Chippendales star Murray Bartlett on the evolution of gay sex on screen: ‘We all crave intimacy’

Murray Bartlett

Welcome to Chippendales star Murray Bartlett is no stranger to having sex with other men on screen.

In one of the biggest and downright chaotic pop culture moments of 2021, the first series of The White Lotus saw Bartlett’s increasingly unhinged hotel manager Armond caught face-deep between the cheeks of his employee during the climax (pun not intended) of an especially tense episode.

But Mike White’s hit comedy-drama isn’t the only show with unapologetic gay sex on its mind. This week, risqué true crime series Welcome To Chippendales lands on Disney+ charting the story of Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani), an Indian immigrant pursuing the American dream in the 70s who becomes the unlikely founder of the infamous male stripping empire The Chippendales.

Bartlett, meanwhile, takes centre stage as Nick de Noia, an Emmy-award winning choreographer hired by Banerjee to whip the dancers into shape. Fuelled by seedy neon lights and a hell of a lot of cocaine, the razzle dazzle soon turns to resentment and the pair become locked in a battle of wits, underhand business moves and eventually murder.

A still from Disney+ series Welcome to Chippendales shows actor Murray Bartlett as character Nick de Noia dressed in a black shirt and cream suit wearing tinted glasses and sitting on a leather chair
Murray Bartlett as Nick de Noia in Welcome to Chippendales. (Erin Simkin/Hulu)

While the series isn’t afraid to (nearly) bare all with its shots of gyrating men in G-strings, Chippendales is also refreshingly unabashed when it comes to depicting gay sex through De Noia’s defining relationship with wealthy, handsome investor Bradford Barton (Andrew Rannells).

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews ahead of the release of the series, Bartlett said that he was encouraged by the evolution of queer sex on screen.

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“What I am interested in, and what I’m pleased to see, is the intimacy between queer characters and the evolution that we’re seeing,” he explained.

Murray Bartlett
Murray Bartlett as Nick de Noia in Welcome to the Chippendales (Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Bartlett emphasised that while he’s interested in sex scenes between two men, his main priority during filming is cultivating “intimacy”, as well as translating how those people “connect” on screen.

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“We are seeing a real evolution of that in terms of those queer intimate scenes that are actually intimate,” he continued.

“[The importance is] not about the specifics of what they’re doing in that scene, you know, physically – we all crave intimacy and connection.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that we’re able to see that with all sorts of different characters.”

Up close and personal: Nick de Noia and Bradford Barton get to know each other in Welcome to Chippendales. (Hulu/Jessica Brooks)

Bartlett, who is also set to to appear as one half of a tragic gay couple in HBO’s upcoming adaptation of The Last of Us, also said that even if gay characters on screen aren’t necessarily the most relatable, the fact that sex between two men is being explicitly shown in mainstream media is a win.

“Sometimes people in the community have difficulty kind of connecting with or identifying with [these characters],” he continued.

“But when we can find those sort of universal things that we all relate to, we realise that we’re all connected and not that different, essentially. I think that’s a wonderful thing.”

Welcome to Chippendales is available to stream on Disney+ now. Read the PinkNews review here.

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