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In 'Magic Mike,' Tampa's Channing Tatum proves you can go home again

New York Times

New York Times

A lot of people take their work home but none more publicly than Channing Tatum, who insisted on filming Magic Mike around Tampa Bay.

Magic Mike is inspired by Tatum's eight months spent as a male stripper in Tampa after "wilding out" in high school and dropping out of college. It's a rollicking slice of beefcake comedy that should continue his box office winning streak, after 21 Jump Street and The Vow made Tatum the guy men want to be and women want to be with.

Tatum is so hot these days, and the Magic Mike buzz is so loud, that G.I. Joe: Retaliation postponed its original release date from this weekend to 2013. That macho flick stars — you guessed it — Channing Tatum. Apparently Hollywood doesn't think audiences can handle too much Tatum at one time.

The 32-year-old actor and producer recently called to chat about Magic Mike, his Tampa roots, and dealing with success as a sex symbol.

Loved the movie, especially how explicitly Tampa is identified as the setting.

Yeah, straight up. That's just about the only truth that's in the story. Well, Magic Mike was a real dancer, just a sick performer, a sick dancer. But this is not his life or anything. This is just me growing up in Tampa, loving it . . . an 18-year-old kid thrown in with these crazy men who had been stripping for a long time, kind of losing themselves. I probably lost myself for a little while.

What are your fondest memories of growing up here?

Probably the beach. It was such a diverse culture: high class, low class, middle class, all ethnicities, races, snowbirds. . . . Now that I got lucky enough to travel all around the world, there's nothing I wasn't really exposed to. It was crazy to be back there after all this time, and after so much has gone on in my life. Driving by the place where we actually stripped at was just bizarre. (The Tampa nightclub Joy where Tatum danced is closed.)

What did you parents think about your stripping in a male revue?

To be honest, we've never really had the conversation. My mom found out at the latter part of the job. Then I started dancing (clothed) with friends on a stage in back of Amphitheater and they both knew that. He laughs about it now: (mimicking his father's voice) "This Magic Mike thing, huh? Okay. It looks like it's turning out all right. I didn't think I was going to like it but I think it's all right." (laughs).

You've become quite a popular box office draw over the past couple years.

Thank you, but I try not to wrap my head around that, as far as what it means. I'm more about looking at what I did in those films, how I went about making those movies. . . . It's weird. You work just as hard on every single film. Some work and some don't, and some don't even come out. You never know.

After making People magazine's top-100 list twice, will Magic Mike put you on the cover as the sexiest man alive?

(Laughing) Look, it's an honor if it happens, but for me it's a bit arbitrary. If you have a movie coming out people like you. If you have a bad movie come out, people don't like you so much. That thing is more about who's having a moment, who's having that time in their career that's really good. It's usually the Georges and the Brads, people like that.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365.

In 'Magic Mike,' Tampa's Channing Tatum proves you can go home again 06/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:41pm]
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