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Master of Ceremonies: A True Story
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David gives an overview of the book:

The year was 1985.  Smack dab in the middle of the cash happy/coke crazy, when it was raining men and girls just wanted to have fun on ladies night, that’s when David Henry Sterry became the Master of Ceremonies at Chippendales, the hottest show in the city that never sleeps.  And he did it all in tuxedo, top hats and roller skates. He was the only one fully clothed in the show, and the only one who talked.  This was not a coincidence.  MASTER OF CEREMONIES: A True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates & Chippendales (Canongate, August 2008) is about being in the eye of the storm of one of the greatest party cultures in the history of the world.  It’s about working for Nick de Noia, the visionary genius behind Chippendales (a man who saw himself as a cross between PT Barnum, Julius Caesar and Bob Fosse) who wanted to revolutionize the world by creating the first...
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The year was 1985.  Smack dab in the middle of the cash happy/coke crazy, when it was raining men and girls just wanted to have fun on ladies night, that’s when David Henry Sterry became the Master of Ceremonies at Chippendales, the hottest show in the city that never sleeps.  And he did it all in tuxedo, top hats and roller skates. He was the only one fully clothed in the show, and the only one who talked.  This was not a coincidence.

 MASTER OF CEREMONIES: A True Story of Love, Murder, Roller Skates & Chippendales (Canongate, August 2008) is about being in the eye of the storm of one of the greatest party cultures in the history of the world.

 It’s about working for Nick de Noia, the visionary genius behind Chippendales (a man who saw himself as a cross between PT Barnum, Julius Caesar and Bob Fosse) who wanted to revolutionize the world by creating the first fun, safe place where women could fondle, ogle and sexualize hot man flesh. 

 It’s about the soap opera of working with 25 of the most beautiful men in the world.  It's about being the ugliest man at Chippendale's, starved for love, and never getting laid in that vast sea of females.

 It’s about performing in front of 600 flesh-craving, money-waving, booze-fueled ladies; supermodels and soccer mom's; corn fed tourists and coke headed starlets; booming grannies and lipstick lesbians.

 It's about whether Chippendale's was the ripe fruit hanging on the tree of the Women's Liberation Movement, or just another way for hot guys to make a fast buck.

 And, it’s about finding true love in the strangest place. Somehow, in the midst of all the bulging g-strings, the six pack man wrack abs, and the mountain peak pecks, Johnny, the beautiful an exotic costume mistress chose as her husband, David Henry Sterry, the dweeb skating around in circles while Rome burned.

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The club’s buzzing: tight, quiet and frantic.  I can feel it the second I roll in on my black skates with the red wheels, wrapped in my Russian army coat.  Something bad.  Worse than usual. 

Wait a second.  Is that a cop?  Was there a cop car outside and I didn’t notice? 

Wait a second.  There are multiple cops. 

Arnolpho whips past in a fast version of his dancer’s walk, flying by like a fabulous flaming Brazilian comet.  He sees me, screeches to a halt, and purrs in that sex-drenched Brazilian accent:  

“Oh, Honey, have you heard?”

Arnolpho touches me with intimate familiarity on the arm, his face is so brown and smooth, he’s so beautiful. And he’s delighted, almost rapturous, because he’s in possession of a dark, delicious secret.  Nothing thrills Arnolpho more than being in possession of a dark, delicious secret. 

I wait for him to tell me, but of course he won’t.  He wants to stretch it out for as long as he can.  He wants me to ask.  Hell, he wants me to beg.

“Okay, I’ll play,” I say, “Have I heard what?”

“Nick…”

Arnolpho stops like that’s the end of the sentence and nods his head in that uh-huh-you-got-that-right-girlfriend kind of way that’s all wicked insinuation of something evil this way coming. 

I’m hooked.  He’s got me and he knows it.  Now he’s going to play with me like a fat cat who just ate batting around a churchmouse. 

“What?” I say, uncomfortable with how much need-to-know there is my voice.  “What happened to Nick?”

You just had a feeling something bad was going to happen to somebody, and Nick would be the logical choice for it to happen to.

“Bay-bee, your mind is gonna get blown into little pieces, Honey,” Arnolpho smiles that smile that reminds you of a samba at the beach on a hot day when everyone’s randy and sticky.  He’s having such fun.  That’s why, no matter how annoying Arnolpho gets, you can’t help but love him. He just has so much fun.

“Arnolpho, for God’s sake-”

As I’m about to wring the information out of him, an incredibly average man in an incredibly average suit interrupts us, and clearly addressing me, he says, without a trace of an accent:

“Excuse me, what do you do here?”

“I’m the emcee, why what-”

Before I can even finish the sentence, he cuts me off but good.  And he does it without any effort at all, without raising his voice, no fuss, no muss.  Like he does this all the time.

“Could you come with me, we’d like to have a word with you.”

The incredibly average man starts walking, knowing that I will make like a well-trained dog and heel. 

As I do just that I look over my shoulder at Arnolpho and toss him a “Holy shit!” look.  He nods his perfectly coiffed yet casually styled head very slowly, as if it say:

“Tha’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

I’m hardly ever inside the dressing room when it’s not full of shaved hunkalicious man-meat either putting on or taking off clothes.  Now that it’s just me and the incredibly average man, with all those mirrors staring at us, I’m struck by what a small, smelly room this is. That bad-cologne, musky-testicle, guy-sweat smell, all soured from not having had a proper scrub for so long.  Funny how you don’t notice those things when it’s Showtime and there’s all that noise and flesh and moneyed excitement flying around.

“So,” says the incredibly average man, “What can you tell me about your relationship with Nick de Noia?”

So, this really is an interrogation.  Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed.  I always thought when I got grilled, when I was in the hot seat, when I was getting the third degree, it would be at the hands of some tough guy who’d look like he’d just as soon bust me in my mealy mouth as look at me.  But this guy looks like a seventh grade geography teacher.  I just can’t imagine him playing ricky-ticky tavvy on some veil bastard’s skull.

Oddly, I have some training in how to be interrogated.  Rule # 5: Say as little as possible.  Rule # 6: When in doubt, say even less.  So I say:

“Well, you know, he was my boss.”    

The incredibly average man leans into me with granite flashing in his eyes, and all of a sudden I feel kinda guilty, even though I didn’t do anything, and he says:

“Where were you yesterday afternoon?”

Now I see this guy’s game: he comes across all average, like he’s wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly guy, so you relax, then all of a sudden he springs at ya fully-loaded, and catches ya with yer metaphoric pants down.  I feel exposed.  Suddenly I have no idea where I was yesterday afternoon.  This guy’s giving me the deep heebee geebies withthat stink-eye he’s throwing at me.

“Uh,” I start, without knowing where I’m going.  Always a bad move.  Stop.  Think.  Ah, yes.  “I hadda callback for a commercial.  Then I went and harangued my agent about getting me out more.  Then I had some sushi.  I got a receipt.”

The incredibly average man goes back to being incredibly average.  It’s an astonishing transformation.  Scary detective to geography teacher in half a heartbeat.  He writes something down in a notebook.   Then without even really looking at me, he asks:

“Do you know anybody who might want to kill Nick de Noia?”

Air vacates my lungs like it’s a bullet.

He said it so casual, like he was ordering a burger and fries, but it just keeps hanging there in the air.

Do I know anybody who might want to kill Nick de Noia?

Hhhhhm.

Do I know anybody who might want to kill Nick De Noia? 

I lean into the incredibly average looking police interrogator man and I say:

“Do you want the short list, or do you want the long list?” 

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Note from the author coming soon...

About David

David Henry Sterry is a best-selling author, award winning performer, book doctor, activist and muckraker. His newest book is Mort Morte, an illustrated novella. He is a also a Book Doctor who co-authored The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.  Before that...

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Published Reviews

Aug.21.2008

"Master of Ceremonies" is the dizzying, tender, and true story of a fledgling actor whose first break results in a two-year stint as the emcee at Chippendales, in this work that is resplendent with seedy...

Jun.30.2009

Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex
Edited by David Henry Sterry and RJ Martin. Soft Skull Press

"The sprawling project, grouped loosely...