By Steven Sloane
No interview I had ever conducted before prepared me for my meeting with Sydney’s hottest male stripper, Michael Monaghan. It seems a little odd that a man who gets naked for a living has become somewhat of a celebrity. Such things are usually a dirty little secret but Michael has no fear of public opinion about what he does for a living or his romantic entanglement with both his personal trainer, Sam Stephens, and his public relations assistant, Maggie Riley.
The night before our meeting I was given free tickets to catch Michael in action as part of the Hot Down Under Goes Wild show. Strip joints aren’t really my bag and male strip joints even less so. I expected sleazy and tacky and got artistic and tasteful, well as tasteful as a room full of screaming woman and men getting naked can be. Michael stole the show, and more than a few hearts, with his raunchy performance.
Battered and bruised by the over zealous crowd, and bemused that despite my purely heterosexual bent I had been strangely attracted to the man who someone once said could turn a whole rugby team, I spent a restless night alone in my hotel room. Undeterred by my lack of sleep, I reached the café where the interview was to take place at 10am sharp the next day and waited.
I had barely taken a sip of my skinny latte before a Harley Davidson pulled to a stop at the curb. The passenger climbed from the bike and tugged off his helmet. Michael Monaghan had arrived in all his black leather coated glory. When the driver kicked down the stand and got to his feet I assumed it was a bodyguard, or perhaps another member of the dance group, but I was very much mistaken. Helmets off the two men bumped fists, bumped chests and then Michael hugged the man to him and planted a kiss on his cheek. His companion shoved him off but the wide grin on his face and the way he winked at Michael left me in no doubt it was none other than Michael’s current male squeeze, Sam Stephens.
As his boyfriend climbed back on the bike and disappeared into the traffic Michael made his way inside and slipped into a seat the other side of my table. Now the moment of truth had arrived and I found myself a little speechless. Just what do you ask a male stripper?
Me: Nice to meet you. Thanks for the ticket to the show.
Michael: Did you enjoy it?
His dark eyed stare had me dropping my focus to my cup and I stirred in another unwanted spoonful of sugar, relieved when the waitress arrived to take his order.
By the time she was gone I was back on track, remembering to retrieve my long forgotten pad of questions from my jacket packet.
Me: The show was great. Unexpected. I get the impression your performance has very little to do with getting naked.
His laughter turned heads.
Michael: Were you at the wrong club? You can’t perform at a strip joint and it not be about taking your clothes off and flashing your bollocks. However, there is more to it than that for me. I love to dance, to interpret the music, make it a real show.
Me: That’s what I meant. Most places you come away feeling a bit dirty and seedy.
Michael: But not last night?
Me: It’s more of a cabaret act where people get nude. Like something you might see in Vegas.
Michael: My work here is done.
Me: You didn’t set out to be a stripper did you?
Michael: I set out to be feckless shite but fate intervened. Apparently I had hidden talents and I was persuaded to show them to the world.
His grin was disarming and the sexual undertone of his comment unsettling.
Me: In London?
Michael: Aye, I wanted a role in the West End but no one was buying my act. I’m not unhappy with the hand life has dealt me.
Me: And your family?
Michael: Are delighted I can now pay my own way in life.
Me: And what about your partner’s Meg and Sam?
Michael smiled at the waitress as she delivered his drink. I waited as he stirred in two sugars. I had been warned the topic of his love life was out of bounds but someone had to break down his barriers eventually.
Michael: Maggie and Sam are not something I usually talk about. However, I will gladly tell you they have my heart, and I will do anything to protect them and keep them happy.
Me: What about fears. What does a male stripper have to fear? Crazy stalkers? Jealous husbands?
Michael leaned closer and whispered: Cold weather and a poorly heated venue
I couldn’t stop myself grinning and he seemed very pleased with himself. The conversation turned to his time in New Zealand and how much he was enjoying his stay. Once the coffee was finished he pushed to his feet and offered a hand. I took it gladly and wondered if I had any talent at rugby.
Find out more about Michael and his story at www.michael-monaghan.com