Taylor Cole and Justin Alan Whitfield have appeared nearly naked on countless book covers and club stages, personifying romance for women the world over. Their forthcoming memoir, Take it Off: Confessions of a Male Stripper, pulls back the curtain on the secret life of male dancers and the wild experiences these men have shared in over a decade of dancing for tips. The book also doubles as a how-to manual for aspiring performers, explaining everything from why you shouldn't try to slide across the stage on amateur night, to the importance of bowing out before you are 60.
What has dancing and being cover models for romance novels taught you about what women want?
Taylor Cole: They want it all. We create relationships with hundreds of women a night during our performances. We've learned that women want to be romanced. They want to feel special.
Justin Alan Whitfield: We also learned that it is a numbers game, so don't take it personal if a woman shoots you down.
Is there a difference between the type of guy women are attracted to on and off the stage?
TC: It's similar. They want to see a fireman. They want to see a policeman. They want to see a guy with a job. That is half the fantasy right there.
Do most male strippers have day jobs?
TC: For the most part, when a guy gets good and starts making money, he is probably going to take the day to work out, relax, and get ready for the night.
JAW: I was actually a substitute teacher for a spell while I was dancing. I was testing the waters to see if I wanted to teach school after dancing, but I didn't like it. I now own a sports bar in Houston called, The Endzone.
Do you travel often with your male revue?
JAW: We are based in Houston, but we travel a lot. That is part of the job that we love so much. We have done tours all through Europe, Italy, Amsterdam, Spain, North America, South America, Canada, Bahamas, on cruise ships... It has taken us all over the world.
Do you have any good stories from doing strip-o-grams?
TC: We have tons. Just like in the beginning of Magic Mike, we've lived that scene a million times.
One time my buddy and I were going to a strip-o-gram dressed as cops. We parked down the road from the party and got out of the car to put our uniforms on when the real cops pulled up. They put the lights on, came out at gunpoint, got us on our knees, and frisked us. We were like, 'Look, we're male dancers. Our pants are tear-away pants. They have Velcro.' They weren't having it. They said they were going to take us to jail for impersonating police officers. I gave them the address of the party. Two of the cops went to check it out. Twenty minutes later they came back just dying laughing. Their shirts were un-tucked and their belts crooked. The girls thought they were the strippers and attacked them. After that, they were like, 'It's cool. Go have a good time.'
JAW: One of our dancers had a strip-o-gram in the middle of summer in the Texas heat. This guy had thinning hair, so he used to put that stuff in his hair to make it look thicker. Well, he is outside dancing, and the crowd really isn't responding the way they normally would. He gets his money and comes back to the club. When he gets there, we see this black line of sweat dripping down his forehead.
You guys dance under hot lights. How do you keep from sweating on women?
JAW: We have some sweaters who bring a towel and wipe themselves off, but luckily we personally don't sweat much.
Are there any odd cosmetic products that male strippers use?
TC: Some guys use baby oil, but that is starting to get played out. Women don't want to rub an oily guy.
Do women get away with more when it comes to touching and fondling male dancers?
TC: Guys would get thrown out of the club if they tried to do what the girls do, but it's all in fun... Plus, when a guy touches a girl like that, it's more disrespectful. She is more vulnerable.
What is the most inappropriate thing a client has done to you?
TC: Girls have pulled our g-strings down. I had a girl pull my front down then pull me face-first off the stage to get the Playgirl I was in. Then she claimed I had to give her the magazine because I had fallen on her.
How many of the dancers you work with stuff their g-strings or use cock-rings?
JAW: Very Few. We make fun of those guys.
TC: A lot of the guys who do that are on tour, going from city to city. At our home club in Houston, we don't really do that because you would have to do it every night.
JAW: Once one guy does it, everyone has to. That sets the standard too high. Plus, cock-rings can damage you in the long run in terms of sexual dysfunction.
I assume a half-hard-on is optimal. How do you maintain that on stage?
TC: You don't really even have a half-hard-on. For the most part, it is just normal.
Are you ever jealous that female strippers do not have to learn choreographed dances or spend nearly as much time at the gym?
TC: I wish we made the money they made and that they had to do all the stuff that we do, but, you know, those crowd screams, when you go out and rock the house, that is something right there. You kind of get addicted to that. The women don't get that kind of satisfaction or crowd response.
It seems like most male dancers have huge legs even though that is the muscle group most guys ignore at the gym.
JAW: I get more compliments on my legs then probably anything else.
TC: Most guys aren't naked in front of women all night. The average guy in the gym is just a tank-top bodybuilder. You put a guy like that on the main stage with his chicken legs, the women will tear him apart.
JAW: We've seen that. Some guys will wear boots that go past their knees to try to cover their legs.
Are there any physical traits that women respond to that most guys wouldn't consider masculine, like long hair.
TC: Women are not big on long hair anymore. One or two guys will have long hair, but short hair is in. The spiky, messy look, that is kind of more what women are into now.
JAW: Women always compliment eyes as well. They like to pretend that they are not looking at your body, but they are.
As with female strippers, do you see a lot of embarrassing tattoos on stage?
JAW: We knew a dancer once who had a Tweety Bird tattoo on his butt. It didn't help any that he had a lisp... He actually got another tattoo to cover it up.
TC: A tattoo on the ass cheek is not a masculine tattoo. No matter what tattoo it is—it could be a skull and crossbones—but no matter what, at some time in your life, you had to lean over a tattoo artist's table with your ass in the air while a dude drew on you.
What tattoo did he get to cover it up?
JAW: To tell you the truth I don't remember. That particular dancer actually passed away. Life in the fast lane.
TC: That is another thing we cover in the book. It's not just about the high life. There are ups and downs. For some reason we have had quite a few fellow dancers die.
JAW: Car wrecks. Motorcycle wrecks.
TC: Actually no drug overdoses though.
JAW: No, one guy overdosed, but they brought him back to life, twice. He did it twice.
What advice do you have for guys trying to break into male dancing?
JAW: When you first go to amateur night, do not try to do a move that you've never done before.
TC: That's rule number one. If you have never done a backflip in your life, don't try to do a backflip on stage. They land on their head every time. If you've never slid across the dance floor on your knees, don't do it. We see that all the time too. They will take off their pants and slide, skin to hardwood floor, all the way across the stage. You hear it screeching over the music.
JAW: Less is more when you are beginning. We've seen guys who couldn't dance a lick who get away with it because of stage presence. They are confident. They look the girls in the eyes. The girls love it and no one cares that those guys can't dance.
TC: The worst is the guy who can't dance, but who gets up there and tries to dance. If you look stupid on stage, women will be too embarrassed to tip you.
JAW: Mental is more than fifty percent of the game.
When do you know it is time to retire?
TC: When the crowd is not screaming as much, or when you are mentally burned out. We have a guy who works with us now who is pushing 60.
JAW: He looks horrible. He looks exactly like Fire Marshall Bill. He's got a decent body for a 60-year-old, but still.
TC: He can't do anything else. He has been dancing for over 30 years and he has no other skills. Now he is kind of the creepy guy at the club.
Take it Off: Confessions of a Male Stripper will soon be available through EllorasCave.com