Words & Deeds

Male strippers at Boise’s historic Egyptian Theatre? Abs-olutely

Where’s the beef? In Downtown Boise on May 3.
Where’s the beef? In Downtown Boise on May 3. thunderfromdownunder.com

When Egyptian Theatre general manager Destiny McGinley was contacted by a man hoping to present Australia’s Thunder From Down Under at her venue, she initially thought it was a film.

Not exactly. But have you heard of “Magic Mike”?

Opened in 1927 and beautifully restored in 1999, Boise’s Egyptian is known for many things.

Male strippers? No.

Male strippers performing a fundraising show for gay men? Let’s assume that’s also not part of the venue’s rich past.

Male strippers flexing and thrusting for a mix of squealing women and, yes, gay men (but please not TOO many gay men up front, because that might be weird for the brawny dudes on stage). Nope, also not part of the storied history at the Egyptian, 700 W. Main St.

I guess you never know what’s around the corner in Downtown Boise.

“Hey, you don’t know if you don’t try,” Destiny says.

The May 3 show, which went on sale April 15, is on pace to sell out. The 746 tickets would generate about $10,000 for Boise Pridefest, a nonprofit celebration of the city’s LGBTQA community. (That’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual and Ally.)

Rodney Busbee, director of Boise Pridefest, got the idea after noticing that Thunder From Down Under is booked in Ogden, Utah, on May 5. Busbee had heard that the strippers used to do an annual AIDS fundraiser — “a big gay show” — in Las Vegas. “And then they stopped doing it,” he says. “I don’t know what happened.”

Whatever the case, Busbee was transparent when he reached out to the gods of Thunder.

“They definitely let us know up front that all the guys in the show are straight,” Busbee says. “So it’s a very interesting concept. But all the guys in the show have no problem. They are totally open to helping Boise Pride. So it’s a very interesting balancing act of, we don’t want a bunch of guys up front, where all these straight guys are going to strip.”

Giggling yet? Don’t feel bad. Busbee laughs while describing the back story, not to mention the marketing strategy. “Everything had to be weighed a little bit,” he admits.

“The perfect girls’ night Outback!” it reads on the event’s Facebook page, which also notes, “No full frontal nudity. Gentlemen welcome.”

Ticket buyers are skewing heavily female — as in 90 to 95 percent, Busbee says. “The women are eatin’ it up. All the advertising we’ve done on social media was directed just to women.”

If the show were held at the nearby Balcony Club, a gay bar, Busbee says, “the guys would be all over it. But I think the fact that we are really pushing it to women, I think they may be a little intimidated at the fact of being one of the guys at this show dominated by women.”

Men — and women — can gather for happy-hour-priced cocktails during a pre-party at the Balcony Club. But alcohol will not be sold at the actual Thunder From Down Under show at the Egyptian. As cringing bar owners will tell you, Idaho State Police loves to send undercover detectives to male stripper shows in hopes of witnessing an illegal banana-hammock slip.

Busbee even phoned State Police before he booked the show. Just to be safe.

“They’re like, ‘We won’t be there,’ ” Busbee says. “It’s funny how it opens up everything once there’s no alcohol. You can do anything if there’s no alcohol.”

Not that this will be a no-alcohol free-for-all. Destiny vetted these able-bodied Aussies before approving the show, which is for patrons 18 and older.

“My connections in Vegas gave them very wonderful reviews,” she says. “They said they’re very respectful men. They’re tasteful. They’re a class act.”

Fit for a queen, one must assume?

“There’s no touching. No tipping,” Busbee adds. “It’s a 100-percent professional act. It’s more like art than guys in your face with their crotches kind of thing. It’s got an $8,000 light show going on with it and things like that. It’s quite the staged performance.”

Sheesh, Rodney. I almost want to go to this now.

“Do you need VIP and backstage passes?” he asks helpfully.

Ah, man. I would. But I see that VIP tickets, which cost $49, are sold out. And as I spoke to Destiny on the phone, the last cluster of floor tickets were being snapped up at $35 each.

Sorry, ladies and gents. Balcony tickets for $25 are pretty much all that remain. And those might be gone by the time you read this.

Tickets: thunderfromdownunder.com.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

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