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Stripped Down with Steve Stanulis
Our chat with the former dancer and writer of hit off-off Broadway show 'Stripped: The Play'

The Strawberry Theatre Festival, which takes place from August 3rd-18th at The Theater at St. Clements, has introduced a new play into its repetoire this year-- Stripped The Play, which has just come off its successful run off-off Broadway has been added to the line-up. The next performance during the festival is on August 12th at 10pm (Tickets are $22 and can be purchased here). The show, which was written by Geoffrey Cantor and Steve Stanulis, delves into the world of male strippers and there's more than just g-strings to this story. Catching up with Steve Stanulis, writer of the play, and former cop and dancer, we find out all about the show and the real world of stripping. Stanulis came up with the concept of the show because he wanted to create something that was appealing to a wider audience than just bachelorette parties. This show is for everyone, from male to female, gay or straight, and if you don't believe me, just find out more for yourself below!

What are some of the positives and negatives associated with stripping? 

In regards to positives, it's a great way to make quick money, to get you through school or if you need some extra cash, and it's a great way to meet people. The negatives are that you can get sucked into a world where you could find a lot of darkness -- womanizing, drugs, drinking, a lot of these guys get stuck-- as much cash as they get, that's as quickly as it goes. And they come to the point where now they're in their mid-thirties and this is all they have and no matter how great you look, you can't do this forever. Some guys get caught in the trap where this is the only job they've had for the past 10 or 15 years and  they can't do this anymore...now what? So that's probably the biggest negative. 

Do you think there's a big difference between being a man or woman in this profession?

Yeah, when a guy does it it's looked upon much differently. You know, your friends are coming and think it's really cool and you have more control as a guy, as opposed to the other way, when girls do it. It's more about going backstage and doing lap dances and we [men] don't do that, we're more of a show. I think it works a bit differently for whatever reason, wrong or right. 

What sorts of issues in the business come up in the show Stripped The Play?

Basically, Stripped is like Chippendales combined with the Vagina Monologues. That's the best way to describe it. The show is a metaphor, as well, the guys start their routine and whatever their conflict is what they bring to the show and talk to the audience about. Each guy is not what he appears -- so you have the real macho guy who is actually gay, there's the Latin guy who got married to get his green card but his real love is in Peru, there's the black guy with a small penis, so there is a lot of comedic, as well as very serious topics. But everybody is actually exposing themselves in more ways than one. That's why I think of it as a metaphor, because they are actually baring their souls to audience. 

What is one of the craziest or most unique experiences that you, personally, have had?

In the show, we had a woman celebrating her 95th birthday. And she got up on stage and she obviously had her wits about her, she was great. They put money all over her, she started dancing with me, everybody had a lot of fun. That was pretty unique. There are a lot of crazy stories but that one was great because of the situation.

How is it to be a part of The Strawberry Festival?

I got a great review in The Times on Stripped and I didn't want us to be a gimmick, in the sense that people would just look at it and think that it's just for bachelorettes. People think that's all it is and it's not. So we submitted it to a festival, and The Strawberry Festival is pretty prestigious, and we were accepted, as a play. So my whole thinking was making sure we got legitimized as a full force play. 

How much money does the average dancer make in a night?

$200 or $300 for about two hours.

Did dancing ever effect your career as a police officer?

It did not. It's funny because I did it the whole time I was a cop, which was kind unique because I could have gotten into so much trouble. I wasn't hard to find; I was in the same venue every week. One time I was backstage and my duty captain came to the show. So I came out and she was blown away.

Did you get a promotion after that?

I know, I should have, right? I should've asked.

What would you want people to know about your show that they might not expect?

I think especially for a straight male going with his girlfriend or wife would be apprehensive going to see male strippers. But we've had such great response from couples and guys that have come to the show. We've had guys come two or three times. These guys on stage are making fun of themselves where everyone feels comfortable. For example, one guy is really too old to be dancing, so he talks about age and getting older and everybody gets to relate. So I think that's the biggest surprise. Obviously the gay community and women will like it. But I think if you are a straight man you will be pleasantly surprised with the show.

Any upcoming endeavours you can tell us about?

We actually just signed a book deal about the whole stripper/celebrity thing. I was actually a bodyguard for [Leonardo] DiCaprio and all these people. The point is we are working on a book, it's called Sex and the Shield. We are working on it as we speak.