The Full Monty turns 20: Former male stripper says profession is not what it was

The Full Monty star Robert Carlyle and Andy King, who stripped for a living (pic: Fox Searchlight/Andy King)
The Full Monty star Robert Carlyle and Andy King, who stripped for a living (pic: Fox Searchlight/Andy King)
Have your say

The Full Monty fuelled a boom for male strippers but the good times are long gone, says a veteran of the profession.

Andy King earned his living by baring all for more than 30 years and now runs an agency providing strippers and other acts in Sheffield and surrounding areas.

He was working behind a bar when he was first invited to give it a go in 1984, aged 18, and soon quadrupled his weekly earnings to around £600.

Having started off performing around Yorkshire, where he regularly appeared at clubs in Crookes, Shiregreen and Killamarsh, he was soon stripping most nights at venues across the UK and even went on tour in Germany.

"Although The Full Monty came out in 1997, I think it best reflects the period when I started stripping in the early 80s, when you didn't have to be especially good looking or have a great body. Anyone who had the bottle could do it," he says.

"It's different now. It's all body builders and the like who are doing it."

Andy, now aged 51 and living in Bradford, says male stripping was already big business before The Full Monty's release but demand exploded almost overnight with the film's success.

"It went from being busy to every social club in every city trying a ladies night," he says.

"It took a good 10 or 15 years for the interest to die down but it's no longer what it used to be.

"When I started I was working five or six nights a week, but now the demand' s only really there at the weekend, for hen dos or birthday parties."

Andy only retired three years ago and says most of the men on his books are in their late 30s or 40s because they've learned how to put on a good show, with some even incorporating skills like fire-eating to make their routines stand out.

He says the more experienced strippers know how to work a crowd, whereas the new guys have shed their clothes in a few minutes without putting on a proper show.

He blames the profession's decline on the growth of home entertainment and cut-price alcohol from supermarkets, which means fewer people are going out.

Andy is married and has children but says his trade never bothered his family.

"It was just a job. We never really talked about it. My daughter used to run around with the police that I used, and she would say 'my daddy's a policeman, but sometimes he's a fireman'," he says.