Last summer's Magic Mike might have made the ladies scream, but there's much more to the life of a male stripper than what was projected on the big screen.
That's where Texas-based exotic dancers Justin Whitfield and Taylor Cole come in. The pair met 16 years ago at the gym, and have worked together as strippers at Houston strip club La Bare — and as cover models for erotic romance publisher Ellora's Cave — in the intervening years.
"Men all think alike. With the wrong head first. We can't help it. It's how we're made."
When Steven Soderbergh's male stripper movie became a hit, Whitfield and Cole decided to capitalize on the opportunity and supplement the story with a book, Take It Off! The Naked Truth About Male Strippers, which was released in October.
"Men all think alike. With the wrong head first. We can't help it. It's how we're made," starts the book, which touches on the tricks and the how-tos, the rise and the fall, the fact and the fiction of life as a male stripper.
"The book is part autobiographical, part instructional, and sort of like if we were sitting around a campfire and sharing stories," Whitfield tells CultureMap.
Whitfield had received his bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Texas at Dallas before realizing that he couldn't see himself working in a bank.
He started bartending and bodybuilding instead — and exotic dancing became like a natural extension of that lifestyle. (Whitfield retired — for the most part anyway — at 31 and opened a sports bar in the outskirts of Houston.)
Cole, meanwhile, grew up knowing that he wanted to dance professionally. "I saw it on a commercial and thought, 'Man, I'd like to do that,' " he says. He won an amateur night contest at 16 years old, and was hired on once he was legal. In his spare time, Cole runs a Dallas-based construction company.
"Basically, we're just everyday, normal guys with a fun job at night," Cole laughs.