A scene from All Male, All Nude (Breaking Glass Pictures)

I often harp on films that pass themselves off as documentaries but lack the essayistic approach great nonfiction films often strive for and instead come off as long form infomercials (Dreamboat), recruitment videos (F(l)ag Football), or just unabashed vanity projects (Dancer). Here I’m faced with the same dilemma with All Male, All Nude, a behind-the-scenes look at the Atlanta strip club, Swinging Richards, where the male dancers perform au naturel. Is it really a documentary or a glorified commercial? The answer is, surprisingly, both.

Right away we’re shown the appeal of Swinging Richards—and it never lets up. In fact, this could very well win the Guinness World Record for most penises on screen in a nonpornographic feature film, if that were a category. Once the initial shock is out of the way, the film delves into interviews with some of the regular strippers.

Matt is the brown-haired muscular manager, who has been working there for 16 years. He started as a dancer when he was just 20. Matthew is a more slender, blond Ukrainian. Sean is dirty blond and has the deepest Southern drawl of them all. Steven is slim and has a hippy vibe. These last two are the ones who get most screen time.

Actor Gerard McCullough, who starred in the gay indie film BearCity and its sequels, helmed the 64-minute film, which looks like he shot it on a flip phone. One can’t help questioning McCullough’s relationships to some of these men, which is not without prompting—the film opens with the filmmaker’s statement that his “good friend” Steven introduced him to the world of all-nude male stripping. There’s also a noticeable lack of interviews with the African American dancers. Was it the director’s choice to not interview any of them, or did each of them, across the board, decline to be interviewed? Either answer would tell us a lot that begs to be known and would make this an even more revealing film.

See, there’s just not quite enough to fulfill so many of the sociological and psychological questions looming over this subject. What about the fact that many of these guys are amateur bodybuilders, MMA fighters, and/or ex-high school wrestlers? Or that a number of strippers from the club have died untimely deaths, including one unseen dancer named Dustin, whom the club holds a vigil for. At the end, we’re told the remains of Steven, presumably the director’s friend, were found at a campsite and no foul play was suspected? What? Whenever McCullough’s film brings one of these rich topics up, it glosses it over and cuts back to some more extended scenes of the men dancing on stage together. (Bear in mind, this is not Magic Mike–style dancing. Most of these guys just shake their butts and “helicopter” for dollar bills.) Towards the end, it gets monotonous.

The film does work on its own as a bit of a striptease as it ramps up to what we’re all wanting to know: How has dancing naked affected these men’s lives? We’re told the nightly crowds are a mixture of gay men and straight women, so that has to have opened these guys up to new things, right? The interviews give us juicy hints that most of these guys do go both ways. A particularly tongue-in-cheek moment is when Matthew explains that he is into the motorsport of “drifting.” He says, “You only live once…Why not do certain things? Why not go sideways?” and the film’s target audience (I’m picturing young women and their gay roommates) are all going to hear that blond male stripper say, “go sideways,” and shoot margaritas out of our noses and then collectively ask, “Go on….”

Written and Directed by Gerald McCullouch
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures
USA. 64 min. Not rated