Magic Mike brought the world of male stripping to the big screen, but the job requires a lot more hard work than memorizing a few minutes of sexy choreo. For starters, you have to hustle to get hours—most male strippers freelance, hopping from club to club to make coin. Befriending clients is key for raking in tips, so flexing your personality can be just as important as flexing your biceps. And while having people fawn over you makes you feel pretty damn hot, sleeping with clients is completely off the table. Some nights you’ll be showered in cash, but don’t expect every customer to make it rain.
If you’re curious to know what it takes to become professional dancing hunk, look no further: Axl Reigns and Zackery Cross are here to give Cosmo the scoop. Hailing from Texas, Reigns worked as a dancer at LaBare Dallas, the first ladies-only male strip club and bachelorette party destination for celebs like Jessica Simpson and Anna Nicole Smith. From Las Vegas to New Orleans, Cross has performed at clubs across the U.S., including popular male revues like Kings of Hustler and Men of Vegas Live. Below, find their top tips for aspiring male strippers.
You’re probably not the whole package, but you’re going to have to become the whole package—fast.
Everyone deals with their own challenges and insecurities. “I didn’t have a background in dancing at all. So I struggled a little bit,” says Reigns. While some male strippers pump iron to attain the shape that they want, others might have to adjust their diets. According to Reigns, it also requires a certain disposition. “I didn’t really have the personality to be a [stripper] at the start,” explains Reigns. “I had to create a persona that was more of an entertainer.”
Your personality is (almost) as important as your body.
As a stripper, getting immediate feedback is pretty simple: Just look at how much money you make. If you’re doing something wrong, your income will suffer. “It’s a very powerful motivation,” says Reigns. “If you’re shy, you say, ‘Okay, what are the subjects that women would want to talk about and how can I learn about these subjects to carry on a conversation?'” A self-proclaimed introvert, Reigns admits he had to learn to be a little more social. “I had to loosen up a bit, and it was great. Working as a male dancer allowed me to flourish into somebody who I enjoyed being, versus someone who wasn’t as socially comfortable very easily.”
Most male strippers are independent contractors.
Unless you want to perform exclusively at private house parties, working independently for multiple clubs is the best way to maximize your income. Some independent contractors, like Cross, are even willing to travel for the right job. “We’ll fly places, driving, whatever it takes,” he explains. Cross and his colleagues pick locations based on seasonal demand. For example, Vegas is an ideal “summer city” for bachelorettes, while Florida is the place to be in the spring and fall. Working for a touring company is another deal entirely—strippers for popular troupes like Chippendales or Thunder from Down Under don’t make any tips at all. “You’re an employee, so you get a salary,” says Cross.
You have to audition to get work.
Strippers, regardless of their gender identity, have to audition for a club before taking the stage. Club managers assess dancers not only on their rhythm, but also on their physiques—some places even have height requirements (we’re talking 6 feet and up, only). Muscles also factor into the equation, so Cross and Reigns recommend bulking up where you can.
Stripping at certain clubs will cost you.
Depending on where you work, you may have to cough up a house fee in order to perform. Make sure you have some extra cash on you so you can spot the club $40 to $50, and heads-up: This fee can be larger if you show up late. Some house fees are percentages taken out of what you make each night, meaning you could have to hand over 30% of your earnings to the club in order to use their space. On the bright side though, selling VIP dances can be lucrative: Cross says he charges $400 or $500 per customer.
Stripping isn’t easy money.
“There’s less of a demand for [male strippers],” warns Cross. He estimates that women can earn up to $500 a night when they’re just starting out, whereas guys might make $300 to $400 a week for the first few months. It all depends on the market you’re in.
Building relationships with potential clients is vital for ensuring you never have a slow night, advises Reigns. “If there aren’t a lot of girls there and I’m not making a lot of money, I know I could be making more,” he says. “I could have called people and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come in and see me?’ or I could have cultivated a relationship with different people who would continually come in and support me.”
You might have to work multiple jobs.
Which is honestly not that uncommon—according to the Census Bureau, about 13 million U.S. workers have more than one job. On top of being a dancer, Reigns is an author, model, and an actor. “We have a lot of guys who will personally train girls,” he says. “Guys will give them discounted time if they come see the shows. It’s another job, but it’s also good for getting clients.”
You can’t try to please every person in the club.
You’re not going to be everyone’s type, and that’s okay. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting attention from the client you want, and instead channel that energy into someone else. “If a woman doesn’t like me best,” says Reigns, “then it’s not even worth wasting my time because no matter what I do, she will still like that other guy more than me.” That’s why Reigns recommends finding your niche, and sticking to it. “I usually cater to an older crowd,” he says. Adds Cross, “If you’re good to customers and you’re confident, things are gonna go well for you.”
You better make friends with the other guys—they’re not the competition.
It’s easy to feel like you’re competing for tips, but befriending your co-workers is key for attracting customers. Everyone has a different type, so if your buddy at work finds a client who’s into you, he’ll hook you up.
Of course, some will try to steal your clients.
Not every guy will try to step on your toes, but sometimes things can get cutthroat. “You’ll be texting a girl to come by, but then another guy will be like, ‘Let’s grab dinner before work,'” explains Reigns. “Then, she’s going to come in and get some dances from him, not you, and there goes your money.”
Don’t sleep with your clients.
While becoming a stripper might seem like a solid way to meet potential hookups, in reality, you’re there to do your job, not collect phone numbers. Some clients might mistake your attention for affection, so remaining professional at all times is a must. “I don’t want someone to believe there is a romantic relationship between us when there’s not,” Reigns cautions.