Manarchy isn’t a typical strip show—it’s a celebration of unapologetic, shameless queer sexuality and deconstruction of cisnormative gender expression. Performers are all masculine identified, but they represent a broad spectrum of masculinities, including queer, trans, and nonbinary dancers showcasing a variety of different talents. “We have B-boys, aerialists, pole artists, clowns, musical theater actors, fire performers, belly dancers, contortionists, straight men who gladly put on sparkly heels and makeup. It's really just a little bit of everything,” Ringofire said. Most notably, the show centers masculine bodies—all in various states of undress—that audiences wouldn’t generally see during a conventional male revue. “Manarchy is different and we want to keep it that way,” Thompson said. “It’s a show you can’t get anywhere else.”Sofia Barret-Obarria
When we think about male strippers we think about the muscle-bound, super-buff, shaved, oiled up guy who gets down to his g-string for money that Magic Mike brought to the forefront in recent years. Want a confession? Male strippers do nothing for me. Zilch. Nada. The three times I've been to a bar and they've had strippers, I've been left cold. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the beautiful body and the effort some of them put into trying to dance, but overall, I'm left wanting... more?
I don't mind the contrived situation in which a nude or semi-nude man is the center of attention of dozens of fully dressed men (and/or women). I think it's part of the shock value and voyeuristic appeal of strip clubs, this unbalance of power and gaze: we (dressed) watch another man (undressing) who suggests sex in a setting where sex is really not allowed. Perfect, right? That's what drives countless straight men to strip clubs, where they objectify beautiful women who gyrate just beyond their reach. And if they're lucky (or have a thick wallet) they get to go to the Champagne Room and get a lap dance. Or maybe something more.
But those transactions are not all that transparent in a queer/gay environment where strippers are usually cisgender straight men who undress for other men for money and most times make sure they have a female waiting for them at the venue to make sure they're 'safe'. It's a claim to masculinity that seems old-fashioned and outmoded. Just like the body type they seem to favor: all beef, no substance.
But that's how we need them, right? Buff, hung, dumb. Is that what we want in our strippers? I'm not sold on the perfect body that gay media insists on imposing on us: a six pack, gym-trained body, low body fat count, no brain cells. Just a sex object to gawk at and nothing more. Because many of these men cannot even dance well. They just gyrate a little and try to bump and grind a lot. Sometimes not even in sync with the music that's playing.
But I think that should change, somehow. I would like something in the style that Manarchy is introducing. I think I would like strippers more if there were actual talents displayed besides some appetizing tumescence: real moves, actual effort put in a choreography used to get the man's clothes off. And some variety: some hair, some chunk, some flair, some gump. Something that would make these men human and therefore worthy of my fantasy. I want to look at a man who's getting naked and whom I could probably like to fuck, not some perfect mannequin who does me better on the pages of a magazine I can revisit over and over. So yeah, I want real men getting real naked. I don't want a Bob Mizer clone who cannot dance and who makes sure he's going to have time to hide behind some female's skirts to make sure no yucky gay touches his goodies.
I want to watch a man undress whose masculinity is not threatened by a touch or a move. A man who can take his clothes off to a four to the floor rhythm he can keep up with. A man who knows the value of a well-intentioned bump and grind, a wink, a smile. Male strippers should learn from female strippers: they do the job and they are good at it.