Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Male Strippers and the Made for TV Movie

For Ladies Only

Network: NBC

Original Air Date: November 9th, 1981


Network: ABC

Original Air Date: November 9th, 1988

The 80s was the best decade ever. Coming right off the liberal 70s, the 80s was this weird mixture of Reganomics, pastel blazers, the Cold War and Cabbage Patch Kids. It’s the only decade where male stripping was taken seriously as well. What a strange phenomena, that male stripping. I mean, logically speaking it makes sense. Beefcake = awesomeness. But the craze died away, saved for a few “ironic” stripper acts like the Thunder from Down Under. I remember a time when you could buy Chippendale calendars at your local Spencer’s Gifts for crissakes! I was too young to fully appreciate the art form of the waxed chest or this movement that certain women described as liberating (nice excuse), but now I find I kind of long for it. But I’ve been longing for the 80s since, well, the 90s.

Male stripping got some attention in film, and in all places, on television. Funny how a medium that restricts too much skin would spawn two great films featuring hot, oiled up dudes in their skivvies, but it did. And I for one am grateful!

For Ladies Only came out in 1981 and featured a young and extremely handsome Gregory Harrison as an actor straight off the bus from Iowa, hoping to find fame in New York City. Down on his luck, he gets a job as a waiter at Club Max, a male strip club. But he is oh-so-popular and is finally convinced to take it all off for the salivating clientele. This leads him on series of sexy adventures with older woman, including Louise Lasser and Lee Grant, which finally culminates in a “dance off”- and I mean no sexual innuendo by that (btw, the MC wears roller skates. I could die!). The women yell “Take it off,” the men obey and all is well.

Wow, 1981 ruled!

Lady Killers came out in 1988 and featured another handsome actor, Thomas Calabro. Calabro takes a walk down the seedier side of stripping as an undercover cop posing as a male stripper (Brilliant! I could die again!). Someone has been slicing their way through the male dancers at the hot club Lady Killers. I mean, she kills them while they dance! And she wears a Tina Turner wig! And it’s all so amazing. Marilu Henner plays Calabro’s bitchy boss/girlfriend who hates the idea of her man putting himself on the line but secretly loves it, you dig?

I guess 1988 ruled too!


By the way, how weird is it that they both originally aired on November 9th? Coinkydink or is something more sinister at hand? 

For a genre that seldom gets a second life on home video, both made for TV films were released on vhs. For Ladies Only is a pretty good movie with a little bit of extra skin on the video release (most notably a partial look at Marc Singer’s rear… it’s nice). The release of Lady Killers is also just a teeny touch more saucy thanks to some boobage from Marilu Henner and helmet head Susan Blakely, who both have plenty to go around. You don’t see much, but they do ilicit slight OMG moments. Where For Ladies Only feels more like a theatrical film and is better written, Lady Killers is an absolute gas. Its high camp all the way and features some wonderful over the top performances and great dance numbers. Calabro is an amazing looking man but his dancing skills are a little on the knuckle dragging side. That’s where the talents of Harrison come in. Dude is a natural! He should have been a real life stripper. I mean, really

You can’t do wrong with either film. What nice time capsules from an era when made for television movies enjoyed having a bit of fun. I do miss those days…

Beefcake never ages


Craig Edwards said...

Weirdly, I have not seen either of these movies. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I remember Lady Killers. Susan Blakely was amazing...beautiful, seductive, erotic, and even stripped down herself in a magnificently shot scene, oozing sexuality as she wanted that undercover cop (and the boyfriend of Merilu Henner's character, who was listening on a wire the whole time). A little bit of coitus interruptus there.