The critics have weighed in on “Magic Mike XXL,” but how realistic is the Warner Bros. sequel starring Channing Tatum as a stripper on a road trip with his crew of exotic dancers? To find out, Variety asked two male strippers to review the film: Armand Peri, the owner of the New York’s Hunk-O-Mania nightclub, and Ahmed Rhodes, who goes by the stage name “GQ” — after the magazine.
What did you think of “Magic Mike XXL”?
Armand: I really enjoyed it.
GQ: I am a veteran in this game. The first one only touched on the upscale Broadway Chippendales shows. This time, they did it right. They hit the other genres — the underground and the big stripfests. Now, in certain states, you cannot wear a full G-string. But overall, I didn’t even know it was two hours long, because that’s how into it I was.
Armand: I didn’t like the first one. He had to drop the job to be with the girl? C’mon! No wonder there’s a “Magic Mike 2.” The girl didn’t like him for him.
What’s the difference between regular stripping and underground stripping?
GQ: Underground is a lot more risqué. There’s more interaction with the females and props, and raps and slows jams, like the part where they were in the house. What’s the football player’s name? [Michael Strahan.] He had the girl on the massage table and is doing all the tricks and going between her legs.
Did you wish Alex Pettyfer was back in this one?
Armand: We didn’t miss him at all.
What about Matthew McConaughey?
GQ: No, please.
Armand: The plot in that movie didn’t make sense.
GQ: Jada Pinkett Smith rocked. She showed how important the emcee is to make the women feel good and make the dancers money.
Armand: Actually, I’m going to show the clips of the movie where the girls are showering the guys at the club. Sometimes the girls think, “I’m spending all this money.” This movie shows our industry in a positive light. The other one didn’t. Our motto is to make our customers feel like queens. It really embraced what we’re about.
Have you had a female emcee at your club?
Armand: We had a drag queen emcee.
GQ: A drag queen couldn’t touch Jada Pinkett. But [in an earlier scene], they went on another level with the voguing. The voguing is very popular in the gay community.
Armand: We don’t do that. Listen, male strippers aren’t gay. If male strippers were gay, they’d be working for gay guys and making a lot more money. We love being around beautiful women.
How would you rate the dancing?
GQ: The dance routines were updated to what we’re doing now. Channing Tatum crossed over into urban dancing — the popping and the locking.
Who was the weakest dancer?
Armand: The Tarzan guy.
GQ: But his character was still good. I liked what they created for him as an artist. The guy from “CSI” [Adam Rodriguez] didn’t look that good doing his routine. But that’s the reality. A lot of women want to see a regular guy trying, because that’s the guy they have at home.
Should there have been more nudity?
GQ: There was enough for what they were trying to do. You don’t want to turn people off.
Armand: That’s how it is in the club, too.
How do you think the movie will perform at the box office?
GQ: It’ll definitely beat out the first “Magic Mike.” Not only are you going to have the Caucasian audience coming in, now you’re going to get the Hispanic and black audiences, too.
What didn’t you like about the film?
GQ: I can’t really think about what I didn’t like. What I did like was when they sat down and they were talking with the older women. That’s true. We do older parties. A lot of these women want to be taken, and they have their issues.
Armand: In many ways, we’re shrinks. If they look sad, we’ll ask them what happened — and they’ll tell you everything. It’s like “Taxicab Confessions.” They come and confess.
GQ: Especially when there’s alcohol involved.
Joe Manganiello spends a night with a woman he meets along the way. Have you ever slept with a client?
Armand: It’s against the rules. If we give it away, they are never coming back.
GQ: It can happen. I mean, on my time.
Grades for “Magic Mike XXL”:
GQ: A-plus. It was awesome. I loved it.
Armand: A. It was very much like a documentary.