Without lowering the tone of the interview straight away, the Star Observer couldn’t resist asking the Stage Door Johnnies, a three-man burlesque/striptease act from the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, if they were looking forward to their impending trip ‘down under’.
“Absolutely! Ever since we found out that we were heading to Australia, everything else has just been a countdown to getting there. Now that we’re just weeks away, it’s all we can think about,” the Johnnies told us via email, politely ignoring our attempts at sub-Are You Being Served double entendre.
The trio arrive in Australia in October amidst a wave of interest in male stripping, thanks to the huge success of the recent Hollywood blockbuster Magic Mike. Just don’t mention that film to the Johnnies.
“We haven’t seen Magic Mike, largely for the same reason we haven’t seen Cher’s movie Burlesque: they both depict a scene or art that we don’t really identify with. There is the hope, though, that it at least generates some mainstream interest and helps make male stripping a little less ‘taboo’.”
These boys are cut from the same glittery cloth as Showgirl’s Nomi Malone, you see: they’re not strippers, they’re dancers. The show they’re bringing to Australia is billed as burlesque with ‘so much more’.
“This show has a lot going on. We’ve built in live singing, comedy and we’re really working at telling a story of sorts with our cast and building a relationship with the audience. We’ve taken inspiration from classic vaudeville shows and reimagined them for hip, contemporary crowds,” they said.
It’s not a total sausage-fest, either – the Johnnies will be joined on stage by hostess Nadine Dubois and the Schlep Sisters (Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda). But despite the fact the Stage Door Johnnies have graced the stage with heavyweights like Alan Cumming and Liza Minnelli in recent times, they say their particular brand of flesh-filled fun is still somewhat estranged from the rest of the theatre industry.
“There is definitely a stigma that male nudity faces onstage. Male striptease is often thought of as dirty, but we’re trying to show that it can be classy, artistic, and imaginative. The biggest stigma though is that a straight guy can’t be entertained by another guy onstage without questioning his manhood. But as our host Nadine Dubois says, ‘Just because you enjoy it, it doesn’t mean you’re gay. It just means you have good taste!’”
Anticipating a barrage of emails from readers demanding answers, we couldn’t leave the Johnnies without asking: do they go the full monty?
“We can’t give that away, we’ll spoil the show! We’ll just say there are a lot of surprises and punchlines – and all within the law…. well, mostly.”
INFO: Stage Door Johnnies tour Australia, October 5-November 2. Tour dates at www.jacbowie.com