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Bare devils

Meet the male stripper duo who were in the city for a show recently.

BRIDAL SHOWERS, hen nights and ladies night out. Does that ring a bell? Or here is another — `male strippers'? Are you ready for some bare act? This was a challenge to the women in the twin cities from the duo Kamalaksh Shetty and Ali Reza who strip as a vocation. And they do it matter-of-factly. "We are honest about our profession. It needs lots of guts," says Ali, and "work outs. The whole packaging is important — choreography and interaction or the show falls flat. We have been doing this since the past ten years and have to keep improvising all the time," says Kamalaksh. Their portfolio includes corporate shows, bridal showers and girls' night out featuring lap dancing, pole sequences and the works. Their recent show at Underdeck, Taj Banjara, had three synchronised sequences with Hip-hop, Rap and Bollywood masala jhamas (stunts — Mumbai ishtyle) thrown in. Having worked with Farah Khan and Shiamak Dawar, this doesn't come as a surprise from the duo then.

Kamalaksh has an M.A. in Psychology, and had also worked with the National School of Drama on experimental theatre. One of the productions he worked in, Eva Mumbai ma chaal jaiye (based on West Side Story), was staged in Broadway. Ali is trained in commercial arts, has been part of the troupe dancers for Hindi flicks, one of the recent being Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and organises events.

Oops, a Hinglish film, is a take off on their lives — a story of troupe dancers who turn male strippers and how their life changes after that. "Deepak Tijori met us at a show, that was a routine dance performance. He approached us for the choreography of a song sequence but having heard our story, he was inspired and made the movie.

Apart from acting, we also did strip choreography for the film," says Kamalaksh. "Life has changed for good. We interact with hi-society women and get work. Models get us fashion show choreography offers. We have made a lot of uptown contacts," adds Ali. Owing to their popularity, Bombay Blush, a BBC show throwing light on different aspects on Mumbai, profiled them for the `Lifestyle of a stripper'. The show had several re-runs.

And it all started when the duo were doing a synchronised bare body dance act for a corporate show, when, "a woman approached us asking if we would be interested in doing a male stripping act as a show for her friend. We took it up and in the party ten more girls took our numbers. Thence on, our career as male strippers took off," says Ali.

MACHO MAN: Kamalaksh Shetty.

They have done shows in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi. The audience is 20-30 year-olds for the bridal showers and the 50-plus women for the hen nights. "Girls wanna have fun. So, we keep it a light-hearted act. We don't try to make it raunchy or vulgar. Some of the women have travelled abroad and know what to expect.

Some don't, so we try to make them as comfortable. We crack a joke, make them part of the show. The bottom line is entertainment — we try to make it a chill out fun night. There are professional hazards — we end up with scratches," says Kamalaksh.

But why is not the male stripper as happening as the woman counterpart? "Nobody would be open to such an idea in the country. Also women don't have that much spending power as men since we are doing private parties here.

Overseas, as we have been to clubs in London, it is a cool event frequented by students, executives, honchos and models. Gigolos and male sippers are a done thing in the West. Women's lives are so stressed up with family/ work pressure that they need to have an occasion where they can leave their families and work behind, just chill out, drink and laugh it out before they go back to the routine stressful life. When men have so many avenues to unwind, why can't women?" questions Ali.

"Such an event is being held in the city for the first time but judging by the queries for the show, there has been a lot of anticipation, " says Amol Bahuguna, Universal Entertainment Inc.

The Full Monty duohave plans ahead. Ali intends to take up photography, choreograph film songs and direct music videos, while Kamalaksh wants to work in South Indian films. Meanwhile, for days, the women in the twin cities will remember the visit of the hot strippers to town.


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