By Mik Hyldebrandt
You probably know Gerald McCullouch from his role as Bobby Dawson on “CSI,” or from his films Daddy and BearCity. Now the actor and award-winning director is back with the debut of his first documentary ALL MALE, ALL NUDE, which presents you with an honest and enjoyable look behind the scenes of Swinging Richards – an Atlanta institution and America’s only all male and all nude strip club. We caught up with Gerald to talk to him about the journey into the of the erotic dancers.
– In your opinion, what is the allure and attraction about strippers?
Well, you know what they say about opinions… So, with that in mind, stripping ain’t for everyone, I’ll say that, but for those who are fans – I think people are attracted to the sexual bluntness of it all. Female and male strip clubs. I think, overall, people love skin and are fascinated by the confident sexuality that strippers carry with them. Anyone who is sexually confident tends to draw our attention.
– What was your motivation/fascination to make this documentary?
The moment I first walked into Swinging Richards I was fascinated by the world of that club and the people that made up that world. Around my 4th season of CSI, a short film I directed was programmed in the Atlanta Film Festival, and my younger sister, of all people, took me to Swinging Richards for my first time after the screening. I had no idea a club like that even existed much less in the heart of the Bible Belt. Coming directly from a screening of my first film – I was already in a filmmaker’s mindset, and the energy of the club grabbed me. I was certain there was an intriguing story to be found somewhere in the walls of that club.
– You draw the curtain away for everyone to get an inside look into the world of male strippers – what was the most surprising thing you learned about the men inhabiting this behind-the-scenes space?
There were a lot of things that caught me by surprise the more I got to know the dancers and the more familiar I became with the club. There are a lot of rules in place to keep it as safe of an environment as possible. The club gives all of the dancers sobriety tests before they leave the club for the night. The dancers range from gay to straight, from college guys stripping for quick cash to single fathers forced to strip after losing their jobs so they can keep income generating to raise their family. Overall, however, I was surprised by the unique family unit that the club engenders. It’s very sexy.
– Has your view on male stripping changed after making this documentary?
Most definitely. I entered into this project with a lot of preconceptions and generalizations of the guys I was going to meet and with whom I’d spent a lot of time over the years making the film. What I learned is that each of the guys is unique. How they handle their jobs as erotic dancers is distinct from each another, their goals for being there and doing what they do is unique to each of them. So, I guess I no longer generalize “strippers” and realize it’s its own thing to each person that works in that industry.
– Are there any negative sides to stripping that you have been made aware of through the process of making this documentary?
Anytime you have a lot of liquor and money and skin all together at the same time, in a nightclub environment, there is inevitably a dark underbelly to be found. And certainly, a few events happen in the film where that underbelly is exposed as are the sad consequences of it. The focus of this film, however, was to celebrate male sexuality, the club, the experience of the club, and the allure of male strippers.
– What is your intention to show people with this documentary? Did you want to make it sexy, serious, or fun?
I think stories should be a lot of fun to watch and take the viewer on a journey. In that vein, this film has many similarities to my other films in that I think it’s all those adjectives – sexy, serious and fun. I think my films are imbued with a strong male sexuality and all three of my films have an unexpected twist. My short film, The Moment After, and my narrative feature that was released last year, Daddy, both take an unexpected serious turn. All Male, All Nude kinda has the same element to its storytelling so it, oddly, feels on par with my previous filmmaking projects.
– It seems like you were pretty inventive raising funds for this documentary – was it harder than usual getting it financed?
Such is the world of independent filmmaking. Raising funds is always a bitch. There had been so much interest in this project over the years from various productions companies as I had been pitching this as a documentary series. With that interest, I didn’t expect fundraising for the feature film to be as challenging as it was. But such is the game of indie filmmaking. Believe me, I would be on cloud nine if I found a benefactor or two or eight somewhere down the road to eliminate that process.
– What is your next project?
After Daddy screened last summer in Greece, I stayed in Athens for over a month documenting my education of the horrible situation that exists for LGBTQI refugees who have fled their various middle eastern countries and are, as is the title of the film, Stuck in Greece. As a filmmaker, I’ve been documenting the crisis and many of these refugee’s stories over the past year and hope I can champion this project as my next film.
As an actor, I have an upcoming horror film called Blood Bound coming out where I play Eden Brolin’s father. And on Dec 5, the same day as the release date for All Male, All Nude., I’ll be appearing on Chicago Med in a rather hefty role. Quite the opposite extreme of my, um, dick doc.
All Male, All Nude. is currently streaming from its website AllMaleAllNude.com and is released on DVD Dec 5 through Breaking Glass Pictures.