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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Men Bare Some for Her Eyes Only

Through the white haze and hiss of machine-blown smoke, it appears -- a male body, in all its noodle-veined glory, stuffed into a costume of black denim cut-offs and a skin-tight body building shirt. The man flexes and gyrates, writhes around on the floor, sheds the shirt and fingers his nipples. With a 30-second handstand, he wows the few women sprinkled throughout the bar.


He approaches and straddles one of the women sitting in a stage-side lounge chair. Leaning over her and mouthing the words to Simon Le Bon's "Who do you need," he wraps his leather belt around the back of her neck and pulls her toward him. After a few moments, he tosses the belt to the side of the stage and proceeds to squiggle out of his pants. The woman stares up at him and, cocking her head to one side, takes a long, pensive drag on her cigarette.


And with that, the show at Moscow's new male strip club, New Relax, has begun. On the fourth floor of the Sevastopol Hotel on the south edge of town, the strip bar, open only Thursday and Friday nights, is the first regular bar in Moscow where women can unwind, dance, watch men take off their clothes and stuff money into their underwear.


"I never thought I'd see this in Moscow. I mean, I understand women's strip. But men exposing themselves, physically or emotionally, is against everything we've grown up with," said Tatyana, 30, a public relations consultant who would not give her last name lest her co-workers make fun of her. "But it's too bad it's the same three guys over and over again. After a while, there's nothing new to see."


Indeed, the venue of strip consists of the same four packages, hand picked for their ability to gyrate, flex, and backflip, exposing themselves over and over again. Though the club promises male nudity to appease the most prurient of minds, there's no hope of cadging a glimpse under the bikini thongs. After stripping and holding their fully flexed poses for the the song's last chords, the boys skulk around the stage picking up their discarded clothing.


"This place could be a lot of fun, if there were more women going wild," said 19-year-old Ira, a twiggy blond in a short-cut slip dress who would not give her last name because, she said, "it's too embarrassing." She was one of the 25 or so women in the crowd, which mostly giggled and smiled at the show, which cost 100,000 rubles ($17) to get into.


Rowdy, ribald behavior is sure to come, though, as more women find out about the club, said general manager Irma Ordzhonikidze, 31. She hopes for a business clientele, she said, and forbids men from entering unless they come with a woman.


"But we don't want any of those women, who make their money on Tverskaya, coming here to throw it around," said Ordzhonikidze, in a polka-dot nightshirt and her hair in wild corkscrew curls.


"Also, I'd like to get sexier barmen. Our barmen have to be beautiful, they should have shoulders and butts that blow the customers away," Ordzhonikidze said in her husky Georgian accent. "But those guys are going to cost a lot more, and right now all I can afford are these cute little boys."


Not all the boys behind the bar are so thrilled with the job they're doing either. Wearing nothing but a bow tie, a g-string and an apron, Roman, 23, makes just $20 a night, not nearly enough to justify working with his doughy bottom hanging out for all to see, and he doubts whether the club will be successful. He refused to give his last name because he doesn't want his friends or his girlfriend to know he works here, and said the job is humiliating.


"I took the job thinking I'd make a lot of money at it. Now I just thank God each night that no one has pinched my butt," he said.


Table-side strips go for an extra $100, $70 of which goes straight to the stripper. In an added bonus, the strippers will fling off their thongs, but still hold their hands awkwardly over their private parts, as if their moms were sitting in the back row.


"It's much sexier to have to guess what is under there than to actually see it," said 22-year-old Lyokha Zimin. The audience didn't agree.


To see all of him, try the $120 private show in the back hall. And Irma assured with a wink that hiring the guys as male prostitutes was "possible, sure, you just quietly negotiate with them in the back."