There's a #MagicMikeXXL ticket with your name on it. Grab yours at @Fandango NOW! http://bit.ly/xxltix
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The thing about movies is that they're a manufactured cathartic experience contained within a 90 minute time frame. That's what they're supposed to be, I know, but they usually make me feel bored. At the end of Magic Mike: XXL I felt like I'd just done a triathlon! The friend who accompanied me admitted she had similar symptoms: we were dizzy, disoriented, our hearts were beating erratically. We'd really been through something.
It was this same friend that I saw the first Magic Mike in theaters with, and it was her bachelorette party that had me organizing a trip to a New York strip club featuring male entertainers. Hunkomania! Yes, it's called that.
— HunkOMania (@HunkOManiaUSA) June 12, 2014
It's not badass or uncommon to go with a party of bachelorettes to watch a bunch of men gyrate on stage. But I think about that evening a lot, because I basically lost my damn mind. I spent hundreds of dollars on torsos and watered down gin and tonics. I followed a male stripper down the street yelling profanities. Luckily, he was pretty chill about it, because he definitely could have complained to the police. I'm sorry, David, wherever you are.
Movies about strip clubs and actual strip clubs are a lot alike, because both are about fantasy. Fantasies are intoxicating, and though the gin and tonics had SOMETHING to do with it, I definitely did things that night under the influence of lust that I would never do just from drugs and alcohol. I licked a stranger's chest. I paid for the bride-to-be to get slapped in the face with a d*ck through the thin nylon of a faux-loincloth.
Magic Mike: XXL understands this madness.
In theaters July 1... @magicmikemovie #BDR
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At the movie, my friend and I held hands, screamed, laughed, and stared bug-eyed at the screen. All around us, women were shrieking like Channing Tatum was spinning on his head in the aisle. The thing about Magic Mike: XXL is that they're not just selling beautiful men and fantasy, they're selling an entire philosophy. Strippers are healers.
The loose storyline is that Mike and company are on one last trip to shake their stuff at a stripper convention (please let this be a real thing). It's a swan song to their glory days and they want to do it up right, which means bigger and better routines and all sorts of shenanigans and broken-down ice cream vans along the way. It's funny and engaging and pretty predictable. At one point a lady behind me guessed the next line of dialogue moments before it came out of Amber Heard's mouth.
@channingtatum I know you see... Xoxo #MagicMikeXXL #amberheard #MMXXLTour
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By the way, every woman in that audience hated Amber Heard. I don't think that's an exaggeration. She's sort of the new love interest for Tatum. They share some uninspired banter about cookies versus cake that you'd roll your eyes at in an episode of Gossip Girl, but she mostly just whines and refuses to have fun throughout the movie. She's the only woman not immediately creaming her panties and it hurts to watch her suck her fingers and talk about how she's a drag queen on the inside.
@magicmikemovie @_adam_rodriguez #amberheard @channingtatum #MagicMikeXXL
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Then I came around! Because of that great philosophy: Strippers are healers. These strippers are healing womankind after all the shitty stuff mankind does to them. They're here to make women feel beautiful, desired, understood and safe. Because as sexy as it is, it's a sexuality that's completely unthreatening. Even when Tatum is yanking Amber Heard's hair onstage, you know nothing bad is going to ever happen to her. He "gives her back her smile" and for one second I was able to identify with her and celebrate her.
Maybe too many orgasms can be dangerous? (via BuzzFeed)
That night at Hunkomania (which I highly recommend despite what I'm about to write), I also felt safe, except from myself. Women can rarely indulge in public displays of lust. If something happens to them the world will say they asked for it. The display of male lust is so commonplace that catcalling is considered an acceptable way to interact with a woman on the street, even though they're basically shouting, "You gave me a boner!" at a stranger. A stranger they're not tipping.
So, yeah, I went a little crazy. And the next day I woke up broke and very, very ashamed. I had acted like a total asshole, and though they got my money, it seemed like poor compensation for being treated like... a thing. I'd been a waitress for years and kept drawing parallels in the experience. I hated how people acted like they could make me do anything if they dangled cash over my head and I'd done the same thing to a man times a thousand. WHO HAD I BECOME?
Get em' while they're HOT! Head on over to @Fandango to get your tickets for #MagicMikeXXL: http://bit.ly/xxljmtix
A video posted by Joe Manganiello (@joemanganiello) on
I've felt guilty ever since, but seeing a fun movie about what a great time strippers are having made me forget that bad feeling. I just wanted to go again, because they love it, look at the movie! Then I remembered an old friend who used to strip at private parties. I wrote to him and asked what the experience had been like for him. He responded:
"At the end of the day it was a job and money was the only reason I was there. A lot of my co-workers didn't depend on the money and their main thing was having easy access to sex with as many strangers (mostly married or engaged to be married) as possible with no strings attached."
Oh. Boo. Duh, but boo. No healing pelvic gyrations?
He also described some pretty naughty behind the scenes stuff...I won't get too explicit, but it made my antics at Hunkomania seem tame in comparison.
Magic Mike: XXL ends pretty abruptly. There's a big denouement and a happy ending is lightly implied, but there's no real resolution to the challenges facing aging, lonely, uneducated male entertainers. Overall, it's fun as hell, but melancholy and wistfulness permeate the film, too. Entertainment is healing, because it elevates us from the shitty, boring stuff EVERYONE has to deal with, regardless of gender. You just can't stay up there. I almost had a heart attack from all the moments I fell in love during this movie and it was heartbreaking to leave that world when it was done.
The characters from Magic Mike are elevated by entertaining in this story, too. They love spreading love. I have no idea if the hunks of Hunkomania feel any joy in performing for rabid off-the-chain fangirls. They do yell out, "And we're not gay!" at the end of the show. To quiet my conscience, I like to think they know what a gift they're giving on some level, to women that just need a night off. At the very least, I hope they're making bank. I might need to check it out again to be sure...
Burning down the house for one last show...Tito. Ken. Mike. BDR. Tarzan. #MagicMikeXXL #July1
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Oh, also, Joe Manganiello does a striptease to The Backstreet Boys. You're welcome.