Where no movie has gone before
More than paying homage to a cherished filmmaker, though, Soderbergh wanted Magic Mike to feel revelatory, to take the viewer to a place that he had never seen explored in a movie before.
“When Channing brought up this idea, I instantly thought ‘Oh God, that’s so good,’ because I hadn’t seen it,” Soderbergh says. “This is a good movie idea. It is an idea best served by being in a movie as opposed to a book or magazine article or documentary. It had never even occurred to me that these kinds of places existed.”
Unlike regular strip clubs, where men silently leer at women from a distance as they pole dance and gyrate, Club Xquisite is a boisterous, lively place, a veritable animal house for women.
“Part of the difference is that men tend to go alone and women go in packs,” Soderbergh says. “Women have a much more realistic fantasy in their heads than guys. Men look up at a stripper and start thinking ‘Is she trying to work her way through medical school? Maybe I can save her.’ They imagine something going on beyond the performance.
“I don’t think women go to these things thinking that at all. They’re just like ‘I’m going out for two hours to do this, and then I’m coming home.’ They see it for what it is. It’s funny how that works. The way women behave in these clubs, no guy would ever do at a strip club. They are completely out of control! They are no boundaries or sense of propriety.”
“It’s a free-for-all in those clubs,” says Joe Manganiello ( True Blood), who plays one of Mike’s fellow dancers. “With female strippers, it’s more serious. You can’t touch the girls. There’s the threat of sex and violence always going on. But it’s tough for a guy to be sexy while wearing an American-flag thong and a strategically placed sparkler.
“I come out in a fireman suit stroking this ax, and you’re gonna laugh. The sexiness comes in the boldness or the confidence or the swagger. Female stripping is about really turning that guy on. Male stripping is about making a girl blush in front of her girlfriends and make them all start screaming ‘Oh my God!’ You would learn a lot about women with a job like this. I think people would be amazed at how women behave when they think no one’s watching.”