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You are here: Features » The Heart of the Circus
Published 15th May 2012
Admittedly, my knowledge and experience with male strippers is limited. So as I sat waiting for the interview to begin, I tried to imagine what British Heart was going to look like. Tattooed? Seven-foot tall? Completely naked? Promptly, my musings came to an end as the host of Circus of Men came into the room. He was slim, and wore a skin coloured leotard with mirrors all over the front of it. His eyes were lined with dark pencil and to top off the outfit, he wore a black fur shrug. I groaned – I never thought I’d see the day when a man was more glamorous than me.
How long have you been in Boylesque, and what attracted you to it?
Since 2008, after watching a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - I used to direct, but I originally trained as a performer and I thought: “Bang!” The show was confusing, it was anarchic, with performers throwing things at the audience and the audience were throwing things back...It was a little bit wild. A lot of nudity, a lot of sexiness – and I wanted in.
How did you get into Circus of Men (COM)?
The bosses were looking for male strippers, but burlesque style ones, ones with a difference. They contacted me probably because they wanted me to bring a bit of an alternative cabaret personality to the show, and they also wanted to display a different kind of male erotic. They didn’t just want lots of buff, meaty guys but a variety of different, beautiful men on stage.
Stereotypically, this is a field strongly dominated by women. How do you feel as a man in this industry?
I feel good. It’s about time men were given the chance to break out of the normal moulds of being a man. It’s time that men can find much more skilled and much more beautiful, sensual ways of being erotic.
What’s your favourite type of gig to play?
The late, late, late shows where I can do anything. The filthy ones.
Is that what’s in store for tonight?
It might happen tonight, it depends on the audience – if it gets to one or two o’ clock in the morning, we’ll see how the audience are. It may come to the point where we want to pour alcohol on our naked bodies and get the audience to drink off it - we’ll see what happens!
Do you ever suffer from stage fright?
[instantly] No. No. Not now, anyway. It’s a different gig, a different feeling. If you do mainstream theatre, you stand backstage and prepare your character, and go through some sort of psychological process, or whatever you’ve been trained to do, but this is much more of you, and yourself – I say just f*** it and do it.
How much time outside of performing is spent on maintaining your physical fitness?
A lot. In COM, we each have particular skills, and every day you have to keep up your own training. For me, I pole-dance, I just started pommel horse (a gymnastic activity)...every day you have to do your bit – handstands et cetera. The rest of the guys are the same, you have to train. There are people from the traditional circus, from Australia, from all over the world. There are fire-breathers who have to keep fairly tough and trained.
Have you ever had any on-stage injuries?
Oh yes. The most recent one happened when I was pole-dancing, and the person who installed the pole had bent some of the metal out, so as I was dancing I came off with a big graze down the side of my ribs. But this definitely isn’t one of the worst injuries I’ve had – I’ve had quite private parts of my body grabbed by audience members on the stage. When I did a gig called ‘Bare-lesque’, I offered my naked body to the audience to clean with sponges. And I was knocked over, I was rolled around, all sorts – I came out of the gig with all sorts of dents and grazes. But it’s all worth it in the end.
What’s the best part of your job?
Blowing the audience away. When the audience are seeing all the acts, revolving through the air, spinning on the pole, and you just see their eyes and you completely capture and claim their attention…it’s a good job. The worst is hitting a very dead crowd. Sometimes it’s quite hard in clubs, when the audience have been drinking a lot and they get a bit rowdy. Or just performing to three people. That has happened before.
Finally, describe tonight’s show in one word.
[after a pause] Meaty hotness.
Though “meaty hotness” happens to be two words, I overlooked that. The interview ended, we shook hands and he told me to enjoy the rest of the night. It wasn’t until I saw him walking away, that I discovered that his costume was backless, and his bare backside was the last I saw of him before Circus of Men came on stage. It seems I was the first to get a sneak preview of the show - being the Features Editor has its perks, after all.