Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees Takes Sexy to a Whole New Level with ‘Men of the Strip’

 by Dan Harr

As one quarter of 98 Degrees, one of the most successful boy bands in pop history, Jeff Timmons learned a little something about whipping young girls into a frenzy.
On the recent “The Package Tour,” a high grossing, 49-date summer fling across the U.S. with his group, New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men, the singer saw firsthand the way otherwise mild mannered wives, moms, nurses, lawyers, etc. went crazy when NKOTB‘s Donnie Wahlberg and Jordan Knight ripped off their shirts like Chippendales dancers.
That’s the kind of widespread, uncontrollable estrogen commotion Timmons is set on stirring up with “Men of the Strip” (, an explosive and multi-faceted new live male revue entertainment extravaganza whose branding is spot on: Taking Sexy To A Whole New Level!
A full spectrum and contemporary production featuring fresh choreography, sexy numbers, singing and dancing by each of the performers, a wide range of music and dynamic Cirque Du Soleil elements (including acrobatics), “Men of the Strip” is a revolutionary new twist on the male revue concept.
The singer will both perform and play host to the launch of the hot new brand, which he developed in partnership with Glenn Douglas Packard, an Emmy-winning choreographer and producer whose live stage and video productions include work with P!nk, Usher, Missy ElliotRicky Martin and Whitney Houston. Packard was also involved in the late Michael Jackson‘s “30th Anniversary Celebration,” an all-star tribute to the King of Pop.
Even as Timmons and his team continue to develop the full stage show, their branding of “Men of the Strip” has begun with the marketing of a 16-month 2014 calendar with a bonus centerfold poster – which offers an exclusive first look into the cast at their sexiest moments. The calendar retails for $14.95 and is available at
Timmons met Packard in 2011 when he was brought on to host and sing 98 Degree hits and some of his solo tunes during the popular nightly Chippendales show at The Rio in Las Vegas—a gig that was supposed to last a few weeks but extended throughout the summer. Packard had revamped and revitalized and the Chippendales concept for its long running stint at the multi-million dollar theater, while also choreographing the show. For Timmons’ performances, which occasionally included him ripping his shirt off, venues took away its customary tables to create a rock concert vibe, allowing the girls to be closer to the action onstage.
During his extended, run there, Timmons also met his business partner and third principle in “Men of the Strip,” Mike Foland, a former UFC fighter and Vegas-based entrepreneur who was ushering and hosting at Chippendales.
“Chippendales had been approaching me to be part of their show for many years, but I had the stereotypical ‘male stripper’ thought in my mind, until my wife, Amanda, convinced me that it would be a good idea,” Timmons says. “I quickly realized how well produced and choreographed it was. Glenn had really done an amazing job.  It was sexy like a boy band on steroids, only these guys didn’t sing. It was a little irreverent but not dirty or nasty. The show had some older guys in it, but I envisioned a potential gold mine in making it younger, hipper, kind of like they later showed in ‘Magic Mike,’ with super sexy 20-something dudes showing their personalities while they dance their asses off.”
Timmons thought with a more youthful approach and some extra production elements—including stronger visuals and musical performances from the dancers—he could take the Chippendales show to the next level. “I proposed all sorts of ideas to update their brand, and suggested ways to mainstream it via calendars in all the retail outlets and extra media exposure,” he says. “But the producers didn’t feel the need for such growth. They were happy with their successful residency in Vegas. That’s when Glenn, Mike and I decided to join forces and launch a new male revue our way.”
Packard embarked on months of scouting across the U.S. and beyond to cast the perfect eight performers for the opening launch of “Men of the Strip”: former college football star Chris Boudreaux (from Las Vegas); group fitness trainer Dwayne Baldwin (from Manhasset, N.Y.); trained radiologist Garo Bechirian (from Cambridge, Mass.); minor league ballplayer turned Latin soap star Joel Sajion (from the Dominican Republic); stage actor Keith Webb (from Philadelphia); veteran Vegas stage performer Kyle Efthemes (originally from Chesapeake, Va.); wrestler in training Nate Estimada (from San Jose); and Jiu-jitsu trainer Charles Dera (also from Philly).
Perfectly in line with their hip, contemporary re-imagining of the male revue, “Men of the Strip” is launching not with a big, splashy party in Vegas but with a powerful, multi-media “buzz” campaign that fuses reality TV, modern social media, and old-school promotional tour dates in a sponsored up tour bus across the U.S. and Canada.
The eight performers have already done one public performance for charity at an event for the breast cancer foundation, Susan G. Komen For The Cure, in Los Angeles.
This fall, while calling on TV and radio personality friends like Ryan Seacrest, Rick Dees and Hollywood Hamilton to help spread the word, Timmons will play “quarterback” and ringleader to his performers as they hop on the bus (the same one Timmons uses when he’s touring) and hit promotional club dates in up to 40 cities.
Designed as a “tease” to introduce the eight “Men of the Strip” to frenzied women of all ages, these dates will be “meet and greets” with one super sexy musical performance to whip up an infectious frenzy, which will in turn generate a groundswell of promotion for social media—Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, you name it—and build buzz for the show. The key will be for each of the “Men of the Strip” performers to create their own individual brands in addition to helping develop the branding of the franchise. In addition to hosting these events, Timmons will be singing his 98 Degrees and solo hits.
In conjunction with these live events, Timmons, Packard and their team are also developing a fascinating, behind the scenes “docu-series” about the creation and development of “Men of the Strip” and the real lives of the eight performers. It will also show these macho men being put through a boot camp like training and rehearsal regimen by Packard. “Glenn is this hard driving dude putting these perfectly built human trucks through hell, and at the end of it, they look great and are very different people,” says Timmons.
“The show is designed to help the viewer learn about each of our guys,” he adds. “What’s fascinating is that these guys are strippers, but they are also total rock stars. Each brings a unique life experience into their work on the show. Some guys put themselves through college, some have wives, some are total party animals. They’re all interesting personalities, and we take an irreverent tone to sharing their lives just as we do in the stage show itself. I think women of all ages will be fascinated by them and enjoy the fantasy element of it all. We’ll show a little of the guys on the promotional tour and some of the crazy fans they make, but for the most part, it’s about who they really are.”
After all of these innovative promotional endeavors, Timmons believes that landing a home at a hotel and casino on the Vegas Strip will be relatively easy. His team also has their eye on an eventual expansion of the reality TV concept to other cities a la Bravo TV’sReal Housewives” franchise, with male performers that reflect each city’s unique ethnic mix and character.
“After seeing Donnie and Jordan from New Kids rip off their shirts and engage in stage histrionics that drove thousands of women nuts every night, what attracts me to ‘Men of the Strip’ is the reality that we’ve got younger, sexier guys performing and doing the same thing,” says Timmons. “OK, our performers don’t have the 15 and 20-year-old hit records, but they perform with the same amount of passion and give girls a chance to go wild on their night out. Ours is a more sexual presentation, but the key is still creating that excitement and energy for a show where women can lose their inhibitions and get away with it.”
“From the promotional tour to the TV series to the stage show, what we’re showing is the same—talented guys with real lives having a blast performing and getting incredible reactions from women who are just out to have a good time,” he adds. “I’m attracted to the reality of women with normal, mainstream lives going out and getting dirty for a night, hanging out with our guys, who fuel their fantasies while remaining wholesome and normal themselves in their lives offstage.”