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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Joe Manganiello of 'Magic Mike' on stripping, Manhole
MOVIES
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2012-06-27

This article shared 11543 times since Wed Jun 27, 2012
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One of the most anticipated films of the year—at least by women and gay men—has to be director Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, aka "the male stripper movie."

Based on the real-life experiences of rising Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum, the movie glorifies the shapely bodies of some of Tinseltown's finest beefcake—Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Alex Rodriguez and the openly gay Matt Bomer. None of these heavenly physiques, however, quite stacks up next to the one inhabited by actor Joe Manganiello.

The theater-trained actor (he attended Carnegie Mellon with fellow alumnus Bomer) broke through playing Alcide, the werewolf who's often seen in the altogether in HBO's vampire series True Blood, which has just begun its fifth season.

The 6'5" actor isn't shy about disrobing, playing a character in Magic Mike named "Big Dick Richie," or about his support of the gay community (Manganiello is straight)—all of which he discussed during an exclusive interview with Windy City Times.

Windy City Times: Immediately, I'm going to lower the bar—but I promise you I'm going to raise it later.

Joe Manganiello: Like I haven't already lowered it already. [Laughs]

WCT: You're playing a stripper named Big Dick Richie. You must have known that a lot of gay men were going to be very interested in this character, right?

Joe Manganiello: I can only assume!

WCT: Did they let you take the penis pump home because you know what they say: "Practice makes perfect…"?

Joe Manganiello: Man—that thing was soooo frightening. Just the idea that penis-pump technology has not increased over, I'm guessing, like the past 35 years since it was invented. It's just … frightening.

WCT: I'm going to assume that you used a prosthetic for the full-frontal scene.

Joe Manganiello: You may assume whatever you want. [Laughs]

WCT: Have you talked to Mark Wahlberg (star of Boogie Nights) about his…

Joe Manganiello: Have I exchanged notes with him? No, I have not but that would certainly be an interesting conversation, no doubt.

WCT: Okay, tell me you took it home and have it in a display case somewhere…

Joe Manganiello: …to be auctioned off for charity.

WCT: [Laughs] You'll make millions! Okay, from your perspective, give it up. Of your fellow hotties, who had the best body?

Joe Manganiello: Excluding myself? Geez. That's a tough one. I don't know; I don't know that I really looked at everybody that way.

WCT: Well, what about stripper moves? Who had the best bump-and-grind?

Joe Manganiello: Well, Channing is on another level as a dancer.

WCT: Best thong collection?

Joe Manganiello: [Laughs] That would have to be me. I wear the gold thong with the fig leaf on the front—beat that!

WCT: You mentioned somewhere in an interview that when you started in the business it was hard for a guy with a body like yours to get jobs.

Joe Manganiello: That was a complete misquote. I wasn't built like this when I moved to Hollywood 12 years ago.

WCT: Well, I know you did construction but did you ever consider taking a male stripper gig?

Joe Manganiello: No, I went to classical theater school. The construction thing was only to make ends meet for a brief period of time. There was no Plan B other than acting but needless to say, if this whole acting thing doesn't work out, it's a possibility.

WCT: So we might yet see a chain called Manganiello's?

Joe Manganiello: Not to be confused with Chicago's Manhole.

WCT: The Manhole?! Did they take you there today during the press tour? How do you know about the Manhole?!

Joe Manganiello: When I was 21 years old, I got a job for the summer working for Finlandia vodka and we came through Chicago on the tour at the same time as the Pride festival. They parked a bus right outside the bar and they sent me into this bar to serve Finlandia drinks—and the bar was called Manhole.

WCT: Every gay man in Chicago can tell you the location. That's almost 15 years ago, so you've had a long time to think about this: Is it a turn-on at all to know that millions of gay men are getting off on you? What does that do to your head? Does it feel good? Is it weird? C'mon—throw us a bone.

Joe Manganiello: [Choosing his words carefully] There's been such a huge support for me in my career—probably starting with True Blood, which led to the LOGO channel giving me a "NewNowNext" award and then I got offered the cover of Out magazine this year and I was like, "Hell yeah, let's do it."

Then I spoke at the Human Rights Campaign as a straight man in favor of gay marriage. So the gay community has been 100-percent behind me and I have completely felt that support going on years now in my career. It's great to know that and I do my best to acknowledge that—whether it's speaking out or throwing on my fireman's uniform and appearing at the MTV Awards—to show my support right back.

I have a lot of friends in the gay community, stemming from drama school to working in Hollywood and, for me, it's about sticking up for the rights of my friends when I think stupid issues are being made of things.

WCT: What other actors or stars with spectacular physiques do you look to for career inspiration? The Rock? Vin Diesel? Ah-nuld?

Joe Manganiello: I really don't look at those guys for inspiration and that's not a knock to them. My influences are people like Viggo Mortensen. Growing up it was people like Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton. Those were actors who physically transformed themselves to fit certain parts.

This isn't something like wanting to be a bodybuilder who acts. I'm a classically trained actor who bulked up for a role. If you looked at a picture of me five years ago and what I look like now, you might not recognize me. I transformed my body for True Blood because I needed to fit a character that was described a certain way.

From there, it was also a tool for me as an actor because the bigger; the more physically imposing that I was, it was going to help me play this guy's inner sensitivity—his vulnerability and this incredible shyness that the character had. I wanted him to look like a monster but feel like a puppy. Now, because of continuity and such, I have to keep my body up so that I come back matching what I did on the season before. In the meantime, I wound up getting cast as a male stripper and that fit into that wheelhouse, physically.

WCT: Don't you love how that dovetailed?

Joe Manganiello: After 10 years in the business I just happened to stumble on this phenomenal role on this really hot show. I'm not a person who knows what 99 percent is—I go 110 percent at everything and I'm very flattered that people see me that way but, truly, it was for the part.

WCT: Speaking of True Blood, any hints about what's coming up this season?

Joe Manganiello: I'll put it to you this way: I don't know what's going to be more awkward for my parents to see—what I do in Magic Mike or what I do this season on True Blood.

WCT: That is very tantalizing.

Joe Manganiello: There's a general consensus on the set this season that it's some of the most risqué stuff that has been done in years on the show.

WCT: Now HBO is lowering the bar.

Joe Manganiello: Oh, yeah—but I hasten to add that it's tastefully done. We definitely bring the sexy back this year.

WCT: Getting back to Magic Mike for a second, it's pretty common in the male stripper industry that a lot of these straight guys are "gay for pay"—they escort for men, do gay porn, etc. Did this subject come up at all?

Joe Manganiello: I did enough research to know that there are guys who dance for men and women, but that's not necessarily the story that we're telling in this movie. The guys that I hung out with and talked to in doing my research were straight male strippers, and all their stories involved the Dionysian orgies with women that went on backstage.

WCT: Have you been offered any gay characters?

Joe Manganiello: I can't think of any, although I did work on Terrence McNally's new play a few years ago (Unusual Acts of Devotion). I did the West Coast premiere at the LaJolla Playhouse which dealt with some gay themes, and I actually slow-danced with Richard Thomas. [Chuckles]

WCT: John Boy Walton?

Joe Manganiello: Yup!

WCT: Cool. With so much emphasis on your body career-wise, I'm sure you have to be incredibly disciplined. Do you have a favorite indulgence when you get to go off the wagon?

Joe Manganiello: Oh yeah—right after my fight scenes I go straight to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

WCT: Good choice. Whom do you objectify? Who does Joe dream about at night?

Joe Manganiello: I'm a guy so we objectify everything. [Laughs]


This article shared 11543 times since Wed Jun 27, 2012
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