Call it "Bachelorettes Gone Wild." While grooms are tempering their stag night shenanigans, brides-to-be are kicking stuffy traditions to the curb and getting rowdy to celebrate the end of their single lives.
"It was a blast," Margie Parsons, of Huber Heights, Ohio, said of her bachelorette party at a strip club. "I got handcuffed to the stage and two women gave me a lap dance."
Parsons' escapades do not surprise Kevin Cornell, who works as an exotic dancer in Chippendales' "Ultimate Girl's Night Out" male revue at Harrah's Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
"When we first started back in New York, it was only a Friday and Saturday thing," he said. "But now that we're in Vegas, any day of the week there are 10 to 20 bachelorette parties going on."
Cornell, who has been dancing with Chippendales for six years, points out that Harrah's built a custom theater for the show and signed the hunks to a 10-year contract — a kind of deal unheard of in Vegas just a decade ago.
And 10 years is a long time for a guy who faces throngs of boozy bachelorette parties each night. Cornell says packs of lascivious ladies have scratched him, pulled his hair and even bitten him on the backside — bawdy behavior that is fueled by the consumption of an astounding amount of alcohol.
"Sometimes they don't even make it through the entire show, and the show's only an hour and a half long," he said.
April Masini, author of "Think & Date Like a Man," says part of the reason for the change is that the women's liberation movement, for better or worse, has changed the meaning of marriage.
"It used to be seen as women were not giving anything up when they got married; they were gaining a husband," Masini said. "But now it's seen as their last hurrah because they're giving up their single life instead."
Masini, who offers dating advice on her Web site AskApril.com, says as gender roles have equalized in the minds of many Americans, women feel more comfortable acting up. But what about the guys?
"I think that men have become more conservative than women," Masini said. "I can tell you just from questions I get on my site there are more women having affairs than men and there are more men getting dumped by women. ... Women have less reasons to get married or remain in a marriage than they ever did before."
A 2005 WeddingChannel.com survey revealed that 55 percent of brides-to-be said the tone of their bachelorette parties was "girls gone wild." Almost half said their parties went on for more than a single evening.
Meanwhile, the guys are just chilling out.
"Men are reining it in," WeddingChannel.com Senior Editor Marilyn Oliveria said. "They're doing things like a golf weekend or some sort of sporting event or going to Vegas for the weekend."
Liz Seccuro, creative director of Dolce Parties, agrees. She says her clients of both sexes are looking to more modern, formal wedding parties that can include co-workers or friends from work or school.
"The days of the 'girls' sitting around eating tea sandwiches or the 'boys' running off to strip clubs are quickly becoming obsolete as couples are marrying later in life," Seccuro said.
In fact, some of the recent showers she has planned have been joint bachelor-bachelorette events.
Seccuro says co-ed friendly events, like wine country bike tours, cooking classes and even golf outings are among the innovative parties some of her recent clients have requested.
"Whereas the notion of the good old-fashioned stag party will never go away, we are doing it more stylishly," Seccuro said. "It's the same sentiment and feeling of toasting away the bachelor's single life. And I think guys, too, want some time to pamper themselves, whether it is great food or great wine or a golf outing."
And what men aren't spending on sordid soirées can mean big bucks for some businesses.
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge in Greensboro, Ga., for example, offers a "Southern gentlemen's package," which includes skeet shooting, rounds of golf, quail or turkey hunting trips, bass fishing, treatments at the hotel spa, steak dinners and complimentary cigars and cognac. The price: $875 per evening, with a three-day minimum stay.
But Cornell thinks today's guys are just too lazy to get wild.
"I think women are having a lot more fun than the guys are these days," he said. "They're just putting way more effort into these parties than the guys are."