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The sorority house call
In the original script, Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer didn't show up to the sorority house dressed as cops. That idea, which ended up being featured so prominently in the film's trailer, came from costume designer Christopher Peterson (a 2011 Emmy nominee for his work on Boardwalk Empire). ''I just thought it would be funny to invent some cover for them being there that would add to the element of surprise [for the girls],'' he says.
Before Tatum and Pettyfer arrived on set that day, Peterson informed director Steven Soderbergh that he'd rigged the pants for tear-away — something Tatum and Pettyfer weren't necessarily prepared for since filming of the club dance scenes was still a few weeks away. ''Sure enough, Steven and [producer Gregory Jacobs] blocked the scene and said to Channing, 'And then you're gonna tear away your pants.' And Channing turned and looked at me, and I shrugged and said, 'Oops. Sorry,''' Peterson recalls, laughing. ''You're welcome, America.''
The best part: The extras weren't expecting the tear-away pants either. Soderbergh always wanted to capture the crowd's true reaction. That's why on a first take of any dance in the club, he would point the camera at the audience instead of at the actors.
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Magic Mike's first solo
Tatum informed the movie's music supervisor, Frankie Pine, that he'd be dancing to Ginuwine's ''Pony'' in their first meeting. ''That was his song, he danced to that song all the time, and he's got to dance to that song in this movie,'' Pine, a Grammy nominee for Soderbergh's Traffic soundtrack, recalls him saying. ''So I just made it happen.''
The film's lead choreographer, Alison Faulk, knew from her time researching what female strip club patrons respond well to that it's guilty pleasure fantasy skits — which is why you get the fireman, the doctor, the cowboy, the officer, etc. in the film. But that's not what Mike (Tatum) is about. ''We wanted to really showcase this guy's the s---, an R&B dope dancer, and this is why everyone loves him,'' says Faulk, currently co-supervising choreographer of Madonna's 2012 world tour. She's known Tatum for years through his wife, Jenna Dewan Tatum, with whom she danced on Janet Jackson's 2001 tour and was roommates for five years. ''When we showed Jenna that routine,'' Faulk says, ''she was like [screams].''
While Faulk and her team — associate Teresa Espinosa and assistant Luke Broadlick — choreographed the number, Tatum is responsible for what is arguably the movie's most memorable lap dance. That move where he lifts a woman (Espinosa) in her chair, drops the chair, and carries her to the stage? All him. ''Teresa has danced for every artist on the face of the planet, and she said she was more nervous for that moment on film than she's been for anything in her whole career because she knew she had no control,'' Faulk says, chuckling. Tatum said he'd surprise her. ''She just knew she was gonna lie there and he was gonna do gross horrible things to her.''
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The Kid takes the stage for the first time
In the movie, Mike shoves The Kid (Pettyfer) on stage at the club without any choreography. So, that's what Faulk did to Pettyfer. ''Otherwise, it would have looked rehearsed,'' she says. She told Pettyfer to remember how nervous he felt before they started shooting (he took a few weeks of private lessons just to come out of his shell). ''Once he found what worked with the girls in the audience, he just kinda went for it,'' Faulk says. ''The butt-showing was never in the script,'' she adds. ''This guy is such a little flirt and so ballsy. These guys are all like, 'Oh, I have to be naked,' and then the next thing you know, they're all doing extra s---. It was awesome.''
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Dallas' goodbye to ''Ladies of Tampa'' (Part 1)
In the original script, Matthew McConaughey's character, club owner Dallas, did not have a stripping scene. But McConaughey not only wanted one, he knew exactly how it should play out: He'd begin by serenading the women from the stage with a slow song. Music supervisor Pine suggested she and McConaughey pen the tune with Martin Blasick, McConaughey's guitar coach. They wrote ''Ladies of Tampa'' in about three hours at McConaughey's hotel. ''The song is silly as hell, but Matthew swears it's gonna get nominated for an Academy Award. He keeps telling me I have to pick out my dress,''' Pine says, laughing. ''And you know what, I am gonna submit it.'' (Tip: Stay through the end credits to hear a slight variation, ''Ladies of Miami.'')
After the song, McConaughey wanted to blow fire, smash the guitar, and strip to KISS' ''Calling Dr. Love.'' Which brings us to...
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Dallas' goodbye to ''Ladies of Tampa'' (Part 2)
Since Dallas really only wears variations on the theme of a vest and leather pants in the film, costume designer Peterson wanted to make his strip feel special — which is why he suggested McConaughey tear away the back pockets of his pants first (which makes it look like he's wearing assless chaps) before popping the pants off in their entirety. Then, of course, there was the thong. ''Matthew didn't want to wear, nor did I want him to wear, just a spandex thong. There was a rock 'n' roll Western feel to his clothing, and he kept talking about this specific coloring that a certain horse has. It just started occurring to me that maybe we were talking about a horse mane and fringe. He liked that idea,'' Peterson says.
Fringe placement was another discussion. ''I started placing it at different places on the thong, and Matthew said, 'Right down the center,''' Peterson says. ''Initially, the fringe was a little out of control. It was like a horse's mane. We trimmed it back and trimmed it back. When those pants came off and the silver and black patent fringe started catching the light, the reaction was IN-SANE.'' Did we notice fringe in the back of the thong as well? ''There was definitely a tail there,'' Peterson deadpans. ''Matthew was out to outdo all the other boys. I don't know that he succeeded necessarily, but he certainly committed something incredibly memorable to film for all time.''
As for the actual moves for the number, McConaughey had ideas for those, too. ''He was so in it to be gross and raunchy,'' says choreographer Faulk. He came up with signature moves, like the ''Lick It and Slick It'' (he licks his fingers and slides them down his pants). ''He was the one who had the most names for things, because we would call them out,'' Faulk says. ''I've never laughed as hard as I laughed watching him perform, only because it was so f---ing amazing. The women did not know what to do with themselves. The last thing he does in his routine is lie on the ground, and the girls were insane trying to tip him, shoving money in his G-string, and his G-string ripped off. He held it on with his hand. Nothing will beat that to me.''
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Dallas teaches The Kid how to dance
''I'm definitely going to costume prison for it, but it was funny,'' Peterson says of McConaughey's look for this scene. ''Matthew said, 'Whatever it is, it has to have something of the dancer in him. All I could think of was this amalgam of Muscle Beach meets Flashdance. I knew it had be some kind of a jazz shoe, and I knew it had to be a baby tee so it exposed his abs because let's face it, that's what people are paying for,'' Peterson says.
The scene does actually show how you teach a movie star to strip. ''That's what we did for every guy. We showed them how to thrust their hips forward and back fast, how to roll their hips, how to roll their body,'' Faulk says. It was ''kinda awesome'' for her and Espinosa, Faulk admits. ''They had to lap dance for us all the time,'' she says. ''[We were like], 'Okay, now sit on me. Okay, now roll your body. Okay, now touch me. Okay, now make me touch you.' That was my job.''
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Big Dick Richie's shadow dance
What came to be known as the ''silhouette dance'' was Tatum's idea, Faulk says. For all solo numbers seen in a montage, the actors actually performed full minute-and-a-half to two-minute routines on set (DVD extras, please!). For this one, Joe Manganiello danced to the low-voice intro of the Tank song ''Can I.'' ''He's an athlete, so he understands the body, and he did everything full out all the time,'' Faulk says. ''He was almost always in character. He was like, 'I love dancing.' And I'm like, 'I love that you love dancing!' Any expectations I had, all the guys exceeded them with their attitudes.''
While that number was memorable, the shooting of Manganiello's dance as a statue — for which he was painted gold and donned a gold leather fig leaf that tore away to reveal a gold lamé thong — is one of Faulk's favorite memories. ''He's this 6'5'' man posing like a statue, and then he'd jump off the stage onto a girl's table, and then on top of the girl, and he started, for a lack of better terms, dry humping. Literally, girls from the other side of the room ran over. This man had 100 girls around him pawing at him. I mean it was ca-ra-zy. I was screaming so loud,'' Faulk says. ''When he's done, Joe goes backstage, and he's sitting by himself in a little ball. I was like, 'That s--- was crazy!' He's like, 'That was so damn crazy!'''
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Man at werk
In the film, Mike works construction during the day to bank enough dough to start a custom furniture business. So when they decided they wanted to add another number for Tatum in the montage, it just made sense. ''We knew obviously we wanted him to use this axe as a phallic symbol, and we wanted him to be wet because no one had really been wet yet,'' Faulk says. ''That had to happen.''
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Paging Dr. Love
Matt Bomer, Faulk says, was particularly good at body rolls and butt shakes. She assumes it was Tatum who gave him the note to ''just put your stuff in her face more'' for his Dr. Love number, which like Bomer's living Ken doll number, we hope to enjoy in its entirety on the DVD. His other strengths: ''He would flash this smile to the girls and really look at them, connect eyes. The girls would [screams],'' Faulk says. And, he was also good at picking up choreography. ''He always knew exactly what to do. If we were in rehearsal and Chan wasn't there because he was shooting something, everyone would watch Matt to know the timing,'' she says.
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Tito pays homage to An Officer and a Gentleman
Choreographer Faulk had the pleasure of receiving this lap dance from Adam Rodriguez. Having b-boyed in his youth, Rodriguez asked if she could teach him a cool trick for the film. ''I have a dance studio in my garage,'' Faulk says. ''He was learning how to do swipes. I was like, 'Let's try it.' He's like, 'I don't know. I'm kinda scared.' I was like, 'Let's just go in the front lawn.' He was like, 'Really?' I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah. The neighbors aren't gonna care.' He's like, 'Alright, f--- it, let's go in the lawn.''' (One more thing for the DVD!)
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Me Tarzan, you turned on
Known as ''Big Sexy'' to professional wrestling fans, Kevin Nash, like all the guys, impressed choreographer Faulk with his dedication. ''We even put his stuff on tape so he could study it in his hotel room at night,'' she says. ''His knees are f---ed, so he had to really conserve how much he would do things super full-out. There were certain things in that Tarzan number that I'd only see him do a couple times. But when it came down to shooting it, he was amazing. He was like, 'I want to lick her.' I was like, 'Okay, you should lick her. Totally.'''
The biggest challenge: Figuring out how to get Tarzan to swing. ''We knew for sure that we wanted him to swing in on a rope, which logistically was causing us tons and tons of problems because of how heavy he was [relative to] the beams and how the stage was built. But we couldn't let it go. We're like, 'No, he's Tarzan, he has to swing in,''' Faulk says. ''Finally we figured it out. It wasn't this gigantic swing in, but that was even better because it makes it even more realistic.''
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Where there's smoke, there's Big Dick
It was in the script that Big Dick Richie would lift a girl and injure his back. ''We just had to decide the best way to pick the girl up. My assistant Luke was like, 'Just like this,' and whips me upside down. I was like, 'And that is the answer right there,''' choreographer Faulk says. ''Again, I'm 5'1'' and Joe's 6'5'', so rehearsing it on me, he's like, 'That's it?'''
The bit was supposed to be just a cutaway to the lift, but on the day, they decided to make it something more. 'Literally on set, we were like, 'Let's add some smoke, and why don't you just walk out and have your axe and be gross with it for a second?'' Faulk says. ''Joe totally made it into a whole number on the spot.'' (Again, fingers crossed for the DVD.)
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''Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)''
Originally, music producer Pine was hoping for Kid Rock's ''Cowboy'' for the number, but when that song didn't work out, she knew this cocky Big & Rich tune was the one. The dance begins with Pettyfer and Matt Bomer riding pony sticks. ''We just couldn't do it without laughing. Every rehearsal, Matt laughed, Alex laughed, I laughed, Teresa laughed,'' choreographer Faulk says.
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Mike's ''rebellion dance''
That's how they referred to Tatum's end solo, which he performs to the dubstep song ''Calypso'' by Excision & Datsik after McConaughey's Dallas tells him he needs to do something fresh. Faulk knew Tatum wanted to do the hand loop spin and had learned how to do an acrobatic butterfly twist. After that, she just wanted him to freestyle. ''I was like, 'I just want you to show everybody how you dance and what you do.' I don't think he's ever properly gotten the opportunity to showcase him freestyling in a film,'' Faulk says. ''He was like, 'Really?' We were like, 'Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Please trust us. I wouldn't have you do this if you weren't unbelievable.'''
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''It's Raining Men''
The ''C---rockin' Kings of Tampa,'' as the strippers are known in the film, perform their first group number to this tune, which Tatum had told music supervisor Pine was a staple in the world of male stripping. She enlisted music producer Jack Rayner to create a dubstep version with vocals by Countré Black.
This is the number that features that rapid thrusting by Tatum seen in the trailer. ''That's his move. He calls it 'd--- popping.' It comes from a certain type of booty dancing,'' Faulk says. ''I was like, 'You can freestyle this part.' He was like, 'What about this?' I was like, 'Yes! More of that!'''
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God bless America!
According to choreographer Faulk, this military-themed group number took the longest to film because Soderbergh, who usually appreciated an actor's slight misstep because it added to the film's realism, had a certain angle he wanted to shoot. ''No one could mess up because he was not gonna cut away from it,'' Faulk says. '''So I'm this small 5'1'' girl yelling at these big men over the microphone, counting and giving them cues. 'Go! Hit it!' They all mentioned like, 'Once we see each other on the red carpet, we're gonna do this routine together. We'll never forget it.'''
Music supervisor Pine will also remember that number, which begins with ''Sound Off (The Duckworth Chant)'': ''I had to get approval in order for us to change those lyrics to 'I don't know what you've been told/Big Dick Richie's got a d--- of gold,'' she says. The ''Sound Off'' leads into an instrumental called ''Jack & His Rifle'' produced by Jack Rayner, who brilliantly included the sound of gunfire. ''We knew right away we'd have to mimic it,'' Faulk says. ''For myself, Teresa, and Luke in rehearsals, it was a contest of who could be grosser.'' Let's just say the actors use their, um, personal weapons.