Beefcakes: How would you like your man?

Beefcakes’s 2013 calendar, a monthly tribute to its waiters and bartenders, is still in huge demand, even in June.

Its popularity is attributable to the burger bar’s hiring policy. I haven’t seen its job ad, but it should read something like: “Buff, happy to be oiled up and shirtless, and more than comfortable to carry that off along with a tray? Beefcakes needs you.”

Step into the restaurant and it’s like travelling to a planet that spins on a slightly different axis. If you were looking up into the night sky, this one would be the glitterball. Inside it’s all pink flamingoes, feather boas and a surfeit of topless men carrying drinks with names like “Sex and the Mother City Cosmo”, “Chili on the Willy” and “9 Inches Long Island Ice Tea”.

The planet even has its own creation myth. In the beginning, 1959,  “a practically nude man [impractical nudity has no place here], with rippling muscles, struck a pose and the camera went ‘click’. The Beefcake was born!” At about the same time “hungry Americans were inventing the half-pound beef burger”.

Behold, let there be light, and men in tight briefs are eating burgers while mustard and tomato sauce drip onto their sculpted chests …

I can hear a whole lot of men and women sighing with relief — this must be proof that God indeed exists.

Beefcakes started in Cape Town three years ago and opened its Jo’burg branch late last year. It had something of a relaunch with the renovation of the mall where it’s located — the strangely named Illovo Muse. For male, female, gay, straight, sexually undecided or just in need of a burger and a round of bingo or a drag performance, Beefcakes picks up where the rainbow nation left off. Everyone is welcome.

I could talk about the sociology of camp, the objectification of the male body [a welcome change], watching La Cage aux Folles at the age of 10, but I’m guessing you are more interested in hearing about the food.

I can vouch for the starters — Macho Nachos (irresistible) and Beer-battered onion rings. We tried the grand trio of Nibbly Bits but I wasn’t man enough to eat the jalapeno poppers, although they were highly recommended.

Next up was the carb-less Slimmer Sue — a 200g Beefcakes patty served atop a bed of salad, covered in tomato and avocado relish and speared with a cocktail tomato that looked like a flag on top of Mount Everest. Of course, I ordered it with the skinny French fries so space could be left for chocolate brownies.

The burger was great — a little on the crumbly side, but I put that down to freshness. Beefcakes’ food is tasty and the menu caters for most, with plenty of meatless options too.

Friday night is boys-only night, while Saturday night is bachelorette territory — booked up weeks in advance. On the night we were there Ms Holly Wood had command of the stage and was hosting “Bitchy Bingo” and channelling Marilyn Monroe’s (she even did the dress-rising number) and Madonna’s early years.

Ms Wood is gorgeous, and has some funny lines, including: “How are the lesbians doing?”

Her moves include pointing out the one clearly straight man at the table and asking him to come up on stage and rub the bingo balls, to the amusement of the audience.

Everybody seems happy, and it’s always summer on planet Beefcakes. And if you close your eyes, you might just hear the rustle of palm trees and smell the coconut oil.

Beefcakes Joburg is at Illovo Muse, 198 Oxford Road. Phone 011 447 5266. Closed Mondays.

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