Sting of the g-string
What turns women on? Hard bodies? Romance? A steady paycheck?
Like a well-meaning but inexperienced boyfriend, the Chippendales at Harrah’s Reno try to push all the standard buttons in hopes that one will be magic. The show includes some fancy dancing, involved storytelling and glimmers of unapologetic raunchiness.
The Chippies run the gamut of heterosexual female tastes (assuming that all women like white or Hispanic beefcakes with waxed chests). The men dress as stockbrokers, construction workers, cowboys and doctors—only to reveal the ubiquitous black G-string and firm body underneath. All told, the Chippendales are only a cop and an Indian short of the Village People.
I’ve always been amused by male strippers’ emphasis on work clothes. Of course, there is nothing inherently sexy about unemployed men who spend their days in front of an Xbox in their boxer shorts. Chippendales aims to present fantasy relationship material. I find this all a bit silly, since 1) we all know these guys are gainfully employed; they have dollar bills hanging out of their underwear, 2) no corporate executive has muscles like that, and 3) the show is 90 minutes long—who’s looking for a relationship?
The show explores elusive female tastes in a number in which an audience member is brought onstage and wooed by three competing men. One is a Marlboro-smoking, manual-laboring tough guy, the second a wealthy, romantic corporate climber, and the third a shy, bespectacled intellectual. Guess who won?
At Chippendales, watching the audience is half the fun. There are a few interactive numbers in which women are manhandled onstage, some looking terrified and others lecherous. The show also includes interludes where the men wander the audience in their underwear and collect dollar bills in exchange for a few seconds of intimacy. We often think of men as the purveyors of unwanted advances, but I was stunned to see ordinary-looking soccer mom types copping illegal feels.
In the name of journalistic research, I shared my last $3 with a trio of wandering dancers. The quick flirtations were entertaining, but too harried to be sensual. As someone who has always attracted sedentary, intellectual types, I was intrigued by the dancers’ surreal physiques. However, some things look better from a distance—one very handsome man put my hand on his chest, introducing me to the rather unsavory feel of chest stubble.
Chippendales is not all gyrating and groping. The show includes choreographed dance numbers that highlight the men’s talents, ranging from ‘NSYNC-style moves to the outright bizarre. One number starts with salsa music and incorporates nunchucks halfway through. I chose to view the Latin ninjas as a triumph of creativity and edginess. A number set to a sped-up version of Kid Rock’s “Cowboy” was fun, particularly because it sounded like Kid had inhaled helium. This may have been a glitch, but I viewed it as a commentary on the complex and fluid definitions of masculinity in modern culture.
If you bring the right attitude, Chippendales can be loads of fun. Don’t expect high art or romance, but as a campy and raunchy girls’ night out, it doesn’t disappoint.