If the woman in your life is out for a ladies night on March 11-12, she may well be enjoying a six-pack.
Taut abs and flexing pecs will be the order of the evening when the legendary Chippendales revue stops by Sammy’s Showroom at Harrah’s Reno. The group has a lengthy history.
Chippendales was launched in 1979, becoming the first all-male troupe to bare its collective assets for a largely female audience. Nearly four decades later, Chippendales still is presenting muscled masculinity for audience titillation, epitomized by the iconic “undressed-to-the-nines” get-up where the gentlemen wear tuxedo-style bowties and cuffs, sans shirt.
The franchise has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
The official men of Chippendales perform to throngs of admirers in 25 American cities, 23 cities in Central and South America, 60 European cities and eight cities in South Africa as well as in four Asian countries. It all adds up to 2 million people per year who unleash their libidos for one night of turbo-charged entertainment.
The Reno Gazette-Journal recently caught up with Jeffrey Garrovillo, who was in St. Charles, Missouri, to find out what it’s like to be a Chippendales dancer.
“I tour with 12 or so guys, and we’re always on the road,” Garrovillo said. “You get your bags off the bus, get your laundry in the washer and hit the gym. You’re taking care of daily stuff until about 6:30 p.m.”
It sounds more than a bit like the GTL (gym, tan, laundry) acronym used by Pauly D and his “Jersey Shore” pals to describe their pre-clubbing priorities.
“It is exactly that,” Garrovillo, 37, said with a laugh. “You nailed it.”
With spiked hair, a bodybuilder’s physique and a chest tattoo of a tiger springing into action, Garrovillo looks like a born bad boy. In truth, his road to Chippendales was a serendipitous one.
Garrovillo is a disc jockey by trade, and after producing lots of music for the all-male revue, the time came when he asked himself, “Why not audition?” He made the cut, and the rest is history.
There may have been a clue early on, however, that he was a budding exhibitionist.
“It’s ironic,” he said. “My mom laughed when she heard I was joining the group. Because when I was a kid, I never liked clothes. I was that kid. She said it all makes perfect sense.”
Garrovillo has few complaints about a life filled with travel, adulation and camaraderie.
One drawback, however, is he and his fellow performers sometimes get stereotyped. People call them strippers, Garrovillo said, despite the fact they’re engaged in a full-scale production, complete with music, dance, lightning-fast costume changes and audience participation.
“My mom, my grandmother and my little sister, who is 22, have seen the production. The show has props, and it’s not raunchy. I wouldn’t invite them if it was,” he said.
Garrovillo said he can tell when an audience member has never been to a Chippendales show, and maybe has never even considered seeing a sizzling act like theirs. “There’s an intrigue. You can see it in their eyes,” he said.
If you’re hitting the show for the first time and you’re the shy type, you may want to keep a low profile. Garrovillo and crew often choose newbies from the audience for some audience interaction.
“We’ll grab someone and give her an experience, make her night,” he said.
It’s a night filled with music, he noted, with the men in the troupe busting moves to everything from hip hop to old-time rock ’n’ roll.
Garrovillo’s last stop in the Biggest Little City in the World was a blast, he said, and he is expecting more of the same this time around.
“I’ve got a lot of soccer buddies who play in Reno, and they sent a lot of girls our way,” he recalled. “The theater was packed and we did two shows — went really hard — and it was wonderful.”
Buddy-buddy is also the tone when it comes to the dozen dancers making up Garrovillo’s troupe. When you live and work together day in and day out, you become pretty close-knit.
“Imagine if you can all of your family members waking up together, having breakfast together, having lunch together, at the gym together,” he said. “We all do the show together and all go to the after-party together. The guys in the show are just like brothers to me.”
Garrovillo is single, but he firmly believes romance is possible, even for someone who travels as much as he and his compatriots do.
“You’ve just got to find the right person, who gets communication and can handle the distance,” he said. “As it is, I keep in close touch with friends and family. It helps you get through the down times, because being away from family can be a very real challenge.”
Staying fit is another ongoing challenge, because the fit form of a Chippendales performer is the key to selling tickets and raising pulses.
“We’re doing shows every night and getting to the gym every day,” Garrovillo said. “We consider what we’re eating and make clean choices. And then when we get to a venue that has a buffet, we’ll label that a cheat day.”
As the saying goes, rules were made to be broken.
It’s an appropriate adage for a group that encourages women to put aside convention for a while and openly ogle the opposite sex. And it’s just the right attitude for dancers in the midst of a red-hot, stripped-down cross-country production labeled the “Break the Rules Tour.”