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Is Magic Mike Based On A True Story?

It's hard to believe that it's already been 10 years since "Magic Mike" took the world by storm. The Steven Soderbergh-directed low-budget dramedy became one of the least likely box office hits of the 2010s, pulling in audiences of all kinds with its promise of a grand, muscular, sweaty old time. It was a big enough hit to prompt a 2015 sequel that became an even more unlikely cult favorite. There's now a trilogy closer forthcoming.

All that success may look surprising to an unassuming observer who takes the "Magic Mike" films for "mere" male stripping festivals — not that there would be anything wrong with that — and doesn't realize how much they go out of their way to also serve up engrossing and satisfying storytelling. The 2012 original, for one thing, features a rich narrative with lots of character insight, milieu specificity, and searching commentary on American life in the post-2008 economy. In fact, it is such an acute and authentic movie on a dramatic level that it inevitably begs the question of how the filmmakers could have known that much about the ins and outs of stripper life. The answer: They had a specialist on deck.

Magic Mike is inspired by Channing Tatum's own experience in the industry

It is no big secret that "Magic Mike" star Channing Tatum worked as a stripper when he was 18. Flash-forward to a few years later, and, prior to 2012, he was an up-and-coming Hollywood leading man, known by mainstream audiences for his roles in films like "The Vow," "Dear John," and "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," but not yet recognized as a unique creative force in his own right. It all changed with his leading role in "Magic Mike," which consolidated his screen personality and showed critics the full breadth of his singular talents as a performer.

It figures that "Magic Mike" was the best showcase of Tatum's acting career up to that point — after all, it was a film built around him, and one that he himself willed into existence. As he revealed in an interview with Flicks and Bits, "Magic Mike" came into being when Steven Soderbergh, with whom Tatum had worked in the 2010 action flick "Haywire," told a magazine that he would "absolutely" be interested in directing a film based on Tatum's experiences as a stripper. This prompted Tatum to call up Soderbergh and ask if he was serious. They met up, and, over hotdogs, Soderbergh officially put forth the suggestion to make a male stripping movie starring Tatum.

The film takes after the spirit of Tatum's stripper days

Thus, "Magic Mike" was born, with Channing Tatum as star and producer. As he told Flicks and Bits, "I've always thought about doing a story about that life because whenever the subject comes up, guys always want to know about it, 'How'd you get into it? What was it like? How much money did you make?'"

"Magic Mike" certainly offers plenty of answers on the nitty-gritty of the hustle to satiate those guys' curiosity. But the main element it borrows from Tatum's own experiences and reflections on stripper life is the general spirit of it. "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," Tatum said. "You might have a plan for the future, but for now it's about that next pay check, that next party, and just having a good time." That was, indeed, one of the most critically lauded elements of "Magic Mike," which, coming out a few years into the post-2008 American economic slump, arranged a perfect marriage between the atmosphere described by Tatum and the zeitgeist's spirit of young working-class aimlessness.

Despite the real-life inspiration, the character and plot specifics are fictional

All of that said, if you're wondering which equivalent of Xquisite you can visit to acquaint yourself with the gifts of the real-life Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), you might be disappointed to learn that the character and plot specifics of "Magic Mike" are all fictional.

"None of the characters are based on real people, not even my own. Everything that happens is fictional, and we did that purposely because we wanted the freedom to create our own scenarios and tell the best story," Channing Tatum told Flicks and Bits.

Still, it is undeniable that "Magic Mike," like most every Steven Soderbergh project, was a lot more open to input and ideas from the cast, including Tatum and his inspiration from lived experience, than your average Hollywood movie. In Tatum's words, "[Soderbergh] really does empower people, from the actors to the crew, to bring their own ideas into the process, to really perform. To bring something that he's not expecting. And that empowers everybody to help everybody." That may go towards explaining why "Magic Mike" feels so distinctly Tatum-ian, and rings so true even if the plot's events are not true to life in and of themselves.