Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

11 Magic Mike Facts For The Lawbreakers In The House

Appearances can be deceiving. In one "Magic Mike" trailer, whenever Mike (Channing Tatum) enters a party wearing a policeman's uniform, viewers may not realize that he is a stripper getting ready to shed his shirt and kick the party into high gear. Likewise, it could be argued that the entire movie is not what it seems. What appears to be just another raunchy sex comedy is actually a refreshing look into the life of male strippers and a mature reflection on the toll that often comes with this line of work. "Magic Mike" is far more than just an entertaining movie that shows off sculpted abs. The fact that fans are still clamoring to see Tatum dance in "Magic Mike's Last Dance," more than 10 years later, is a testament to the film's cultural impact.

The film has a tantalizing history full of unforgettable anecdotes, such as why Matthew McConaughey chose to play the bongos for a certain scene, and how Tatum convinced a skeptical studio executive with a single dance.

Magic Mike is based on Channing Tatum's experiences as a strip dancer

"Magic Mike" is a deeply personal film for Channing Tatum, because he actually spent eight months working at a strip club when he was 19 years old. While "Magic Mike" is based on a true story, it's not autobiographical, nor are any of the characters meant to be a stand-in for Tatum himself. His goal was simply to provide an authentic portrayal of stripper life. "It was the atmosphere and energy of it I wanted to capture, and that feeling of being at a time in your life when you're trying things out, and up for anything," he shared in an interview with The Daily Actor.

"It wasn't glamorous whatsoever," he told People Magazine, "so there's nothing that I miss about stripping." Still, Tatum recalled that the job was quite lucrative, and he could make as much as $600 each week. He told The Daily Actor, "I really enjoyed the performing aspect of it, although being in a thong can be a humbling experience." He admitted that the dance routines were often ridiculous, "So you just have to commit to the comedy and the skit because that can be hilarious."

After learning for the first time that Tatum had been a stripper, Jenna Dewan (his then-wife) requested that he demonstrate a lap dance for her, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Meanwhile, Tatum's father never even knew about his son's history of stripping until Tatum shared the experience in an interview with Ellen Degeneres on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Some cast members had reservations about joining

Understandably, some of the actors who played the Kings of Tampa needed a little persuasion before they agreed to take off their clothes in "Magic Mike." For instance, Adam Rodriguez found the prospect of dancing nearly naked in front of a live audience utterly terrifying. "But anytime I get butterflies about something, I have to act on it," he told The Ringer. Ultimately, he was sold when he learned that director Steven Soderbergh was helming the project, according to an interview with Yahoo! News.

Meanwhile, Joe Manganiello was no stranger to roles that involved partial nudity, but he wasn't exactly thrilled to be doing it again in "Magic Mike." Having already played a hunky werewolf in "True Blood," the last thing he wanted was to be typecast as a hot guy who always went shirtless, he told The Ringer. His initial reaction was, "I'm kind of a guy's guy, and I think guys are gonna hate me if I keep doing this," as he shared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" (via People Magazine). However, Chris Rock convinced him to give the role a chance. According to Manganiello, Chris Rock told him, "Man, guys are gonna hate you anyway," so he might as well give it a shot. Rock urged Manganiello to seize the opportunity to work with Soderbergh.

Matthew McConaughey, however, didn't hesitate. After Soderbergh called him and invited him to participate, the actor said yes right away, which he almost never does, he told Entertainment Weekly.

Matthew McConaughey wasn't required to strip, but he stripped anyway

Matthew McConaughey may not have had any previous experience stripping like Tatum, but he was more than happy to take off his clothes. Technically, the role didn't even require his character to be nude, according to The Orange County Register. In the original script, Dallas was only expected to announce the other strippers, never doing any stripping himself. But Steven Soderbergh told McConaughey that he was welcome to shoot a scene near the end with Dallas performing onstage if he wanted.

At first, McConaughey didn't want to take off his clothes if he didn't need to. But once he thought about it, he realized he would be missing a huge opportunity. "I would regret it for the rest of my life if I was in a male stripper movie and didn't get up there and strip myself," he explained to The Advocate. "At first it was scary as hell," he added, "but then it became like a drug, and I couldn't wait to do it again." The actor assured audiences that he never used a body double in this film.

The extras tore off McConaughey's thong

After volunteering to strip for the movie, Matthew McConaughey might have gotten more than he bargained for. The actor recalled that the extras who played the ladies at the strip club were always enthusiastic. "Extras don't have to return from one day to the next," he explained to The Orange County Register, laughing, "[yet] we had a 96% return on extras." Their unbridled enthusiasm is what caused McConaughey to unexpectedly lose his thong.

These women weren't necessarily trying to tear it off, per se. They were just filming a scene from the movie, which involved "tipping" McConaughey by stuffing bills down his waistband. However, they might have tipped him a little too generously, because the weight of the bills pulled down the actor's thong, Channing Tatum told Entertainment Weekly. To the eternal credit of McConaughey, he didn't break character. "I went for the tuck," McConaughey shared in the same interview, referring to the gesture one uses when one is trying to cover their fig-leaf region, "and [then] I finished the dance."

After filming, McConaughey kept this thong and his other costumes as souvenirs. "That was my rattlesnake thong," McConaughey said in a later interview with Entertainment Weekly. "No one else needed to be wearing that thong after me."

Adam's first time onstage was also Alex Pettyfer's first

"Magic Mike" fans will undoubtedly remember the scene where 19-year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer) makes his debut as a stripper. At first Adam only signed up as a prop guy, but the Kings of Tampa need a replacement at the last minute, so they push Adam onto the stage and start playing the song "Like a Virgin." The rest is history.

Pettyfer gave a convincing portrayal as a first-time stripper, not least because he was a first-time stripper himself. "It was the first time I had ever really been onstage in front of an audience," he shared in an interview with E! News. He added that it was a much different experience than performing when his only audience was a camera. The actor explained that Steven Soderbergh filmed both Pettyfer and the audience at once, so viewers are seeing the crowd's real reactions to his dance in the final film.

Of course, after the scene in question, Pettyfer needed to get plenty of practice to dance like a professional stripper. At first, Pettyfer assumed he wouldn't need any training, but watching some footage of himself dancing quickly disavowed him of that notion. "At the clubs, I thought I could dance like Chris Brown," he admitted to The New York Daily News. "But then I realized that I really danced like a duck." Soon enough, however, Pettyfer became comfortable dancing. He told the Daily News, "By the end of the film, I just wanted to be out on stage."

The actors needed to shave and wax for the film

For the actors of "Magic Mike," waxing was part of the job description. "You can't be a hairy stripper," joked Channing Tatum in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. It turns out Joe Manganiello had already been one step ahead of his colleagues; he shared in the same interview that he had been manscaping on a daily basis long before "Magic Mike."

Adam Rodriguez insisted that it wasn't a fun experience. "The actual waxing wasn't that bad," he told The New York Daily News. "It was the hair growing back that was uncomfortable." Pettyfer, on the other hand, didn't need to wax at all. That's because his character shaves instead of waxes in the movie. "I wish I had waxed with all the other guys," Pettyfer told The Daily News. "When you shave your legs and your hair grows back, it itches a lot. For two whole weeks, everything itched."

In an interview for "Ellen," Tatum said he regretted getting waxed for "Magic Mike." Yet when it came time to film "Magic Mike XXL," his co-star Matt Bomer persuaded him to get another waxing, telling him that it wasn't supposed to hurt if it was done correctly and that this time Tatum should find somebody who could do it correctly. "Then I went again," said Tatum, "and it sucked just as bad." This might have been one reason why Tatum announced on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that he would not be doing any waxing in "Magic Mike's Last Dance."

The film crew visited a lot of strip clubs

The filmmakers behind "Magic Mike" spent an inordinate amount of time in male strip clubs (for research, in case that wasn't obvious). Choreographer Alison Faulk explained to KPCC that she needed to attend shows to familiarize herself with the common dance routines. Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey joined Channing Tatum in watching a live performance in a small club next to a laundromat. "We swung by a male revue and stayed for 90 minutes," McConaughey told The Orange County Register. "That was long enough."

Costume designer Christopher Peterson studied the costumes of the male dancers. Since Peterson was often the only guy in attendance, the regular customers were slow to warm up to him. But the experience paid off because Peterson learned how to create tearaway clothes. "It's a combination of snaps, Velcro, and magnets at tension points," he explained to The Ringer.

When it came to this kind of research, nobody took their job more seriously than screenwriter Reid Carolin, who visited club after club to immerse himself in the nightlife. In an interview with IndieWire, Tatum joked that Carolin couldn't get enough of these shows, saying "Man, you don't have to go to every one. They're all pretty much the same."

The movie was originally going to be much darker

It seems impossible to imagine now, but "Magic Mike" could have been a much darker movie. When Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh first got started on the project, they set out to explore mature themes of addiction and disillusionment, as well as demonstrate how soul-destroying it could be to work in the stripping industry. According to The Ringer, they had envisioned something more like "Boogie Nights" or "Saturday Night Fever."

Tatum knew firsthand that the job wasn't all dancing and orgies, so he was adamant that the movie didn't romanticize stripping. "That world is not rosy," he told Vanity Fair. "Some of the worst people I've ever met in my entire life were in that realm." Speaking to The Ringer, Soderbergh described the challenge of exposing the dark side of stripper life that most folks weren't aware of. "The trick was trying to come up with some sort of stakes in a world that wouldn't inherently seem to have a lot of stakes." In the same interview, screenwriter Reid Carolin shared that Soderbergh even suggested killing off Adam by the end of the movie, though Soderbergh doesn't recall proposing that particular idea.

In the end, the filmmakers decided to keep some of the serious themes (including Mike's acceptance that his furniture-making dream is out of reach) but also balance them out with humor, romance, and sexy dancing. A lot of sexy dancing.

Matthew McConaughey poked fun at himself in the bongo scene

In a memorable scene from "Magic Mike," Dallas drums up anticipation for the dramatic entrance of Tarzan (Kevin Nash) by pounding away at a bongo drum. This sequence is pretty hilarious already, but it becomes funny on a whole new level if you consider something that Matthew McConaughey did in real life. In a 1999 incident, McConaughey was arrested for causing a public disturbance after playing his bongo drums at a deafening volume at 2:30 a.m. (per Cinemablend). It is worth mentioning that he was stark naked, and he chose to remain stark naked when the police escorted him out. (More than a decade afterward, he told GQ, "Of course I still play the congas naked. ... I just close the windows.")

What makes the scene from "Magic Mike" even more amusing is that McConaughey didn't even notice the connection right away. He simply suggested a bongo because it felt right for his character. The real-life parallel only occurred to him afterward. He told Backstage, "Five steps later, I thought, 'Oh, guess what? Because of that incident [with the bongos], it makes this even funnier.'" McConaughey enjoyed that scene immensely, though he told Female First that "it probably won't be as well remembered as my October, 1999, get-arrested-for-playing-the-congas-in-the-birthday-suit scene."

The filmmakers struggled to get the film greenlit

"Magic Mike" almost didn't happen. A film about male strippers proved to be a hard sell whenever the filmmakers were courting studio sponsorship. In an interview with IndieWire, Channing Tatum recalled that almost everybody he approached had the same response: "No, we don't want a weird, dark, stripper movie." His pitch was turned down again and again. "Then [Warner Bros.] came and saw the dancing there and knew how to solve this," said Tatum. "That's how we sold that movie."

Even then, however, it wasn't a done deal. According to The Ringer, the crew had already spent a week or two filming before Warner Bros. officially purchased the domestic rights. Sue Kroll, the marketing head of Warner Bros. at the time, dropped by the set while the crew was filming one of Tatum's dances in front of a live audience. Watching the strippers, Kroll was initially mortified. Then, in a move that could have backfired horribly, Tatum selected Kroll from the audience and gave her a lap dance. Amazingly, this gamble paid off; Kroll was surprised by how much she enjoyed the show. "It felt safe, friendly, not even remotely salacious," she told The Ringer. "I found it all quite irresistible." Afterward, she put in a good word with Warner Bros., and the film moved forward.

Of course, we don't recommend this strategy for any aspiring filmmakers trying to pitch a film. A lap dance is probably not the way to go.

Magic Mike was a surprise hit

This may seem shocking in retrospect, but most critics and audiences had very low expectations of "Magic Mike" before its release (via The Hollywood Reporter). Even the people making the movie weren't expecting the huge success it became, Channing Tatum told The Ringer. However, "Magic Mike" left a huge impact on pop culture. The movie paved the way for two sequels and popularized the Ginuwine song "Pony," which enjoyed an all-time high in digital sales after it was featured in the movie (via Billboard).

How did "Magic Mike" become so successful? The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that the marketing campaign of "Magic Mike" appealed to women and gay men, who flocked to see the film in droves. It's quite common to see raunchy sex comedies aimed at men, but much rarer to find ones that satisfy the desires of women, gay men, and any other members of the LGBTQ+ community who find men attractive. So "Magic Mike" found a whole market that Hollywood often overlooks.

If anything, the low expectations only helped "Magic Mike." /Film argued that the movie's modest $7 million budget gave director Steven Soderbergh more creative control since there would have been more pressure from studio executives to play it safe if Warner Bros. had invested more money in the movie. As a result, the filmmakers had the opportunity to approach male strippers from a fresh angle and sneak in some deeper themes, which gave the movie staying power long after its release.