Channing Tatum On Dancing Naked: “I’m Sorry That Ran Into Your Chin”

Truth rating: 10
Channing Tatum Esquire

By Daniel Gates

Channing Tatum Esquire


Channing Tatum talks about dancing naked and learning to wrestle in a new Esquire cover story. The actor traces his unexpected rise to movie stardom, including his teenage years in Tampa, where he began to pick up dance moves.

“It’s the best city in America for fourteen-year-olds with parents who work,” explains Tatum. “There was always some place to go, some house to go into, some alley to go down, roof to climb around, or fence to jump.” He goes on to say, “I wanted to dance. I just didn’t know anything. Neither did the girls I was seeing. But their moms did. I figured out the fastest way for me to learn to dance was to grab up some abuela and get her moving on the porch.”

When Tatum first got to California, he didn’t have a plan. The star says, “I didn’t do much when I first got there. I was a roofer for a while. It was mostly long days and hours, and hours at night spent in dance clubs. I mostly learned to dance by hanging out in clubs and grinding on girls. Women, cars, alleys. Fun one night, then ugly, too.”

Modeling changed everything. “The travel schedule, the food, the demands brought things together for me,” says Tatum. “That was a full day, with expectations every day. I’d never had that. Suddenly, every hour of the day was accounted for. Busy. And I never want to be without that again.”

Tatum plays real-life Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher, and despite a background in martial arts, he was overwhelmed by the challenge of wrestling. “I no longer consider myself a practitioner of martial arts,” he says. “But wrestling is nothing like that, anyway. In wrestling, there is no retreat. No way to slow things down. In wrestling, you advance and advance, and being tired is just a lie to make the other guy think he can relax. It’s so hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done.”

Speaking of the real-life Schultz, Tatum says, “He’s even intense when he eats eggs. He’s still scary to get on the mats with. My third or fourth time wrestling, there I am with this technician of the sport, an all-time great, a really violent wrestler who can bend me in half pretty easily. He did, too. Crushed me.”

Of course, one of the upcoming projects people are most interested in is Tatum’s male stripper hit Magic Mike’s follow-up Magic Mike XXL. The actor is doing twice-a-day dance rehearsals for the movie, which includes plenty of naked dancing. He tells the magazine, “There are a lot of apologies. A lot of ‘I’m sorry that ran into your chin’ and ‘Let me take my thigh off your neck.'”

When the reporter asks whether it would be an interesting plot point to have a male stripper who’s “really worried about a small penis,” Tatum laughs and says no, explaining “I don’t think a person in that position would be attracted to the life of a stripper.” Fair point. What do you think about what Tatum has to say?

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