For Magic Mike stars Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, Adam Rodriquez, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, the biggest challenge was not the dancing. It was a tiny garment that weighed about as much as one of the dollar bills that gets stuffed into it.
All these actors had to don mortifyingly skimpy thongs to portray male strippers in Steven Soderbergh’s new film about the lives of male dancers in a Tampa, Florida strip club for ladies.
“It’s a huge leap of faith to trust a thong,” McConnaughey said at the Mike junket at the Four Seasons Hotel on Saturday (June 23). "It's your only protection up on stage. When I first tried it on, my body contorted. And I tried to get myself into every position to see what angles I was covered."
“And sometimes a thong completely betrays you,” added Tatum, who actually worked as a male stripper for about a year when he was 18-years-old and whose experiences and stories inspired the film.
In McConaughey’s case, the thong literally abandoned him. During his big farewell to the ladies of Tampa strip scene, the girls in the audience got so frenzied that they rushed the stage and ripped off his thong. Pettyfer described it as Matthew “being naked in a pit of screaming women.”
Soderbergh watched as Matthew did an admirably quick tuck-and-roll to get out of the situation. He admitted that the actor had egged the overeager ladies on. “C’mon, you were daring them to do something,” he said to a smiling McConaughey.
When the cast was asked how they picked their thongs; by color, fabric or, um, size, Soderbergh joked: “It was a very personal process. I know what I like, and it didn’t take long.”
But Soderbergh did explain that finding tasteful thongs was a challenge. “Honestly, even just shooting in the thong shop, its pretty easy to eliminate 99 % of what’s hanging on those racks. I mean, the elephant thong -- who’s gonna wear that?”
Tatum defensively jumped in, “Whoa, whoa! Don’t judge.”
According to Tatum, If everyone is dressed in a thong pretty much any conversation is going to be funny." But his trade secret is “It’s only weird if you make it weird.”
Other than the various skimpy thongs that barely cover the family jewels and blatantly expose the actors’s bronzed buttocks, the actors also donned various macho man costumes to make their entrance on stage, everything from military and cop uniforms to cowboy duds and fireman gear.
Rodriguez says his favorite costume was the all white military uniform. McConaughey’s beset stripper style statement was the black leather pants that he actually kept. Wait, the ones with the butt that comes off? "Don't give it away," he admonished
Manganiello says he’s had “requests for my fireman suit.” And Bomer thought his Ken Doll costume was the most fun. “The only thing I kept was Ken’s tiger eye necklace."
Harder than wearing a thong was keeping a straight face. "It's hard to take yourself seriously with an American flag thong on with a stragelgically placed a sparkler on the end of it," sayd Manganiello. He adds: “Honestly, the hardest part of this movie was biting the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing, especially watching Matthew in a yellow Spandex top and tiny bike shorts, grinding on Alex Pettyfer in front of the mirror."
The months of training and dance classes paid off in the actors' sculpted abs well-synchronized dance movies in the film. And the dance steps have carried over into their real lives. Former CSI Miami star Rodriguez busted out some moves at a New Jersey club last week. Bomer recalled the shocked looks on guests faces at a wedding reception after the film wrapped.
"I had a few drinks and suddenly i was doing body rolls on the dance floor and I thought, 'It's time to let this go, Matt. You can't take this with you.... Stop."