Authors: Greg Raffetto
One Slimy, Lecherous Predator
In the empty middle bar, at the back of the Chippendales main ballroom, was where I always set up my wares; Chippendales merchandise of all sort. I was away from the throng of ladies by about twenty feet, so I was able to observe everything. One night, there appeared a man, about five foot nine, dressed in a fine pantsuit if this were 1979, wispy hair pulled over the top of his head into the consummate “bad combover guy” look. He sported large, indoor/outdoor glasses in sunglass frames with tiny diamonds studded all around the fascia—he looked like a really sleazy old-school Hollywood type. He would just stand there at the first bar across from me, randomly accosting beautiful women as they went to the bathroom, quickly handing them a business card and telling them he was some sort of modeling agent. What a scam…but he was a friend of the owner of the club, Jim Myron, so at first, nobody said anything about this scumbag who was clearly just trying to get laid, capitalizing on the neverending crowd of inebriated young beauties that we brought in every night.
So I watched this guy, becoming ever bolder through the weeks, and I noticed that as he’d get more and more drunk on his continual stream of free whiskey sours, he’d sometimes grab women by the arm and hold them there…sometimes even exchanging terse words with any young woman who
didn’t buy his line of blather. Finally, I said something to the guy, and he just grinned at me and said, “I can do anything I want—I’m a friend of the club owner, Jim Myron.” I said nothing to the guy, but I thought to myself, well, we’ll just see about that.
I went to the club manager, Mark Aitkin, and by golly, I told on this sleazy motherfucker, and Mark came out and had a talk with him. The man appeared enraged…but these were
customers he was preying upon, so we had every right and responsibility to protect them from this sort of thing.
Mark went backstage again, and I just stood there and grinned at the guy, gloating in my little success over him. My good feelings of accomplishment would be fleeting, however, because after a few minutes, the owner of the club, Jim Myron, came out and started lambasting me over my unwanted interference with the operation of “his” nightclub. He was mad. Jim started shouting at me about how much more powerful of a person he was than me and that he could squish me like a bug, and that he had more money than I could ever dream of having. It was a huge ego-driven barrage of erroneous insults that I was simply in shock at hearing, much less to have them directed at me—a nice kid who’d graduated at UCLA and was headed to law school. The nerve of this prick! Luckily, a couple of the waiters
overheard this looney tunes guy going off on me, and got Mark the manager back up there to intervene.
Things got even more heated up pretty quick. Soon, Mark was shouting at Jim Myron, and Jim was screaming at Mark, saying that he didn’t need our business anyway, and that he was already a rich man. Mark stormed off, which was the right thing to do at the time, considering that the women in the back of the ballroom were noticing and it was beginning to interfere with the mood of the show.
This being a Saturday night, we finished out the night, but that was our last night playing at Myron’s Ballroom. The next week, we were six blocks north, at the downtown “Stock Exchange.”
Soon, my excellent sales records led to another opportunity. One of the things I was so good at selling was Chippendales calendars, and the owner decided that perhaps he might include me in the next 1990 calendar, especially if I were to begin going on big promotional junkets to boost calendar sales.
The biggest deal each year at Chippendales was to be included in the Chippendales calendar. For those lucky few who were included, it meant a higher profile, more travel, lucrative promotional work and even talk show appearances, lots more money in tips at the club, and generally speaking it was a huge ego boost among guys to whom ego was the biggest part of their personality. Much bickering went on as to who should and should not be included, and of course seniority did play a part. New guys were rarely considered, much less featured. The most coveted spot was, of course, the cover.
In 1989, I was a fast-rising Chippendales star. I had already been promoted to waiter almost immediately (two or three years quicker than most host/waiters get promoted, if ever), and now I had heard from the promotions manager, Steve
na, that I was being considered for the
calendar. I was flattered, of course. As soon as the other dancers got wind of it though, I was immediately scorned. I was too new—I did not deserve to be in the calendar yet. Now naturally, anybody with seniority is going to act as if seniority is the hard and fast rule, and that’s exactly what these self-centered egomaniacs did. Only one dancer, Bernie, who KNEW he was going to be in the calendar, acted cool about the whole idea of me being considered.
One of the other dancers, Robert, who was often featured in the calendar with his twin brother, Stephen, even went so far as to say that I got into the calendar, he was quitting Chippendales. That really threw me for a loop. The jealousy of these prima donnas was outlandish!
First, to be even considered for the calendar, I was supposed to submit some photographs of myself, preferably taken at the beach. I did have some professionally taken head shots, and some body shots, but they were a couple of years old. I decided to have my sister, Mary, take some shots of me down at Venice Beach in the Three O’Clock sun in order to get some good reflections off the waves. My abdominal muscles were not all that pronounced, so I would need some shadow to accentuate them, and the Venice Beach afternoon sun did the trick. The shots came out great, and
within the week, I was booked to do a pre-calendar test shoot at the Chippendales studio in Santa Monica.
When I arrived at the pre-calendar test shoot, I knew that this was for all the marbles…it would have to go well for me to get into the calendar. The photographer was using a huge, old-school Hasselblad camera to allow for high resolution, full-sized shots. Every flaw would be revealed. I noticed that the guy going before me, Brad, had actually painted on his abdominal muscle ripples onto his stomach with an airbrush or dark makeup or something. Jeez, how was I to competed with that with my already weakly-defined abs? Well, as it turned out, Chippendales liked me for my face, and not my body, so a lot of the shoot had me wearing a grey sealskin jacket I’d brought along.
The shots came out great, but the question remained, would I be in the calendar or not?
So on a bristling fall afternoon in 1989, I rode my scooter to LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, which was about twenty minutes south of my senior year apartment near UCLA. I was off to Hawaii, to shoot the Chippendales calendar!
At the airport, I waited with the other schlubs in the terminal. This was going to be a six-hour flight. I noticed a guy, about my age, very good looking, staring at me. He got up from his seat, and walked over. What was he, trying to pick up on me, I thought? Nope, this was Richard, my flight-mate from Chippendales, as he introduced himself. I don’t know how he recognized me, and I never asked him. What Richard did reveal to me was that we were booked FIRST CLASS! Awesome! I had never ridden a plane in first class, so this figured to be a treat for me. And it got even better than that. The flight attendants, who saw the “CHIPPENDALES” as the purchasor of the tickets, treated us like royalty from the start. We got not just the regular perks, but we got fawned over by the stewardesses (oh, I’m sorry, flight attendants) to boot!
With so much attention from the pretty flight attendants, the grueling six-hour flight went by quite quickly. When we arrived, we were greeted by—what, no hula girls? No big flower leis like in the commercials? Nope,
nothing. Once we’d picked up our bags, Richard and I took a regular cab to the hotel we were staying at. A discount hotel, it turned out; no beach view, no gigantic floral displays in the lobby, and the room was not just small—it was miniscule. There was barely enough room for the two twin beds inside. Well, at least there were two twin beds, I thought, and not just one big queen. Oh well, you can’t have everything. Our calendar shoot was to begin the next day at 11am, and we were to be picked up by the photographers at 10am. That meant going to bed early and getting a good night’s rest, right? Yep. That’s what we did. No exciting story to be had right here. Sorry folks, it can’t all be exciting!
Nervous about the photo shoot, I didn’t sleep well. Still, we got up early at 7:30AM, ate a light breakfast of eggs and fruit in the lobby, and then set about the task of finding a local gym where we could get a good “pump” on. Richard and I disagreed as to where that would be, so we parted ways until 10am. I followed the directions of the guy at the front desk, and walked along the canal street for a few blocks, and found the local “gym” they were talking about. It was a small storefront, perhaps 15 foot wide inside, with heavy machines and free weights available inside. I had to pay $20 for a “temporary membership” and I got down to the business of ‘pumping’ my
‘pecs’ (pectoral chest muscles) and ‘abs’ (abdominal stomach muscles) for the shoot.
The photo shoot took place on the southwest-facing beach of Oahu, near Waianae. This was only my second professional modeling shoot. I had done a beach/surfer bit for BBD&O once, but this was much bigger. I was really nervous. Thank God they decided to photograph Richard first, who had apparently done plenty of professional modeling in his day. Richard was older than I, maybe 28 or so, and supposedly on his way to USC Dental School. He had great abdominal muscles—very well defined. I wished mine were that good, but I had not begun to do steroids like the rest of these guys did. Well, thankfully, Richard was first, so I had enough time, while they were taking pictures of him…to throw up. I had felt really nauseous due to my nerves. One of the photographer’s assistants took pity upon me and started telling me some funny stories about other shoots he’d been on—and other models barfing and stuff. But when he got to the Chippendales shoot, there was a real zinger! Just the previous week, while shooting for Chippendales, one of a pair of twins, Joel B. or Paul B. (I can’t remember which one), had apparently lined his Speedos with a rather thick stack of WOMEN’S PANTY LINERS in order to make his junk look bigger! The stack of panty liners had started to come loose during his photo session and
had stuck partially out of his Speedos man-panty swim briefs! I laughed so hard, I had trouble catching my breath.
When it came time for my photo session, I knew I was in for a lot of work. Richard’s shoot had been a little over two hours, including breaks. There was a lot of posing and holding involved. This photographer didn’t believe in massive amounts of film being shot—he wanted to get
the perfect shot
each time. When my turn first came up, I was stricken by the glare of the mirror board redirecting the sun’s rays directly at me and my face. Since I hadn’t the abs that Richard had, the photographer seemed much more interested in photographing my face, rather than me and my whole body. Don’t get me wrong, I looked good, but not “ripped and shredded abs” good is all. The photographer seemed particularly interested in getting my blue eyes lit up and captured on film, but I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open with the glare of the mirror board, so the photographer had me hold my eyes closed for five seconds, then he counted to three, and on three I was to open my eyes. He kept saying, “EYES…EYES….EYES,” throughout the shoot, as if I didn’t get what he was going for. In the end, they photographed me with three different Hawaiian shirts on, each fully open in the front. The one they selected was a pink and blue floral, which I truly wish I could show herein, however, Chippendales owns the rights to it, so I am prevented from
doing so. Sorry! For those of you who want to, you can visit my FaceBook page at
and see more pics of me, or check out my book’s facebook page under the title of this book, or the official website for this book, www.BackstageAtChippendales.com.
When the shoot was over, we headed back in the direction of our hotel, stopping first at a local eatery that, like many in Hawaii, featured SPAM
widely on its menu. After that, we headed for the U.S. Naval Base to get a few more pictures on the docks with the waning afternoon sun. Finally, the day was over, and we headed for the hotel. What a day it had been!