Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Male strippers too funny to bare in new documentary

Joe Manganiello (rear, with glasses) poses with the La Bare dancers at the premiere of his new film about male strippers.
Joe Manganiello (rear, with glasses) poses with the La Bare dancers at the premiere of his new film about male strippers.

PITTSBURGH - In his directorial debut, Joe Manganiello shows you a side of male strippers you haven't seen before.

The inside.

"If you think these guys are one-dimensional, you're going to be blown away," said Manganiello, the Allegheny County-raised star of HBO's "True Blood" who returns home today to premiere "La Bare," his documentary, co-produced by his brother, Nick, about a popular male strip club in Dallas.

"You'll never laugh harder in your life," Manganiello said. "I laugh every time I've seen it, and we've been in the editing room like 8,000 times cutting it, but I still laugh out loud every time.

"We'd have never gotten away with this if it was scripted," Manganiello said. "It would seem too outrageous; too unbelievable. But it's fact, which creates this extra electricity. We got lucky. We pointed the cameras in the right direction."

Manganiello and his washboard abs appeared in 2012's male-stripper drama-comedy "Magic Mike," a box-office hit loosely based on a precelebrity experience of its star, Channing Tatum. That film compelled Manganiello to present a fly-on-the-wall view of an actual male strip club told from the point of view of its dancers.

"Many of them come from very conservative backgrounds, and they treat women with respect; a lot of 'Yes, ma'am' and 'No ma'am,' " Manganiello said. "And they train like pro athletes."

The "La Bare" dancers are not "Jersey Shore"-type juiceheads, or cheesy gigolos, said Nick Manganiello, in a joint phone interview with his brother Tuesday as the two drove to their next TV interview. "We're very aware of the misconceptions of the general public and I think it's great that we play against those archetypes and pull the rug out from under you by showing who these guys really are."

It's not all laughs, as people at prior screenings have been crying, in particular for one scene.

"This story takes a turn, and there is a tragedy and an injustice," Joe said.

"The injustice shows these guys are three-dimensional," Nick added.

Joe continued, "We've all been to movies where you sit there for two hours until the lights come up, and the crowd doesn't make a noise or rustle the whole time. Well, this is one of those movies where the crowd screams at the screen, and they're riding this ride. It's a roller coaster until the end."

Beyond the skin-flashing hunks is a more universal story.

"It's really about men and women and their postfeminist sexual relationship," Manganiello, a regular on "Sexiest Movie Star" lists, said. "How no matter how hard we work to be the same, there will always be differences, which are beautiful and funny. Our fantasies are different, which is manifested in a strip club. This movie is a very fun entry point to that conversation."

"La Bare" opens today at the Ritz Bourse theater.

SCOTT TADY Beaver County Times, Pa.
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