Male stripper London Steele remembers hiring a 20-year-old dancer who didn’t impress the Florida club owner.
“He said, ‘You can’t put that skinny kid onstage,’” recalled Steele, who opened his male revue “The Steele Show” at the Tommy Wind Theater two weeks ago.
Steele said there was something special about the skinny kid from the start.
“One night after a show, the bouncer comes up to me and said someone was looking for a job,” Steele said. “The kid was onstage. He had a different look than anybody in the business. Everybody was into bodybuilding at the time. He was real skinny, but he had an Abercrombie & Fitch look.”
When Steele approached the young man, “he literally stopped and saluted me, and that really impressed me. I think he had gone to military school. He said, ‘My name is Channing Tatum, and I’d like to interview for a job.’”
Steele liked what he saw and decided to give him a shot.
Nine months later, Tatum called Steele on his night off and said he was broke and needed to work for tips.
“When he gets there, there’s a casting director in a bachelorette party,” Steele said. “She gives him a card. She was from Miami. I told him, ‘You need to call her.’ ”
Three or four days go by before Tatum called Steele.
“He said, ‘Dude, I’m really sorry. I’m ready to get on a private plane with Ricky Martinto shoot a video in the Bahamas,” Steele recalled.
It was for Martin’s hit “She Bangs,” which was released in 2000.
Tatum had his big break.
He returned to the strip club one night to say hello to Steele, who was nearing retirement as a dancer.
“He had put on about 15 pounds, cut his hair shorter,” Steele said. He is proud that “before anyone saw anything in this kid, I was the one who recognized the talent.”
Steele was surprised when “Magic Mike” came out in 2012 that it was named after a kid Steele had nicknamed “Magic” after Michelangelo, which was Tatum’s stage name.
Tatum’s character had many similarities to Steele’s life: black truck, lived in townhouse, owned an auto detailing company. Steele and his girlfriend fostered a potbelly pig. In the movie, “Magic Mike” owned a potbelly pig.
“The real ‘Magic Mike’ drove a gold Cavalier, lived at home with his mother and was a part-time DJ. But that wasn’t mentioned in the movie,” Steele said.
“I never contacted a lawyer. I’m flattered. Out of 22 dancers he based the movie after me,” said Steele, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, moved to Tampa in 1991 and to Las Vegas in January.
Also in the movie, Matthew McConaughey goes by Dallas and dresses and dances like Steele.
Tatum recently announced plans to bring “Magic Mike Live” to the Hard Rock Hotel in 2017.
Steele can’t wait for the show to hit town.
“I think we should have a dance-off. Not me and Channing. My show against his show. My show wins.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
An unidentified Michigan fan is getting the Garth BrooksVIP treatment. For being the 4 millionth ticket buyer she’s getting a slew of amazing goodies: $5,000 in cash, a new Jeep Cherokee worth as much as $32,000 and a little red Corvette that costs about $80,000. Plus he’s paying off the woman’s student debt and paying for her and her family’s trip to Las Vegas to see him perform at the T-Mobile Arena June 24-25 or July 3-4.
ON THIS DAY
May 20, 1964: “Viva Las Vegas,” starring Elvis Presleyas a race car driver who turns to singing to pay for a new engine and hooks up with Ann-Margret along the way, debuts in theaters. Made for about $1 million, it grosses $9.5 million worldwide and is regarded as one of Elvis’ best movies.
Mike Tyson, Carrot Top and R&B singer, songwriter and producer Al B. Sure!, taking in Phil Vassar’s performance at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country on Wednesday night. … At previews this week of the Topgolf attraction: Johnny Manziel, Jose Canseco, TJ Lavin, Ricardo Laguna and Piff the Magic Dragon. … Music legend David Foster, in the audience at Celine Dion’s show Wednesday at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. … The Cure’s keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, with music producer Tommy Lipnick at La Comida on Wednesday.
THE PUNCH LINE
“American Express is suing Charlie Sheenfor an unpaid credit card balance of over $200,000. How did he blow that much money? Oh, right. Answered my own question.” — Seth Meyers
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. On Twitter: @Norm_Clarke