“Magic Mike” and the History of Male Strippers

I’ve always been a student of History, so I’m excerpting a bit from a very interesting article on the history of male stripping from Slate.com…

Hot topic- in more ways than one- since “Magic Mike” opened last weekend.

Being a History major in College, I was there the first day “Magic Mike”  opened to be sure it was historically accurate.  That was a a key concern for me.  I’ll probably have to watch it a couple of more times on DVD to double check a few things…

And, all kidding aside,  it really is a surprisingly good film….

With some really hot guys who strip…

When Magic Mike shimmied its way to almost $40 million at the box office this past weekend, it wasn’t the first time that men stripped down on screen. Male strippers have been a recurring plot point in recent decades, tearing off their pants in everything from Summer School to The Full Monty to a wide range of sitcoms and a legendary Saturday Night Live skit. This past May the New York Times even declared that male stripping was finally “hitting the mainstream.”

When did men start stripping professionally?

The mid-to-late 1970s. While musclemen have been paid for popping their pecs and otherwise showing off their bodies since at least the late 19th century, it’s only in the ’70s that stripping became a co-ed profession. And there are only a few known reports of male strippers before the late ’70s. In 1973 Jet told of one such dancer who “peeled down to a black G-string, handcuffed himself to the fence outside” Big Ben and bore a banner labeling him as “The body divine—Angel, the lovely male stripper. Book him.” According to the article, no producers came calling, but the cops did. This was a common problem for the early male stripper. Another early appearance of the term comes in a 1974 report on Deviant Behavior, mentioning male strippers in a report on “Marginally Illegal Occupations and Work Systems.” Through the mid-’70s men who took off their clothes in public were likely to receive a citation for indecency.

However, over the course of the late 1970s male dancers became a regular feature at strip clubs across the country. Some strip clubs reserved a few nights each month for male strip shows, with audiences restricted to “ladies only.”

More:  The real Magic Mikes: Who were the first male strippers? And what are male strip shows really like?.

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