Chippendales Male Strippers Review 'Magic Mike'

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In producing and starring in Magic Mike, Channing Tatum is a bit of a trailblazer: the former stripper has brought his one-time industry to Hollywood, giving the male revue by far its greatest big screen exposure. But with great power comes great responsibility (or so says another blockbuster coming this week), and given that the marketing campaign for the picture focuses on the "true story" aspect of the film, Tatum was under some heavy pressure to honestly portray his former industry.

The dancers of Chippendales were watching.

The top name in male striptease, the 33-year-old theater helped popularize the male revue, and employs just 24 dancers around the world (all of whom must be six foot tall and have a six pack), with a flagship club based in Las Vegas's Rio Hotel and Casino. The Hollywood Reporter asked two dancers from the show to see the movie over the weekend, and as it turns out, they liked what they saw -- with a few notes, of course.

"I enjoyed the movie thoroughly. Because it’s fun," Jace Crispin, a former Olympic water polo player and seven-year veteran of Chippendales, told THR.

One major contrast Crispin made: Chippendales, he intimated, was way classier than Xquisite, the club in the film.

"It was different somewhat from what Chippendales is, because Chippendales is a male revue, performance-based, crowd interaction by us being on stage and incorporating girls into the numbers, instead of doing lap dances and whatnot and incorporating girls that way. It’s a little bit different; there is no tipping and there is no lap dances," Crispin said. Neither, he said, is there tipping dancers or the crumpled dollar bills ubiquitous in the film.

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It's a point he stressed often; there is a seedy element to the Tampa Bay club in Magic Mike, while there is a more upscale feel to Chippendales. Jon Howes, a college student who has been dancing there for a year, said that he doesn't see the same kind of drug use as in the film; they're "all about their fitness" at the real club.

Still, while Crispin thought some of the things in the film were "extreme," he was impressed with the way director Steven Soderbergh and the cast -- which included Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Matthew McConaughey -- interacted.

"Some of the banter I guess, between the guys, the camaraderie, the looks that you get that they gave from off stage from off stage to on stage, it’s the same kind of feel that the guys have, the way that we interact with each other," Crispin said. "They really picked up on the guys hanging out and doing something that they love to do, become friends and hanging out. It’s a lot like that."

Especially, he said, the way they treated Pettyfer, the new recruit that they call The Kid in the film.

"We do the same thing, we haze the guys, we play practical jokes on them, that is definitely true," he said. "You have a tight group of guys. Chippendale’s, we’ve got about 20 guys worldwide. It’s a family. Everybody knows everybody, everybody hangs out with everybody, so when you come into that, you’ve got to pay your dues."

They also pointed to differences in the dancing; while Tatum was no doubt strong, "With our show, we’re a full theater production, so they don’t just throw you out to the wolves like that," Howes said, remarking on the scene in which The Kid is thrown on stage on his first night in the club. "We went through a rigid casting process, then I had to go through dance training before they even put me on the show."

Howes was scouted working out, and invited to an open audition. He says he was unsure of joining -- until his mother insisted he go for it.

"It's a chance of a lifetime," she told him.

That points to another difference between the film and the real Chippendales; in Magic Mike, there is a built-in stigma to their careers, but both Crispin and Howes feel no such social glare.

"We do do the show and then we hang out in what we call the Flirt Lounge afterwards and meet people who saw the show. We do hear a lot, 'It’s so much more than what I expected, I was expecting tipping and lap dances and it’s not. The show went so fast, it was fun and entertaining and I didn’t expect that kind of show!’" he boasts. "So I always ask them, ‘Was it better than you expected?’ And they’re like, ‘Way better! Awesome.’"

As Magic Mike will attest, $40 million worth of moviegoers will agree.

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