Hollywood is full of celebrities who got their start by taking their clothes off. But in a perverse twist, a growing number of male celebrities are finding that stripping may be a solid way to resuscitate a career as well.
The former teen heartthrob Joey Lawrence recently announced that he will host the Chippendales show in Las Vegas — an all-male revue of muscle-bound men famous for wearing black bow ties and little else. Other celebrity hosts have included Jeff Timmons, formerly of 98 Degrees; Ronnie Ortiz-Magro of Jersey Shore; and Jake Pavelka, the steel-jawed pilot who starred in The Bachelor.
The roster is hardly A-list, but male stripping does seem to be having a moment. Steven Soderbergh’s coming film about male strippers, Magic Mike, has Hollywood buzzing about celebrity beefcake.
Or, as the Huffington Post called it in an article about male celebrities like Javier Bardem who have tried stripping, perhaps this is “the age of the male stripper.”
Before he agreed to host the Chippendales show, Lawrence was an actor in the 1990s sitcom Blossom and an R&B singer who scored several pop hits. But since then, his fame slid a well-worn path of many a former teen idol.
Media reactions to his new gig have been predictably snarky. “Joey Lawrence will do ANYTHING for a dollar,” the gossip blogger Perez Hilton wrote.
But the laughter seems to be fading. Once confined to rowdy bachelorette parties, male stripping is moving closer to the mainstream. When Chippendales scouted for its first celebrity host early last year, many stars were hesitant, said Kristen Makhathini, the general manager at Chippendales.
Lawrence did not respond to requests, sent through a publicist, for comment. But Makhathini described him as a “triple threat” because he can act, sing and dance. His Chippendales act will last three weeks, starting June 7.
As a career move, performing with the Chippendales is safer than it used to be. The group has toned down the raunchiness since its sleazier beginnings in 1979. Its Las Vegas show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is lap-dance free.
Still, not everyone is clamoring to strip onstage. Last year, Chippendales invited Kris Humphries, the Brooklyn Nets forward, to host after news of his divorce from Kim Kardashian. Humphries has not responded.
Earlier this month, the group courted Channing Tatum, who stars with Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike, due in theaters next month. Tatum, who helped write the film, was a stripper before he became famous; he has not said yet whether he will rejoin his former trade.