It seems like whenever we hear there’s going to be a hen party, there’s always at least one person who asks: “Are you having a stripper?”.
As we talked about in our male stripping survey post, the act has been a staple part of the hen do franchise for decades. But not long ago, it seemed to lose a touch of its allure. Traditional male stripping became almost taboo, with many modern brides-to-be being embarrassed by the idea of receiving a lapdance from a naked, gyrating man. As a result, male stripping was often branded ‘cheap and tacky’.
It seems crazy that now alongside the surge of alternative hen dos centred around afternoon teas, craft workshops and other sophisticated pursuits, male stripping has actually exploded in popularity. Just look at leading male entertainment company, Butlers in the Buff, which provides butlers to about 150 parties every weekend in the peak season and is growing year-on-year to keep up with the demand.
So, how does such a seemingly tasteless activity in fact become even more popular at the same time that tamer, more cosmopolitan hen parties are taking off?
The answer is that male stripping has transformed. Gone are the days of the iconic muscle man in his Velcro-crotch costume that spends his short stint flexing to ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ while being whipped by the soon-to-be-bride. Male stripping has instilled a touch of class and respectability that makes it the ideal fun-but-harmless entertainment for excited hens.
Stacey Bramhall, partner and co-founder of Butlers in the Buff, says the rise in male entertainment at hen parties is down to the men themselves. She says: “Our butlers are charming and can chat with everyone. They’re not looking to shock or embarrass, which makes the whole event more relaxed and fun.”
While the strippers of yesteryear (although, they’re still very much around today) wear little and proceed to take off the rest, firms like Butlers in the Buff promote a less cringe-worthy costume, which has worked to make it more crowd-friendly for more people. “The uniform is a large part,” Stacey adds. “Although it’s small, it still covers their modesty, so it’s more acceptable to a wider demographic of hens.”
Moving on from this idea, could the rise in male stripping be propelled by appealing to a greater age range? CEO of adult entertainment company, Bufflers, and an experienced butler himself, Adam Davey, thinks so. “All ages, including mothers and grandmothers, get really involved at our parties, he says. “If I’m honest, there’ve been at least 20 grandmothers in my experience that have actually made the party special!”.
Stacey also supports this theory, revealing that her staff also go out of their way to give older guests at the party plenty of attention. “Our butlers are always very sweet to grandmothers, making them cups of tea and treating them very respectfully,” she adds. Perhaps it’s a fair comment to say that a man, scantily but very much so dressed, who has a cheeky charm and a respectable demeanor would of course appeal to most people in a party atmosphere. At the very least, it has more chance of being palatable to the older generation than a dancing nudist covered in cream.
More than just how they look and behave, the rise of this type of modern male stripping owes a lot to the format its founders have assigned it. “Prior to 2001, there wasn’t a ‘buff butler’ industry,” says Stacey. Seeing a huge gap in the market, Stacey’s co-founder, Jason Didcott, noticed that ladies wanted a touch of male entertainment at their parties, just without the stereotypical sleaze.
Stacey says, “Jason took the idea of good-looking, scantily-dressed men and made them useful. Our butlers serve drinks, host party games and generally entertain everyone with their wit and charisma”.
So, just like technology, could it be that male stripping has had to evolve and reinvent to survive? The butler-theme has aspired to the sleeker, smarter, better-looking, and more user-friendly form of male stripping — and the increase in bookings shows that it’s working.
We live in a world where everything is connected and the best becomes a franchise. So, it seems to us no coincidence that the boost in this form of entertainment happened in sync with the Dreamboys-themed Magic Mike and Magic Mike XL. Released in 2012 and 2015 respectively, the Magic Mike series promotes the idea of well choreographed routines and coquettishly dressed men who get close but don’t overstep the border into smut and embarrassment.
“The market has definitely expanded over time — a big help from ‘Magic Mike’, I think!”, agrees Adam from Bufflers. In a nutshell, it’s all about the comfort-factor. The Bufflers CEO is sure that hens, and people in general, are “more comfortable with the concept”, and that the lack of full nudity actually enhances the ‘cheeky fun’ element, rather than curtails it.
“Films like ‘Magic Mike’ have had a big impact, as woman wish to have a similar experience but in a more conversation-based scenario,” he adds. “Anyone can whip their clothes off but it’s the mannerisms and sophistication of our butlers that make sure everyone has a great time”. Essentially, it seems that the rise of Bufflers, Dreamboys, Butlers in the Buff, and similar acts have honed in on the essence of what women want from male stripping and trimmed off the sleazy excess.
Stripping for hen parties was never likely to disappear completely. If nothing else, it was an easy way to inject fun, hysteria and entertainment into a night hell-bent on mayhem, mischief and memories. But it seems to us that the rise — or even re-surge — of male stripping comes for a simple reason: people want the stripper without the stripping. If women didn’t enjoy the tease of a barely dressed man and find it entertaining, then even Butlers in the Buff/Bufflers/Dreamboys wouldn't have survived. Booking a butler is a near faultless repackaging of the stripping ideal, giving you all of the original allure, appeal and attraction of an onlooker with the added charm, engagement and service of a guest.
For more interesting facts about the surge in hens booking male strippers, check out our Hen Party Stripping Survey results.