Jamil Daher claims it all began rather innocently."It wasn't my idea," he tells The Media Line. "I was at abachelorette party and some foreign girls dared us to do something for thebride. None of the other guys did anything, but they pressured me to dosomething cute because I have the look and the body for it. So we had some funand I danced naked for the bride and her friends."Daher thought of the strip incident as a one time stunt, but within weeks hesays he was inundated with calls from women who had heard about the party."The word got out and women started calling me, lots of calls one afteranother," he remembers. "I was shocked but I decided to do it as aproper profession."Daher bought some 'work clothes', took on the stage name "Jimmy",made a promotional CD and was in business."I basically became 'sfirst male stripper," the 32-year-old says. "Now there are otheramateur male strippers, but most of them are not professionals.""You need to be in good shape, attractive and smell good," he says."But the most important thing is the skin." "Personality is a big part of stripping," he adds. "You have tobelieve in yourself and know what to do and how to do it. You also have to bestrong, because girls like you to lift them up and do tricks."'Jimmy' says both his skills and wardrobe have grown over the years."I have many outfits: I can be a gentlemen, waiter, cowboy, mechanic,pilot or teacher, but the most popular is the policeman," he sayslaughing. "Everyone likes to be handcuffed."The seductions of the single 32-year-old seem to have worked."The women flirt with me a lot," he says. "But I have my limitsand I don't date people I entertain."A personal trainer by day, 'Jimmy' says he has made a killing off his secondjob."I charge $500 for 20 to 30 minutes," he says, adding that he plansto raise the rate to $750 this summer. "In the high season from June toSeptember I have a gig almost every day and sometimes three events in onenight.Jimmy says that while his stripping started at a foreigner's wedding, today hedances mostly for locals. "Most of my clients are Lebanese but I also have many English speakingclients," he says. "I dance for Christians, Muslims, Druze and womenof all ages from 18 into their 60s."Jimmy's only limit is gay men."Lots of gay men ask me to strip for them but I only strip forwomen," he says. "I don't dance alone and I only dance withgirls.""I don't want to be people’s bitch," he says. "I do this for funand extra money, so I have my rules and I want to be seen as respectable."Jimmy says he hasn't suffered any serious rebuke from his family."Even if my family doesn't like it, I am a free man with a free mind and Idon't base my decisions on my family," he says. "So they have come torespect me and my decision.""is not like it was 15 years ago," he adds. "Everything has changed,not just in the entertainment industry."Sari Hanafi, a professor of sociology at the in ,says that 'sunbound, uninhibited culture revolves increasingly around the body.
"is historically a very consumer-based society compared to other Middle Easterncountries," he tells The Media Line. " has often been seen as the culturalcapital of the Arab world."
"Meanwhile since the Lebanese civil war there has been a severepolitical disillusionment," Professor Hanafi says. "Most of theLebanese population seeks a distinctly apolitical lifestyle. This has led to alot more investment in culture and is extremely important for understanding howthe human body became the base of consumer society in ."
"When we study the cultural script of - meaning the norms and behavior of Lebanese - we have to remember that has avery complex, diverse and global culture, influenced by Western culture, Arabsatellite channels, the Koran, the bible," he said. "Lebanese havethis exposure to these vastly different, diverse norms. This allows people totransgress whichever of the cultural scripts that they don't like."