Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 09:48 UK

One night with the Chippendales

By Angie Brown
Edinburgh reporter, BBC Scotland news website

The Chippendales are appearing on the Edinburgh Fringe for the next three weeks
The Chippendales are appearing on the Edinburgh Fringe for the next three weeks

I am still trying to work out who the person was that I turned into last night.

One minute I was sitting quietly wondering if The Chippendales show really fitted in with the Edinburgh Fringe and the next I was leaping up to scream and whistle along with the baying mob of other women in the room.

It was as if a Chippendale moon had come out from behind a cloud and I was transformed into a crazed and panting monster along with hundreds of other sisters.

I found myself chanting "Chippendales, Chippendales" and reaching out at full stretch in the hope of catching one of their vests they had ripped off their backs and were throwing into the crowd.

Who was this thing I had turned into? I knew it was bad, or was it?

They were making lots of money from taking their clothes off, I thought.

But then the moral police were tapping on my other shoulder asking me if my behaviour was being degrading.

I had laughed when I saw on the ticket that the show was being held in the Debating Room - an old hall in an Edinburgh University building.

I imagined the high-brow conversations of the past and thought how differently the room was being used now.

Then again maybe it is very apt that Chippendales: The Ultimate Girls Night Out is being held in an academic debating chamber, as there was certainly a moral debate going on in my head as I watched the show.

I had justified being there by not getting all "dolled up", as if I had nonchalantly rocked up to any other Fringe show.

But as I gazed round the room everyone else was teetering in stilettos and falling out of skimpy tops, hoping to catch the eye of one of the 12 Chippendales.

Angie with Kevin Cornell
Angie with lead Chippendale Kevin Cornell

Little did they know that I had had their enviable fortune of talking to some of the Chippendales in a VIP room before the Gilded Balloon event.

I got off to a bad start, or maybe it was good, as I was chastised by the lead Chippendale Kevin Cornell, 31, from Los Angeles, for referring to them as strippers.

He said: "We are male exotic performers not strippers. We don't take tips and we have had to take dance, drama and choreography classes.

"It is a theatrical show, its not about our clothes coming off as you will see in the show. We dance and sing to loud music and we have come to the UK to break that assumption.

"We are very similar to the Spice Girls in that we all have a different personality, I am the one with long hair."

I have to admit the crowd is exactly the same in any boy band concert and that they are just as full of topless men on stage.

But I certainly could not take my grandmother to this "theatrical" piece of art.

The hen parties and girls on an office night out did seem to be having a great time, though.

Women's lips

And the Chippendales' gruelling diet and exercise regime has to be commended.

Mr Cornell said: "We can't ever eat McDonalds or chips. We eat 50g of protein six times a day and work out; the hardest part is the training to keep in shape."

So the big question, do they have girlfriends?

Mr Cornell, who became a Chippendale after his mother encouraged him to apply after going to a show, said: "Only a couple of us have girlfriends, the rest are single. You would have to be a really confident girlfriend.

"One time I was in Berlin and I opened the curtains of my hotel room and there were three girls who had climbed up the fire escape and were standing outside my window as they had found out our room numbers.

"I would love to be in a relationship but being a Chippendale it is very difficult because we are away for four months of the year."

So why my crazy behaviour last night? If I was to bump into Mr Cornell again in the supermarket I would not rush up to him and start tugging at his shirt.

Chippendale, Kevin Cornell
Kevin Cornell is the lead Chippendale in the troupe

Dr Jack Boyle, a Scottish leading psychologist, said: "When an individual is in a crowd they behave differently than when they are on their own.

"The individuals empathise with each other and take on the crowds own values. When they are in a group they do what the group says.

"At a football match if there was only one fan he wouldn't be shouting at the players but in a crowd it is different."

And as Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh City Council's festival champion, said to alleviate my guilt before going to the show: "When you see women watching strippers they are just having a laugh but when men watch female strippers it's sleazy."

Karen Koran, Gilded Balloon artistic director, said she decided to bring the Chippendales to the festival in a bid to introduce a new audience to the Fringe.

She said: "I think the Chippendales are brilliant, it is good clean fun, the women get to have a good time, they get a hug and that's it.

"I understand what a lot of people are saying that it's not a Fringe show but I want to bring new people to the Fringe who wouldn't normally go so we have been e-mailing offices in the city and sending flyers for hen parties.

"Also the Lady Boys of Bangkok runs in the Fringe and I think this is similar."

But when I walk home tonight through Edinburgh's "pubic triangle", which houses three strip pubs, I won't be taking the moral high ground any more as I shuffle past thinking, "that was me last night, that was".



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