Strip clubs now populate every continent on the planet. The once-forbidden world of burlesque and peep shows has grown into a megalithic global community of erotic dancers, both male and female, whose primary goals alternate between dancing seductively and separating their oglers from their wallets' contents. But in Terre Haute, Ind., the term "male stripper" has taken on a peculiar -- some say unpleasant -- hue.
For 24 years, a man calling himself Disco Ernie has alternately entertained and horrified audiences with his exhibitionistic talents, shedding his clothing for bachelorette and birthday parties, and even the occasional visit to a hospital. Some people watch him and cheer or laugh. Others gape in stupefied silence, aghast at the spectacle. Disco Ernie is 86 years old.
His act started as a joke in the 1970s, but gained so much attention he now performs 40 shows a year in and around Terre Haute, ranging from private engagements to nightclubs and a drugstore.
"I even did one at a nursing home," Disco Ernie told the Associated Press. "But they didn't want me to take my clothes off. Too many old people, I guess."
Ernie Nasser measures in at 5-5 and 115 pounds -- a mere slip of a man compared to many of the hefty, stretch-panted damsels he entertains -- but don't let his size fool you. He's got stamina, and he's always on call.
At a bachelorette party appearance last month, Disco Ernie's lustful choreography made a lasting impression on bride-to-be Angela Larr. Although she watched Disco Ernie's routine with her hand over her face, his capable movements apparently melted her anxieties. By the end of the program she ended up dancing with him, providing a pleasant conclusion to a no-doubt-singularly sexy evening.
"You have to give him credit," said Larr. "He's not sitting around feeling sorry for himself. He's out dancing and having fun."