The first sign that Magic Mike dances for dollars in Tampa is the 813 area code for the auto detailing business he owns on the side.
Channing Tatum's R-rated striptease dramedy takes viewers from Ybor City to Treasure Island to Tarpon Springs, a veritable Hollywood travelogue of Tampa Bay.
That's not bad, considering director Steven Soderbergh spent only two of five shooting weeks here and the rest in Los Angeles.
Even so, Magic Mike rivals Dolphin Tale and Cocoon in showing off where we live — while showing much more skin.
The local locations were insisted upon by Tatum, Magic Mike's star, producer and former Tampa resident. You could say Tatum brought his work home to Tampa, since the Warner Bros. release is inspired by his experiences here as a teenaged stripper under the stage name "Chan Crawford."
The 1998 Tampa Catholic High School graduate plays Mike, mentor to a young exotic dancer reminiscent of Tatum years ago at a bump-and-grind nightclub on Dale Mabry called Joy, now a sweaty memory.
"This is just me growing up in Tampa, loving it," Tatum said in a recent telephone interview. "I was 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."
Tatum, 32, currently finds himself Hollywood's "It Guy" after a recent string of box office hits including The Vow and 21 Jump Street. Magic Mike is expected to extend that streak when it opens Friday nationwide.
"It was crazy to be back (in Tampa Bay) after all this time and after so much has gone on in my life," Tatum said of filming here last October. "Driving by the place where we actually stripped at was just bizarre."
Magic Mike is explicitly set in Tampa, although Academy Award winning director Soderbergh (Traffic) spent as much time filming in Pinellas County and longer in Los Angeles.
The male crew Mike leads is called the Kings of Tampa (with an unprintable adjective tossed in), and co-star Matthew McConaughey serenades his audience with a ditty titled Ladies of Tampa that some enterprising musician will cover.
Soderbergh gets some details of Tampa Bay living wrong. But don't fret about Dale Mabry Highway getting plopped into St. Petersburg or Tampa being redrawn as gulfside property, as movie magicians can do. Ignore the flimsy tape job supposed to protect McConaughey's windows from shattering during a hurricane and the ease of driving from Sunset Beach to Ybor City.
Focus instead upon these familiar places playing key roles in Magic Mike:
Wilson's Sports Lounge (3030 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg): This robin egg-blue watering hole serves as the exterior of Xquisite, a Dale Mabry nightclub where Mike and his pals shake their booties for bucks. Interiors were filmed on an L.A. soundstage much larger and glitzier than the cozy dive atmosphere of Wilson's. The movie places Xquisite at 8542 S Dale Mabry, an address that doesn't exist, and if it did it would be at MacDill Air Force Base.
The Amphitheatre (1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City): Mike and his protege "The Kid" (Alex Pettyfer) spend their first night bonding at this throbbing nightclub where Tatum actually worked for a while. A long queue of partiers waiting to enter the Amphitheatre looks familiar, as does the sign for nearby 1603 Tattoo and Piercing Co. hanging over their heads.
Caddy's on the Beach (9000 W Gulf Blvd., Sunset Beach): Dancing for dollars is hard work, so Mike and The Kid stay hydrated at this beachfront bar, discussing their futures as strippers.
Three Rooker Bar (off Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs): The Kings of Tampa and female friends share a Fourth of July picnic and flirty conversation on this sandbar.
Sands Point Drive in Tierra Verde: A private residence under construction during filming was used for scenes of Mike and The Kid's day job, laying Spanish tile roofing on a mansion overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Just drive: Magic Mike includes several shots of cruising and strolling Ybor City's Seventh Avenue after dark, with Pinellas County's Gulf Boulevard and Pinellas Bayway seemingly just minutes away.
Only in the movies.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.