Channing Tatum Talks Magic Mike, Miami Living, and His Male Stripping Memories

For a guy widely considered to be among the world's most attractive men, Channing Tatum was looking pretty rough.

Don't get us wrong. Tatum's still sporting the fine-tuned physique and square-jawed features that earned him a spot on People's list of most beautiful celebrities in 2010. But when we sat down with him at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on South Beach, where he was promoting his new movie Magic Mike, opening next weekend, he didn't quite look like the suave male stripper he plays on screen. He slumped in his chair, and his face seemed inflated, somehow.

Turns out that Miami had gotten the best of him. He'd partied with fellow cast members Joe Manganiello (True Blood) and Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami) until the wee hours, he confessed, and was feeling it hard after a full day of interviews. But though his body was complaining, Tatum's mood was upbeat. Magic Mike, the story of an experienced male stripper who recruits a directionless college drop-out for the stage, is a pet project for Tatum, partly inspired by his own experience with taking his clothes off for cash in Tampa. It's clear he has fun talking it up. Even if he's maybe not so good at talking.

It was pretty fun for us, too. Hangover or not, it's still Channing Tatum talking about stripping. Read on to share in the glory.

Cultist: So what did you do last night?
Tatum: We just shot pool, but we shot pool for a long time. That was it, and then we went and got in the water. So it was 3 when I went to bed, and then 5 when I got up this morning. No, 6. So, three hours. A solid three. Ish. A solid ish.

Shooting pool in the hotel, or...?
No, just around the corner. Adam Rodriguez, he took us to a place. He's from down here, so.

You used to live down here too, right?
I did. I lived on 13th and Collins, right above a cigar shop. [It was] this little, I mean, my bed and my couch were right next to each other. It was that type of place. You'd eat on the couch, and then just lean over and put it in the sink. It was one of those really teeny, teeny little joints. But it was one of my favorite apartments I ever had.

How is it being back now?
I love it here. I wish I could be down here more. I love Miami -- Florida, just in general. It's home for me. I grew up in Tampa. So I'm a Florida kid. LA's just not the same. I don't go to the beach [there]. I'm a beach snob. I've been to some of the best beaches, even around the world. Thailand's probably the only place I can say that murders this beach. This is a great beach, but Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world.

You know there's a little bit of a Tampa/Miami rivalry, right? Do you fall on one side or another of that?
I"m not biased to Tampa as far as inventing things like the Cuban sandwich. Logic would say it would be more down here. But I wonder what the ratio is. Do you know how many Cuban Americans there are down here compared to in Tampa?

I do not.
You've gotta have these facts! If it's a debate and battle, you need to have these facts. These are facts that need to be argued out! [laughs]

No, but I don't know, I dated a Cuban girl in Tampa and her mom was part of the Cuban civic center. She was like, like, the treasurer or something like that. There's a huge Cuban population [in Tampa]. So I don't know if the Cuban sandwich actually came from ... Cuba? Or not? We gotta get these facts, though.

Who knows. So were you still stripping when you lived in Miami?
No. I only stripped for like about eight months. It was a very brief time. It was crazy. It was crazy, and I sorta got in, got out. It was really fun and just like a firecracker; it just went off and I was like, "alright, that was cool, did that, let's do something else now!" But I would never trade it for the world. I'm not ashamed of it. I wouldn't say I'm exactly proud of it, but I wouldn't suggest it for anybody. It's kind of a rabbithole. It can be kind of intoxifying [sic]. You're not a rock star, but you feel like one, y'know, when you have people screaming at you. It is a talent, I guess? In a way? Because some people are better at it than others. But it's not, like, something that you can become, like, sort of a hugely famous person doing it, I don't think. I don't know. Maybe you can. I hope I'm not going to be known for being a stripper forever. I'm sure there are better strippers out there than me.

I don't know. You bust a move in that movie.
I can dance, but I'm saying as far as like, strippers. I think there's just better, probably, strippers, that actually do stripping better. I'm probably a better dancer than I am a stripper.

I've actually not been to a male strip club, so I have no way to judge.
What? You live in Florida, and you've never been to a male strip club?

It's sad, I know.
I hear they're dwindling, though. I hear that there's a lot less of them than there were. The '80s and '90s were the boom of them, sort of around Miami, Tampa, and Orlando and stuff. But I think they're just gone now. You don't make that much money. Women make thousands and thousands of dollars. Men, you make 150, 200 bucks a night, if you're lucky.

How realistic is the film, in terms of your own experience?
It's not autobiographical whatsoever. The only thing that is factual is that I dropped out of college from playing football and I didn't know what to do. I was working three jobs, and [stripping] seemed like a really easy way to make non-taxable money for two hours, and to have a good time doing it. So I did that. But the only [real] thing is that I had a sister and I dropped out of college and I lived in Tampa. That's pretty much it. All the rest of it we made up. Magic Mike, the title, is actually the name of a real stripper named Michaelangelo, and he was a sick dancer. But it's not his life; nothing was taken from anybody's life. We just made it all up. If we actually put anything in the movie that really happened, I don't think anybody would really believe it. I think you guys would be like, "Y'all just made that up to make good TV" or whatever. Because it was a bizarre world. A really, really bizarre world.

What kind of stuff did you leave out?
Weird stuff, like riding up to South Carolina to a stripper convention in the back of a U-Haul van. Eight guys sitting in the back of a U-Haul van with flashlights, beause it's dark. Just sitting there like [motor noises]. And then you'd get out and dance for 2000 women. If we did that, people would just be like, "That's not real. You didn't do that." And nope, that happened.

As far as your co-stars go, did you end up doing a lot of coaching?
I didn't coach all that much. We had choreographers, so they coached more than I coached. They would ask me every once in a while. But [my co-stars] jumped in with both feet. They did their research. Everybody committed, man. Joe [Manganiello] is still in character, I think. He's not letting it go. I think he even brought a little bit of Big Dick Richie to True Blood. He's just holding onto it.

It's funny -- you say, "I would not suggest stripping for anybody." We were talking to Manganiello, and he's going, "Who wouldn't want to do this??"
"Who wouldn't want to do it" is right! But like I said, that's the problem with it. Even Joe said, he's, like, pumping gas, and doing it all sexy, all looking around.... It really swallows you up. You can get really involved.

Any plans for Magic Mike 2?
I would love to do Magic Mike 2.... Maybe we do a prequel, something where we could get all the guys back together. If we did it, though -- this is an independent film. We made it for $6 million out of our bank account. I think people don't really realize that the studio didn't make this movie; they bought it, but they didn't really make it. That's kind of what makes it special and unique. But I'd want to do the studio version next time. I'd want it to be big -- I'd want to do a [stripper] convention, and I'd want to do a big ensemble, and I wouldn't' want it to be called Magic Mike. I'd probably call it Magic Mike, The Prequel, or whatever, but I just, I don't know. I don't think I'd want to make it such a small film about such a personal journey or story. I'd want it to be big and crazy and just larger and life. Make it more of a comedy.

Magic Mike opens Friday, June 29.

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