By Wing Hong Tse
The first time I met Sebastion was after he arrested my friend Liane for being “too sexy at age 45.”
He didn’t handcuff her though, or read her her rights. Instead, he dropped his pants, revealing a faultlessly tanned rump racked in a G-string, and the two then ground to the aural magic of Gwen Stefani.
That was in October or so. Lucky birthday girl. About two months later, I caught up with Sebastion again, a guy who works for Strip n’ Tell, a Toronto-based stripper agency that caters to club shows and private parties. This time Sebastion wasn’t in a peel-away cop’s outfit. If you’ve ever wondered what a male stripper looks like off duty, well, he wore a pink dress shirt. That takes confidence. You need it for this business.
Sebastion’s about six feet tall, built like a linebacker with a bullet-proof chest. And while he coyly says he’s between 26 and 29 years old, the wrinkles tiptoeing around his eyes suggest something else. By the way, Sebastion is an alias. Oddly, his real name is identical to that of a rock star whose band sunk along with Melrose Place and the Macarena. Here’s a classic on the origins of adult entertainers: You (a banker, or a crossing guard, say) go bust at a Vegas blackjack table.
Then, to get home, you find yourself in front of a camera with someone else’s cock in your hand. Six years ago, Sebastion entered the stripping industry in a similar way. He was a postman from Toronto, vacationing in Florida during the March break when his car got dropped at the pound. He didn’t have the cash to pull it out, leaving him stranded. So, he went scouring for a job. That’s when he found Penrod’s, a strip club on the south end of Miami Beach. One of their regular performers had left town for a family emergency, giving Sebastion — never having stripped before — a spot on stage as a replacement that night. He struck gold — or at least fistfuls of $1 bills.
In hours, Sebastion walked out with about $600 US, “enough money in one night to get my car out of the pound, enough gas to get home,” he says. “I think I even had 200 bucks left over.” When he returned to Toronto, he quit his job, telling his boss he scooped up a modelling contract in Florida. “It’s the longest job I kept,” he says, talking about his one-year stint as a postman. The Yellow Pages’ entertainment section was calling. The rules of the stripping trade: You must be positive, upbeat, friendly and have fun, Sebastion says. “If you have a good time, the people are having a good time.”
Keep working out. Keep your tan. Be classy. Be clean. Don’t do drugs. Don’t get drunk, but you can down a few. Don’t be late (But that’s a tough one). Don’t touch the women, but they can touch you, if you’re OK with it. His says his best performace was dancing for actress Lara Flynn Boyle on the set of The Practice. Sebastion pretended to be an extra on set but once “action” was yelled, he lost his pants instead of hanging up a phone as scripted.
And sometimes, the job isn’t so great. In his six years of stripping, Sebastion’s worst experience was dancing at an animal clinic. “The animals were in their cages and they were all hurt. The vet, she had blood on her doctor’s coat and had gloves on with blood on (them),” he says. “I just did one song. All I could think about were the animals. I couldn’t really get into it.” Today, Sebastion is living the upside-down work schedule of DJs and professional poker players.
“Monday to Thursday, it’s sort of my weekend,” he says. He adds Sunday in a later telephone chat, leaving him with just a two-night work week and an idyllic urban lifestyle. “I have the option of taking a weekday job,” he says. (He did so in his first three years of stripping, making enough money to buy a property.) “But I really like taking life easy.”
Sebastion says he typically wakes up at 11 a.m. to a bowl of oatmeal or shredded wheat. He heads off to the gym and then tans (though not every day). And as evening approaches, he rings up friends to shoot pool or go to a movie, bar or club. But on Friday and Saturday nights, that’s when he hits the circuit, “working” different roles. (Strip n’ Tell offers pizza boys and FedEx men among other fantasy men.) It’s exhausting, Sebastion says.
“By the time I’m done going from downtown Toronto to maybe Oshawa and then maybe over to North York, I’m pretty tired. Tired from all the dancing, from the driving.” Still, Sebastion says he scores about $700 in those two nights — and puts some of it away. Speaking of money, the reality of this job is that females have it better. Males at Strip n’ Tell charge $180 for nude dances; females, $250. It’s the same with gigs.
“For male dancers, it’s pretty tough. There’s only one strip club that’s open two days a week,” Sebastion says, talking about Toronto. “But for female strippers, you’ve got 15 clubs open seven days a week.” For the record, Toronto boasts just two male strip clubs: Remington’s, which caters to gay men, on Yonge Street just 20 metres from Ryerson, and Ceasars, a two-story club in the east end housing males upstairs on Fridays and Saturdays. (One stripper there named Ferrari is a near clone of Sebastion.)
Back to that first time I met Sebastion ?– he arrived an hour late. Everyone was angry with him and we were going to dock his tip, give him hell. Then he walked in, grinning in a cop’s uniform and suddenly it was like we were all chums, drunk and sweaty and in Los Angeles.
Sebastion spent five years there, you know, dancing for celebrities, earning the name “Stripper to the Stars.” Anyway, that’s how it went.