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Confessions of a male stripper in Toronto

Posted by Ab Velasco / June 25, 2012

Male Stripper torontoIt's Saturday night. On the main floor of male strip club Remingtons at Yonge and Gerrard, a blond, blue-eyed dancer is on stage. The slow burn of his body movements - in tandem with 'Crazy' by Aerosmith - compels the women, including a bachelorette party, to scream and clap. Say hello to the world that will be spotlighted on the silver screen with this Friday's release of Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh's film about actor Channing Tatum's real-life experience as a stripper.

Inside the private lounge on Remingtons' second floor, dancer Jersey is in Diesel underwear for this post's photo shoot. With one hand firm around the pole, his eyes focus on the mirror as he perfects his pose in between camera clicks.

General manager Dave Auger chats with me on the side. He tells me tricks to make his chiseled boys look even better. For one thing, never light them in blue, because it makes them look tired and old. Use red light, because it highlights their definition. The walls of the crimson-lit lounge are practically dripping with warm blood.

Photographer Jesse Milns shows me a test shot. Turns out Jersey's underwear is pink, not white, as I had thought. "Real men wear pink," he says with a grin.

Male Stripper torontoLike other male dancers he's met, Jersey came into stripping by accident three years ago. He was 22 and working in construction. "I had a couple of crazy friends who said I had a good body. I was going to the gym pretty intensely and they said, 'Why don't you try stripping?' I always joked that I was a good dancer, so I was like, 'You know what, why don't I try it?'"

The 25 year-old Puerto Rican is 5'6" and 200 pounds of muscle. He began dancing at women's clubs. It was the owner at an Etobicoke club who gave him his stage name. "He saw my muscles, tattoos and my Guido look and said, 'Jersey Shore. Ok, Jersey.' So I just went with it.'" But that's where the similarities between him and the MTV show ends. "Ronnie (from Jersey Shore) can't spin around a pole."

Two years ago, Jersey arrived at Remingtons, which serves both men and women. I can't imagine these job interviews having a formal dress code - unless it's part of the act. Jersey, who identifies as bisexual, illuminates me. "I got on stage, I took my shirt off, everybody clapped and I walked off."

Male Stripper torontoIn Toronto, becoming a stripper seems straightforward. You have to be 18. You need two valid pieces of ID, a completed criminal record check ($45) and proof that you have the right to work in Canada. Bring all this to the Municipal Toronto Licensing Centre to apply for a burlesque entertainer license ($360).

Remingtons' website has a call-for-dancers right on the home page. The text reads in bright red: "Always hiring new male dancers. Don't be shy. Come in for an audition. Earn great cash to pay your rent, cell phone, school or anything you desire."

Make no mistake, money is the big incentive. Auger says dancers can average $300 to $500 a night; good dancers can easily make $1,000. Jersey, who works three to four nights a week adds, "Sometimes, I'm sitting down (in the club) with lawyers. In some months, I'm making more than them."

Dancers make money from private dances - $20 a song at Remingtons - and tips. I ask Jersey what his best one-night take is. "Give me a figure and I'll tell you up or down," he says coyly.

$1,000? "Up."
$2,000? "Up."
$4,000? "$4,500," he finally says. Another time, at a Christmas party, he made $1,500 by simply doing a strip tease on stage. Was he spinning around the North Pole, I wonder to myself.

Male Stripper torontoSo one can understand why, aside from the odd construction job, Remingtons is his full-time gig.

When not at work, he spends a lot of time at the gym investing in his biggest asset. He also has a strict diet regime. "That's the only carbs I've had all day," he says, pointing to a half-finished bottle of beer. "It's all meat, vegetables and protein shakes... This job, I try to explain it to people, I don't care who you are, it's not an easy job... It's very physical and very psychological."

The psychological game is a bit trickier, he says. "No matter what mood you're in, you always have to perform. Anything and everything goes through your head when you're on stage. You see facial expressions. You start thinking, 'How am I looking? How is my presence?'" He says the trick is to be on your toes, so you can create a bond with customers. "Guys that don't think don't make the big money."

Being on stage also means being judged at the utmost superficial level. You're basically a piece of meat. "We're all pretty self-conscious, but you have to put it all aside and get numbed to the fact."

Describing himself as independent, Jersey self-teaches his moves by listening to lots of music, practicing in front of the mirror and watching YouTube videos. He loves dancing to Kelis' Milkshake. "My milkshake brings all the boys to the club," he says, laughing.

Male Stripper torontoIn the movie Magic Mike, Tatum's character takes new dancer The Kid (played by Alex Pettyfer) under his wing, a role that Jersey has assumed at Remingtons. "I've turned more or less into the Papa Goose. Everybody comes to me with questions, (including) all the new kids... We're a tight knit group of brothers who watch out for each other's backs, try to have fun and keep it safe."

Auger also keeps the boys in check. Nicknamed 'Dada' by the 40 guys in his troupe, he manages firmly. He says one issue he dealt with when he took over was drug use by some dancers. "I started firing dancers who thought they were untouchable, started cleaning house and now they follow the rules... I have a big long rule sheet."

Like Jersey, Auger also describes a brotherhood. "There are several dancers that like to look out for the new ones and teach them the right ways, like teach them a pole tricks or how to approach a customer or how to read if a customer is just wasting your time. They all look out for each other."

Another change during Auger's time is the growth of the female clientele. Women used to only be allowed on Sundays, but are now allowed every day after select times. While men still drive the majority of the business - the second floor is men only - bachelorette parties have helped reinvent the club.

It turns out that Mars and Venus have different tastes. "Women, generally, like to be entertained," says Auger. "They don't like somebody just standing there erect. Girls will scream at the loudest decibel that you can imagine when dancers are upside down and walking on the ceiling. Guys, some of them like that, but they're really more about the sexual fantasy side of it."

Male Stripper torontoConsidering the club's rotating door has, at one point or another, included a Russian championship pole dancer, a dancer with a Justin Bieber shtick, and a bearded-fellow who struts in a cowboy hat to signature song "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" by Big and Rich, there really is something for everyone.

In the 50 Shades of Grey era, that 'something' includes a little rough play. Auger describes a customer whose fetish is being blackmailed. "He loves to say, 'Here, take my business card and say that you're going to call my boss. But I want my card back, but not until I pay you.' That (adds up to) big numbers."

Jersey says he prefers the male customers. "I will still give it my all to the women, but truthfully, men are more appreciative," he says. I'm sure by appreciative, he's not talking about just the compliments.

One woman Jersey won't be dancing for anytime soon is his mom, even though she's been supportive. "My mom sewed the first tear-away slacks for my very first male strip tease show," he says. "She told me, 'Use what you have while you can.'" But he adds with a laugh, "If my mom came to see one of my shows, I'd cry and run off stage. That's kind of close, man."

But all good things eventually come to an end. "There are a lot of guys who get so sucked into the game... they're here until they're like 50. I don't think I'm going to go past 30," Jersey says. He plans on investing his money into real estate and to "live a normal life." So don't expect a movie about his life.

The veteran has sound advice for guys thinking of getting into the business. "Bring your A game. Make sure you're in shape and know how to dance. You have to realize this is a business. Always be professional."

Remingtons TorontoBeing immersed in such a sexually-charged environment, is there anything that turns Jersey on? "When the crowd starts cheering, that's a turn on. When you have the power to come into a room and turn it upside down, and make heads turn and to make people pay you to dance for them, that's huge power."

Moments later, Jersey takes the crimson-lit stage. Mia Martina's sultry dance track 'Latin Moon' reverberates through the speakers. Within minutes, he's down to his underwear. He grabs the pole and swings into a signature trick. The women in the audience go ape shit.

Writing by Ab Velasco. Photos by Jesse Milns.



grimey / June 25, 2012 at 02:41 pm
im twelve years old and what is this?
milo replying to a comment from grimey / June 25, 2012 at 03:16 pm
a lesson
kc / June 25, 2012 at 03:54 pm
uhm..why is this under the "film" category?
beaddve / June 25, 2012 at 04:02 pm
He looks like a bodyguard more than a stripper.
donald replying to a comment from beaddve / June 25, 2012 at 04:13 pm
either way he would still fuck your ass up ;)
Franco / June 25, 2012 at 05:43 pm
Strippers scare me. I went to Remingtons about ten years ago. First and last time. In the front row was Rufus Wainwright having a mess of a time. The funny thing is I had just watched him open for Tori Amos at Massey Hall earlier that evening.
John / June 25, 2012 at 06:54 pm
You know what, if he enjoys doing it and has a plan for it, why not shake it?
bealison / June 25, 2012 at 07:01 pm
5'6??????? No wonder it's the men who are his biggest fans. The ladies like a tall boy.
QP / June 25, 2012 at 07:43 pm
I wonder he he provides 'extras' in the VIP room like female strippers do, because if he ain't, and is making that kind of money, well play on then, playa
Joey / June 25, 2012 at 08:46 pm
Unlike all the snarky comments that came before mine, I'm going to admit that this is a pretty good profile. To be honest, I read the title and expected the worst, but the article exceeded my expectations. Great job Ab Velasco!
dolce replying to a comment from Franco / June 25, 2012 at 08:58 pm
Omg, this story just made my life. I love it because I can totally see Rufus Wrainwright doing that.
Pete / June 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm
I visit remingtons once in a while. Ive done the private lap dancing out of curiousity, 20 bucks a song, not a bad deal with a hot friendly guy. But most of these guys get carried away reporting their earnings. Many are so aggressive in the clubs tryin to make a buck, cuz most patrons dont do the lap dancing. Most girls dont- too shy, so they rely on guys. So I dont see how some could be earning thousands a night. You also have up to 20 or more dancers in the club at one time all competing for the lap dance $. If they say they are doing other things, on the side, outside the club..sexual favours, then for sure they could make big bucks with the right person.
foo / June 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm
If he can make good money and feel good about it, all the power to him.
handfed / June 26, 2012 at 08:18 pm
wish I had his body
teset / June 28, 2012 at 06:58 pm
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Please let me know where you got your design. Appreciate it
Adam / September 5, 2012 at 06:37 am
wish I had his body
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Donald / October 6, 2012 at 06:56 pm
Bullshit....4,500....strippers are liars...they are all so drugged out, they can't even add...i know the manager and that is bullshit if i ever heard it
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Hi there.

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John / February 8, 2013 at 01:11 am
I'm a 28 yrs old guy and have been thinking it through. The idea of feeling so wanted, have fun, meet people and make money at the same time is great and thanks to brothers like Jersry, I'm motivated and encouraged better. However, I'm not sure if Toronto is a better net than montreal what do you guys think?
Shawn / February 14, 2013 at 01:59 am
I say that anyone looking to get into stripping should come to Alberta and try out the strip scene here! Great group of guys to work with and they only perform for girls, so for the guys that are not as cool with performing for the male audience, there's hope for you in alberta!! Check out Stellar Entertainment in Edmonton!
Shelly Ann replying to a comment from bealison / April 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm
What women like comes in all shapes and sizes
phoenix male dancers / July 6, 2013 at 12:22 am
Wow! I’m thinking I should be making a side trip to Alberta ! Plenty of good reasons listed above!!
John / August 9, 2013 at 06:29 pm
Yao thanks Alberta is a place to consider but I'm surely starting in Montreal where there are like 5 male strip clubs?Can I get some ideas and opinions you guys about Montreal?
dave / August 30, 2013 at 03:42 pm
This club is a great place to kick back and havea good time.I love the music, the boys and the over all experience.So get to it girls and guys come all for there is a stripper for everyone.
Gary / June 28, 2014 at 02:21 am
The city of Toronto has changed a lot over the past two decades. I spent every summer in Toronto from 1960 until 1999. I have fond memories of Sam the record man store and that old arcade and the big slice of pizza place. I was a really big fan of club Colby's in the 80s. I remember the dancers who were around the first year Remington's opened. Johnathon and Jim were lovers who moon lighted for the ladies in Brampton Ontario. I remember tommy the cute little east coaster who would always remember my name. I remember danny the Greek joker and Adrian the best dancer. I remember Ronnie , Erik , Dan, Ricky , Jasmin , Todd , David, Corey , Billy, Marcello , Gary , max, . they all had something special. I can't explain it but they made me feel at home when I was in town. They all had excellent communication skills and even if you blew one or two thousand bucks a week there you felt good about it.

Ron / June 30, 2014 at 01:55 pm
Most strippers make their money by having sexual favours by patrons! They won't admit it because that is prostitution, and its against the law. They make even bigger money going back to the guys motel or house. For the most part they are prostitutes to put it midley. I've been to Remingtons. It appeals to mostly gay or bi-curious guys. Most of the dancers have other jobs. Saturday night is the time to go if you want to look at the sexiest guys. Some are stright, and some are gay. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Even though what goes on in thows stalls is illegal the cops know whats going on, but leave the place alone. Oh and they have gay pornos playing on all the tv's. I think some of the guys have big egos because of all the attenton they get.
Strippers Calgary / August 20, 2014 at 01:00 am
This club is a great place to kick back.
Truely awesum
Ronald / December 23, 2015 at 09:57 pm
I agree with Ron above totally. They make more money after the show.
I think the hot guys on Saturday night are mostly straight. Many do have big egos. I've had sex in private dances 10 years ago. Would like to go again soon, to see if things have changed much.
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