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Controversial male dancers plan two-night stand

August 08, 1997

By TERRY TALBERT

Staff Writer

Ladies, get ready. Billy Dean's Male Dance Revue is coming back to Hagerstown - this time for a two-night stand.

The Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. brought the Chippendales-style dancers here for the first time last year, as a one-night fund-raiser. The company hoped to make a $5,000 profit.

The show at the Ramada Inn ballroom sold out, and the fire company cleared about $7,000.

Chief Kyd Dieterich has a message for those who think the male dancers are in poor taste: Grin and bear it, because the shows will go on.

Dieterich said the fire company hopes to make twice as much this year as last. "If this goes as well as we hope, we might look at doing it every six months - whatever the market will bear," he said.

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This year, there will be a show at the Barracuda Surf Bar at the Ramada Inn on the Dual Highway on Thursday, Aug. 28, and a show in the Ramada grand ballroom on Friday, Aug. 29. The Barracuda can seat between 400 and 500, and the ballroom more than 900, he said.

Dieterich said the company got "less than 1 percent" negative feedback after last year's event.

"Some people seemed to think it wasn't in good taste," he said. "They have a right to their opinion. They just don't have to come. I think it's pretty cool. It's harmless entertainment. The ladies love it. If there was no market for it, we wouldn't have sold out."

In the show, male dancers perform choreographed routines, stripping down to G-strings. No worse than what you see on the beach, Dieterich said.

Following an on-stage performance, the dancers work the crowd. "They get their money from tips," Dieterich explained. There is nothing obscene or illegal about the shows, he added.

Dieterich said Billy Dean told him that the biggest audience his group had ever performed for was in Hagerstown.

Dieterich said Funkstown fire officials decided to go with the male dancers after they got fliers from the group, and checked its references with other volunteer fire companies on the East Coast that had used the group for fund-raising.

More than 900 women who ranged in age from 18 to 80 came to Hagerstown from Frederick and two surrounding states last year for the show, Dieterich said.

In setting up this year's shows, Dieterich said fire company officials took into considering comments from show-goers. As a result, this year's shows will feature a deejay and five or six dancers, instead of three dancers.

Once again this year, volunteers from other county companies will man the Funkstown firehall while Funkstown firefighters provide security and work the doors at the two dance revue shows, Dieterich said.

Tickets went on sale about two weeks ago, Dieterich said. The fire company did an advance mailing to the names on last year's ticket stubs. "We offered the people who came last year first chance at tickets," he said.

The company started getting calls from people back in the spring, asking if the show would be back, Dieterich said.

Last year, Dieterich said he got as much entertainment from the reactions of the women in the audience as he did from the show. "I'd never seen one before," he said. "I was amazed at the women. It was neat watching them. It was entertaining."

Dieterich said Funkstown, like other fire companies, must find ways to raise money to meet operational expenses. Donations from the community fall short, he said.

"Volunteer fire companies have come a long way from bake sales and carnival food stands," he said. "Some people don't understand that. When the community provides us with the funds we need to properly protect the community, we'll talk about stopping (the dance revue). That hasn't happened yet."

Funkstown also raises funds through bingo games, Christmas tree sales and duck races, Dieterich said. "The guys selling the Christmas trees are all fully-clothed. My conscience is clear," he said.

Tickets are $12 for the Barracuda Surf Bar show and $15 for the ballroom show. Doors will open at 6 p.m. each night. The shows start at 8 p.m. and lasts about two hours, Dieterich said.

Tickets can be bought in Washington County at the American Convenience Store on the Sharpsburg Pike, at the upstairs shop of the Locked Door lingerie boutique on the Dual Highway and Hartle's Sub shop on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

In Frederick, Tickets are on sale at the At The Beach tanning salon on the Golden Mile, he said.

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