Joe Manganiello, after gyrating and dancing up a storm in "Magic Mike," is hitting the male strip clubs again with "La Bare," a documentary that delves into the lives and aspirations of male performers from the popular Dallas venue of the same name.
Manganiello wrote, directed and produced "La Bare," which opens on June 27. Clearly passionate about the project, Manganiello spoke to Moviefone Canada about the inspiration behind the movie, making his directorial debut and the costumes for his upcoming sequel, "Magic Mike 2."
Moviefone Canada: At what point during filming "Magic Mike" did the idea for "La Bare" hit you?
Joe Manganiello: Probably afterwards. It was all the conversations I had with people about the different topics. I realized male stripping and "Magic Mike" were really an entry point into this greater conversation. That conversation was about no matter how much we try to make men and women the same, we're different. And we're always going to be different. There's a certain point we have to put down the guns and knives and stop fighting with each other about it and celebrate it. And laugh at the way our respective fantasies as men and women manifest themselves in completely different ways, as shown by the differences between male and female strip clubs.
You really get into the conversations about: "Why are men microwaves? You press the button and it turns on. Women are like an oven. They need to warm up. Why is that?" Men just wanted to see naked women and that's it. There's an underlying resentment by the women that have to do that for men. Whereas, you go to a male strip club and there's no resentment there. These guys are having the time of their lives. It's the greatest job you can have as a straight male in your 20s and 30s. This is the most fun you're ever going to have. So, what's different about that?
There seems to be that topic of male objectification...
It's like, "Well, when I think about it, I don't feel objectified. Furthermore, I don't care." I don't think any man cares why a woman likes him, as long as they do. It's hard work. That's the whole point of working hard and making money and becoming successful is that you get access to the gene pool. Any guy who had a rough time in high school for being smart, who then becomes a billionaire, I'm guessing he did it for that access. You want to get girls.
The other side of it, if these guys can keep a fantasy going, they may have regulars, these women who have been coming to see them, in [stripper] Randy's case, for over 34 years. Well, what are you doing to these women? What are you saying to them? I want to know. I think I speak for every guy on the planet -- married, unmarried, single or dating -- what are you doing? What do you know about women? It's this great mystery that these guys have somewhat figured out more than other males.
Really what it revolves around is treating women like a queen, treating them nice and making them feel wanted, sexy and special. When you boil it down, that's the secret, which is not what I expected. You think these guys would be sleazy, douchey players, but they are not at all. Maybe in different clubs or in a different city, that's the case. But that's not the case in Dallas. It's a very special club and a very special group of guys. I was so honoured to tell their stories.
"La Bare" was originally conceived as a reality show. What made you switch forms?
I showed a 15-minute reel from my first trip to Dallas to Steven Soderbergh and my friend Elvis Mitchell. Both of them said, "Do not sell this to anyone. This is a goldmine. Don't give it away. Do it yourself if you can. Finance it. Finish the story on your own. Don't let anyone interfere with what you're doing." I knew in my gut that was the right answer. It was very evident I had something special on my hands with this particular group of guys and their stories.
Did you wrestle with including the murder of one of the male dancers?
Every great documentary has a turn, something unexpected. This definitely had that, namely there was a murder. All of a sudden, I was very hesitant to hand off the responsibility of doing justice to this young man's life. I felt a responsibility to the guys at the club and his family, to pay tribute to his life and shed light on something where justice wasn't done.
Was this a tough shoot?
We shot "La Bare" in eight days total and we had enough [footage] for three movies. The DVD features are going to be insane. We have so much we left on the table. We just couldn't find a place for it in the story we were telling.
The shooting process was magical and the movie is a series of shots and events and dialogue... there's no other word I can use to explain it but "divine." We had the cameras rolling and we got once-in-a-lifetime moments and once-in-a-lifetime quotes.
How gratifying was it directing "La Bare"?
When you're an actor, you're a part of the storytelling, but you're a very small percentage of the storytelling. When you direct and produce, and especially when you finance, you get to do things the way you see fit. There isn't a lot of diplomacy that needs to be had because it's your vision. There's a real freedom in that. Then there's a real vindication in that when the project does well and is a success. I had so many ideas about what a film could do in terms of shots, pacing, content and then soundtrack. They were things that when I go to the movies or watch TV, I get frustrated about. "Why didn't we do that? They could have done this." It was my opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. I'm probably more proud of "La Bare" than anything I've ever done.
"Magic Mike 2" starts production in the fall. As Big Dick Richie, your previous costumes included a firefighter and gold paint. What are you hoping for in the sequel and what are you equally terrified they will put you in?
Ahh, man. I'm not terrified about anything. In "Magic Mike," the only thing I requested was at the time, I was screen testing for two classical, sword-and-sandals epics. Neither worked out because of my "True Blood" schedule, but I was in the process of going down the road on both of them. I said, "Please don't stick me in a gladiator outfit. I'm up for these roles."
I screened "La Bare" for ["Magic Mike" executive producers] Reid Carolin and Greg Jacobs a few weeks ago at my house. I was pitching to them my new routine ideas. All I'll say is the movie is being put out by Warner Bros. and there may be a Warner Bros. property I want to turn into a routine. Hopefully they'll give me permission.
"La Bare" opens in limited release on June 27.