Steve Stanulis, a male exotic dancer, is not just acting when he dresses up as a cop and cuffs ladies in the audience. The 40-year-old was a New York City police officer from 1994 through March 2001, before he retired and started a new career pursuing his other passion -- (ahem) dancing. Now, Stanulis performs with a company called Savage Men, currently at Culture Club, 20 W. 39th St. He recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his radio show, “In The Life with Steve Stanulis,” which airs every Thursday live with a live studio audience from 8-9 p.m. on Mad Mic radio, a Sirius satellite affiliate. He wrote a movie called "Long Shot Louie," which documents his experiences in the world of male strippers. It recently screened at the Williamsburg Film Festival. Stanulis lives with his wife and their 1-year old daughter, Sage, and their pets in Annadale, Staten Island.
Why did you switch careers?
When I was 18 years old I looked for a side job to make some money in college with Chippendales [a touring dance troupe] and got hired as a featured dancer. When I got called by the NYPD at age 20, I never quit dancing; I was working at Chippendales the whole time. I got injured, I had a knee injury, I was found not fit for duty anymore so I retired with a pension.
Why do you love dancing?
As a kid I was always into competitive body building and I pretty much was always a good dancer at the clubs and stuff.
Was it hard to go from fighting crime to stripping?
The toughest part of the switch was when you're a cop you're very regimented, every day you're at the same place at the same time, the same role call — you're very structured. When I went over to being a male exotic dancer full time, now you're dealing with, you know, strippers, and there's no structure. So the biggest adjustment would be obviously the people I worked on a day to day basis.
What is your favorite genre to perform?
Right now I am basically the role of the MC. In [the movie] "Magic Mike," which is Matthew McConaughey, I'm him. I structure the whole show and then I'm the closing routine. Which is great --obviously, it's human nature, they see me the whole time dressed, so at the end of the night it's like, ‘when are you getting naked?’ So that's what I like; I like being the center of attention.
How is being an exotic dancer rewarding?
First of all, it's a performance, you're a performer -- it's the ability to be a performer on stage. It's the closest thing to being a rockstar without being a rockstar, because every little move you make, ladies are screaming. And once you're off the stage you're back to normal. It's rewarding because you physically take care of yourself, people are appreciating what you do on stage and you're making money. And it's great for the ego -- where can you jump on a lady, hump her, and she says, 'here's your money, thank you'? So it's actually not a bad gig.
Do you wish you had done this all along?
I definitely needed that experience because you can get lost in this world, your whole realm of reality can be out of whack if you've never had a real 9-5 or a structured job … I definitely needed that real-life experience, and dealing with some messed up stuff that most people wouldn't see really kept my perspective clear and focused.
Do you ever use any of your police skills as a dancer?
Absolutely. A funny story: Basically I run the show, so in the beginning, bachelorettes would come in and if they didn't like their seats or they didn't like the guy who was sitting in front of them, they'd call the manager which was me, in a G-string, trying to straighten out the problem. But my people and communication skills being on the street [as a cop] absolutely rolled over into dealing with drunk bachelorette parties.
Are you happy with your career switch?
Yea, absolutely. It gives me the opportunity to meet great people and do stuff like this and travel. I've been to [Las Vegas] -- it led me down a whole path and met a whole bunch of people.
Do you have any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
My advice is, do not be afraid to follow your dreams. Don't be afraid to fail and do not care what other people think, because if you do that you're never going to be happy. Even if you don't succeed, at least you tried. If you dream, dream out loud and make it happen.