The cast of Thunder From Down Under has been making the earth move for 10 years
By Susan Stapleton
Photography by Christopher DeVargas
Grooming by Zee Clemente
And take it off they do nightly at the Excalibur. Ten years ago this month, the male strippers brought their good looks and hard bodies onto the big stage of the Strip, starting initially at the now-imploded Frontier and then settling into a home at the castle-themed resort. Its been ten years of blowing away a nightly audience of 400 screaming women (with a few boyfriends and husbands thrown in for good measure) with their dance moves, buttock crunches and dropping shorts. Ten years of running through the crowd to get up close and personal with bachelorettes and ladies celebrating their 60th birthday, who throw out their arms for a chance to hug that broad, naked chest or end up onstage for a lap dance.
“The show has evolved a lot, actually, with the dance and production aspects of the show,” Harris says just before a show. “With the changing times, women and audiences expect more for their money.”
On this night, Matthew Fardell, who was studying for his master’s degree in Australia when he was plucked up to become part of the show, takes over as emcee. “The size of the guys has really calmed down a lot,” he says as he thinks back about the past 10 years. Now the show features more acrobatics, break-dancing and jumping on trampolines (yes, that works with guys, too), so the Thunder crew looks more like David Beckham than a beefcake.
“My job is to make sure you girls get what you want,” Fardell exclaims to the crowd. “There’s no one here to say there’s nothing you can’t have.”
The guys parade as pirates, SWAT team members, construction workers, businessmen, postal workers, doctors and even milkmen—a type for every taste. The show is less about props and more about costumes, lots of fog and interaction with the crowd. Don’t worry where you sit; the guys work the room, making it to the far reaches as often as the front row.
“We’re all Australian from south of the equator,” Fardell says of his mates. “Whether you’re 18 or 88 or beyond. We’ve had three generations in the audience.”
None of the guys were strippers before becoming Thunder From Down Under performers. Harris was working in a podiatrist’s office helping runners with their gait. “They’re looking for a certain talent for the show, but they are more down to earth. Even after the show the guys will sign everything you buy, mingle and talk to the guests,” Harris says.
“The beauty about our job is that every day is different,” he says. “One day it might be a watching crowd and then the next night, there’s this insane energy in the crowd.”