The Stripper in a Police Uniform? He’s for Real

It may never be recorded in any New York Police Department history books, but now it can be told: For eight years, the citizens of New York City were being served and protected by Officer Steve Stanulis, who by day went after drug dealers and by night stripped down to a G-string and thrilled women at Chippendales as the exotic dancer Steve Savage.

“All the cops I worked with knew,” Mr. Stanulis, 40, said recently. “I’d get on the police radio, and suddenly you’d hear other officers getting on and saying: ‘Savaaaage.’ ”

Mr. Stanulis’s stripping also helped him get jobs as a bodyguard for Leonardo DiCaprio and other stars. But Mr. Stanulis has left the department and devoted his time to his dancing career. Now he has written, and is starring in, a stripper-themed production called “Stripped: The Play.”

The show, an Off Broadway production, is playing Friday and Saturday nights at Culture Club, at 20 West 39th Street, in its basement nightclub space, which holds about 200 people.

For years, Mr. Stanulis has used the club’s third-floor space to hold his “Savage Men” exotic dance shows, which are dance revues for a female clientele of the “girls’ night out” variety.

But Mr. Stanulis was seeking a way to attract a wider audience – men, for example — to his shows. So two years ago, he began writing “Stripped,” which has its share of exotic dancing, but also has a dramatic story line pegged to the lives of four male strippers in a dance troupe. It was written by Geoffrey Cantor, the show’s director, and Mr. Stanulis, who plays the dancer Brock Hammer.

“I like to think of the stripping as a metaphor for the characters,” he said. “They’re baring their conflicts in front of everyone.”

Mr. Stanulis, the son of a police sergeant, grew up in the Annandale section of Staten Island and began working as a stripper at Chippendales at age 18, after being recommended by a classmate at Wagner College on Staten Island. He was well into the gyrations of his dancing career when he joined the Police Department at age 20. Mr. Stanulis worked in police precincts in Manhattan before being assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island.

He requested day tours on the force so he could work nights at Chippendales, which was on East 61st Street in Manhattan before it closed.

Although Mr. Stanulis did not officially notify the department of his other job, it was widely known in police circles that he spent his nights as Steve Savage. One night, he looked out from the stage to find his duty captain, a woman, supervising his act with a broad smile as Mr. Stanulis danced for tips tucked into his G-string. When he was back on the beat, fellow officers would laugh as he collated wads of dollar bills every morning to deposit at the bank.

Occasionally he was recognized while doing police work. Once, he said, as he was driving a group of truant teenage girls back to their high school in a police car, one of them asked, “Aren’t you Steve Savage?” provoking a cascade of giggles.

This is not to say that Mr. Stanulis’s police career was not without its sobering moments. There was the time in 1999 when he and his partner drew their guns and ordered a man with a knife to drop his weapon.

“He cut off his tongue and threw it at us,” Mr. Stanulis said, adding that a bloody struggle ensued as they tried to handcuff the man, who was mentally disturbed. The man had tried to attack a school official who had suspended his son from a high school football team.

“I’ll never forget the sight of that tongue laying there at my feet,” Mr. Stanulis said.

Then there was the man who was carrying an ax in Port Richmond High School. Again, Mr. Stanulis and his partner subdued the man, and they later posed with the ax for a photo on the front page of The Staten Island Advance.

In the late 1990s, Mr. Stanulis was hired as a dancer for a private party by Dana Giacchetto, a money manager for Hollywood stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio. Mr. Giacchetto introduced Mr. Stanulis to Mr. DiCaprio, who hired him as a bodyguard. Mr. Stanulis’s tenure with Mr. DiCaprio ended after Mr. Giacchetto pleaded guilty to mishandling funds for his clients.

Mr. Stanulis retired in 2002 from the department after injuring his knee, a condition worsened by a fall at ground zero while he was helping in search and recovery efforts after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Around that time, he quit Chippendales and formed “Savage Men,” where he often rushes after taking his final bows in the play.

Mr. Stanulis is a busy man these days. He is a filmmaker who has produced, written and directed two movies, and he has a talk show on Sirius satellite radio called “In the Life.’’ His first child is on the way, he said.

Mr. Stanulis said the odd confluence of stripping, law enforcement and celebrity bodyguard work had taken him places he never thought he would go.

“One minute I would be among high society – sitting with Bill Gates at some awards dinner, or at the Golden Globes,” he said, “and a few hours later I would be back on duty, running around the projects making drug busts.”

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