Magic Mike XXL – More Than Skin DeepPosted: July 24, 2015
**Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
I walked out of the theater after watching Magic Mike XXL with a huge smile on my face and it wasn’t just because Channing Tatum and his crew know how to dance sexy while wearing minimal clothing. Having a mainstream summer movie cater to my female gaze was a refreshing experience. But even more exciting were the other stories playing out within the subtext of this buddy road trip flick.
This time around, you learn there is more to the other guys than their hot bodies dancing for cash. Matt Bomer’s Ken is an aspiring actor and a Reiki healer. Adam Rodriguez’s Tito makes artisanal frozen yogurt and is trying to launch a successful dessert truck business. Kevin Nash’s Tarzan is some kind of artist-magician.
And unlike in the original film, where the guys’ stripper routines were primarily choreographed to get women to open up their wallets, Mike and his friends are focused on creating performances in which they channel their passions and embody their authentic selves. Gone are the hot fireman, sexy cop, and other characters, which allude to females wanting to be rescued, that typically populate male stripper bars and bachelorette parties. Instead, there is the gourmet dessert maker who wants to satisfy more than your sweet tooth and the hunky lover who will help you make all of your fantasies in the bedroom a reality.
These guys, led by Tatum’s Mike, are not stereotypes of the dudes you typically see in buddy bonding movies and not just because they are male entertainers. No one is trying to score the most chicks or kill anyone or rob a bank. No one is trying to out dude the others, whatever that even means. If anything, they openly support and love each other. Yet as actor Joe Manganiello, who plays Big Dick Ritchie, said in a recent interview, in Magic Mike XXL the men are very much in their masculinity and maleness.
And the women are not just accessories to the male leads. Three of the female characters, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, Andy McDowell, and Elizabeth Banks, are actresses over 40. McDowell is 57. The women they play are confident, in charge of their lives/careers, and know who they are and what they want.
Their characters have not shrunken into invisibility because they are no longer young in years. Time and experience have allowed them to evolve into the most empowered versions of themselves yet. These three are who Mike and his friends turn to for help in realizing their dreams of dancing one last time at the Myrtle Beach Stripper Convention.
It’s with McDowell’s character Nancy, twenty-plus years his senior, that Big Dick Ritchie finally gets to have the “glass slipper that fits his (big dick) ‘shoe’” kind of sex that he’s been looking for. Not once is a MILF joke or cougar reference implied. Nancy thinks Ritchie’s hot and Ritchie thinks Nancy’s hot. They want to have sex with each other, so they do.
From years of stripping, Mike and the guys have become connoisseurs at pleasing women—and not just onstage. As Andre, another male entertainer played by Donald Glover, says to Ken, it’s not hard to figure out what a woman wants: Just ask her. What they can’t understand is why a lot of men don’t bother to inquire.
In less emotionally evolved males, the ability to find out what a woman wants could easily be abused, used as a tool to exploit or manipulate—but not Mike and his friends. In this movie they use their powers for the greater good by tapping into the different turn-ons of women and giving that to them through their stripper routines.
At the convention, Tito slathers artisanal yogurt onto the bodies of two willing audience members. He pretends to lick it off their skin as he removes his clothes. Ken sings to one woman “You can decide, if you want me. I can provide everything you desire. How does it feel baby? I want to know. How does it feel?”
My favorite was Big Dick Richie’s dance number. Manganiello is all 6’5 hunk of handsomeness in his black tuxedo as he pulls a woman from the crowd and gets down on his knees pretending to propose. But it’s what comes after that I really loved. He flings her onto a sex swing while metaphorically pleasuring her to kingdom come—no pun intended. As someone who is getting married soon, I’m all for stable commitment coupled with steamy passion.
I know that Magic Mike XXL is a far cry from the real lives of most male entertainers. The first movie, based on Tatum’s experiences as a stripper back in the day, does a more accurate job of portraying that world and its many pitfalls.
Wrapped within this female-pleasing movie is a different paradigm of what is possible between (and for) men and women. I know guys like Mike and his friends. I also know women who continue to deepen into their power with every passing year. But I don’t usually get to see stories about people like them on the big screen.
It’s as if the makers of Magic Mike XXL tapped into a bunch of my desires and hopes, sexual and otherwise, and served it up to me in joyful, sexy, and honoring ways. That, for me, was the real turn on.