From the March 15, 1937 issue of LIFE magazine. Photos by Carola Rust.
LIFE Magazine
By Eliza Berman
July 1, 2015

If history repeats itself—based on the success of the first Magic Mike installment—Americans this week will spend, collectively, tens of millions of dollars to go to the movies and watch a gaggle of chiseled men take off their clothes. The proper way to strip, many would say, is however Channing Tatum does it. But back in 1937, LIFE Magazine offered its readers a more specific set of instructions for how a man should disrobe for the night.

The two-page spread was largely published as a gag, after readers complained that a recent feature about the Allen Gilbert School of Undressing for Women should be matched by the same instructions for men. LIFE dispatched a female photographer, Carola Rust, to take the photos so that “the score of the sexes is kept even.”

The magazine started with what not to do, using pictures of a portly model it called “a comedy character”:

As an alternative, LIFE presented a “perfect undressing type.” The fit model is photographed carefully folding his trousers, neatly removing his shoes and properly unbuttoning his shirt before yawning “triumphantly, conscious that his undressing for the evening has been expertly done.”

Not all of LIFE’s readers were pleased with the photos. One reader, F.F. Peterson of Portland, Me., made LIFE’s editors well aware of their vulgarity: “But who is that fat cheese undressing? I have torn out these vulgar nonentities before my family and their friends see them. It is an insult to all decency to have such pictures in our homes.”

We’re just glad F.F. Peterson is unlikely to be around to watch the trailer for Magic Mike XXL.

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