Easiest summer job of all time?
I thought I had it figured out in high school, ripping tickets at a movie theater. Then, after a minor pay incentive moved me into the kitchen of a country club, the view from the parking lot offered no evidence to argue the universal stereotype of the pool lifeguard.
But now, here comes Ian Ziering to inspire jealousy in club-members’ deep-tan daughters, by out-chillin’ them as the guest host of Chippendales.
After memorizing all the teen-soap dialogue of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Ziering doesn’t stretch his acting chops to call out “all the freaks in the audience tonight,” or to remember to ask: “What’s the craziest place you ever got busy?”
Ziering doesn’t even have to host the “Dating Game” spoof “Chipp Shot” all by himself. He gets an assist from veteran dancer Nathan Minor, who has been with the show all nine of its years in its custom venue at the Rio, and has seen more condom-banana demonstrations from audience recruits than a sex-ed instructor.
But hold on, you say. What about that part where the gung-ho Ziering says he “feels overdressed,” and rips off his shirt? What about all that gym time to get his 50-year-old pecs to the point where he could show them off?
Point taken. Still, you figure an actor ought to be in good shape anyway, lest “Sharknado” comes calling. And I suspect the Chips would even let him keep his shirt on.
The real point is that Chippendales doesn’t really need any help. It’s a self-sustaining machine that gives the ladies what they scream for, and quite sensibly, doesn’t give Ziering anything to do that would be missed in shows which fall outside his Thursdays-Sundays through July 20.
The revue even has its own self-made stars in singing host Jaymes Vaughan and guitarist James Davis, at least until the muscle memory of their run on “The Amazing Race” goes the way of most reality-TV fame.
Still, Ziering reinforces the cross-generational appeal of Chippendales. Women who grew up watching him on “Beverly Hills, 90210” in the 1990s are maybe moms in need of a night out. And their moms or sisters still get a Bob Seger shout-out to 1983-era Tom Cruise and “Risky Business.”
A chair dance in white dress shirts to Joe Cocker’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On” transcends generations. And Ryan Stuart’s live-mic rap considerately shifts from “International Love” by Pitbull into the “90210”-era “Baby Got Back.”
But more and more of the show aims squarely at the 20-somethings who make up most of the crowd. If the clubs are stealing that audience from ticketed shows, the clublike energy of the male revues keeps them safe. Chippendales even has a sequence that conjures up a club, complete with velvet rope.
In the time since Ziering’s last working summer vacation, an update of more than half the show has pushed even more in that adrenalized, vodka-and-Red Bull direction.
Its not like the Chips are ditching any archetypes of cowboys or men in uniform, it’s just the way they’re presented. Construction-worker scaffolding still fills that roomy stage, and glowing red stage smoke summons firefighters who forgot their raincoats. But the welders now generate crotch sparks to David Guetta’s “Play Hard.”
The guys run through the audience to the tune of Guetta’s “Where Them Girls At” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me.” And the new, rechoreographed finale sends ’em out through the gift shop to the strains of Skrillex.
Chippendales is still more “produced” than chief competitor “Thunder From Down Under,” but the two are becoming more alike than different. The Chips rocket through their full-volume numbers without calling as much attention to the fact that they are doing choreography, and without much time to let any individuals shine through.
If the gals have a favorite, they will have to keep an eye on him amid the stage fog and stark lighting. Day-glo underwear helps.
Husbands and boyfriends are usually sidelined from this fantasy. But all those screaming women inspire a little counterfantasy: This job is second only to starring in “Sharknado.” Nice work if you can get it.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.