Take it off! Stripper movies
In honour of Magic Mike's release, here are ten films about and featuring exotic dancing.
Elizabeth Berkley stars in Showgirls (MGM Pictures)
Will Magic Mike mark a renaissance in male stripping movies? The new Channing Tatum film is, as far as we know, the first mainstream film about male strippers, but it's certainly not the first stripper movie. In honour of Magic Mike's release, here are ten films about taking it off.
Magic Mike (2012)
Channing Tatum's experiences as a teenaged stripper inspired Steven Soderbergh's new film Magic Mike. The young star of The Vow and the GI Joe movies plays a young hustler famous around Tampa as "Magic" Mike, the lead dancer at a male strip club owned by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). While Tatum's dancing skills are well known (see 2006's Step Up for proof), and get showcased here, his onstage co-stars -- including Matt Bomer (White Collar), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Alex Rodriguez (CSI: Miami) and Kevin Nash -- mostly just strip, leading Manganiello to joke recently at the film's press conference that "Chan's in a dancing movie; we're in a dry humping movie!"
Was Demi Moore really paid $12 million for Striptease? That seems like a lot considering that she didn't even go full frontal. The salary was a record at the time, and certainly Moore put a lot of work into her role, apparently visiting strip clubs in New York, Florida and California, and speaking to strippers to help inform her performance as a single mom who becomes a peeler in order to raise the money to fight for custody of her daughter (played by her real-life daughter, Rumer).
The worst stripper movie ever is also the best stripper movie ever. Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls marked the director's reunion with his Basic Instinct scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas and tells the slimy story of an ambitious young dancer named Nomi ('know me' -- get it?), played by Saved by the Bell's Elizabeth Berkley, who lusts after head Vegas dancer Cristal Connors' (Gina Gershon) job. Nomi quickly becomes a star attraction at Cheetah's, a local strip club where she performs an impressive lap dance for Cristal's boyfriend (Kyle Maclachlan). The film's so-bad-it's-good reputation deserves serious re-evaluation, although Eszterhas' understanding of female characters is highly suspect.
Zombie Strippers (2008)
Jenna Jameson got a chance to play in the mainstream with this straight-to-video horror comedy. The former porn star plays Kat, a dancer at the Rhino Club who is attacked by a patron recently bitten by a zombie. Turned into the undead, Kat becomes more popular than ever, pressuring the club's other dancers to become zombies, too, in order to compete. Kat is then challenged to an onstage zombie stripper duel by fellow dancer Jeannie (Shamron Moore), while the zombie virus is revealed to be part of a government plot to reanimate dead soldiers to fight America's multiple wars.
Canadian actress Lolita Davidovich plays famous real-life burlesque dancer Blaze Starr in Blaze, a comedic drama that casts Paul Newman as Blaze's paramour, Louisiana governor Earl K. Long. Their liaison back in the 1950s was condemned from pulpits and widely considered a political liability for Long, but the playfulness of their relationship comes across strong here, despite events being heavily fictionalized. A bit of trivia: the redheaded Davidovich, who apparently gained weight to play the busty ecdysiast, went on to marry Blaze's director Ron Shelton.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Strippers and vampires: has there ever been a more potent cinematic combination? The Quentin Tarantino-written, Robert Rodriguez-directed, George Clooney-starring horror action comedy thriller -- whew! -- casts Clooney and Tarantino as Seth and Richie Gecko, bank robbing brothers who find themselves on the lam and hiding out at the Titty Twister, a Mexican strip club where -- spoiler alert! -- the peelers are vamps who sup upon the patrons. Salma Hayek plays the club's feature dancer, a long-limbed beauty named Santánico Pandemonium (named, incidentally, after the 1975 Mexican nunsploitation film Satánico Pandemonium), who performs a seductive routine with her yellow python before vamping out.
Even though the film contains no nudity, I'm including Flashdance here because it was inspired by the life of Maureen Marder. The Toronto stripper was a welder-by-day, strip club dancer by night, just like Jennifer Beals' character Alex in Flashdance, although Alex never took off her clothes completely in her evening work as a go-go dancer (an improbable scenario, especially given the working-class nature of the bar and the high-end production values of the dances). Famously, Beals did none of her of her own dancing. Marder, meanwhile, sold the rights to her life's story for a measly $2,300, even though Flashdance went on to gross more than $150 million.
The Full Monty (1997)
Finally, some beefcake! The only other male stripper movie besides Magic Mike that comes to mind is the British comedy The Full Monty. Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) stars as Gaz, an unemployed Sheffield steel worker who decides to catch up on this child support by putting together a Chippendales-style male strip revue. The unlikely lads put together a routine and, against their own expectations, manage to sell a large number of tickets to their debut performance. The film climaxes with their performance to Tom Jones' 'You Can Leave Your Hat On.'
The Wrestler (2008)
The unglamourous, dark nature of stripping comes to the fore in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler where Marisa Tomei, in an Oscar-nominated performance, plays Cassidy, a middle-aged stripper at the club frequented by broken-down wrestler Randy 'The Ram' Robinson. Cassidy knows that she's aging out of her chosen profession and sees Ram's interest in her as her ticket out. Tomei looks great in her scenes, clad only in a G-string, stockings and high-heels, but that doesn't mean that her character can escape being rejected by ignorant frat boys because of her age in one scene.
Welcome to the Rileys (2010)
Twilight star Kristen Stewart continued to cast aside her PG-13 image with the underseen independent film Welcome to the Rileys. Here she plays Mallory (a.k.a. Allison), a 16-year old stripper and prostitute taken under the wing of Doug Riley (James Gandolfini), a travelling businessman whose marriage to Lois (Melissa Leo) has been falling apart ever since the death of their teenage daughter. Doug meets Mallory at her strip club, but the two enter into an unusual father-daughter relationship where Doug (and eventually Lois) attempts to steer Mallory back onto the right path.