Q&A: Jeff Timmons Talks Men of the Strip
Remember when Magic Mike came out and shirtless Channing Tatum, shirtless Joe Manganiello, and shirtless Matthew McConaughey jogged around on the big screen? Yeah, we do, too.
Here’s alternative option to Magic Mike: a new group out of Las Vegas called Men of the Strip, brought to us by former 98 Degrees band member Jeff Timmons. They’re basically like Magic Mike—but real dudes in the flesh. Timmons’s group of dancers-meet-boy-banders will perform at the Wilbur Theatre in June, where they’ll sing, dance, and take their shirts off for a lady-filled audience. Even better, the cast of Men of the Strip will star in a reality series on E! premiering this summer—so we’ll get to see the men behind the scenes as well, so to speak.
Here, Timmons talks about his admiration for Boston—he’s set up a partnership with Shaw’s and Star Market to help out with One Fund donations—as well as 98 Degrees updates, and his fake stripper name.
In light of your new show ‘Men of the Strip’ coming out this summer on E!, I’ve read that it’s supposed to be like Magic Mike meets your favorite boy band—fitting considering your background in performing with 98 Degrees. But what made you pursue stripping after years of singing and doing television?
I’m actually not the one stripping! For years, I was approached by another band called the Chippendales to come host their show in Vegas. I was really, really reluctant to do it for a long time. But my wife actually turned to me and was like, “You know, this could be a good thing for you to go check out. It’s in Vegas, you’ll headline the show as a singer…” I went to check it out, and after seeing the show—it’s a $10 million theater—it was well-performed, well-choreographed, and the girls were going crazy. So I was like “OK, I got it, I see how this show works.” So the real show isn’t just guys grinding on girls for dollars.
So you aren’t on the stage at all?
I am. I come on the stage at different times, talk about the show, move it along. I’m the emcee, and then I sing. I sing 98 Degrees stuff, and then some of my original stuff in between. But I don’t do any of the choreographed stuff with the guys or take my shirt off—although some of the fans sometimes want me to take my shirt off.
So how did Men of the Strip come about?
[When I went,] I saw [a lot of] girls—and some guys, too—who were fans of 98 Degrees when they were teens. Now they’re in their 20s all the way up to 40s. Those girls were all wild and crazy back then, and now they’re even more wild and crazy when guys are ripping their shirts off. I thought it was a cool thing, but I thought the Chippendales brand was kind of aged, diminished, and had a negative connotation to it, so I wanted to create another one. I wanted [something] cooler, hipper, more about the music and choreography. I started a new brand with Glenn Douglas Packard, who is a world-famous choreographer. And the rest is history—we’re putting together our promotional tour that got attention from E! network.
The dancers were chosen during an intense three-month, cross-country search. What types of traits were you looking for when trying to find the right guys?
What I thought was interesting when I was hosting [Chippendales] were the guys’ live show—how charismatic they were, how different they were, how they interacted. I was looking more for guys with unique personalities than the ripped, buff studs who can dance. [Glenn] found unique-looking guys who would suit girls’ different tastes in men. … We also wanted and were hoping that this thing would be on TV. This was when Magic Mike came out and girls were interested.
All these guys have nameplates like Chris the “Poster Boy” and Dwayne the “Heartbreaker.” But which guy steals the most hearts?
They all really do. It’s almost like a boy band. Nick [Lachey] has become more famous over the years, but when my group was out, every girl had a certain guy [in 98 Degrees] that they liked for a certain reason. So that’s sort of what happens here—there’s different flavors for different folks. Some girls like Chris, who’s the all-American football player guy, while others like Kyle because he’s a stud. Joel is like a Latin lover. Brad is the bad boy for sure. But all the guys are extremely approachable, classy, and friendly.
Garo from the show is from Cambridge, and he’s named the “Boston Bad Boy.” Is he really stereotypically Boston?
He definitely is. He takes the role as the edgy bad boy. He really speaks his mind. The first time I met him, he thought I was going to be some kind of cocky jerk. So I went up to him and he basically just ignored me. And then I started asking him questions and he gave all these wise retorts back. And I was like, “Yeah, this guy’s definitely from Boston.” But by the end of the weekend, we were just sitting there hanging out, and he was like, “You know what? You’re actually a cool motherfucker, man.” But yes, he definitely adds flavor to the cast.
Have you ever looked up your own fake stripper name before?
What is it, your dog’s name and something?
So there are a couple different combos, but I like the one that takes your middle name plus the name of the street you grew up on. For example, mine would be Lee Lakeview.
That’s a perfect name. Lakeview for stripper? Awesome.
Ha! I know, I know, it just suits me. So what’s yours?
Okay, so here ya go. If we’re doing it this way, mine would be Brandon Fontana… It’s a perfect stage name if I ever needed it.
Last year, 98 Degrees went on tour with Boyz II Men and New Kids, and you guys also put out your record, 2.0. Any chance the group will reunite again in the near future?
We had such a blast on The Package Tour. I’m not saying 98 Degrees is over, but I can’t imagine doing a bigger tour than that. We were on a hiatus for a while, and to come back with our idols Boyz II Men and legends like New Kids, selling out a 49-city arena tour—it doesn’t get any better than that. As far as making more music, I don’t know if we’d ever do it again. I never say never, but I’d say for now 98 Degrees ended with The Package Tour. It was the best time of my life.