Life after lap dances: Former male strippers reunite at Montreal’s 281

“They used to call us ‘go-go boys.’ ‘Male stripper’ came later,” says François Tessier. Now 54, Tessier, dapperly dressed in a crisp white shirt and black slacks, spent a good part of the 1980s undressed.

Tessier got his start at Club 281 – now called Le 281 – Montreal’s only fully-nude male strip club for women. Patrons knew him by his stage name: Mr. Personality.

“All the girls liked him. He had an inexplicable charm,” recalls Joanne Morin, who worked the bar at Club 281 in the same era.

On Feb. 19, Tessier and Morin returned to their old haunts, along with nearly 60 former employees of the club, most of whom were strippers, for a reunion marking the club’s 35th year in business.

Patrons, advised of the event on the club’s Facebook page, celebrated too. On weekend nights, it is not unusual to see women lining up to get into the club, a popular downtown destination for girls’ nights out and bachelorette parties. But on that Friday, there was even more anticipation than usual – and some of the women in line were grandmothers.

Solange Aubin Salvail, 64, first went to Club 281 in 1982. Her husband brought her. “He wanted to show me what it was,” she said. Now retired and widowed with five grandchildren, Aubin Salvail remembers when a private dance could be had for $5. “I came to see if the guys changed. It’s certain they’ve aged,” she said.

Annie Delisle, 45, took over the club in 2003, following the death of her father, France, who founded it in 1980. France Delisle, who owned a female strip club at the time, came up with the idea when he saw male strippers in Miami. “He said, ‘If women can dance naked, why can’t men?’ ” his daughter recalled.

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