don’t know about tying off, but, it is a fallacy to assume that the only thing a stripper needs is a big dick. Various things go into the mix : a good costume, decent music, an athletic physique, props, youth, dance moves, an innovative routine, a big dick; all are factors that contribute to a popular stripper.
Obviously, the more of those qualities a stripper possesses, the better the act. Height is another factor, many strippers wear platformed shoes on stage. For white strippers, their skin tone is another. Once one punter complained that I was ‘too white’. As a result white strippers tend to either invest in sunbeds or fake tans to darken their skin.
The term ‘road warriors’ often springs to mind with male strippers. It is not uncommon to make a round trip in excess of 200 miles to reach a venue and get home again. If travelling further than that, it has to be worthwhile. Either a premium is charged or there needs to be more than one show in the evening or succession of evenings. For example, I frequently travel to the North of England and spend a week in the region, performing each night, before returning to North London at the end of the week. I do something similar in Wales/South West England.
How much does a Male Stripper earn ?
This is one of the areas where myth and rumour seem to go into overdrive. If I had a pound for everybody that tells me I must be rich from stripping, I would be rich. Also, there appears to be this tendency when I tell women that I am a male stripper that a proportion of them have a friend who is a male stripper who has become rich from the experience. When I assure them this couldn’t be true an argument ensues.
Maybe this arises because we have different definitions of rich. However, these stripping ‘millionaires’ usually turn out to be gay. If there was any truth to these rumours of stripping millionaires I can assure the reader that their wealth was not brought about from stripping, but maybe the performance of ‘extras’. Generally women, even wealthy predatory ones, have yet to feel the empowerment of paying for sex. For gay men it often comes as a second nature. Male strippers can supplement their income if they are so inclined.
Stripping itself however, will not make a man rich. On average over a year a male stripper can expect to work 3-4 times a week. Sometimes he can expect to perform 10 shows in a week, on others the diary will be empty, like his pockets. The average show pays approximately 100GBP, so do the maths and calculate the vast wealth. Many argue that this is very good money for a 15 minute show. However, the punter rarely remembers that the stripper may have travelled for 3 hours to get to the venue and another 3 hours to get home.
He has to wait around for an hour prior to the performance and another hour afterwards getting cleaned up, performing equipment checks, meeting the adoring public and collecting his money. From this received pot of gold, the stripper must deduct various costs : the costume, the music, baby oil, stolen costume items, petrol/diesel, car maintenance, publicity photos, gym membership, agent fees and maybe bed and breakfast.
Some shows pay more than the average, if a stripper has to travel 200 miles just to reach the venue he can expect to be paid between 150-200GBP. One would expect the London venues to pay a little more than elsewhere in the country, but that simply isn’t the case. In fact, London venues are amongst the worst payers. Half of the London gay venues only pay 80GBP. Why this should be I do not know, there certainly isn’t any London weighting in stripping. I have found the best payers to be in the West Country and South Wales.
I occasionally receive queries, usually from women, asking me if I will do a performance for 50GBP. Given all I have said above, the answer is pretty obvious. For me stripping is a lifestyle thing. If gives me lots of spare time to pursue my interests and for the time being at least prevents me re-entering the rat race (I’ve decided only a rat can win the rat race). It is not a vehicle to feed my over-inflated ego or boost my poor self-esteem. I’m not interested in performing favours for people I have never met and the last time I looked, I wasn’t a registered charity.
For those with a budget of 50GBP don’t despair there are possible options. I have heard of agents charging as low as 60GBP for a stripper gram (a 5 minute surprise for someone usually in a pub/restaurant/party). However, I am told that the strippers that perform these services are pricing according to what they offer.
They tend to arrive at the venue using their bus pass (I’d get one if I could but they won’t give me one for another 40 years!) and their days of athleticism have long since passed. Also, these guys don’t play the regular circuit, but will turn up on your doorstep if called. When negotiating with such individuals a promise of a good BJ can bring the price down even further.
If your budget is small, I recommend that you get out the yellow pages and start dialing, you may find someone, but watch your phone bill. You may blow your budget. Whilst I realize that you have be flexible and open to negotiation, please, keep it realistic !
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