Male strippers have become a hit in Harare, especially at hen parties.
A hen party is a social gathering of women, usually held to send off a bride-to-be. Some call them bridal showers, where festivities are held shortly before a woman weds to celebrate the final “free moments” of her life.
However, male strippers are no longer just being used to send off a bride — well-heeled women now simply gather, even just a few of them, and hire a man or two to dance and strip for them. Unlike female strippers, who can be anything from pot-bellied to being a “proud plus size” woman — when it comes to male strippers, the rules are strict.
One has to have a “chiselled body”. In short, they need to be a body builder or fitness enthusiast looking like they just walked straight out of a Hollywood movie.
Ever wondered what most of these jobless guys who spend most their time at the gym do for a living? How they afford to pay their gym fees, maintain strict healthy diets and even frequent upmarket restaurants and clubs?
Speculate no more. There is an underground network of these young men that charges between US$120 to US$500 to entertain groups of women, especially in the affluent parts of the city.
Having heard stories of one celebrity guy who survives this way, The Sunday Mail Leisure went undercover to find out if this industry really exists.
The network is impenetrable unless one is invited or referred by a known client, stripper or middleman.
With this reporter pushing a “thank you Harare” pot-belly and thus not wanted anywhere near a hen party, we sought the services of our in-house fitness enthusiast, Andrew Moyo, who is one of this publication’s reporters, so that he could pose as one of the dancer’s ‘manager’.
His gig with our informant, a bouncer at a local upmarket club, hit a brick wall when the client demanded a taller and bigger person.
However, the bouncer agreed to tell us what goes on in this seemingly lucrative but secretive business on condition of anonymity.
“The dancing itself lasts no more than an hour. In fact, it should be just 30 minutes — that is what our (verbal) contract says,” began the bouncer’s narration.
“If the client wants more they have to pay extra. As long as they are paying money we can do anything. That is why it is a two or three-man job. We do this so that while one of us dances, the other one monitors to see that no recordings and other shenanigans are taking place.
“The dancer usually wears a mask to avoid giving identities away. Some women, though, can pay so that you remove the disguises. If we are satisfied that no one there knows us or is a close relation or friend, we take off the masks but if we are not sure we refuse,” he explained.
The bouncer-cum-stripper also explained that the job is mostly about teaching the bride-to-be what men want in bed.
“The deal is showing the lady set to wed how to handle her man in bed. We do this through demonstrations on her or a selected lady. Some may even demand an actual ‘act’, either right there in front of the crowd or in a separate room but they pay more money.
“The weird thing is that sometimes these ladies’ husbands will be outside while all this is happening. But measures are put in place to ensure they do not get in.” The bouncer said while the business started years ago as strictly for entertainment at bachelorettes, this has evolved and male dancers or strippers can now be hired by a group of ladies or even one lady, just for “some fun”.
Quizzed if this was not prostitution, the bouncer said, “The money is good so these are some of the dangers, you end up doing anything. However, my partner or manager always has to be there no matter what, in case something arises plus you need a witness. We share the money 50/50.
“In the last two to three years, things have become extreme and caution has been thrown to the wind. Nowadays we can strip for people that just approach us without being referred by anyone. There is now competition and the guys are advertising themselves underground.
“In the past women would come individually to ask for our contacts but these days we just give out the numbers we use for bookings because we are looking for work.”
The bouncer revealed that this past festive season had been particularly good for the business as they would sometimes do up to three shows a day, especially during weekends.
He also divulged some of the rules of the business.
“When we get to a gig, we do not eat, we do not drink. Some of our colleagues have been drugged before, so we guard against these things. We carry our own water when going for these jobs and we do not accept anything else from our clients except money.
“You also need to have a few special underwear for such jobs and always be clean shaven and smelling good. You find that many bouncers, while they need the money, they lack the discipline and so they can’t do the job,” he said with a chuckle.
He said the downside is that the job is like a drug deal.
“You do not ask or permit the other party to ask too many questions, otherwise the deal collapses. You cannot risk your wife, girlfriend or family finding out. For instance, I have kids that are now in secondary school, it would be disastrous if it ever came out that I do this.”
Could this weird trend spill into actual strip clubs?
“No. Not yet. Nightclubs are mostly frequented by men and the male strippers prefer dancing for women only, it could be a while. But remember ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’, where there is money anything can happen.”-SM