Of All The Shows To See In Vegas… I Saw The Chippendales

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Never underestimate the power of the blogosphere.

One of the greatest aspects of being at Netroots Nation was connecting with the bloggers that have been my role models. I could look at my RSS feeds and look around the room and see the writers who generate the content I look to everyday.

In the case of meeting Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God, there was an unexpected perk!

Joe posted about the fact that we were in the same hotel as the Chippendales show. It turns out the show’s publicist, Randy Slovacek, is a fan of Joe’s blog (how could you not be?) and invited him (and those of us lucky enough to be standing in earshot when he got the news) to come to the show.

Now, before I say anything else about the show, I’ll say this. Its primary audience is the ladies, and they eat it up! In fact, their drunken bachelorette/birthday antics are as much a part of the entertainment as the men themselves. But—and Randy was insistent about this point—the show is extremely welcoming of gay men. I can testify that this is the case.

Randy had our little #lgbtnn10 contingent set up towards the back, in what was apparently the Olivia Newton-John booth. We thought this was for the best, as we didn’t want to get in the way of the ladies in the audience having a good time. (This may have also been in the best interest of our physical safety.) I would encourage this tactic for other gay men who choose to attend, but trust me, you’ll still enjoy the show.

I laughed pretty much the whole time. My face hurt by the end. It was an incredibly entertaining evening.

Now, I don’t know what you all know about Chippendales. Maybe you think they’re just strippers. Maybe you think they’re just models. Your only frame of reference might be the classic Chris Farley SNL skit. That’s about all I knew going in (aside from what I’d seen plastered all over the hotel).

I knew nothing.

Yes, their bodies are amazing—almost unreal. But these men have talent! Bryan Chan, for example, does some excellent live singing and also emcees the show. Others join in with live guitar or rapping. (I have to say, I found the men even hotter when they exhibited their musical talent, but as a musician myself, I suppose I’m a bit biased in that regard.) Of course, the choreography defines the show, and these men can move. There were also two extra dancers (who I guess are not official Chippendales, persay) that added some extra impressive dance talent to the show.

There were skits. There was audience participation. There were special effects and set changes. It truly was a theatrical experience! Randy and I chatted afterward for a bit about the creative vision behind the show, and there really is a lot of thought put into it. You might have one scene that gets hot and heavy, the next might be of a classier variety, and the next more light with some audience participation. The ebb and flow keeps the show engaging and interesting, without ever skimping on the hottness.

I also sort of noticed that the show has a lot of similarities to drag. Obviously the appeal of Chippendales is slightly different than drag’s “intrigue of transvesticism” (as Tim Minchin calls it). But consider: they both have lip-syncing and choreography; they both depend on physical spectacle; and they both can be extremely cheesy (or campy, as in the case of drag). They’re sort of two ends of the same stick—men portraying the extremes of men and women. I don’t think this observation detracts from either kind of show, but is definitely interesting to consider. (I actually saw a great drag show later that night; if you’re ever in Vegas, go see the fabulous Shawn M at Free Zone. She does an amazing Sarah Palin and Madonna, and she’s a delight to chat with as well!)

One last thing I have to say about Chippendales is that the guys were actually quite nice. A few of them even came out and greeted us with handshakes and bro-hugs. Can you say you’ve been hugged by a Chippendale? I can.

Now, Randy informed us that the entire cast is currently straight. Word on the street is that this may not be the case, but I will not delve into Vegas gossip here at ZFb. Ultimately, I don’t think it matters. I find the strippers in gay bars to be way too sexual and “dirty” anyway. Contrastingly, the Chippendales men look great, they’re clearly having a good time, and it’s a classy and entertaining show for everybody.

I have to really thank Randy for inviting us to the show and treating us so well, including drinks and gift bags. It was quite a generous gesture, and I was under no obligation to praise the show as I have—the show earned it. If you go to Vegas, make sure you head over to the Rio and see the Chippendales. GAY MEN ARE WELCOME!!

I also want to thank Joe for writing an awesome blog and for being a great new friend. Our night at Chippendales will be a memory I won’t soon forget.

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