I wouldn’t have picked this book off a bookshelf. I don’t go in for biographies and these ‘famous/unlikely people’s life stories’ format hasn’t appealed to me so far. But the title hooked me when I saw it on NetGalley so I gave it a second glance. The authors are clearly not writers or even used to speaking a lot. The narrative meanders, doubles back and repeats itself in several places. But there is something appealing about the no-frills basic approach. At 78 pages, it’s a quick and easy read too.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of being a tell-all about the dirty, dark secrets of the borderline sex industry, ‘Take it off’ was light, even happy and funny in places. The two male strippers Taylor Cole & Justin Whitfield clearly love what they’re doing and approach it with all the professionalism you’d expect in any other job.
A single-minded focus is advocated and illustrated with examples, on how a male stripper should live. The key points appear to be learn the art of performing, be disciplined about health & nutrition, plan your finances well and retire from the business before you fade out. There has to be a social labyrinth to navigate, when it comes to relationships, marriage and family. The book had several references to male & female strippers dating each other but talked a lot more about the client/stripper relationship. The latter delves into what is undeniably prostitution in some cases but these get somewhat glossed over in the book. The only other reference to families is a short paragraph on what male strippers think about their sons getting into the business.
There are plenty of sex tales but all told with only the slightest bit of showing off, which you are inclined to forgive because, as they point out, it is an environment fraught with amped-up testosterone. The matter-of-fact listing of the various types of people you encounter (audience types, stripper types) is actually quite funny. I got the impression I was listening to a not-too-bright giant talking about the different creatures he lived it.
An interesting insight about the difference between male and female audiences:
“I went to a men’s club with my wife last week. We made an agreement that if she went with me, I would go with her to a ladies’ club. We got to the men’s club first, and we sat down. I watched beautiful woman after beautiful woman walk onstage with barely anything on and just strut her stuff. Every guy in the house was excited and fantasized about them. Then we went to a ladies’ club, and my wife went crazy every time a dancer walked onto the stage. These guys were fully dressed! Cop, doctor, fireman, Marine, the list just goes on and on! I realized in that moment that a man’s fantasy is to be with a beautiful naked woman and a woman’s fantasy is to be with a man who has a good job!”
Don’t look for an in-depth analysis or too much shock value in this book. Just like the act that it is about – male stripping – ‘Take it Off’ serves well as light entertainment.