The real Magic Mike

13 August 2012

Written by:

Since Magic Mike hit the big screen, thousands of Channing Tatum fans have been lining up all over the world to catch a glimpse of the former stripper’s abs. Tatum had expressed early in his career that he would like to make a movie about his former life as a stripper and it was finally time for his fans to catch a glimpse of this very intriguing profession.

Whilst most ladies would leave the cinemas giggling and wiping the drool off their faces, some, like myself, may be left wondering, is that  what stripping is really like?

In case, for some bizarre reason, you don’t find Channing Tatum attractive and didn’t see the movie, you may be surprised to know that it isn’t all stripping and fun and games – the movie also has a serious undertone involving alcohol, drug abuse and violence.

Luckily, Andrew, the owner and stripper for M.I.A Male Stripper’s Melbourne was able to answer some of my curiosities about stripping as a profession and some of the issues raised in Magic Mike.

Andrew has been in the industry for five years, having started out as a topless waiter before becoming a stripper.

‘My friends had started stripping and after seeing all the fun they were having, it was just a natural progression from there,’ he says.

In Magic Mike, the movie starts out with Mike (Tatum) recruiting Adam (Alex Pettyfer) as a stripper, by throwing him on stage when another stripper cannot perform.

In the real industry, Andrew says getting into the profession ‘is generally about knowing the right person in the industry who is prepared to train you and give you a go.’

‘If you can’t dance or don’t have a good rig, you won’t get much work (because the) majority of the time, the girls choose who they want.’

The strip shows in the movie have crowds of girls screaming and going nuts for the male entertainers and Andrew says the real thing is much the same. When it comes to client relations Andrew says that ‘each agent has their own rules, but as all the guys are sub contractors there are not too many rules enforced.’

Life as a stripper is portrayed in the movie as a fun and easy way to make money, as Mike and Adam dance until their pants are full of cash and then leave with the pretty girls after.

Andrew agrees with the fact that his job is fun, but can have its ups and downs.

‘I’ve played sports most my life and I compare stripping to sports all the time,’ he says.

‘You can do a strip where the crowd goes insane and thanks you 50 times before you leave, which is similar to kicking five goals and being best on ground in a footy match. And then you can have the jobs where everything goes wrong and there isn’t a sound in the room, which is like missing a goal after the siren to win the game.’

Andrew’s perception of things going wrong in the stripping world only go as far as having a bad crowd, but throughout Magic Mike there is constant drug use and partying that lands the boys in trouble.

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, Andrew says: ‘Generally speaking, all the male strippers I know treat their bodies like temples, so they will avoid most drugs and alcohol.  But that’s not to say that they don’t break the rules every now and then.’

Money is shoved down pants, thrown on stage and given at the door throughout the shows in Magic Mike, but Andrew explains that for his agency ‘it’s a set rate per show, generally between $120 – $200 cash. Tips are not all that common but when you do get tips you get to keep them.’

If you think after seeing Magic Mike that being in a relationship with a stripper sounds like a good idea, it’s not impossible! In fact Andrew says that a lot of the guys that currently work for M.I.A have girlfriends.

‘I really enjoyed watching Magic Mike but I didn’t like that it ended with Mike quitting to be with the girl,’ he says.

‘There are a lot of girls out there willing to accept you for who you are and what you do. I believe doing this job makes you see jealousy for what it really is – unnecessary. You can’t stop someone from doing what they choose and being jealous is not going to help.’

According to Andrew there are a lot of similarities between the movie and his work. Andrew doesn’t seem to experience the darkness portrayed in the movie, but that doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t ever happen.

‘You live for the highs and dread the lows. But that’s the life of a stripper.’

Sam McMeekin is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is one of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow her on Twitter: @sammcmeeks