Magic Mike XXL is the Right Kind of Male Stripper Movie

How many times have you wondered how interesting a stripper’s life must be? If you’re the kind of person whose answer to that is ‘745,876 times’, know that “Magic Mike XXL” is not going to make you stop wondering. In the first place, there’s no reason why you should. The reasons for your fascination might be unceasing for a variety of reasons, but if you find that all these essential questions about the Male Stripper life is beginning to get cumbersome, you can just sit back and wait for male asses to pop.

The men of Magic Mike lead fantastical lives of road tripping, women-pleasing, and cash-bathing. Mike, Richie, Tito, Ken, and Ernest are fine examples of male strippers who earn their wages and value what they do. We all know those kinds of male strippers make tons of money but in this movie, they swim in dollar bills.

In the sequel to one of the best male stripper movies of all time, there is an attempt to provide insight to the guys’ personalities: Mike is committed to his business but is not really finding joy in it that he takes Ginuwine’s Pony playing on the radio as a sign that he should join the boys on their trip to the very real Stripper Convention. Richie who is allegedly hung like a horse, is having a real male struggle: he hasn’t had sex in months, a confession that he validates by reminding everyone of his dick’s enormity. The rest of the guys have mildly interesting things happening to them as well and they talk about those things in what feels like eternity, as if to tease you and me. These are some very chill male strippers with some very chill problems. The movie is too classy to make mountains out of these strippers’ molehills. Make no mistake: the road to stripper-con is filled slight inconveniences. On one of their pit-stops, they hang out with wine-drunk cougars and make them feel worshiped, and while a scene like this could have played out like a cheap segue into a who-called-the-hot-plumbers strip extravaganza, the guys’ wine session with the cougs (led by a short and captivating turn by Andie McDowell) turns out tender, fun and sweet.

Maybe I’ve been seeing the wrong male stripper movies, even though the last one I remember seeing was “Magic Mike” part 1. These were the exact same thoughts I’ve had when I first saw Magic Mike. Strippers who aren’t dirt poor, who are not deprived of skills other than dancing in colourful briefs, thongs and things, could make a living other than dancing for thirsty and curious women, but not necessarily out of choicelessness. This is a movie that respects the people’s right to see a stripper movie who are not all solely motivated by the obvious rewards of cash. The cash is indispensable but above all, stripping is fun and beneficial to everyone. Maybe, the strippers from my own native land lead the same interesting lives, and I was just too caught up in my own life to bother with the lives of people whose profession I do not share (but appreciate).

If there’s one essential element to the stripping profession and lifestyle that “Magic Mike” movies capture, specifically XXL, it is that the job of a stripper is to hold people’s attention hostage; they are fascinating onstage the way they ought to be and Mike and the guys’ boy band banter is no less entertaining.

After succeeding viewings in DVD, my thoughts have not really changed about the women-baiting, cash-bathing world of Magic Mike. If it wasn’t for my own life effectively taking over my healthy interest in stripper films, I probably wouldn’t have stopped searching for the truth. As it happens, I haven’t seen many stripper movies since Channing Tatum first bared his ass onstage with the equally unmoveable yet moving asses of his on-screen buddies Joe Manganiello (whose I Want It That Way sequence in this sequel is too great), Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez in the first Magic Mike; precisely the reason why to this day, I am left unenlightened. And that is okay.

“Magic Mike XXL” is exactly how movies about male strippers should be: fun, glorious and with the right amount of baby-making 90s R&B jams blaring in the soundtrack. It’s hard to think of the last time a movie about strippers let strippers be strippers. There is simply no answer to be found as to what constitutes the stripper life, unless you go and see the riveting and confused stripper documentary “La Bare” in which real life male strippers talk about their lives. Where a movie like “Magic Mike” sort of builds mystery (or at least maintains it) for male strippers, that must-watch documentary destroys it. As the saying goes: Your life, your choice of male stripper film.

Ke$ha Tore Through my Classiness

Photo from http://artapprentice.blogspot.com/
Photo from http://artapprentice.blogspot.com/

If I had ever thought or said before that Ke$ha is not a pop star worthy of my time, whose album I won’t even bother to steal from the Internet, I have Gawker to thank and all those ‘Kesha Is Not An Idiot’ type of articles that this animal sent me through the years, for turning things around for me, for letting me see what I’ve been missing all these years: glitter!

I may have professed loathing for her when she first came out but I wasn’t so loathy as to ignore Tik Tok, her catchy first single which I DID bother to steal from the Internet. I thought, that was it! No more  stealing Ke$ha singles from the Internet because I have a musical reputation to uphold and it will not be tarnished by some low-rent Lady Gaga whose main gimmick is a dollar sign on her name.

But then Your Love is my Drug was released as a single and it tore through the fabric of my undeniably classy musical taste. It absolutely ripped it apart, my classy taste, the one I have so long cultivated. With the arrival of Your Love is My Drug, I seriously thought about the importance of having classiness in my taste and quickly came to the realization that I should not have classy musical taste anymore. I love a Ke$ha single, fuck a classiness. But even with the release of this song, I still wasn’t convinced. Even with all the ripping apart, my Ke$ha appreciation hymen remained intact, or tried to be.

And then Warrior came. I liked Die Young. At this point, I was positively ready to take my place in the Animal kingdom. The album Warrior turned me into an animal. Specifically, a pretty pony. But despite finally converting into some sort of animal, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see her live. When it was announced early this year that Manila was included in her Warrior tour (with only two cities in Asia), I had to be hypnotized by two animals who have long seen the majesty of Ke$ha’s music, to see her live, and since I have almost no care for reputations anymore, I acquiesced.

I loved it.

Sadly, the Philippine animals seemed too tame. I simply didn’t comprehend the non-wildness of the crowd at some of the big hits. Save for a few groups of girls, I was not comprehending the lack of hysterics at Blah Blah Blah and Dirty Love. There was golden opportunity to reach for Ke$ha’s panties and it was squandered by the iPad-waving jerks nearest the stage. All that those iPad-wavers managed to do was take a million pictures of this gorgeous pop star who was live-singing her ass and vag off in front of them. I hope those people’s iPads had a great time!

Ke$ha is not a wig-snatching type of pop diva. I don’t think she has great, grand delusions about placing so high atop in pop music royalty. When you Google ‘pop music’, her name doesn’t even come up on the first search page; it comes in the second just before Chris Brown but just right after Adele. It’s not a woeful place to end up in but you get the feeling that she could get to the first with Britney, Madonna, Katy, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. With much better songs and marketing in the future, maybe she could totally evade the fate of Willa Ford.

It wasn’t quite the spectacle that bigger divas like Beyonce and Kyle Minogue are capable of; there were two scruffy, buffish backup dancers, lots of glitter, disco balls and some balloons, but no stage backdrop and very little wig and costume changes, which are what we/I expect from my crazy divas. But being in such close proximity with a wild-dancing pop star and her two pelvic-muscle baring dancers, it felt like my face and senses have had enough but can’t help but want more: more glitter, more pelvic thrusts, more underwear-only costume changes, more getting-laid pep talks.

Just before her concert, I tweeted her, told her I’m ready for her cock pop. Minutes later, I was followed by a Ke$ha-looking account which I thought was the real Ke$ha. I was ecstatic. But now as I type this, I have recovered from my great, grand delirium; it wasn’t Ke$ha who followed me but a fan account that does not seem to understand that to describe one’s self as a ‘parody account’, one must parody. I thought me and Ke$ha had a chance at real friendship. I was very close to her during Warrior Tour and I had very soft feelings about the modesty of the concert’s attendance, but it turned out she didn’t actually follow me. This is a good thing. I do not want the baggage that comes with a pop star Twitter follow. I’m happy to leave those types of baggages to actual pop stars. I can sleep at night just knowing she and I share the same fascination for strip clubs.

The Real Mes

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I bought Christina Aguilera’s Stripped Live in the UK DVD because, and only because, it was on sale at Astrovision Glorietta. If you think about it, self, the only time you ever buy Xtina is when she’s on sale which happens to be all the time. She’s cheap lately. I got Back to Basics, Bionic and Greatest Hits CDs at bargain basement prices. I was also given a Burlesque soundtrack CD as a gift because it was on sale and because the giver is poor. Joke.

The DVD starts with Stripped Intro from the album Stripped, and it’s just the sort of concert intro you’d expect from her from a song called ‘Stripped’. In it are the proclamations of breaking free, independencehood and barriers overcomings, blehlehleh, the ceremonious pop star outpouring of true feelings and the image-peddling (no make-up, no hype, no gloss, no pretense, just me… stripped…). K. It was all expectedly edgy and okay because it was a pre-taped video of the Aguilera that’s about to unfold before the probably unwitting London Wembley Arena crowd and myself, since I bought and secured for myself the company of Xtina, even though I know money is precious.

The intro nicely (or whateverly) segues into Dirrty, probably my favorite Xtina song because it has a great, ear-oppressing beat and lyrics that I like, and suddenly I’m back at a place where I don’t find her super annoying. I like Dirrty live performances because I know in my heart that each time Dirrty gets a stage performance, the result will never be short of sluttily attired ladies and gentlemen gyrations. It is for me the Xtina song that just will never stop giving.

But by the time I get to Voice Within, the song which has a Positive Message, I realize and tell myself as if I haven’t already a million times before, why I find it hard to not mock her whether in my mind or with people with the same hobby, and here are the reasons why:

1. She really oversings. It’s true what the 1,723 music critics and blog trolls have been saying. I have no freshness in my thoughts right now so let this be my contribution to that movement.

2. She flickers her fingers in her mic which I find distracting. If that was meant to give her performance some sort of character, congrats for the attainment of just such a goal.

3. Her platitudes are outrageous. They are excessive and only ever slightly less irritating than her outrageous growls. She propels causes such as female empowerment – specifically that of being allowed to behave sluttily and being regarded not as such (slut) but as equals of slutty guys. She expounds the merits of an equal opportunity-giving society while showing ass and singing semi-filthy lyrics to a crowd of thousands.

4. She’s smug. Stop me with the ‘show don’t tell’ horseshit. I’m not the DVD.

5. It’s not her exclusive territory, the spouting of The Real Me grand announcements, but she is maybe the least convincing pop star to ever profess to the public that the real me is this nose pierce having growler and not the record label’s manufactured pop star that you see in your screens or wherever. This reminds me of the one and only Glitter, specifically the sequence where the music video director tells Billie Frank’s music video people, ‘the glitter must not overcome the artist!’ (or something), which unfortunately for Mariah, the Glitter overcame her in 2001. For ‘Tina, the goth aspirations era overcame the artist.

I really, really would rather have affectionate feelings for her instead of saying all these, but she makes it so hard. She almost wins me over for things like Get Mine, Get Yours aka Skank Persons’ Theme. I would say that UK Live is maybe the first time I ever appreciated Fighter as there were some great dancing in it. It’s usually hard for me to do, not hate Fighter, because when you listen to a Xtina song called Fighter you know there will be haterade renouncements, which if that’s your thing, you’ll get plenty of in Lotus. But what really bugs me about Xtina is the I don’t give a shit posing. The problem with acts and pronouncements of non-shit givings is that the shit tends to leak one way or the other. In short, she gives some version of shit whether she’s conscious of it or not. It is my hope that she commit.

Someone once told me that I am secretly a fan of hers. Two people, actually: myself and someone keenly observing my DVD/CD-buying patterns (which is basically guided by ‘say yes to cheapness’). I reason that the Christina Aguilera-hoarding is so that I can hate her more but actually it feels more like hope. Christina Aguilera is maybe the person I encounter everyday that I don’t exactly want to tolerate because my heart is clearly a forgiving and tolerant heart, and so I tolerate anyway. None of which matters because loudly and clearly, words won’t bring Xtina down.