This One's For The Ladies

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 7, 2019

'This One's For The Ladies'
'This One's For The Ladies'  

For some, it's a way out of the poverty trap created by dead-end minimum-wage jobs, an avenue to higher education and opportunity. For others, it's means to "Leave them kids at home, leave them men at home, and have a good time." Filmmaker Gene Graham looks at the entertainment subculture of exotic male dancers with his documentary "This One's For the Ladies."

Much of the film focuses on two brothers — their stage names are Raw Dawg and Tygar — who formed a troupe of male strippers called the Nasty Boyz. Raised in a housing project, the men were taught by their mother to look out for themselves in a variety of constructive ways: How to cook, for instance, and, in a larger sense, how to pursue success.

Among the cadre of Nasty Boyz the film observes and interviews are dancers like Satan and Fever, as well as female dancer Blaze, who talks about the bi and "curious" women she interacts with during her shows, but who admits, "I mostly dance for the male crowd. That's what I make my money from."

But what's sauce for the goose is dollar bills showered over the guys who take to the floor with chiseled physiques and finely honed control over their movements — as well as scanty (bordering on nonexistent) costumes. Women adore these male dancers as they simulate sexual athletics, sometimes with the help of props like chocolate syrup. As one of the proprietors of the club where the dancing takes place puts it, "Women get horny." More than that: The dancers aim to bring their female clientele to a height of excitement during the show, with the expectation being that the ladies will take that excitement home to their husbands.

Behind the scenes, the dancers have careers, families, and hobbies, like anyone else. One dancer is a fireman; another collects Superman memorabilia. The women in their lives pursue charitable work through their church, feeding the hungry and showing up at Black Lives Matter protests.

Raw Dog and Tigar recall how, when they were first starting out as dancers, "People laughed at us," calling them "gay." Well, no. There's plenty of male talent to enjoy in this movie — and nowhere is there a sense that the male gaze is not welcome — but when it comes down to it, just as the title tells us, this one is indeed for the ladies.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.