Rick Astley: Male Stripper

By Alanta Colley

This is not a tale you’ve heard before. Suffolk born Cow-Boy-Zone (not his birth name) grew up in the tougher end of town, wrestling with the harsher realities of eking an existence behind the checkout, when the world of dance beckoned, and he answered. What followed was a window of opportunity into adventure as Cowboy trialled life in a Boy Band, various stripping duos (including the subtly titled ‘Cock and Balls’) and went on to the outfit of ‘Astley Nicely’; riding off the back of the success of Rick Astley’s career; rose to fame alongside him and then fell with Astley’s decline as well.

Cowboy displays a certain vulnerability; imploring us to hear his tale; not just baying for him to take his clothes off. He talks about the prejudices people in his home town held against him as a dancer, and the rough realities of touring and dealing with the clubs, managers and the public. A glamorous life, maybe? Maybe not.

A fair bit of Cowboy’s tale was a bit unclear, as he wavered from telling his origin story to making jokes about his clothes just falling off; it becomes unclear how much was set up and how much we were supposed to follow as narrative. It was unsatisfyingly vague. The story is a little rambling and lacking in confidence of direction.

Cowboy reveals some of the secrets of the trade. We learn the tricks male strippers use to ‘look big’, we learn of the art of tea-bagging and twerking (did Miley learn from Cowboy?) and how a male stripper might defend himself on the more precarious Hen’s evenings. Cowboy demonstrates objectification isn’t just something men do to women.

Be warned, this show is interactive, and mainly in the way you would expect of a strip show. If you’re an Astley fan, you’ll appreciate the nuances. If the world of stripping intrigues you, here’s a good place to learn more. An odd evening of entertainment for a comedy festival.

Rick Astley: Male Stripper is on at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow – Melbourne until April 20