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Photos: Joey Lawrence takes it (T-shirt) off for Chippendales at the Rio

Joey Lawrence, center, with Chippendales and guests at VooDoo Lounge in the Rio on Friday, June 8, 2012.
Photo: Arlene Richie

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Joey Lawrence at the Rio

Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence's 36th Birthday at Sugar Factory, Chateau

Joey Lawrence was concerned about ripping off his T-shirt to go bare-chested for his guest appearance hosting Chippendales at the Rio, but the actor, singer and TV host overcame his fears to show off his “Blossom” beefcake.

“I am not doing the Full Monty, though!” he told me on his opening night with the male revue Friday. “I over worried and then I said, ‘Why the hell not?!’ It was always on my bucket list. You see Hollywood girls being guest stars at the Pussycat Dolls stripping off their lingerie, so if women can do it, why can’t men? Now Chippendales is doing it with Hollywood stars.

“With the new ‘Magic Mike’ movie coming out this month, I believe the phenomenon of male revues for the ladies will bust out all over again. I’m proud to be part of it. Some people will say that I’ve been in the business 31 years and I shouldn’t be doing this, but I look at it like I’m just starting out again. It’s sure getting a lot of attention.

“I have tremendous respect for the Chippendales dancers. They work really hard onstage. Their choreography is amazing -- and their bodies! What can I say? They are toned, trim and with perfect physiques. I think I was more worried about how I’d be measured against them than I was about people looking at my chest! That comparison was the real worry -- and my original hesitation. Now I’m fine doing it.”

Chippendales chief Kevin Denberg said: “We are thrilled to have someone as talented as Joey joining our show this summer. He’s a triple threat. The forthcoming ‘Magic Mike’ film starring Channing Tatum shows the male revue making its way back into the mainstream. The addition of Joey to our award-winning show drives even more excitement to our industry.”

Joey donned the trademark cuffs and collar worn by the handsome hunks who have appeared several times in recent months on ”The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” He will be with the show as celebrity guest host until at least June 24. Joey’s 31-year career started when he was just 5 years old, and he rose to pop-culture fame, stealing the hearts of teen girls as Joey Russo on “Blossom.”

Joey also is a singer (his “Nothing My Love Can’t Fix” hit the Top 20, and he performed as Billy Flynn in “Chicago” on Broadway; incidentally, he performed Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago” in Chippendales last Friday), and he finished third in Season 3 of “Dancing With the Stars” with pro partner Edyta Sliwinska (Emmitt Smith won that season, with Mario Lopez the runner-up.) Today, he stars with Melissa Joan Hart in the top-rated ABC Family series “Melissa & Joey,” which is about to start Season 2.

The opening night that esteemed Editor Don Chareunsy and I attended to meet with Joey, the bachelorette and birthday girls went wild for his onstage antics and were out of control when he offered to tear off his tank top to join his shirtless and cut cohorts. The screaming made it impossible to be heard!

Over celebratory cocktails at chef Steve Martorano’s nearby restaurant Cafe Martorano, Joey summed up: “Years ago, it was the dollar in the G-string, but over time it’s become a highly legitimate $10 million business. … I’m perfectly comfortable about it. The girls are loving it, and for me that’s all I care about!”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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