Monday, October 23, 2017

The business of Chipependales

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

One of the wonderful things about Las Vegas is the city’s diversity. As one of the lead entertainers in the Chippendales show at the Rio, Bryan Cheatham is a big part of the welcoming atmosphere that characterizes the world’s entertainment capital. The Dallas native spoke to Las Vegas Black Image about the business behind one of the most popular shows in town.

How long have you been performing in Las Vegas with Chippendales?
Almost 10 years now. I was able to open the show when they first came to Vegas. I was there to inaugurate the new Chippendales showroom. This is our 10th anniversary at the Rio hotel.

Where are you originally from?
I am a Southern boy from Dallas, Texas. I have traveled all over the world, and just wanted to take a chance on Las Vegas. I moved to Las Vegas with no job, and within a week I landed the job at Chippendales.

Is the Chippendales show just about guys dancing around?
No, that is the cool thing about it. There is dancing, but there is also singing. People don’t realize that about the show. I am the only singer in the show, I narrate and host. I take people through a journey. It is like a live rock concert production with live guitar — a sexy rock concert. It is more like a Broadway show.

What do you say to people who think it is just a strip show?

The No. 1 thing that I love hearing after the show is, “I didn’t expect that.” Some people think that the Chippendales are just G-strings and dancers going out into the audience to get dollars. That is not what the show is all about. Our show is choreographed by the top choreographers in the world, people who have worked with Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars. It is a classy show that is a lot of fun.

How many African-American Chippendales performers are there?
Right now, in the show, there are three African-American Chippendales dancers — which is a lot. We are doing well, because when I first started with the show, I was the only one. It really is a matter of having good talent. I don’t think we necessarily have a quota. Some shows on the Strip only have the one black guy in the show. But when someone comes in with talent, it is undeniable. That is what Chippendales is all about — finding that special person who possesses great talent, can dance, has a great look and a good attitude. The African-Americans who auditioned stepped up and got the spots in the show.

What is a day in the life like for a Chippendales performer?

I think it should be called, “a night in the life of a Chippendale.” Most of my activity begins at night. My day time is very boring, because I get in very late at night. So when I wake up from being out all night, I definitely go to the gym to work out. I try to eat a good breakfast and spend about an hour-and-a-half in the gym. The gym is like going to a job. Sometimes I don’t want to go, but I have to. It is imperative that I work out in order to keep my Chippendales job. Junk food is my weakness, but I have to maintain a healthy weight and overall energy from a healthy diet.

So, you have to keep your six-pack to keep your job?
Oh yes! You have to have the total package to be in Chippendales. There is a weight watch with the show. Either the fellow cast members will tell you if you are looking out of shape, or the producers will. When you are on stage, you want to be the best. All the members of Chippendales are a team, but we are competitive and want to gain the attention of our audience.

What is it like performing in Las Vegas?
Performing in Las Vegas is one of the most exciting jobs there is. It is triple everything that Hollywood is. This is because everything in Vegas happens every night. In Hollywood you can go a concert or a movie — and then it is over after production, and you are not going to get an immediate response. Performing in Vegas gives you audience appreciation every time you go on stage.

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