"You go to see any kind of play, the most reaction that you get is a standing ovation," says Gary Goldman, casually flicking his cigarette ash and gesticulating in his leather pants. "We get women on the tips of their toes, waving their arms, screaming, 'More!' That's what I think everyone is so impressed by."
Goldman is the director of Chippendales' popular traveling troupe of male strippers—they're soon off to Romania—which descended on Muckleshoot Casino last week amongst a carnivorous flurry of plus-sizes and failed perms. The show didn't start until 7:30 p.m. Tables in the Galaxy Club were filled by four. Off-duty Auburn policemen had to be hired to help control the chaos. Things like this don't happen when catering to the supposedly more intense sexuality of drunken males.
"We had Hawaiian Tropics [for a T and A sun lotion promo]—we didn't have half as many guys," says Paul, a casino security employee who spent the night shuttling bundles of cash to and from the bustling bar. "I've dropped a grand in just about the last hour."
After emceeing this bow-tie-and-buns extravaganza for 15 years, Goldman is apprised of women's rabid devotion to titillation. But it took Chippendales as Michael Bolton's opening act for the knowledge to really sink in. "[Bolton] comes on, and all you hear is, 'Bring the dancers back!' That told me something," Goldman remembers.
"We do it with taste," says Michael Rapp, who used to dance with the troupe back in its early L.A. beginnings and is now the assistant manager and emcee. "I've had priests from [my Catholic school] come to see. And nuns. On Mother's Day we have three generations of women."
All three generations were in attendance Wednesday night, and while "taste" may be pushing it—it's basically a night of mobile beefcake dropping trou and teasingly concealing God's generous gifts—you can't pretend it doesn't work.
"All you gotta do is stand out there and go like this," Goldman says, spreading his arms wide in triumph. "And women go ballistic. How can you achieve that in any other medium? Except being a rock star. We get the same reaction Jon Bon Jovi does."
Not everyone is quite as freely responsive. When asked if she came to the casino specifically for the fleshy distraction, a white-haired woman in her 60s grumbled back a distracted, "No." She then returned to the tense business of finding a perfect view.