No, seriously–keep reading, even if you’re a man.
(BTW, I’ve found one thing I actually like about Beta Blogger–the “New Post” button in the upper right-hand corner. It’s nice not to have to go to my dashboard every time I want to do a new post. So, surprise surprise, there’s one un-sucky thing about Beta Blogger.)
I planned to do a very different post today, but I realized that might step on a post I have planned for next month. So you get this instead, and you’ll hear my thoughts on male archetypes of the 70’s next month. Seriously. It’ll be a lot of fun, too. I’m excited about it.
No, today I’m going to tell you why I have an aversion to male strippers. And trust me, it relates to writing too.
I’ve seen male strippers a few times. I went to a male strip club about, oh gosh, ten years ago now, for the first time. A friend of a friend was dating one of the guys and we all tagged along.
It was…okay. It wasn’t quite as sleazy as I thought it might be, but it was pretty sleazy, and I have to admit, seeing Stripper’s Girlfriend giggle and say “I wish he wouldn’t look at me while he does that, it gets me too turned on” or whatever the exact phrase was, while Stripper humped the air and made his banana-hammock bounce in what I frankly thought was a revolting way, made me wonder what was wrong with me. Maybe there still is something, because I’m not really a fan of the Bouncing Peenie.
This feeling was confirmed when I went with a friend of my brother’s to the “male dancing” half of a strip club on my brother’s bachelor night. And was confirmed for the final time when my best friend Cori and I went to what was otherwise a pretty good ladies’ night at a Ft. Lauderdale bar. (Actually, it was kind of a genius LN–$1 Cosmos, Sex and the City on the big-screen, and drinks served by male strippers. Pretty cool. Except the music was too loud, which defeated the purpose of having SATC on the TVs. Anyway.)
Every hour or so, one of the “waiters” would do his strip show. And here’s my point, hidden though it may be:
Watching male strippers actually strip is pretty hot. Watching them hump the bar in a g-string? Isn’t.
My favorite part of the male strip show was that first time, and always has been, watching them actually disrobe. At that first club there was a guy in a full Navy uniform. It was An Officer and a Gentleman right there in the club…until he tore it all off–even the hat, the moron–within about thirty seconds and proceeded to be Bouncing Peenie Man.
Why, oh why?
Why bother wearing this great costume–the Navy uniform, the police or mechanic uniform, the tuxedo (that was nice), if you’re going to lose it all before the first chorus of whatever song you’re using and just be Mr. Generic with your dangly bits flying around?
It’s the unearthing part that’s sexy. The rest isn’t sexy. It’s just graphic. It’s the difference between a sex scene in Body Heat and a sex scene in Not Without my Dildo.
(I realize I write very explicit things, so this may seem a bit incongruous coming from me. But I don’t think it is, and here’s why. Because I try my best to allow my reader to form at least some kind of connection with the characters before the sex starts. Because although I use words like cock and cunt, I also try to focus on emotions. I try not to make it mechanical. In other words, I try to keep the male dancers’ clothes on long enough for you to enjoy seeing them dance shirtless with their pants on for a while [am I the only one who thinks a guy in just pants is hot?]before you get to the good stuff.)
But that isn’t even the point. It’s not about my sex scenes, or any sex scenes. It’s about character. It’s about show, don’t tell (really!)
You can rip that stripper’s pants off in the first ten minutes by introducing a character like so:
Mollie was thirty-three and wore a long black dress covered with lace. Her hair was light brown and curly. She always wished she had straight hair. Her eyes were blue. She was an accountant and she liked numbers. She was lonely. She hadn’t wanted to go to this party but she thought maybe she could meet somebody, a boyfriend even, so she let her friends talk her into going. Mollie wanted to get married soon and her friends said…blah blah blah…
Or you could keep things hidden, like so:
Mollie adjusted the skirt of her black lace dress and tried to look like she belonged here. When did people attending parties get so much younger? And when had she started thinking longingly of her empty bed, instead of wishing someone was in it with her?
Probably around the time she realized Tammy had lied, and her chances of meeting an eligible man here were about as good as her chances of falling down a well into another dimension. Sp, pretty much zero chance.
Now, neither of those are great examples, but you get the idea.
This works for plots, too. Let the reader guess things, let them wonder. Let them be intrigued by the little mysteries you’ve created around your characters as they get to know them.
Don’t put it all upfront.
Don’t turn your characters into Bouncing Peenies. Keep the stripper’s pants on for a while.