October 8 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 23  

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Firefighter ready to strip

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

The Gazette is proud to report Michael Scratch, a London firefighter, is going beyond the call of duty to bare it all on Bravo!'s reality show, Stripsearch.

The show began with an open casting call and a "cross-Canada search party" seeking willing contestants, said Bruce Turner, one of the hosts of Stripsearch. "Most of them are just average guys - you'd be surprised at how many men have this fantasy [to become a male dancer]," Turner explained. The group of contestants was then narrowed down to 20 who were sent to Toronto for a heavy regimen of dieting and exercise, he added.

The final six contestants will embark on a Canada-wide tour, showcasing their newly acquired stripping skills, Turner said. "We don't like to use the word 'stripper,' we prefer to call it 'a musical with muscles'," he added.

This means the victorious six men will have to take a year off their current employment to tour with the show. "They're basically selling their souls to us for a year," Turner joked.

Michael Scratch, the pride of London's firefighters, has applied to the show and begun the training and auditioning process, attracting attention from the local media in the process. The London Free Press reported on Scratch's venture, expressing displeasure with his decision to take time off work for the show.

"I decided [participating in Stripsearch] was something that was kind of adventurous and fun," Scratch said. "[The show] is moving along, they chose 20 people and they'll be announced on next week's show - then the 'boot camp' begins."

Scratch encouraged people to watch the show on Bravo! Mondays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. or visit the Web site at www.stripsearch.ca. "As the show progresses, people will find out that its a great, funny Canadian show," he said.

"The show has been done in other countries like Poland, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, with great success," Turner said.

When asked about the Free Press' negative coverage of his participation in the show, Scratch said: "I was kind of disappointed - the opinion of [the author] who didn't call me was negative and the article was a little cowardly and lacking coverage."

"[We have] been very clear that under the collective agreement [Scratch] can do what he wants to do," said London fire chief Dave Hodgins. "This is not something I would pursue, but it's his right to do so."

Recently, Scratch learned he may not receive the unpaid leave he requested from the firefighters. Stay tuned to the show to see if he decides to leave his job for this opportunity.




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