The world of male strippers is a generally little known subculture. It is a glamorous nighttime fantasy of a possible sexual fulfillment, which is rarely satisfied. Backstage, preparing for their performances, the dancers primp and pump and shave, to look their best and meet the expectations of their lucrative patrons. Once on stage, the teasing and interest in patrons are all part of a performance act mostly for financial gain, on occasion developing into a bond with their loyal admirers. What one might expect.
The experience that is provided at night, when the lights go down and the patrons (mostly men) come to ogle on their favorite guys while scouting for the new arrivals, is just one form of reality for these dancers. Each of the strippers has a story, in many cases mundane and generally unexpected. Most are straight, even though they clearly welcome the attention of other males. They may be students, businessmen, investors and even doctors, or nothing more than what they appear. The patrons don’t know, and the charged fantasies the guys create allow them to remain anonymous, usually. They adopt stage names and personas. They may not tell their families about what they do. Their girl friends, wives or boyfriends may or may not know the reality of how their living is earned. With a high focus on body image, health, fitness, the teasing occurs, and can expand beyond the at-work fantasy.
I’ve met and interviewed many men in this field, engaged with them as photographic subjects and also befriended some. Through the process, I was welcomed into their guarded realities.