The concept of a film about male strippers seemed groundbreaking in 2012. Having it star Channing Tatum and revealing the story was loosely based off of the actor’s past was a formula for high expectations.

“Magic Mike” didn’t meet mine. I remember leaving the theater awkwardly with my cackling mother and wondering what I had just dedicated the last 110 minutes of my life to.

The film didn’t have a plot. It didn’t tell a story as much as it just gave Tatum a prolonged platform to grind to “Pony” and Alex Pettyfer an opportunity to finally show how edgy he could be through his role as Adam. So let’s just say I had extremely low expectations for “Magic Mike XXL.”

I was pleasantly surprised.The story was still weak. Mike Lane, Tatum’s character, quit the Kings of Tampa and finally started his custom furniture business. But things are rough. He has one employee who he can’t afford to provide with health care and his girlfriend of three years left him.

What’s a guy feeling down to do? Easy. You join your former stripper friends on a trip to Myrtle Beach for a stripper convention to perform one last big show.

That’s it. That’s the story.

But there was a saving grace to this film, and it wasn’t Joe Manganiello’s abs.

It was funny. Like I-can’t-breathe, my-stomach-hurts funny.

“Magic Mike” was so focused on Mike trying to mentor Adam and then trying to save Adam we only got a faint taste of the relationship between Mike and the other strippers. But that’s all “Magic Mike XXL” is. And the interactions between these five men were hilarious.

They pushed and teased each other the way only close friends can. This familiarity put them in some funny and tough situations such as dancing in a drag show, crashing a frozen yogurt truck into a tree and seeking refuge in a den of wine drunk cougars.

A majority of the comedy relied on Tatum. Whether you want to admit it or not, Tatum is a talented comedic actor. Not necessarily with one-liners, but he has a great sense of timing and understands how the most subtle looks or sounds can turn a moment of silence or action into one of laughter.

If none of this is doing it for you, the cast alone might be enough to warrant a ticket for this film. From Michael Strahan in booty shorts to a shirtless Donald Glover or Jada Pinkett Smith as the voice of women, “Magic Mike XXL” is seriously packing in terms of cameos.

It’s rare for me to say a sequel is better than the original, but “Magic Mike XXL” stepped up its game. The plot was better, though only slightly, and the characters were far more enjoyable.

Just please don’t make another. Please.

Lexia Banks

Magic Mike XXL

There’s an important, perhaps counter-intuitive point that must be clear before we start talking about Magic Mike XXL: The original 2012 Magic Mike was not about male strippers. Make no mistake: It contained male strippers. A whooooole lot of ’em, grinding and thrusting away in routines designed to send female audience members—both within the movie itself, and in theater seats—into fits of shrieking glee.

But the movie was not fundamentally about male strippers, and that’s why it worked as something besides beefcake eye candy. Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Reid Carolin used that milieu as the backdrop for a Great Recession-era tale of shadow economies, with people working their hardest and resorting to less-than-savory activities in an attempt to stay above water, let alone grab the American dream. From the efforts of Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) to finance his custom-furniture business to under-the-table construction jobs and drug deals, Magic Mike was, at its core, about money—and not just the bills stuffed into the protagonists’ G-strings.

Magic Mike XXL picks up three years later, and it’s got entirely different things on its mind—or, more to the point, it really has nothing on its mind. Mike is still running his furniture business in Tampa, mourning the recent end of his relationship with Brooke, when he hears from his old stage buddies—Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez)—who are now facing a last hurrah after being ditched by Dallas and The Kid (Matthew McConaughey’s and Alex Pettyfer’s characters, not returning for this go-round). That last hurrah will be a trip to the annual stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C. a trip on which Mike impulsively decides to join them.

What follows is mostly an episodic road trip, as the lads bounce up the coast: a beach-party stopover, where Mike meets a flirty photographer (Amber Heard); an impromptu routine in a convenience store set to “I Want It That Way;” a visit with one of Mike’s old associates, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), who’s now running a lavish private male-stripper club in Savannah. Director Gregory Jacobs—Soderbergh’s long-time assistant director, taking over the main chair while Soderbergh still serves as cinematographer and editor—maintains the loosey-goosey performance energy of the original, with plenty of casually entertaining banter. And while McConaughey’s oily Dallas is missed, Tatum carries XXL a long way purely on the strength of his charm and charisma … OK, and also his ridiculous abs.

But what’s missing is anything even remotely resembling a story, even the thin mentor & protégé narrative that supported Magic Mike. Carolin (also returning as writer) makes some token stabs in the same economic direction as the original, with members of Mike’s crew variously mentioning their dreams of selling yogurt, becoming artists, singing and acting, etc. Here, though, it all feels like background noise—something to talk about because they need to talk about something on that long trip up to Myrtle Beach. Even the subtext of “male entertainers” facing the downside of their career as they hit their late 30s is quickly discarded (though it inspires a great gag about a younger generation of dancers doing a Twilight-themed routine). It’s a movie where stuff happens on the way to the next scene where stuff happens on the way to the final scenes where big stuff happens.

A lot of the stuff that happens involves hunky guys dancing provocatively with their shirts off, and let’s be honest: There’s an audience for that. Based on the advance screening I attended, that moviegoing audience would be thrilled to be part of the audience up on that screen, making it rain dollar bills on those hunky, provocatively dancing guys. The accompanying choreography is bold and wild, and shot in a way that dancing is rarely shot in movies anymore, so that you can actually appreciate that athleticism of the routines. But it’s sad that there’s such a gaping hole in the middle of the “let’s put on a show” stuff. Even the final shots—seemingly meant to duplicate the lineup at the end of Ocean’s Eleven—can’t hide that this caper isn’t an effervescent ride. It’s just a movie about male strippers.

One important lesson this editor learned while watching Magic Mike: A stripper is only as good as his routines. In Magic Mike XXL, those routines come with their fair share of panache, courtesy of costumes designed by Christopher Peterson.

Having worked on both XXL and the original film, Peterson has plenty of experience in the wardrobes of hot guys paid to take it off. With the Spring ’16 men’s runways awash with sheerness and nudity, we were eager to catch up with Peterson and learn about his approach to designing garments intended to reveal the male physique.

Below, he extolls the virtues of sleeveless tees and Swarovski embellishment, while pondering the ever-so-important question: “To thong or not to thong?” For a movie where the main characters are naked or next-to-naked a majority of the time, how do you even begin to approach designing the clothes they actually wear?

That’s everybody’s joke. “Magic Mike? What clothes are there in Magic Mike?” [laughs] I go back to what I said the first time around: Without clothing to take off, as a stripper, you don’t have an act.

Granted, they get out of their clothes very quickly, but this is the way I look at character work on any of the films I work on: It starts with the script and folds in the director’s ideas, the writer’s ideas, and the actors’ ideas. Then it’s down to the costume designer to put all those ideas together in a physical way on a rack and present it to an actor.

So we stand there in front of the mirror until we finally hit on it, and at that point you just quietly wheel away all of the other options, knowing that you found it.

How did you differentiate the characters’ costumes and aesthetics?

The guys are all so different. The thing that they all have in common is that they’re all these incredible specimens of the male figure [laughs], but personality-wise, interest-wise, and physically, they’re all so, so different. That’s a real starting point for what clothes wind up on the rack. That in addition to character. With this film, because there were six great-looking guys, I had what I call a Sex and the City problem because Pat Field had four women to dress, and they all needed to look great, and they all had to have their own character.

One person would not wear the thing that another character wears. With men’s clothing, you kind of have a lot more limited toolbox than with women’s. With men, you’re given jeans, shorts, tank tops, and T-shirts…there’s not as big a range of things to play with. We found an iconic look for each of the characters and played with variations and themes throughout the whole film, not taking them too far away from what we had discovered.

The other thing that’s interesting is: Because the guys are so well known and so well known in so many different roles, you really do want to take them to a place that the audience hasn’t seen them go to visually, without going too far into caricature.

Since their clothes come off pretty quickly, how important are the accessories to these characters?

The accessories are crucial, especially with the very limited field of clothing that you have for the men. I had a couple of really great partnerships on the job. One was with Melin hats. They provided several of the hats—one in particular that Channing [Tatum] wore for his final dance number.

Without that hat, you don’t have the kind of street look that we were looking for. You have to have that hat. M. Cohen had a couple of great pieces that I loved—they provided all of Matt [Bomer]’s jewelry and modified things for me.

Swarovski agreed to participate in the film. We put all the guys in these gray-and-black Everlast robes that were encrusted with Swarovski metallic crystals. We made some outlandish choices here and there—it was fun.

How much did you have to mentally prep the actors for the fittings?

It’s so much fun to dress these guys. On the first film, everyone came in and I had to give them the speech: “OK, you have to get waxed, and you have to get spray tanned.” They all did it, of course, for the first film, but they were sort of like, “Really?” This time they came in fully prepped, ready to go, spray tanned, and waxed—they all had the language down.

And before they ever came into their first fitting, they were all into their workout routines, deep into them, so they came in looking phenomenal. By the time we started shooting, it was like walking among gods. Whereas on the first movie, it was about easing our way into it, this time it was like, “Are we doing thongs or are we doing boy shorts?”

Thongs or boy shorts, that is the question.

There was a big discussion about “to thong or not to thong” on this one, because one of the ideas of the story is that this is the guys’ last ride, and right after this happens they’re all going to quit stripping and go on to these professions that they’re been dreaming about doing all these years. There was this moment where we weren’t going to do thongs, and I started thinking about it: The thong is such an odd garment.

On the one hand, it’s really the visual property of warriors and gladiators. That loincloth-like piece has been around since the dawn of time in various forms, but somewhere in the ’80s, somebody decided—and I think it was International Male, I’m not sure!—that this was a good idea. Once the male stripper emerged in the late ’70s and in the ’80s the Chippendales became popular, it really took off.

It’s just such an odd garment. We almost didn’t do it this time because we wanted to show a progression of time and of slightly more sophistication to the routines. But in the end, we had this powwow—and I think that Chan was going to tweet about it, I’m not sure if he ever did—when we decided to go with the thongs.

We’re all very grateful.

America, you’re welcome. World, you’re welcome! [laughs] A company named Pistol Pete made all of the thongs for me, as they did in the first one. They’re pretty crucial in getting it right because they have a lot of knowledge about how these things fit.

You’d be surprised about how tricky it is to get someone in a thong to begin with, but then to get it to fit properly. They really were instrumental in helping me get the look right.
How much does the fact that the characters are male strippers inform their off-duty wardrobes?

Let me tell you something: The job description was not to cover these guys up. Not literally, but no one is paying me to put a long-sleeve shirt, trousers, a cardigan, and a coat on Channing Tatum. [laughs] That’s part of what makes the first and the second movie so sexy is that strippers make their living with their bodies, they take care of them, and that’s their bread and butter, and there are certain things about the way they dress that are pretty distinct. It’s very body conscious. Now, almost three years later, I’ve met almost every troupe of male strippers in the country and it’s always the same thing: not a sleeve in sight. Every day I was cutting a sleeve off of something.

There was a box at the back of my truck, which I kept, that was just filled with sleeves that had been cut off. This is the funny thing, too. I had a couple fittings with Joe [Manganiello], who I think has the lowest sleeve count in the movie. Because of Joe’s size it was very tricky to do any of this unless it was on Joe’s body, so there were several mornings where I would knock on Joe’s trailer and say, “OK, we need to cut the sleeve off of this one now.”

The discards are all in this box, which I have kept. [laughs] I don’t know, maybe I’ll make a Magic Mike quilt out of it someday!

Were there any looks that didn’t make it into the final film?

Looking back at the Magic Mike version 1.0 fittings, just to remind myself of all the things that we explored with the guys the first time around, they are some of the funniest photos of all time. One thing that we tried for the first movie that never made the cut: I put Alex Pettyfer in this adult-sized footed pajama with ducks on it. One of his strip routines might have been that. [laughs]

In addition to meeting with real strippers and doing research in clubs, what were the other references you looked at?

Strippers—because they’re making their money on their bodies—and their moves and those other things, too, that maybe are not fit for [laughs], they’re very body conscious. Most of the strippers that I have met are not necessarily fashionable.

The thing about this job is that I could cut armholes into a Hefty bag and put it on Joe Manganiello and still look like a genius because these guys are so insanely hot. There’s a lot of character to the clothing in the film and I love each and every one of the choices that we made with the guys, but to me it’s so much more about character in this film than it is about fashion or trends. The thing that I would say about most strippers is that it’s a little off-trend.

Other than visiting strip clubs, documentary photography is a great start. Going to actual strip clubs is the best research, though, looking at the real deal. It’s great seeing Magic Mike XXL take place backstage at the big stripper convention that is the finale of the film, and you see all of these guys rehearsing their acts in the background.

For that scene we brought in the LaBare boys, which Joe has directed a documentary about, who are real strippers. There were some strippers that came in from Atlanta, some came in from Texas. It was the real deal backstage.

What was your approach to dressing the women in the film?

I am president of the Jada Pinkett Smith fan club. There’s something to figuring out how this character, the owner of a combination male and female strip club, would dress. She’s part-hostess, part-owner, part-emcee. We wanted her look to have, not an androgynous feel, but to not be based on a specifically male or female archetype. We wanted to find a way for it to be a combination. I started thinking about the Saint Laurent Le Smoking in the ’70s, and then I started thinking about disco and found this amazing picture of Donna Summer. We wound up building two tuxedos for her—one was white with black satin trimming and the other was a blush wool with tailored pink satin lapels and a stripe down the sides. Leonard Logsdail, an absolutely genius tailor in New York City, I brought the sketches to him and he said, “I don’t normally do women,” and I said, “I think that’s good in this case because I don’t want it to look like a traditional women’s suit.

I want to ride that line.” He brought in these incredibly tailored, well-made pieces. James Coviello made me these beautiful fedoras for her to wear as well. During the fitting we decided that there shouldn’t be a shirt, so we fitted the vest a little tighter, so it’s not a tuxedo in the traditional sense. It’s incredibly sexy.

Elizabeth Banks is another fearless, sexy, smart actress, and I had done a couple of films with her. She plays this approaching/getting out-of-the-business former stripper who now runs this Myrtle Beach stripper convention every year. Her look was very tight, very loud, and obviously sexy. At one point she’s in this gold Herve Leger dress—she looks like an awards statuette when the lights hit her and her very high platforms.

With both her and Jada, there’s a lot of character in the clothing.

The dance moves (if one can call them that) in Magic Mike XXL are good. Really good. In fact, Channing Tatum and his gyrating hips might be the only reason to see the movie in the first place.
But the question at hand today is: How do the onscreen strippers measure up to the real thing? Sure, Tatum may have been a male entertainer back in the day, but it’s been a long time since he was onstage for real. As such, the team at The Daily Share decided to gather some real life exotic dancers to have a look at the flick and give some input. What they said will, actually, make you want to run out and see all this hip gyrating for yourself.

The panel of strippers included such renowned entertainers as Awesome Antonio and G.Q., from companies with names like HunkOMania NYC and Savage Men. While the men were adamant that they, in fact, have the best stripping skills around (especially Awesome Antonio; that guy is ruthless!), they did give credit where credit was due.
CLICK: 22 things we learned from watching Magic Mike XXL

“We need more guys like this in the business,” said one stripper, while another described Tatum’s moves as “excellent.” Chock one up for Channing!
However, the guys did have a few pieces of constructive criticism about, shockingly, Channing Tatum’s body. “He could probably be a little more symmetrical,” said Awesome Antonio. “He walks like a boy, you know, he doesn’t walk like a man.” And Armand, manager of the aforementioned HunkOMania, offered this: “I would definitely hire him, but I would say you’ve gotta hit the gym, you’ve gotta put on another 10 or 20 pounds.” Burn!

by Seija Rankin Today 1:33 PM PDTCheck out the reactions in their entirety below.

Although the words “philosophical” and “male stripper” are seldom used together, Jon, 37, a male escort and stripper for Rent-A-Gent in New York City, is both. Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic ode to male strippers — 2012’s “Magic Mike” and “Magic Mike XXL” — gave movie-goers a peek into a world few of us know much about. But not all male entertainers live a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll existence.

Jon, a film major from Italy who works with a production company, got involved with the world of male stripping when Rent-A-Gent was but a glimmer in the CEO’s eye. The founder of the company, former corporate lawyer and investment banker Sara Shikhman, convinced him to join what was a startup two years ago.

Jon (a stage name) told International Business Times that it’s focused both on providing women with dates or “escorts” to corporate events, weddings and parties they don’t want to go to alone, as well offering male strippers for private parties.

“Men have been doing it for centuries,” he said. “For women, sometimes they just want to have fun or be with someone interesting or edgy. They don’t want pressure at the end of the date for sex. So I thought I’d give it a try.”

Although he started out as a Rent-A-Gent date for hire, he subbed last minute for a male stripper who didn’t show up to a gig.

He’s Your Private Dancer

“I’m not a good dancer, I’d never done it before, but it was a challenge,” he said. “I was nervous. Will they like me or not? But then I realized that at a bachelorette party, they want fun. It’s unusual and fun when you take your shirt off. Women have to be more serious and conservative than men. Women want to feel comfortable, and I did too. We are in same situation.”

One of the things he learned on the job, he told IBTimes, was how to read the dynamics of each situation, and adjust accordingly. Male strippers never know what to expect when they arrive to a private bachelorette party — which is often a surprise to the bride to be.

“I’m not like the guys in ‘Magic Mike.’ Most guys cannot be that. Those are real professional dancers. Guys in clubs do some choreography. So, the important thing is to talk before the booking with the client,” Jon said. “Understand what kind of party it is, how old they are, the number of people. Make them feel comfortable with your voice, presence. Let them know you’re normal. ”

For a bachelorette party, having the surprise factor is important.

‘You Don’t Want To Jump On Them Right Away’

“You want to have the shock factor. Take off your shirt within 10 seconds, and omg it’s crazy. Even if you do this, it doesn’t mean you do lap-dances right away. You take the temperature, and once the surprise factor is gone, you mingle, make them feel comfortable. Dance with them. If atmosphere is wild, and they’ve been partying, you give lapdances to the girls. Most of guests are married women. so you don’t want to jump on them right away or maybe at all.”

Jon recounted one of the strangest experiences he ever experienced.

He was hired by a group of young Asian women to dance at a bachelorette party. “I got to the hotel room, and as soon as the bride-to-be saw me, she hid behind the sofa. I thought she was joking, but she never came out. That was not a situation where I took my shirt off!”

He said he talked to her about her marriage, and suggested that they practice making her big day perfect. So someone in the wedding party pretended to be the priest, and Jon was the groom, and when it came time for the kiss, he offered her his cheek for a kiss, and she ran behind the sofa again. It made him sad, he said, because, “She’s getting married — but she’s afraid of life. Cultures that make women afraid of men aren’t good.”

‘I Like Matthew’s Craziness’

Although there were things about “Magic Mike” that Jon thought were authentic (“I like Matthew’s craziness”), namely the “adrenaline rush” the Matthew McConaughey character feels after performing, Jon didn’t like the ending, in which finding true love seemed to require that the Channing Tatum character leave the stripping world behind. It’s too “conservative,” he said.

The film concludes, he said, that “It’s a superficial world. When you grow up, move on to something else. It’s something people portray to make people feel good about it. Matthew finds love when he leaves the job. But you don’t have to leave this world to find love.”

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.—When Jada Pinkett Smith got the call from her agent about the Magic Mikesequel script, she was skeptical, if intrigued.

Pinkett Smith had actually been thinking about the world of strippers; though she’d never set foot in a strip club, she had just wrapped a documentary for CNN in Atlanta that dealt with strip clubs and sex trafficking.

She agreed to Skype with Magic Mike star and producer Channing Tatum and director Gregory Jacobs. “That was a very interesting call,” she said.
Originally, Tatum had wanted Jamie Foxx for the role of Rome, owner of a male strip club. He wanted to show people the side of Foxx he’d seen during a fun party, but it didn’t work out “for a lot of reasons.”
It ended up being the best thing for the film, which comes out Wednesday.

“The spirit of the thing was always supposed to be a woman,” said Tatum. “We were just a bunch of guys sitting here trying to come up with what is inside of a woman’s mind and it’s like, ‘Idiots, you should just ask them.’”

But Pinkett Smith still needed convincing.
“I think the selling point for me was when Channing said, ‘Listen, I really think that there’s a level of responsibility and celebration that we can bring to this whole form.’ I thought that was a radical freaking idea,” she said, her experiences in Atlanta top of mind. “If we could really elevate what is happening in these environments, how awesome would that be?”
So they got to work making Rome a woman, resting heavily on Pinkett Smith’s input on who exactly this enigmatic club owner from Mike’s (Tatum) past should be.

The road-tripping strippers (including Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and Kevin Nash) don’t meet up with her until about halfway through the film. Though the guys are bigger than life, it’s the diminutive Pinkett Smith who dominates the screen as soon as she’s introduced: the queen of her own empire of luxury and desire where men (including the likes of Michael Strahan, Donald Glover and Stephen “Twitch” Boss) exist purely for the pleasure of the female patrons.

“I created a philosophy that this is a woman who looked at eroticism and sexuality as a gateway to enlightenment,” said Pinkett Smith.
“We didn’t have to do very much. We just got out of the way,” added Tatum, who meant it pretty literally, comparing her energy to that of a lioness.
“It’s like, ‘No one move. If you don’t look at it in the eyes, it won’t attack you. Try to feel powerful! Don’t show weakness!’” he laughed.

The dynamic shifts only when the guys perform. Pinkett Smith, who takes over the MC role for Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas in a key scene, was more than happy to sit back and watch with feverish female extras. And they weren’t just acting: their reactions were real, she said.
“It was the show of our lives. Really. It’s the crème de la crème. It’s not going to get any better than that. To have a front-row seat watching Channing and Twitch? Just shut it down. It’s over,” she said.

nal appeal is something that Tatum still can’t really wrap his head around. The 2012 Steven Soderbergh film about male strippers and the economy cost only $7 million to produce and ended up grossing $113.7 million domestically.

Tatum thinks they “caught a wave” off of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon; the book had come out a year prior.
“I wouldn’t have read that and thought ‘women empowerment,’ but it definitely somehow turned them on. And I don’t mean sexually. I just mean the switch was turned on,” said Tatum.
“I think it’s just time. I think women are ready to self-actualize in an erotic, sexual manner. I think that women are becoming less afraid,” said Pinkett Smith. “We need time to really explore that territory.”
By: Lindsey Bahr The Associated Press, Published on Fri Jun 26 2015

Three years after Magic Mike thrust onto screens, he’s back for another steamy instalment. Channing Tatum tells Susan Griffin why he’s happy for his wife to watch male strippers and how he’ll be the first to tell his daughter about his own X-rated past…

Channing Tatum might look in prime condition on the promotional posters for the upcoming sequel to 2012 male stripper movie Magic Mike, but he’s the first to admit it required a “ridiculous” amount of work.

“I hadn’t even started working out for this movie and tWitch [Stephen Boss, his co-star in the follow-up film] just walked in, basically looking how I wanted to, and I was like, ‘Damn!'” recalls the 35-year-old, laughing.

And so he set about whipping himself into shape.

“People have nine-to-five jobs, but that’s my job, to eat right, be on a schedule, go and workout three times [a day]. And guess what, if you’re not getting there on time, you gotta go workout four times.”

Picking up the story three years after Mike, played by Tatum, bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, Magic Mike XXL finds the remaining ‘Kings of Tampa’ – including Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie, Matt Bomer as the picture-perfect Ken, Adam Rodriguez as Latin sensation Tito and Kevin Nash as wild-man Tarzan – also ready to throw in their thongs.

But they want to do it their way: with one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

And Mike, having realised he traded one grind for another, can’t wait to reunite with his old mates.

“You definitely get the sense that something vital is missing. He’s just not ‘switched on’ the way he was when he was dancing,” says the Alabama-born actor who was raised in Florida and, as with the original, is also a producer on the film.

“The first movie was more about him rejecting that life, because he feared maybe it was holding him back from seeing what else he could do. But now that he’s stepped away and some time has passed, he remembers everything that was good and cool and fun about it and, most of all, about the guys who were on that wild adventure with him.”

The world of Magic Mike is inspired by Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper, including the convention that the Kings Of Tampa are headed for.

“I have no idea why they call it a convention. There are no booths set up or stripper technology, it’s just a big show,” notes the star, who adds that the film’s intention is to live up to its title, with bigger set pieces and even more impressive routines.

“We read the message boards and they were like, ‘Less story, more dancing’, so we take direction well.

“We wanted the movie to be a tease in itself,” he explains. “We didn’t want to get so over-handed with all the gender stuff, or with everybody’s story, it’s a dancer-stripper movie, we’re not going to try and make it like Lawrence Of Arabia. But we didn’t want there to be no story either. It’s a fine needle to thread,” Tatum continues.

“The idea with Magic Mike XXL was to have the guys discover for themselves what’s hot and fun and sexy, and a huge part of that is by asking women what they want, instead of telling them it’s a cowboy in ass-less chaps.”

He describes his time working as a nightclub stripper as “an interesting time in my life”, but while he’d always wanted to be open about his past, he now admits that “my publicist was like, ‘Hell no!'” but adds: “It eventually came out and I was like, ‘Finally we can talk about this’.”

Unlike his move alter-ego, Tatum didn’t reject stripping, he insists. “It was more like, ‘All right, I kind of did this now’. I wasn’t like, ‘I can’t do this any more – I want more!'”

He later moved to New York to try modelling, attending 50 castings a week “for anything and everything”.

One day, his agent put him forward for a Pepsi commercial, suggesting he played up his DJ skills.

“All I knew was how to put a record on a turntable but went along, and every real DJ in New York was there,” remembers Tatum, who was about to leave when a member of the team urged him to stay.

So he borrowed a record, “and basically danced and acted like I was scratching, got the part, and then just faked it pretty much”, he recalls, laughing.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this acting thing is way more fun’.”

In 2006, he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his powerful performance in the independent movie A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. That same year, he starred in She’s The Man and Step Up, where he met his wife, the dancer and actress Jenna Dewan.

He credits Dewan for being an “instrumental” part of the Magic Mike XXL journey.

“She and Alison [Faulk, one of the choreographers] are very good friends. It’s probably weird to understand, but we were basically choreographing dry-humping down in a gym with her best friend, and saying things like, ‘Don’t put your crotch here; put it more over here’. It was ridiculous.”

He’d have no problem with Dewan enjoying a night out at a strip club. “She can go, I would love her to go. That’s kind of the whole point, I just love when people can talk about sexuality and sensuality, and there’s a difference to just [talking about] sex – I don’t think people talk about it enough.”

It’s why he’s not concerned that their two-year-old daughter Everly will find out what her father got up to in his younger years.

“I’m editing nothing. Life is life,” he reasons. “I can’t change a thing – I was a stripper and I’m not going to keep it from her. She’s going to grow up and know it was what it was. Besides, by the time she’s old enough, there are going to be holograms! You can’t keep kids from anything.”

She’s no doubt going to be proud of all her dad’s achievements. In recent years, Tatum’s starred in the hit comedy 21 Jump Street and its sequel, the stunning 2014 animation The Book Of Life and Oscar-nominated drama Foxcatcher, with upcoming projects including the Coen brothers’ comedy Hail, Caesar!, as well as superhero flick Gambit.

As for whether there will be any more of Magic Mike – “We’re going to do about 40,” he quips.

“Nah, I don’t know whether there’s going to be a third one, to be honest,” Tatum adds. “If you’ve got an idea, write it man, I don’t want to write the third one.”

Magic Mike XXL is released in local cinemas on Friday, July 3

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When two Philly film society friends offered me and a friend two free tickets to see Magic Mike XXL at The Prince Theater at 1412 Chestnut Street, I had to ask, “What is Magic Mike?” Could Magic Mike be the story of a gay magician who pulls off Marriage Equality in Russia, or could it be a movie about a magical millennial named Mike who changes craft beer into tattoos?

The Prince Theater, of course, was almost lost to the city when it went bankrupt several years ago. The theater’s legacy brightened when it was sold to The Philadelphia Film Society. I’ve visited The Prince many times in years past when I would attend film festivals.

In the lobby we picked up our free tickets then proceeded towards a lineup of ushers and serious looking men in suits. What was this? The men in suits were arranged widthwise across the floor like a chorus line of border guards, only they didn’t look very happy. As a frequent Ritz Theater movie patron, I’ve certainly never seen a lineup of suited security there, or at The Roxy or anywhere else for that matter.

Here’s what happened next: I was asked to stand still with my arms out at which point one of the unusually tall men had me spread my legs so that he and another man, who was also over six feet tall, could pat them while yet another man ran one of those little counter-terrorism brush gizmos over my crotch and pocket area.

Were they checking for weapons, bombs, or tubes of nitroglycerin, or did they think that some members of the audience had something against Magic Mike XXL? I suppose what spooked me the most was the fact that these suited no-nonsense men went about their job with the cold, unfeeling precision of TSA agents.

Since when did The Prince Theater become an airport?

As I’m wont to do in such situations, I said something vaguely humorous like, “Is this movie really a non-stop flight to the Middle East?” But nobody was laughing. The suits had no sense of humor and even seemed to resent the collective enthusiasm among patrons in the lobby that often precedes Showtime. Even the stoic looking Asian woman who collected my ticket after the suits had their way with me and who I recognized from past film festivals, had a glum, worried look on her face.

Inside the theater, I noticed additional lines of security near many of the aisles. At the entrance to our aisle a security guy who looked to be seven feet tall had his eyes glued in our direction. Here and there I noticed more relaxed looking guards, most of them women with long, curly hair. While some of these women didn’t seem to be taking their job as seriously as the men, they were still eerily “Watchtower” watchful.

When my friend decided that he should go to the men’s room before the start of the film, one of the security guys told him that nobody was allowed to use the rest rooms “at this time.”

Now, I’ve been going to the movies for some forty-five years but I’ve never been told that the urinals are off limits.

“It’s not like Hilary Clinton is in the lobby,” I said to my friend, “This is just a movie, after all!”

Finally, the lights went down and movie goers heard a faux theatrical explosion as ten male strippers appeared on stage while a few others popped up in the audience area. They were vastly overbuilt muscle thug types with huge arms and torsos but skinny legs. They proceeded to rip off their T-shirts and throw them into the audience as the screaming women collectively raised their cell phones to take pictures. The strippers then proceeded to gyrate, somersault, twist, twirl and dance, as one or two even leapt out into the audience and crawled over the seats. One guy in a bikini bottom or codpiece crawled past me in a paroxysm of ecstasy. I had to duck to avoid a body slam.

Then, as suddenly as it all began, the strippers disappeared and the movie began. It was Magic Mike time, meaning the story of “a male stripper teaching a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.”

Like the on-stage strippers, the movie strippers had overbuilt disproportionate bodies and talked as if they had bubble gum stuck in their mouths. Magic Mike, the star, even wore a backwards baseball cap as if it was 1995. These beefy guys had all left their jobs and private lives to take time off to be with their stripper buddies for one last road trip before their bodies fell apart or turned to fat from weightlifting.

In the story they travel around in an old food delivery truck straight out of Philly’s Vendy Awards, and camp in out of the way places. On a beach they macho it up by passing a football around but then suddenly they find themselves in Mad Mary’s, a drag queen hangout where, inexplicably, the toughest of them consents to dressing up like Carmen Miranda during the group striptease.

Throughout the film I looked for a correlation between police or suited security men and the action on-screen. Despite the fact that the men have wild escapades and even get into an auto accident on a country road, not one cop surfaces. These guys do what they want, crashing southern society parties and building bonfires in open fields, but the face of authority– totalitarian authority– is strangely absent.

The on screen absurdities get even zanier, especially when it came to scenes of the female audiences at the striptease shows. The women are presented as “ordinary” women you might see at CVS or Applebee’s although many are overweight and quick to giggle, blush and scream when the overbuilt male torsos strut their stuff. One might describe these ladies as readers of romance novels on methamphetamine.

The erotic mayhem on screen had the effect of loosening up the Prince’s security system because my friend was finally allowed to go to the bathroom. Yet as soon as he returned I noticed a security usher (a suit?) aiming a bright flashlight over a certain segment of the audience. Was something amiss? Did they find that nitroglycerin?

Most likely the suit (or usher) was investigating a potential cell phone violator who was attempting to film the Warner Brothers production from an iPhone. In any event, it proved to be a false alarm, especially since this crowd was really well behaved. Large groups of young women in business attire carrying expensive iPhones and on a major giggle tare don’t need an Israeli-Palestinian style clamp down.

They really….don’t.

As one who has seen hundreds of plays in the city, I’m used to requests to audiences to “please turn off all cell phones and gadgets before the show begins.” Usually these requests are made politely and/or humorously, but when the announcement was made at The Prince it had emotional echoes of The Red Guard in old Russia.

So what, dear readers, has happened to the venerable Prince? Has it turned into a frog? Or has the theater, unbeknownst to us, merged with Philadelphia International Airport?

When this overlong, unedited movie was finally finished, guests had to make their way through another ring of security, only this time the suits seemed more relaxed, no doubt happy that the despicable, terror-prone crowd was finally going home.
Weekly Press • 218 South 45th Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104

We all expect Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s somewhat surprising 2012 hit about male strippers, to be fairly racy. The first film gets a bit naughty from time to time, but according to star Channing Tatum, XXL ups the ante when it comes to showing off Little Channing.

Tatum just did a hilarious AMA session on Reddit (you should read the whole thing, it’s a blast), and, as you can imagine, things got a bit steamy. When one commenter asked if Tatum was going to do any full frontal nudity in XXL, asking for a friend of course, the 35-year-old actor replied:
haha “for a friend.” I do not do full frontal but i can promise you when you’re standing in front of a bunch of people in a very small thong it doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. Your “friend” should be happy.

So there you have it, if you were hoping to get up close and personal with Channing Tatum’s swimsuit area during Magic Mike XXL , it sounds like you’re be fairly satisfied, but perhaps not 100% like you were hoping. Maybe by the time we get to the third one he’ll put a little bow tie on it or make it spin like a helicopter blade. But let’s get through this movie first before we start sharing our hopes and dreams for the next one.

The story of Magic Mike XXL, which, as we all know, is obviously why you’re most interested in seeing this movie, picks up with now-former male stripper Mike (Tatum) having left that life behind, focusing on his custom furniture. He’s not the only one who wants to put his on-stage pelvic gyrating behind him, as the other “Kings of Tampa” are also ready to call it a day, but if they’re going to go out, they’re going to go out in style. They want to do one last mega performance in Myrtle Beach, with their boy Magic Mike back for an encore. This involves the beefiest road trip you can imagine, as the old friends hit the highway, share adventures, and probably learn some important life lessons along the way.

In addition to Tatum, Magic Mike XXL also sees Matt Bomer return as Ken, Kevin Nash as Tarzan, Adam Rodriguez as Tito, and, of course, Joe Manganiello as Big Dick Richie. It’s not a party with out Big Dick Richie. Gregory Jacobs takes over the directorial reins, and the cast also includes newcomers Elizabeth Banks, Donald Glover, Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell, and Jada Pinkett Smith, among others.

Magic Mike XXL, full frontal or not, greases up and shakes it in theaters starting on July 1.

courtesy of cinemablend