SEX SELLS! An interview with America’s most famous male stripper

This is an interview I did for a book I’m putting together called Working Stiffs.

DHS: I think it’s amazing that through the war, and this ridiculous economy, you’ve managed to keep a male stripper show going.

SCOTT: Hey, sex sells.

The most interesting thing about Scott Layne is not that he’s one of America’s most successful male exotic entertainers. Or that he’s been taking his clothes off for women all over the world for twenty years. Or that he became a male stripping star at Chippendale’s Male Strip Club in New York City in the cash-happy mid-eighties. Or that for the last ten years he’s owned and operated his own male strip club, The Hollywood Men. Or that he was Playgirl’s Man of the Year in 1998. No, the most interesting thing about Scott Layne is what an average Joe he is.

Scott Lane Wisman was born a Midwestern boy who had pretty much everything he wanted. He was a happy child, apart from feeling like he was a homely nerd. But who doesn’t feel like that? Scott’s dad was a plant manager for Chrysler. Hard worker. Political. Smart. Master craftsman. “I always wanted the respect of my father and I felt like I never got it. One time I said, ‘Dad I know we’ve had our differences, but I just wanted you to respect me.’ And he said, ‘So did I.’ Like he couldn’t say he respected me, cuz he didn’t. I went straight into therapy after that.”

In high school Scott began his larvae-into-butterfly transformation from homely nerd to exotic male dancer man. He began dancing in the family rec room to “Saturday Night Fever”, deconstructed the numbers, move by move. He had no way of knowing it at the time, but in his own innocent Midwestern way, he was already training for a career entertaining people by stripping naked and getting them all sexed up.

Scott graduated from high school with a perfect 4.0 GPA and decided to go to the elite Air Force Academy in Colorado. He was picked out of ten of thousands of applicants. I mean, come on, how American is that? “I hated the Air Force. Hated it. So I punched. That’s what they call it. Like ejecting from a plane. I hated people telling me what to do.” As Scott was punching out of the Air Force Academy, his parents were divorcing. His dad was furious that he dropped out of the Academy, and Scott developed a nervous tick in his eye, a blinking he couldn’t control. “My blinking, it’s kind of like self-punishment, cause I feel like my dad was always so disappointed in me.” Making his withholding dad proud is a big part of what drives Scott so hard to succeed, drives him to need the love and attention of adoring crowds screaming for him, dancing and posing nearly-naked for them, working hard to make them sexually excited.

At 19, Scott moved to Motown with his mom. Enrolled in modeling school. Big waste of time and money. Changed his name, first to Julian Scott – after Richard Gere’s character in “American Gigolo” – then Lane Scott, then finally Scott Layne. He started going on modeling auditions. Go-sees they’re called. (You go. They see.) It was there that destiny called, in the form of a little black man who invited Scott to a strip club to try his hand at male exotic dancing. Turns out the clientele were all black. In fact he was the only white person there except for the owner. Scott didn’t care. He wanted to dance. He auditioned to “Head” by Prince. He was hired on the spot. He was the only white dancer on the bill. He made a fortune. The money was neither black nor white. It was all green. “The first time I danced I was so nervous, so excited, I had these huge butterflies in my stomach. Same thing I feel now when I dance. Hey, if you don’t have butterflies, it’s probably not worth doing. When I make a move, and they scream, it’s electrifying. It still is. I feel appreciated. That’s what I always wanted.”

After he’d been dancing for awhile, Scott went up to Canada to do a little “pickle shake”. But it’s Full Monte nudity there. As opposed to most of America, where you must keep your johnson fully packaged, no matter how small that g-string packaging may be. However, Canada and its penis-exposed stripping was not for Scott. “You had to wrap a rubber band around your dick so it doesn’t look like Mr. Shrimpy, but then it would start to turn blue, and that’s no good, nobody takes you seriously if you’ve got a blue dick, so the whole thing was kind of a nightmare.”

Scott decided he was ready for the Big Time, so he moved to the Big Apple, New York City, to be a star. He thought this would happen through his modeling/acting career. He was wrong. His arrival in Manhattan happened to happily coincide with the opening of Chippendale’s Male Strip Club. In the mid-eighties, Chippendale’s was the Mecca of male stripping, and it quickly became the hottest show in the city that never sleeps, packing 600 screaming women into the club every night, a sea of dollar bills waving as estrogen bounced off the walls. Scott was hired by a man who would change his life: Nick de Noia, the Emmy award winning choreographer/creative genius behind the Chippendale’s phenomenon. Nick was a former dancer, and a consummate showman. Scott wanted to be a star. It was a match made in stripper heaven. But Nick already had stars, having brought them from LA, where the club was launched. So Scott had to be content as a host. But he was always looking for his shot.

“I’ve always had the ability to know when someone was watching me without letting them know that I know they’re watching. So one night I knew Nick was watching me, but he didn’t know that I knew he was watching. And this Little Old Lady offered me a dollar for a kiss. I knew Nick was watching, and I told her she could have a kiss and keep her dollar, save it for one of the dancers. After that Nick changed his mind about me. So one night when the Perfect Man’s flight was late, he said I could do the Waiter number, where a host is dragged out onto the floor, supposedly against his will, and they ‘force’ him to dance. It’s a great number, and it requires a lot of acting. Luckily, it went really well, and the ladies loved it. Then Nick started working with me, he taught me drama and flair and showmanship, how to work a crowd. He really took me under his wing, he became like my father. He taught me that women want an obtainable fantasy, they want a masculine sensuality, they don’t want graphic sexuality. I’m trying to redefine the art of stripping, make it old-fashioned but contemporary. Nick called me the Gypsy Rose Lee of male stripping, and I’m very proud of that. I’m old school, I care about the performance, I care about the little old ladies. And I got that from Nick. I remember exactly where I was when I heard he was killed. I was in Wichita, Kansas about to do a show with my new troupe Seduction 87. I dedicated the show to him, and it was the best show I ever did. I pay homage to Nick whenever I do a show. I still miss him to this day.”

One night Calvin Klein came to see the show. Calvin knew Nick. Everybody knew Nick. After the show CK said he wanted to talk to Scott in the private office upstairs. When Scott went up, everyone was blowing lines of coke. Scott didn’t want to mix business with pleasure so he declined Klein’s lines. Then everyone left the room and suddenly Scott was alone with Calvin Klein, who at the time was slightly more famous than God. Calvin asked Scott to take his clothes off. Scott told Calvin he’d love to work for Mr. Klein, but since he’d just seen the show, he already knew what Scott looked like without his clothes on. Mr. Klein then offered Scott $400 to get naked. He told Calvin to fuck off and stormed out of the room. At the top of the stairs Scott looked down and all the other dancers were glaring up at him like he’d let Calvin Klein do him for money. This rumor spread like wild fire through the club, and resulted in rancorous animosity toward Scott. “Hell, I shoulda taken the money, any of those guys would’ve. But it was against my sense of morality, so I didn’t. And people still talked all this shit behind my back, that I took money from Calvin Klein, that I let him give me a blow job, which was total bullshit. Hey, fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. But I’m not a whore, never have been. During the show, I’m not selling a kiss. They’re tipping me cuz they appreciate my dancing. I kiss them cuz I appreciate them. If you’re not appreciating me, keep your fucking money. I hate it when they say, ‘Here’s a dollar, work for it.’ Women have indirectly asked me to have sex for money. They don’t come right out and say it, but it’s obvious that’s what they’re saying. For me, it’s wrong, but for other people, it’s not. I don’t judge people by what they do as long as they’re not hurting anyone. Hey, whatever pulls yer trigger. It just bothers me when people try to impose their views on me.”

Scott got tired of New York, Chippendale’s, and working for someone else. So he left, and ended up dancing in Wichita, Kansas, making 10 grand for two nights. There he got into an altercation with a fellow stripper. “The whole scene was kind of pathetic, these guys, the other dancers, they were having Blow Job contests. Me, I would take the chick out to lunch. Sure I wanted to fuck ‘em, but I wanted something more. This guy Bob, what a prick he was, he was such an asshole to me, so I told him his whole family was a bunch of monkeys, and he beat the shit out of him, really fucked me up. So I thought, time to move to LA.”

Scott wanted to open his very own exotic male dance club in LA. So he started The Hollywood Men. Even though it’s mad hard work running the show and dancing, these two jobs perfectly personify the two sides of Scott’s personality. When he dances, he gets to play, the sex Muse flows through him, and he becomes that kid in the rec room again. But running the business feeds the serious side of his personality, the one that follows in his father’s footsteps. “I complain that I have to do everything myself, but I’m a perfectionist, and I want it done right. I build the sets, I choreograph, I do the payroll, EDD, acquisitions, corporate pay roll, filing. It’s really important to me that the show is done right. I hate when dancers don’t pay attention to older women, and to women who aren’t traditionally hot. I always bring an older lady out and do a number to her. It turns younger women on, they think, ‘Oh, he’s sweet, he has no ego, he just made her night.’ Plus the older lady feels good, you can see it, and that’s contagious. And honestly, it makes me feel good to know I’ve made an older woman happy, I feel like I’ve done something good in the world. Some ladies like hot bodies, some like performance and personality. I’m not always dancing my best, but I always give it everything I’ve got, that’s the least I can do. For me, it’s all about sharp moves, quick moves, that are sensual and sexy without being graphic. After twenty years, I still love it, I still love making those moves, and feeling that shiver when they scream.”

Scott’s parents know he’s a stripper. His mother has always been very supportive of his chosen career. When she came to see him at Chippendale’s, Scott brought her up on stage, and she had a blast. But everyone has their own line in the sand, and she was totally opposed to his appearance in Playgirl. She thought it was wrong. Scott and his father have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy when it comes to Scott’s being an exotic dancer. His dad has never seen Scott dance, but he and Scott discuss the business end of everything. His dad had no problem with Scott posing nearly nude in Playgirl. He saw it as a business decision, a great marketing tool for the club. When it comes to sex and money, everybody has a different moment when they say when.

“With Playgirl, there was an issue about the total nudity thing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, and I wasn’t sure it was good for the club. My mom certainly didn’t want me to do it. So I did a shoot in a waterfall. I tied off and everything, so it was full, you know, but you couldn’t quite really see everything. When they got the shots back, they said they wanted me. Later that year they named me Man of the Year. I’m the oldest Man of the Year in history and I’m proud of that. Nudity doesn’t make me self-conscious, I can be outside the club having a smoke, and just be in my shorts and people are all dressed up going into clubs, doesn’t bother me. But if I blink and I can’t control it, I’m very self-conscious, and I feel like everybody’s watching me. I feel like I’m imperfect. If I feel less than perfect I feel terrible.”

Scott Layne is from a nice Midwestern family that loves him. He’s a business owner, a homeowner, a son and a dad. He also just happens to have built a career out of stripping nearly naked and dancing nearly nude. “I’ve got a great life. My mom is the best woman in the world. I love dancing. I’m my own boss. My house was paid for with dollar bills, I love my son.’

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About David Sterry

David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, book editor, activist, and book doctor. His first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller, and has been translated into 10 languages. “As laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing, what more could you ask for?” – The Irish Times.

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