Thunder From Down Under :: Aussie beefcake hits the US
Some of us look through GQ Magazine, Details, and even Playgirl to fantasize about the man of our dreams.
Well, if you’re looking for something more authentic (i.e., in-your-face), Australia’s Thunder From Down Under (Australia’s version of Chippendales) gives us a fantasy live, up close and personal.
Their show is definitely not one for the prudish. And if shopping at a "meat" market is your taste, well, let’s just say TFDU offers a lot of prime rib. Though most of their shows are definitely for the straight ladies, these guys have no qualms about being oodled by the gay men that come to the shows. During the shows 3-week tour stop in San Francisco, I got a chance to speak with three of the shows six performers, Adam Hughes, Ben (Benny) Hardy, and Alex Biffin. Of course I brought a long a hanky to catch my drool during the live interview, but I stayed focus long enough to catch a bit of what they had to say.
What does it take?
BeBe: So how long have you guys been with Thunder From Down Under, respectively?
Ben (Benny) Hardy: About three years now. I’m the MC.
Alex Biffin: Four months.
BeBe: You’re the newbie.
Adam Hughes: 10 years for me. I am the road manager.
BeBe: I know you do all of your recruiting over in Australia for the male dancers/strippers for the show. Tell me, what does it take for you to quite whatever it is you are doing to consider being a male stripper for Thunder From Down Under?
Ben (Benny) Hardy: I was already in a career of entertainment, so it was pretty easy for me to do it. But I think it is one of those things that are a wild opportunities that doesn’t come along a lot. There is one guy who was a qualified engineer sitting around waiting for work to come along and he decided to do this. It’s one of those moments where you say take it or forever be thinking what it would have been like. It’s something you dive in, experience it, and enjoy it for as long as you can, and then if you want to go back to the real world, I guess you can. But Thunder has built such an empire, you can stay with it as long as you want.
Adam Hughes: Being from Australia, we tend to be isolated from the rest of the world. To get paid to travel and perform to ladies all over the world, and gentlemen. It’s a great job to do for a period of time. But I’ve managed to make a career out of it.
Their workout routine
BeBe: I can imagine that your workout routine was already in place prior to joining the show. Did anything have to change because of the rigorous show schedule and travel? Is it hard to keep up the fitness?
Adam Hughes: We really have a great gym work-out here in San Francisco called Club One Fitness here on Mason Street. So we are training there while we are here over out three weeks. Your right, it is harder when you are on the road from place to place, but when you are in one place for three weeks and train in one gym, it is easier.
BeBe: I know your show is primarily designed for the women, however, you will be doing show here in San Francisco in the lovely Rrazz Room on the September 15th for the LGBT community with an audience primarily made up of men. Do you do anything differently on stage in the show than normal for this audience?
Ben (Benny) Hardy: It’s still the same show. We bring guys on stage and it’s pretty much the same show, you know. We’ll bring the guys on stage and have fun. We’re performers. We’ll play a few games on stage and it will be fun!
Alex :: the newbie
BeBe: Alex, you are the newbie and this is new for you. So, what is your comfort level with having a bunch of gay guys looking at your wonderful physique and probably getting a feel here and there while on stage?
Alex Biffin: It really doesn’t matter to me. We are entertainers and we really just wanna have fun.
Adam Hughes: Alex has been a great edition to the show. He’s from the Outback and he’s done a little bit of modeling in Australia for an underwear company called AussieBum.
BeBe: We all know AussieBum. I have a few calendars somewhere in my apartment. I’m sure Alex may be in one of them. I’m going to have to go look now (we all laugh).
Adam Hughes: He’s on billboards and buses in Australia, so he’s probably been admired by the guys, especially from Sydney. We’re from Sydney, and Sydney is a very open community, as I assume so is San Francisco. We’re from Sydney, and even though we do our so primarily for girls, here in San Francisco we will put on a show for gay guys, transgendered and the like.
BeBe: I come to both. I get the benefit of both worlds (the boys laugh). I have the advantage. I have double the fun!
Ben (Benny) Hardy: We have all types of orientations come to the show. We all have a great time.
Alex Biffin: The straight guys even love coming to the show. They come with their girls and leave laughing.
Adam Hughes: They usually thank us. When we are in little Middle American towns, they usually love it when we come to town because they know when they are gonna get "some".
BeBe: You warm ’em up, and they bring ’em home!
Adam Hughes: There is only six of us and there could be anywhere between 200 and 1000 girls in the audience.
BeBe: Speaking of that. How difficult is doing what you do and trying to maintain relationships?
Adam Hughes: It’s virtually impossible because we’re traveling. Basically we are all single guys, living the single guys dream. I’d be lying to you if I said we never take advantage of it.
Practice makes perfect
BeBe: Are there places you have been to as apart of the show that you traveled to that you have just thought wow, if it weren’t for this show, I’d never have made it to this place?
Ben (Benny) Hardy: It’s funny because we travel extensively to every country that we go to. Even in Australia, there are places that I say I’ve never been here. Or in America, I’ll go shit, look at this town. You get out there an have a phenomenal experience. That is what is all about. It’s fantastic.
Alex Biffin: Las Vegas!
BeBe: Las Vegas is the adult Disneyland.
Alex Biffin: I never thought about leaving Australia until I joined the show. So anywhere I’ve been thus far and will go will be pretty amazing to me. We are going to Canada which will be amazing. And we’re in New Zealand next year.
BeBe: Well, I’m going to make a little comparison now between strippers, like what you do, to porn stars. You know many porn stars I have spoken to have said outside of there profession there are a lot of expectations and assumptions that people have of them that are true. Is that true of you guys?
Adam Hughes: They all think we’re great lovers. And I’m pretty sure the guys don’t disappoint.
BeBe: They probably won’t admit it anyway!
Adam Hughes: We have to set a standard, because if we don’t, you know girls do talk (laughs).Well, you know what the old saying is that practice makes perfect? Well, the guys in this show get a lot of practice. Well, I don’t anymore because I’m retired.
Never a dull story
BeBe: Oh, yeah, you are the road manager. Road manager’s don’t do that, right?
Adam Hughes: I ask a lot of questions after a show, and there is never dull story.
BeBe: Now, guys, when this is all over for you, the traveling and entertaining life, what will you do?
Adam Hughes: I’ve been saying it will be all over for the last 5 years (a former teacher). But as far as I’m concerned, it’s never going to be over. I’ve basically tried to set myself up financially. So, when it all turns to crap, and I have to get a real job... it’s like a sports figure. You can only do this for a certain amount of time. We are not as financially set as they are, but when you travel as much as we do, we don’t have to pay rent or for cars. The fixed costs that you would usually spend we can save. But I have an idea of what I’d like to do. I’d like to stay in this industry behind the scenes.
Ben (Benny) Hardy: I don’t know. I’ll probably stick to entertainment. I’m a host (of the show), so maybe branch out into radio as well. There’s such a world of opportunity out there.
An action hero
BeBe: Alex, I know your new to this all and haven’t probably thought that far in advance, but I’m looking at you, and you would make a great action-hero in the movies. You definitely have that physique and look.
Alex Biffin: I actually started getting into training horses a couple of years ago and have some time invested in that. So, I could definitely go back into training horses.
Adam Hughes: He (Alex) is such a good horseman, there are a couple of great shows up in Australia he could ride in. There are plenty horse shows around.
Let me tell you, there were many times during this interview that I wished I was a horse to be riden in a show by anyone of these guys. Does that sound bad? Oh, who cares how it sounds. It is the truth. And if you are like me, the boys from Thunder From Down Under are and will continue to be apart of many a gay boy fantasies. We can all dream, can’t we?!
Thunder From Down Under ends there three-week run at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco this week on September 17th, including an LGBT night on Thursday, September 15th. For more information and tickets, go to www.therrazzroom.com.
Thunder From Down Under continues on tour as follows:
Chicago, IL: Sept 23 - Oct 22; Reno, NV: Oct 29-Oct 30; Hankinson, ND: Nov 4; Medina, MN: Nov 5; Iowa City, IA: Nov 8; Manistee, MI: Nov. 12; Windsor, ONT: Nov. 18; Akron, OH: Nov 23; Alpine, CA: Dec 2-Dec 3
For more details on tour venues, go to the Thunder Down Under website.
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.