Gerald McCullouch’s penetrating documentary “All Male, All Nude,” now out on DVD and available online at AllMaleAllNude.com, profiles six guys who work at Swinging Richards, an all male, all nude strip club in Atlanta. The attractive dancer, each of them ingratiating in their own way, talk about why they take it all off.
Pierce needs money for school, Sean is trying to support his kid, and Steven is working on his music career. Other guys, like Matt and Dallas, seem to be doing it for thrills or simply because they enjoy it. They are all seen performing in the altogether.
McCullouch chatted with Gay City News via Skype about his eye-opening doc.
GARY M. KRAMER: What do you recall about your first time at a gay strip club?
GERALD McCULLOUCH: There are very few gay strip clubs in America. My first one was Swinging Richards. It is such a sexy celebration of masculinity. I was determined to uncover the story. There are not a lot of male clubs where guys go nude, so as a filmmaker the uniqueness of that sparked my interest.
GMK: How did you get the dancers you profiled to trust you to tell their stories?
GM: I saw a variety of dancers [the club employs 70 guys] and spent time with them to see what stories were the most engaging. I wanted them for their minds. I found a diverse group in age, history, and sexual orientation. Those were the most compelling stories.
A lot of the dancers who identify as gay didn’t want to be interviewed. The straight and gay-for-pay dancers were willing to reveal their stories. Everyone wants to know who is gay or straight. That’s not required info. I allowed the guys who wanted to to allude to it.
GMK: You aim to humanize the guys. Can you talk about your approach as a filmmaker?
GM: As a filmmaker and a gay man, it was important to me to shed a positive light on the club and celebrate male sexuality and all things male. I certainly have darker conversations that are not included because that’s not where I wanted the film to go. Guys suggest some stuff in the club is really wild. The imagination is better than showing it because that’s what folks assume they’ll see when they see a film titled “All Male, All Nude.”
GMK: Can you talk about how you filmed inside the club?
GM: I think there should be a drinking game. Every time you see a dick you have to take a shot! That was the tricky part of filming. I didn’t want to shy away from the nudity. I didn’t want the viewer to feel that they were in a different club than I was in. Often in a club scene in films you don’t feel like you are in the club. I couldn’t show customer’s faces, so there were certain boundaries I had to respect.
The music [by TuT] was crucial to let the viewer feel they were inside the club. The one time you see the VIP room, it’s how no one sees it: I filmed it with the lights on, before it opened, which is what the film can show, not what someone can experience at the club. I interview the dancers in the locker room or walking into the club, and you see their humanity more than when the camera is [directly] on them.
GMK: What are your thoughts about the fantasy of the dancer? Why do we watch?
GM: That’s the game of the club. If you chose to go into a club, you’re going in to play the game. That’s the fun of it to me. Control is sexy and to have that control is sexy. The dancers play games and manipulate conversations. Who doesn’t like to be looked at and appreciated and revered? And these guys do that and make a lot of money in the process. They are also well endowed so they can strut their stuff.
GMK: The film touches briefly on the negatives and etiquette of the strippers’ lives, from overdoses to becoming desensitized to sex. What are your observations on that and on de-stigmatizing strippers?
GM: Steven and Dallas know their job and have no problems with it at all. They embrace what they do. And you have guys who don’t have that same mentality about the job. I don’t want to stereotype erotic male dancers. Some guys have addictive personalities. There’s a dark side in that world, and there’s a dark side to professional club life. It takes a strong person not to fall into that. That’s why that content is in the film.
ALL MALE, ALL NUDE Directed by Gerald McCullouch | On DVD and online at AllMaleAllNude.com