Gingers on Ice will perform as part of the Winter Chautauqua at the Crystal Theatre.
The first Chautauqua took place in 1874 on the shores of New York's Chautauqua Lake, and it was an evangelical affair. Over the decades, the Chautauqua became a circuit event and morphed from lecture-heavy adult education to entertainment and comedy. Performers like Maud Ballington Booth (aka "Little Mother of the Prisons") laid the foundation for the popularity of one-person shows. Booth (according to an issue of Books at Iowa) told stories of prison life—impersonating both men and women—with such emotion that she apparently moved audiences to tears and, ostensibly, reform.
Missoula's Winter Chautauqua is the natural descendant of the original tradition. Former Indy calendar editor Ednor Therriault organized the old-school variety show with a lineup of artists, poets, performers and musicians. Therriault's alter ego, Bob Wire, will play with his band, which he's calling "Bob Wire and the Bob Wire Trio featuring Bob Wire." Current Indy calendar editor Charley Macorn will perform standup comedy that may or may not include stories about drinking DayQuil. The night also includes comedy duo Gingers on Ice, musical duo Red Dress and poet Philip Burgess. Early Chautauquas always had an educational component, and mushroom guru Larry Evans fills that role for tonight's show with a talk about all things fungal. Comedian and actress Rosie Ayers emcees.
Missoula's Winter Chautauqua serves as a fundraiser for the Poverello Center. (Also worth noting: Therriault and Macorn both say that the performance marks the final show at the Crystal Theatre, though the owners of the Missoula institution could not be reached to confirm.) Like Chautauquas of yore, it's an event meant to bring the community together. No promise of souls being saved, but it'll likely be a good time.
The Winter Chautauqua takes place at the Crystal Theatre tonight, Sun., Dec. 18 at 7 PM. $5 at the door. Beer and wine will be available for sale.
If you haven't seen Magic Mike XXL (the sequel to the more inferior Magic Mike), that's okay. You don't have to. I mean, you can continue your hollow existence without all those abs and Channing Tatum dance-offs. You'll probably be fine.
If you have seen XXL, you know how boring—and strangely avant-garde—the dialogue is, but how funny and weirdly amazing the dance moves and scenarios are. Consider the evidence.
On Tuesday, Missoula fans of erotic male dancing entertainment were treated to the Magic Men Live tour, a Michigan-based act that's been grinding hips before Channing Tatum's power tool performance. Curious to know the story behind the magic, I spoke with Magic Men founder, producer and emcee Myles Hass about the tour's origins and philosophy. Yes, philosophy.
How did you get started in this business? Myles Hass: My family’s been in the adult party entertainment industry since 1989 working with male and female entertainers. I got involved straight out of high school, while I was going to college, on the management side of things working in the office. Shortly after college I started my own agency with male and female entertainers. On the male side of things, the guys always had the idea of starting a male revue show.
What made you decide to finally do it? MH: A local radio station wanted to host a ladies-night-out party in the metro-Detroit area and give away a certain number of tickets to radio contest winners. They wanted the guys in my company to be the entertainment for the night. They gave away 200 tickets and on the night of the show, 400 girls show up. So at that point we’re like, “Okay, yep. There’s definitely something here. Me and the guys got together and started developing a show. We approached some local clubs and one of them agreed to allow us to host a ladies night on a monthly basis. Our first show sold out and broke every record that club ever had.
At what point did it become this highly produced touring show? MH: Once we saw how much the female population enjoyed what we were doing, we started taking it a lot more seriously ... Over the course of three to four years we worked on it locally, doing shows three to four times a month in different parts of the metro area and then finally decided it was ready to be tested on the road. We brought on choreographers, a production team and slowly over time built it up into a full show. Now we’re touring around the country with two full-size tour buses, an entire production team, a group of 10 performers and the show’s really come together.
What’s your particular role in the show? MH: I’m the emcee. I’m the first person the ladies get to meet and my job is basically to break the ice—get everyone comfortable and in the right frame of mind for what’s about to happen. Coming into a show like ours, a lot of people don’t know what to expect. There’s a little bit of shyness in the beginning with our audiences. And I introduce each set of acts.
Myles Hass is the founder, producer and emcee for Magic Men Live.
How is the Magic Men show different than other adult entertainment shows? MH: Our show is not just about dancing or guys taking their clothes off. It’s really storytelling, in a way. We like to dive deeper. With women it’s not just visual, it’s also mental. We’ve got to entertain them and obviously they’ve got to like what they’re seeing, but also they’ve got to like what they’re hearing and what the act is about—the type of person it’s about. And that might fulfill some fantasy in one way or another. We have different inspirations for each act that’s performed on stage but we put our own spin on it. It’s a lot more in-depth that you would think. I think it makes for a better experience and a better connection with our fans.
A lot of these kinds of shows are relegated strictly to strip clubs, but it seems like you guys perform at more mainstream entertainment venues. MH: Getting our foot in the door was definitely hard. The first impression people have of what we do is that it’s guys taking their clothes off. Once they see all the technical things that go into it, that it’s produced no different than a Broadway show or a play is produced, then it’s like, okay. Then they started to understand we are producing a show that just so happens to include men taking their clothes off. All of a sudden the doors started to open for us and we were performing at every type of venue you can think of—performing arts centers, big theaters, places where you see rappers and comedians perform. You wouldn’t expect a group of male entertainers to perform in the same type of setting as those artists, but with the type of show we bring, once you see it, it makes more sense.
How did the Magic Mike movies affect your touring act? MH: That brought a whole new level of awareness to what we were doing. It’s a pop culture phenomenon just like 50 Shades of Gray, so we used parts of that to inspire the show in ways that would be familiar to our audiences. But it’s not just one movie or one act or one theme. We touch on a lot of different tastes and preferences.
What did you think of Magic Mike XXL? MH: Oh, the second one? I liked it. I thought it was a great movie. It delivered an awesome message as far as females being able to have the same types of experiences men have and not having to feel guilty about it. What we do [with Magic Men] is less about the lust and more about the entertainment. We’re not on stage like, “Look at how sexy I am.” It’s about women coming to have a good time and laugh and share an experience with their friends and going home with something to remember.
What are your fans like? MH: Our social media fanbase has grown ridiculously over the last few years and each individual on our team has their own following. It’s almost like a boy band in a weird way. If there’s anyone reading this article who actually wants to get to know us a little bit better and see the men behind the magic, following us on social media is the best way to do that. And that makes for more of an exciting experience when you finally get to see the people you’ve been following perform live.