Why not take a peek at The Black Full Monty?

Thursday: The Black Full Monty; (Channel 4, 10pm)

This documentary takes a peek behind the curtain of The Chocolate Men
This documentary takes a peek behind the curtain of The Chocolate Men

The popularity of male strippers has steadily risen over the years – thanks in part to a few memorable films at the cinema.

Back in 1997, there was The Full Monty, the bittersweet comedy drama about six unemployed steel workers in Sheffield who form a striptease act.

That was followed in 2012 by Magic Mike, the tale of a stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women and make easy money. Then, more recently, in 2016, there was Chocolate City.

Not only were all three movies (and their franchises) box-office successes, they have sparked a series of spin-off live tours, with dancers performing in theatres and night clubs to huge crowds of very loud and very enthusiastic revellers.

This documentary takes a peek behind the curtain of The Chocolate Men, who are making waves as Britain’s first all-black touring strip dancing group.

Filmed during their 2018 nationwide tour, the revealing film looks at what brings audiences from all walks of life flocking to their performances.

We meet the men behind the saucy strip shows who explain what motivates them to bare all.

The Chocolate Men’s managers, Louis Legacy Francois and Dante Aaron-Williams, thought up the idea after hosting a Magic Mike-themed night. They noticed that the event’s only black dancer received a massive reaction from the crowd and hit upon the idea of an all-black group.

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Slogans such as “Excitement, laughter and The Chocolate Men, what more does a girl want for her birthday?!” and “Remember ladies – What happens at Chocolate City – Stays at Chocolate City” are now used to build up the hype, and the show has gone down a treat with the paying punters.

The Chocolate Men’s Facebook page features a number of reviews from women stating the night is “the most fun they’ve had in years”, with one even declaring that she has “fallen in love”.

The pages promoting their events also insist The Chocolate Men’s shows are not just a place for women and that men should come along to see what all the hype is about.

Anthony, aka Black Magic, is one of the group’s longest-serving dancers: “Some people would look down their nose at the job that I’m doing. But they’re not walking in my shoes.”

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Anthony met his girlfriend Phillipa at one of his shows. Now, with a baby on the way and stripping as his only income, Anthony’s feeling the pressure on his finances and it’s beginning to affect his performance at work.

Brazilian Gino is a typical student by day, living at home with his mum and sister. But by night, he works as a stripper to pay off his university costs.

His mum has asked if she’d be allowed to come to a show, but Gino’s adamant that she doesn’t need to see her son “fully naked, dry-humping multiple women”.

Gino is happy dancing for now but has dreams of settling down with a more typical day job.

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And finally we meet 35-year-old Django, who is new to stripping.

His very first performance pushes the entertainment over the line, causing friction with the other dancers and frustration for bosses Louis and Dante.

Could the rookie’s dancing days be over as quickly as they started?

During this documentary we see the lads making a success of their business. However, that was back in 2018, and there have been tough times recently. Not only were their shows been put on ice as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has also been opposition to their raunchy act and what some people believe is their ‘terrible’ and ‘tasteless’ name.

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However, in response to those who say their events sell a sexualised stereotype of black masculinity, Dante holds firm.

“There’s a demand and we’re servicing that demand,” he insists.

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