On a Wednesday night in early December, the shrieks and howls of aroused, perplexed, bemused women reverberated off the walls of a Mid-City nightclub as a trio of dancers stripped down to booty shorts with fringed codpieces. As the men thrust their pelvises, their dicks — and the attendant fringe — bounced up and down, an effect that's equal parts obscene and amusing. Over the din, I shouted into my companion's ear that I “never knew male stripping was so boner-oriented” (seriously, they all looked like they'd been fluffed). But I suppose there was a lot I didn't know about male stripping.
The event was a launch/holiday party for Vivica's Black Magic, a new Lifetime show (it premiered last night) on which actress and recent L.A. Weekly cover subject Vivica A. Fox diversifies her entrepreneurial portfolio by putting together an “urban, exotic male review” and attempting to secure a residency in Vegas. Part of the stated fun of the program is the subversion of gender roles: Finally, a woman in the entertainment industry gets to tell men to do some crunches and tighten up their asses. Of the eight guys who made the cut in the premiere episode — all of whom danced at the party and none of whom need to be told to do crunches — three are from Los Angeles. And one of the three guys making his junk do that fun bouncing thing was Christian Dennis, aka Slo Motion, a veteran of L.A.'s urban-male-exotic-dancer club scene, which you may or may not have known was a thing.
Before he was cast on the show, Dennis was a dancer at the Right Track in South L.A., a popular destination for bachelorettes and horny ladies who write Yelp reviews that contain lines like this: “As a woman who has not been touched in 2.5 years I was ready to feel some kind of way.” Slo Motion was known as the “prince” of the club, a title that's earned, not taken. He explains: “It took some years and I battled and became the 'prince' of the club. … You have to have a lot of supporters behind you to become the king or the prince because it goes based off of screams. Pretty much, I had the most people in the house.”
But being “prince” had its complications. Having a lot of female fans who realized they'd helped him achieve his status meant that he was surrounded by a lot of women who felt possessive of his time and attention. But if he paid too much attention to women in the audience — said too many hellos or paid too many compliments — the other male dancers would get weird about it because of the competitive nature of the club atmosphere and, well, men in general. “I’m gonna tell you this: Being the prince is not easy,” Dennis says. “It wasn’t easy being at the top. When I was at the bottom, it was whatever. If you’re at the top, someone’s always waiting to watch you fall.”
Dennis grew up in Compton and ran track throughout school. To keep him out of trouble and on track (literally), Dennis' mother sent him to attend high school in Portland, Oregon, where he became a star of the team. Then, before a big meet, he tore his hamstring, which put an end to his aspirations as a runner but didn't prevent him from continuing to study modern, hip-hop and African dance.
His entree into the world of exotic dance differs from other similar stories insofar as Dennis was working in real estate at the time and wasn't hard up for cash. But dancing, he'd discover, paid so much cash. The first time a couple of friends invited him to work a party, he says he made $400 dancing for around five minutes. He recalls: “I thought to myself, you know what, if I really got into this kind of dancing style, it’s a little different than what I'm used to, but I know if I perfect it I can be great at it.”
Toward the end of our conversation, Dennis mentions that he has two kids — a 13-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son with autism — so the opportunity to move beyond the club scene and onto TV (and, if all goes well, a steady gig in Vegas) was appealing, even though it's put some strain on his relationship with his significant other. (“She's pissed off at me.”)
“Doing Black Magic is a dream to me — I’m getting out of the L.A. clubs and doing something no one has done in the L.A. circuit before,” Dennis says. “I know this is my calling, and I’m ready and willing to do this for a lifetime.”