The Best Strippers of Film and TV
America is patiently awaiting the release of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, which by the looks of the trailer and TV spots might just be the Citizen Kane of male stripper movies. I’m ecstatic that male strippers are now back on the popular culture radar. By the looks of it Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer, and Joe Manganiello certainly fit snugly in their shirtless business attire nicely. Put on your banana hammock, and grease up the pole, because here’s a look at some of pop culture’s most memorable portrayals of strippers from film and TV.
Elizabeth Berkley as Nomi Malone in Showgirls (1995)
Elizabeth Berkley’s delightfully campy performance as a stripper turned Las Vegas “Goddess” is a spectacle worth witnessing. The performance, like the movie, is a train wreck that’s oh so watchable. Shedding her Jessie Spano image, Berkley works the pole like her life depends on it. The scenes in her strip club stomping ground, the “Cheetah,” are cringe-worthy, and utterly tasteless in every sense of the word. I’ll take an extra side of French fries with that pole routine!
Demi Moore as Erin Grant in Striptease (1996)
Compared to Showgirls, Demi Moore’s star vehicle Striptease is practically a family movie. It’s not as vulgar and has less T and A. Almost playing out like a Lifetime movie by the way of late night Cinemax, the film follows a broke single mom turning tricks on the pole to get custody of her daughter. With all of its underlying feminist themes behind the story of a struggling single mother, I wonder what Gloria Steinem thought about this movie? A huge dropped ball upon its release, Striptease isn’t nearly the campy fun it should be.
The men of The Full Monty (1997)
Long before Channing Tatum was doing amateur night, this charming British comedy took the states by storm, resulting in four Academy Award nominations. The movie actually beat out Titanic and L.A Confidential for the BAFTA award for best picture. These Scottish blokes getting their groove on will always have a special place in movie history.
Natalie Portman as Alice in Closer (2004)
In 2004 Natalie Portman gathered her first Oscar nomination, and Golden Globe win, for playing a sly little stripper named Alice. Going by the name Jane she tells the character of Larry (Clive Owen) while giving him a private dance, “lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off… but it’s better if you do.” In a role that could have been cliché or campy, Portman does just the opposite, creating an enigmatic character.
Marisa Tomei as Cassidy in The Wrestler (2008)
Yet another Oscar nominated stripper on the list, and one that frankly should have won. As Cassidy in The Wrestler, Marisa Tomei is a revelation. She’s the emotional rock of Mickey Rourke in the film. It would have taken a brave actress to bear all physically, and emotionally, for this role of an aging dancer. I dare you not to tear up during her last scene backstage with Rourke. It’s a scene that gets me every time.
Heather Graham as Jade in The Hangover (2009)
Is there an actress out there as sweet and bubbly as Heather Graham? She brings just that to the role of Jade in The Hangover, the stripper and single mom who Stu (Ed Helms) wakes up married to after their night of drunken escapades. This is the role Graham will probably be most known for in years to come.
Alyson Hannigan as Stripper Lily in How I Met Your Mother
A running joke in the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother is that each of the main characters has a mysterious doppelganger. The five look-alikes are Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Fertility Doctor Barney, Mexican Wrestler Ted, and Stripper Lily. Stripper Lily is discovered working at the Lusty Leopard, speaks in a thick Eastern European accent, and smokes like a chimney. If only this stripper actually existed in real life.
The Hot Cops in Arrested Development
From backing Tobias in a rumble to teaching George Michael lessons to singing show tunes faster than you can rip off your tear-away pants, these male strippers from Arrested Development know how to have a good time, and look fabulous while doing it. Hopefully they’ll make an appearance in the long awaited movie.
Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze’s Chippendales hopefuls on Saturday Night Live
No best stripper list is really complete without including the iconic Saturday Night Live Chippendale sketch from 1990. The pairing of Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze is a classic. I could actually see a version of this act taking off on a Vegas stage. In retrospect SNL alum Chris Rock says that the sketch is tough to watch because it cements Farley’s comic career to merely being known as the funny fat guy, but it will always remain immortal.
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