First published on Nerve.com on August 19, 2008. Read the original with comments here.
When David Henry Sterry writes about sexuality, it’s like a chef writing about food. Other people may have their trove of memorable moments — a tryst here, a wild fling there — but when it comes to sex, Sterry is a careerist. His first memoir, Chicken — a “studiously wild souvenier,” according to the New York Times — chronicled his youth spent as a teenage hustler in ’70s Hollywood. His second effort, Master of Ceremonies, continues along this vein as Sterry recounts moving to the East Coast in the 1980s to become the roller-skating MC at Chippendales, that infamous New York City temple of over-broiled beefcake.
A twentysomething struggling actor, Sterry finds himself surrounded by cokehead party girls, steroidal strippers and a constant throb of ’80s nightclub noise pollution. At the center of the scene is Nick DeNoia, the megalomaniacal visionary who made Chippendales legendary, and who was ultimately murdered by his business partner in 1987. With anecdotes slathered in Me Decade slang, Sterry reincarnates this mix of glamour and horror from a scene that relied on beauty but, underneath, was often grotesque.
As a show, Chippendales has lost most of its sheen. It’s now a sprawling corporate venture focused on brand licensing, and its main revue — since moved to Las Vegas — is a camp-value tourist stop. This rise and spectacular fall only makes Sterry’s story that much more compelling. Over twenty years after he left the show, he spoke with Nerve about what it was like. — James Brady Ryan
Do you think Chippendales was doomed to end with the ’80s?
It sure seems like that. By the time Nick was killed it was like the lunatics were running the asylum. And the lunatics were in g-strings, you know? So there was this feeling that Rome was burning around you and you’re just grabbing as much loot as you possibly could before the whole thing imploded. Continue reading