"Giovoni" is a 28-year-old single dad who works a respectable job during the week. On weekends, though, Giovoni (not his real name) works as a male stripper, delighting the ladies at Milwaukee clubs, bachelorette parties and even banks.
Giovoni is a member of the Midwest Heartbreakers, a traveling troupe of strippers that will take it off anywhere you pay them to. And the ladies pay handsomely. On an average night, Giovoni will pull in $1,000 for three hours' work, hanging out with wild and crazy women who are drooling over his every g-string wearing, gyrating move.
Still, despite all the money, the adoration of rooms full of rabid women and the professional necessity of staying in great shape, Giovoni takes it all stride: "I'm just a regular guy," he says. "For some reason, women just pay me to take my clothes off."
If you're into these sorts of things, you can catch Giovoni every Saturday night downstairs at Silk, 11400 W. Silver Spring Rd. Just make sure to tell Giovoni that OnMilwaukee.com sent you.
We caught up with Giovoni recently for a phoner. In honor of Sex Week on OnMilwaukee.com, we present to you this most unusual Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: I'll be honest with you. I don't know a whole lot about the world of male strippers. What's your job like?
Giovoni: It's totally different than female stripping. Imagine about you and about five of your friends going out to a club. That club is filled with nothing but girls who are there to see you, and they want to pay you money. In a way, you're kind of like a rock star a little bit.
OMC: Do you have the best job in the world?
Giovoni: That's the thing. I wouldn't call it a job. You can't view this as a job. That's the difference between male dancers and female dancers. I would say 90 percent of male dancers have real careers, and this is something that we do on the side.
OMC: Yeah, tell me about that. What does Midwest Heartbreakers do?
Giovoni: We're the No. 1-rated male group in the whole country. We were given five out five stars by the "Women's Guild." We were rated higher than Chippendale's. Our show is up and close and personal. We don't just have the girls sitting there. You can actually get involved in the show and get up on the stage with the guys. That's something the ladies like.
OMC: Well, that's pretty different than what you see in a traditional strip club, right?
Giovoni: Exactly. When you go to our shows, there's not a bouncer there; that's sort of us.
OMC: I'd imagine your group could defend itself if need be.
Giovoni: I'm not going to say that's never happened. Girls get drunk and a little bit wild and grab. You've got to keep it under control right away, because obviously you're there to put on a show, not to have some girl feel up all on you.
OMC: Do you dance at clubs or private parties or bachelorette parties, or all of the above?
Giovoni: We actually do it all. I've danced anywhere from a strip club to a house to a hotel to a bank. Retail stores, you name it, I've done it.
OMC: Where do you make the most money?
Giovoni: Realistically, it's not where, it's all about the crowd. If they're into it, you're going to make a lot of money. If they're not, you're not. That's all about you. It's not just going up there and wearing the skimpy outfits and just taking it off. With the guys, we spend time on our acts. They're choreographed routines. It's a show.
OMC: Do you have a background in dancing?
Giovoni: When I was younger, I would just go to the clubs and dance. After a while, when you do your act, you could literally do it in your sleep. You know exactly what you're going to do next. It becomes second nature. Girls will ask you if you have to get drunk when you do this? I'm like, no, I can do this sober if I want to. The majority of the time I'm actually on stage, I am sober. I don't start doing any drinking until after I do my act, anyway.
OMC: On a good night, how much money can you make stripping?
Giovoni: I do it just on the weekends, and when the busy season starts -- bachelorette party season is all the way through October -- I can easily do two to three shows and make $1,000.
OMC: How does that compare to female strippers?
Giovoni: It's not apples to apples. When the girls (strip), they make tips. When we show up, we get paid to show up. I make money before I even put my bag down. Females will pay house fees and DJ fees. They have to pay for the lap dance rooms and stuff like that. We don't have to do that. I don't have to pay a house fee. Obviously, we tip the DJ. Women are there for five hours. Our shows are like two and half or three hours. I'm only on stage for 15 or 20 minutes. Then I'm out in the crowd, making money out there.
OMC: You're straight, right?
OMC: Do only women show up at these events, or do you ever have to dance for guys?
Giovoni: I did a show about two weeks ago, and it was a show for females, but one girl ended up bringing two guys. I purposely didn't dance for them. Someone else did -- I'm not giving out any names. Again, it's all about entertainment. The girls know it's all an act. You'll get two questions that come up right away. Number one, "Are you gay?" And number two, "Do you have a girlfriend?" You can almost see the questions forming as it comes out of their mouths. "Can I ask you a question?" "No, I'm not gay." You hear it so many times, it's sort of comical.
OMC: I always hear that men are way more physically motivated when it comes to strip clubs, that girls aren't interested in seeing men naked. Is that true?
Giovoni: No, it's not true at all. I've seen the side of women, every weekend, that guys dream about. They don't even know it exists. Imagine how you would act if you wanted to hit on girls. Now imagine if you were allowed to touch them while you're doing that. You should see the girls. I've seen fights happen before. There's alcohol involved, and nothing but women in the whole club. You literally see a side of women that nobody sees.
Giovoni: Each county has difference ordinances and things of that nature. You have to go with what's in that area. I've done shows where you have to wear nothing but "full backs," which are sort of like guy shorts. At Silk, which is where we perform every Saturday night, we wear g-strings. I've done nude laptop dances at some places, it really kind of depends. I don't go fully nude on stage.
OMC: Would you if you could?
Giovoni: Even if I could, I don't because you have to think about it in the money aspect. You're not there to whip out your d*ck. You're there to make money. You whip it out, you could've gotten someone to shell out for a private dance, but they just saw it for free.
OMC: You ever hook up with one of your guests?
Giovoni: We really don't do that. Realistically, that's bad business. I'm not going to say that I've never done it, but we generally try not to. Again, you have to think of this is a business. Definitely, we could if we really wanted to. I'm not here to get anyone in any trouble.
OMC: How did you come up your stripper name?
Giovoni: That's a good question. To be honest with you, I really don't even remember.
OMC: Do you ever tell women your real name?
Giovoni: I keep it at Giovoni.
OMC: Where does one buy stripper clothes?
Giovoni: We buy our clothes at normal places and we get them altered for tear-away pants and stuff like that. We all buy them from a women named Angel. I have a cop act. I do a "Napoleon Dynamite" and a scarecrow a "Sharp Dressed Man," too.
OMC: How long are you planning on being a stripper?
Giovoni: I don't know, until it's not fun anymore. Or until I don't make it lucrative.
OMC: Is it nice that part of your job means staying in great shape? I guess you can't get away with being flabby, right?
Giovoni: No, you can't. The thing with working out is that after a while, it gets to be a routine. You do something so many times in a row it's going to become habit-forming. That's one of the big things, that it kind of sucks if you stop for a while. You have to make sure that you don't stop.
OMC: Do people at your day job know that you're also a stripper?
Giovoni: Yeah, some of them do. It's not something that I really put out there to people.
OMC: Does your family know, and are they supportive?
Giovoni: My parents do know. They're not really like, "Hey, have a good show!" They know I do it. I'm an adult, they can't really tell me what not to do. They obviously wish I did other things.
OMC: But they haven't disowned you?
Giovoni: Oh no, nothing like that.
OMC: Do you ever step back and think about how funny your job is?
Giovoni: Oh yeah. It's comical to me. It really is funny. I'm just a regular guy. I'm no different than you or anybody else you'd see at a bar. I'm a single father. I work and take care of my son and do this on the weekends. For some reason, women just pay me to take my clothes off. I don't know why.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.