I had a lot of reasons I told people I wanted to see Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh's new movie about male strippers based loosely on the time the film's star Channing Tatum spent as an exotic dancer, and some of them were even true. Would Soderbergh continue the exploration of male body image he'd hinted at in The Girlfriend Experience, his movie about a high-end prostitute, which starred porn star Sasha Grey? Would Magic Mike be one of Soderbergh's Hollywood romps, like Ocean's Eleven, subbing in G-strings for suits, or would it be gritty, uncommercial fare? Would Tatum, who was so great in the little-seen New York coming-of-age movie A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, finally force everyone to acknowledge I'd been right about his talent all along (the answer, pretty much yes). But mostly I wanted to watch cute boys take off their clothes, and see what Soderbergh and Tatum had to offer as a limited answer to an age-old question: What do women want?
Some of Magic Mike's answers are obvious: ripped abs, shaved legs, big penises, though only so much of the latter. Just one of the movie's strippers, the accurately-named Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), sheds his G-string as a regular part of his act. When he does, his boss Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) describes the crowd as "devastated by your cock," as if the screaming gals stuffing dollar bills into the crew's costumes suddenly would become demure maidens when the trou-dropping was completed.