Friday, January 05, 2007

Those Boring Male Strippers

No, seriously--keep reading, even if you're a man.

(BTW, I've found one thing I actually like about Beta Blogger--the "New Post" button in the upper right-hand corner. It's nice not to have to go to my dashboard every time I want to do a new post. So, surprise surprise, there's one un-sucky thing about Beta Blogger.)

I planned to do a very different post today, but I realized that might step on a post I have planned for next month. So you get this instead, and you'll hear my thoughts on male archetypes of the 70's next month. Seriously. It'll be a lot of fun, too. I'm excited about it.

No, today I'm going to tell you why I have an aversion to male strippers. And trust me, it relates to writing too.

I've seen male strippers a few times. I went to a male strip club about, oh gosh, ten years ago now, for the first time. A friend of a friend was dating one of the guys and we all tagged along.

It was...okay. It wasn't quite as sleazy as I thought it might be, but it was pretty sleazy, and I have to admit, seeing Stripper's Girlfriend giggle and say "I wish he wouldn't look at me while he does that, it gets me too turned on" or whatever the exact phrase was, while Stripper humped the air and made his banana-hammock bounce in what I frankly thought was a revolting way, made me wonder what was wrong with me. Maybe there still is something, because I'm not really a fan of the Bouncing Peenie.

This feeling was confirmed when I went with a friend of my brother's to the "male dancing" half of a strip club on my brother's bachelor night. And was confirmed for the final time when my best friend Cori and I went to what was otherwise a pretty good ladies' night at a Ft. Lauderdale bar. (Actually, it was kind of a genius LN--$1 Cosmos, Sex and the City on the big-screen, and drinks served by male strippers. Pretty cool. Except the music was too loud, which defeated the purpose of having SATC on the TVs. Anyway.)

Every hour or so, one of the "waiters" would do his strip show. And here's my point, hidden though it may be:

Watching male strippers actually strip is pretty hot. Watching them hump the bar in a g-string? Isn't.

My favorite part of the male strip show was that first time, and always has been, watching them actually disrobe. At that first club there was a guy in a full Navy uniform. It was An Officer and a Gentleman right there in the club...until he tore it all off--even the hat, the moron--within about thirty seconds and proceeded to be Bouncing Peenie Man.

Why, oh why?

Why bother wearing this great costume--the Navy uniform, the police or mechanic uniform, the tuxedo (that was nice), if you're going to lose it all before the first chorus of whatever song you're using and just be Mr. Generic with your dangly bits flying around?

It's the unearthing part that's sexy. The rest isn't sexy. It's just graphic. It's the difference between a sex scene in Body Heat and a sex scene in Not Without my Dildo.

(I realize I write very explicit things, so this may seem a bit incongruous coming from me. But I don't think it is, and here's why. Because I try my best to allow my reader to form at least some kind of connection with the characters before the sex starts. Because although I use words like cock and cunt, I also try to focus on emotions. I try not to make it mechanical. In other words, I try to keep the male dancers' clothes on long enough for you to enjoy seeing them dance shirtless with their pants on for a while [am I the only one who thinks a guy in just pants is hot?]before you get to the good stuff.)

But that isn't even the point. It's not about my sex scenes, or any sex scenes. It's about character. It's about show, don't tell (really!)

You can rip that stripper's pants off in the first ten minutes by introducing a character like so:
Mollie was thirty-three and wore a long black dress covered with lace. Her hair was light brown and curly. She always wished she had straight hair. Her eyes were blue. She was an accountant and she liked numbers. She was lonely. She hadn't wanted to go to this party but she thought maybe she could meet somebody, a boyfriend even, so she let her friends talk her into going. Mollie wanted to get married soon and her friends said...blah blah blah...

Or you could keep things hidden, like so:

Mollie adjusted the skirt of her black lace dress and tried to look like she belonged here. When did people attending parties get so much younger? And when had she started thinking longingly of her empty bed, instead of wishing someone was in it with her?
Probably around the time she realized Tammy had lied, and her chances of meeting an eligible man here were about as good as her chances of falling down a well into another dimension. Sp, pretty much zero chance.

Now, neither of those are great examples, but you get the idea.

This works for plots, too. Let the reader guess things, let them wonder. Let them be intrigued by the little mysteries you've created around your characters as they get to know them.

Don't put it all upfront.

Don't turn your characters into Bouncing Peenies. Keep the stripper's pants on for a while.


Anonymous said...

Excellent piece, December. Even though I was about to bail before I got to the part where it relates to writing (I've never been to a strip club, male or female, and never plan to -just not my bag). I think you are right about how a writer can basically ruin a story by spelling everthing out like the reader doesn't have any brains. Sometimes I think writers just forget we readers want to hang out over the cliff for awhile before they toss us a rope.

Nice to know I'm not the only person that uses "un-sucky".

Robyn said...

I have such a crush on you. (In a non-Ellen/Portia way, of course.)

I love it when there's a little mystery. A covert look instead of an open leer, a soft touch instead of a forceful grip. Let me use my imagination a little.

I went to a male strip club for my 21st birthday, and I hated it. The guys were okay, but the female spectators were pathetic. They were standing near the stage with dollar bills clutched in their hands, crying for these men to pay attention to them. I mean in the 'stand in the rain and look pitiful while I sob beneath my ex-boyfriend's window' way. And there was this one older woman who was so huge she had to have a semi-circle booth to herself. She had a cane inbetween her legs, thankfully concealed by the table, and she would pump it up and down when a stripper made a move she liked.

God. I'm 42 now and that still makes me want to take a shower.

BernardL said...

Good point, there is a world of difference in your two writing examples in the hook and interest department.

December Quinn said...

Thanks, JTC...I do wonder if this post isnt a little long. The next one wll be shorter to make up for it.

Yep, the temptation to share all the fun stuff we know about our characters is awfully hard to resist!

I love "un-sucky"!

kis said...

Oh, Robyn, if you think that was bad, you ought to try going to see male strippers at a gay club. A transexual friend of mine once dragged me to boy's night at one of the wilder places in town. There was only one stripper, and for his sake, I really, really hope he was gay too. It was a freaking mob scene. That poor guy didn't get to remove a single item of his own clothes, and I hope he didn't pay much for his costume, considering what was left of it.

Needless to say, I won't be doing THAT again.

As for body parts, I totally agree with December. There's nothing inherently attractive about a penis. I remember my adult stepson once asked me why I hated oak as a wood for furniture. I told him that tiger maple and walnut were like female parts. They are pretty. They are subtle. They have nuance. They have hidden depths. Oak is like a penis. There is no subtlety, no mysterious layers. Every part of it is just, well, OUT there. Exposed. Vulgar--not in the sense of obscenity, but in the sense of indelicacy.

As far as men go, there's nothing sexier than a crisp white shirt in the process of being removed from a well-defined torso. If a stripper just did that over and over, it'd be good enough for me. And as far as I'm concerned, no man looks good in tight underpants. I've always thought it made them look, well, girlie.

December Quinn said...

Mwah, Robyn. Crushes make me feel all warm inside (in a non Ellen/Portia way too! Great phrase!)

Eeeeew. The image of the big woman with the leaping cane is just...*shudder*. Makes me want to shower too. I bet she went there like every week.

Thanks Bernardl! I hoped the whole thing made sense!

December Quinn said...

As far as men go, there's nothing sexier than a crisp white shirt in the process of being removed from a well-defined torso.

Oh, kis, I couldn't agree more. That's just lovely. In my just finished book, I have the hero leave his shirt open like that for several minutes (after ripping it open, btw) before the heroine finally takes it off. Just because the image was so mmmm.

Never thought of oak as unsubtle, but then I've never actually liked it much myself.

And I will remember never to go to a gay strip bar. :-)

littlebirdblue said...

"[am I the only one who thinks a guy in just pants is hot?]"

just pants = can be pretty hot

just socks = not so much on the hot

My hotometer vote is in.

Lola said...

'Don't turn your characters into bouncing peenies' could well be the best advice I've heard this year. I know, it's early days, but I'm not that easily impressed. I think this little gem is going to stick not bounce.

Lola x

December Quinn said...

Ugh! Lol you're right, just socks is NOT hot!

I especially like it when the pants are belted.

December Quinn said...

Well thank you, Lola! *blush*

And welcome! Thanks for commenting.

Bernita said...

Excellent post, December.
Packages should be unwrapped slowly.

December Quinn said...

Heh heh heh. She said "packages".

Did you mean the entendre?

Either way, yes. Leave a little mystery and people want to see more. Solve the mystery and it's just a body going through the motions.

Ann(ie) said...

Strippers don't seem very sexy to me, but otherwise, I don't seem to have much in the way of inhibitions or turn offs. I was reading an old entry on Karen Scott's blog, where she says she doesn't like sex scenes where there's kissing after oral sex, oral on the woman after male ejaculation. Heck, she doesn't even like morning after kissing.

This led to a discussion of "antiseptic sex" versus being a dirty whore who likes everything and I fall closer to the latter than the former. That doesn't include the butt seks, though. For me, that really be exit only. Arr.

Isabella Snow said...

Erm.. wassup with comment moderation??

Strippers - you may recall my post on this a month or so ago.. I'm not fan of them. Eeeeeeeeek!

December Quinn said...

Annie, I don't write kissing after oral squicks me out. I write all kinds of other stuff, even the butt sex...but not that.

I expect to turn off the comment mod in the next few days, Isabella. I do remember the post, yes...for some reason I thought it was longer was a good post though!

Bernita said...

Of course, December!

December Quinn said...

Funny how you can actually play with and manipulate language, isn't it? It doesn't have to remain static? :-)

kis said...


I'm with you, I got no problem with most stuff. Maybe I was a biker in a past life or something, because I'm good with everything Karen Scott hates with the possible exception of morning-breath kisses. Even the buttsecks (the idea, not the actual doing) is a turn-on.

But that's the beauty of sex in fiction--there's no unpleasant odors, accidental flatulence, halitosis. The man never burps in his true love's face. Every ear is wax-free, there is nary a bit of lint in that navel, and the woman never, ever gets a hair in her mouth and starts to gag. Even anal sex can be so clean it's virtually sterile.

Honestly, haven't any of you guys ever read something that turned you on, and said to yourself, I'd never do that in real life because in real life, it would probably be gross? Not the really gross stuff, but, yanno, things that might be a little iffy for your personal repertoire?

December Quinn said...

Kis, with the exception of the kissing after oral (which I realized last night that I do in fact write--I just never noticed it), I agree. Most things in books I wouldn't do but they're awfully hot to read about/write about. I certainly don't do half the things I write about!

So yeah, I do that all the time--think it's really hot but that I'd never do it.