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TODAY

Saturday, April 20

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Last night, I went to a friend's bachelorette party. We gathered at one of the bridesmaid's apartment for drinks through penis-shaped straws and naughty gift giving — Early to Bed (NSFW), G Boutique (NSFW), and Lover's Lane (NSFW) were all represented — before heading downtown for the 10:30 show at The Baton Show Lounge (NSFW). There were at least 10 brides-to-be and their friends cavorting at 436 N. Clark last night, although I'm proud to say our group was not the one having some sort of group cheer outside on the sidewalk. All of the performers were amazing. We managed to have a great time, in spite of the absence of male strippers.

In the pop culture landscape, hen parties are nowhere near as widely represented as their brother, the bachelor party. The blueprint for all such undertakings is 1984's Bachelor Party, starring pre-Big Tom Hanks and pre–Whitesnake videos Tawny Kitaen. Hanks is a daffy school bus driver whose buddies arrange a huge blowout of a bash "with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!" Suicidal Brad (Bradford Bancroft) greets newcomers with, "Hi, come on in! Drugs to the right, hookers to the left." High-class Kitaen crashes the party dressed as a prostitute, but discovers that her groom-to-be has not partaken in any of the tomfoolery, which includes the death of a mule that overdoses on 'ludes and cocaine. However, the most frightening scene of all is Adrian Zmed singing. *shudders* Also scary is that there was a sequel (sort of), Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation, released earlier this month.

Bachelor Party seems fairly charming in its cheerful depravity when viewed 20 years later, unlike 1998's dark "comedy" Very Bad Things. This movie revolves around a stag night gone horribly wrong. Five men go to Las Vegas to celebrate Jon Favreau's upcoming nuptials to Cameron Diaz. After the requisite drinking, gambling and drug use, Chicago's own Jeremy Piven has sex with a stripper and accidentally kills her when he slips and slams her head into a towel hook in the bathroom. I hate it when that happens! When a security guard investigates the ruckus, Christian Slater kills him with a corkscrew. The friends try to cover up the crimes by cutting up the bodies and burying them in the desert, but several of them start to crack under the pressure and more death ensues. Situations and dialogue that is supposed to be sharp and amusing fall flat and disgusting. (Roger Ebert wrote a great review of the film.) Very Bad Things was written and directed by Friday Night Lights show runner Peter Berg. Boo, Peter. Boo.

American Wedding, released in 2003 as the final installment of the raunchy American Pie original trilogy, features a party arranged by the ever-gross Stifler (no relation). Wackery involving large breasted women and Three's Company scenarios develops, as it tends to do in these movies. And thanks to IMDB, I see that Ed Burns wrote and directed a 2006 film called The Groomsmen about Irish Catholic fellas on Long Island who have a week-long "party" of hanging out and being dudes rather than partaking in more "traditional" stag night activities. I wonder if it's as magically delicious as his previous offerings.

There have been memorable bachelor parties on television as well, including a four-day Klingon bash for Worf on Deep Space Nine and a stripper with a broken ankle who insists on finishing her performance on How I Met Your Mother. That '70s Show showed the fellas going to a female strip club and the ladies hitting a male revue. I never thought of equal opportunity ogling as a result of Women's Lib. Hmmmm.

In 2005's The Wedding Date, Debra Messing hires escort Dermot Mulroney for $6,000 to accompany her to her sister's nuptials in England. Sex is not part of the initial fee, but Mulroney makes it known that he will put out for a price. Full of liquid courage from the golf-themed(!?) bachelorette party, Messing maxes out her credits cards to buy a little sumpin' sumpin' from the gigilo she hired. Said prostitute is mauled and hit on at the soiree by several women, but he and Messing go back to their room together and have non-monetary sex, which she doesn't remember the next morning. Of course, there are misunderstandings. He has fallen for her in the space of a weekend and is hurt that she offered him cash for their loving; she is insulted when he returns the money. Of course these quarrels are resolved in time for the two to be together in the end. How... romantic?

In How To Deal, the audience doesn't witness the bachelorette party itself, but we do see the future bride with a male stripper's g-string around her neck. She also passes out on the porch. She fights with her furious fiancee (they had said no strippers) and they break up and call off the wedding. However, since this is a Mandy Moore movie — she plays the bride's sister — the couple reunites to wed. A film called The Bachelorette Party was scheduled to be start filming in 2005 with Nicole Kidman in the lead role, but it looks as if that project went into turn-around. We ladies will just have to wait for the definitive Hollywood take on the "perfect" hen party. Somehow, I think we'll soldier on.

At this point I should probably offer some sort of analysis and insight, explaining that the prevalence of movies dedicated to the pre-groom experience obviously reflects the focus on the male gender as a whole, often relegating women to mere objects of desire, and has bled into real-life enterprises such as the Girls Gone Wild franchise. However, the light is too bright and the keyboard keys are clicking too loudly. Shhhhh.

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About the Author(s)

As a child, Dee Stiffler was only allowed to watch one hour of television a day. She usually chose Sesame Street. Today, she overcompensates by knowing far too much about the CW's lineup as well as pop culture in general. Email her at pop@gapersblock.com.

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