Grown woman shit

A case for Magic Mike XXL as cult text

Authored by: Amanda Ann Klein

The Routledge Companion to Cult Cinema

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138950276
eBook ISBN: 9781315668819
Adobe ISBN:


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The plot of Magic Mike XXL (2015, Gregory Jacobs) ostensibly centers around the cast of Magic Mike (2012, Steven Soderbergh) travelling to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, road trip-style, for “one last” performance. Richie (Joe Manganiello) explains, “If I’m going down, I’m going down in a fucking tsunami of dollar bills.” The guys call Mike (Channing Tatum), now retired from stripping, and lie and say that their old emcee, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), has died (spoiler: Dallas is not dead, he just had a better gig). When Mike arrives at the seedy Dunes Inn & Suites for what he thinks is Dallas’ wake, he is instead tackled by a naked Richie, who tosses him, fully clothed (his muscular dancer’s body covered up in a drab suit), into the pool. Mike appears almost unnatural in comparison to the shirtless and carefree stripper bodies surrounding him; thus getting tossed into the pool by a naked Richie is like a baptism, sending him back on the righteous path to shirtlessness and male entertainment. The stripper convention is hosted by Rome (Jada Pinkett-Smith), who is the new Dallas of MMXXL. Dallas often appeared shirtless with black leather pants and an oiled chest, greeting the female audience with “All right, all right, all right.” Here McConaughey was retreading the lazily sexual chant of David Wooderson, from his role in the cult nostalgic teenpic, Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993). Thus the character of Rome hails two different cult characters (Dallas as well as Wooderson), making Pinkett-Smith’s performance an especially rich text for an analysis of the intersection of race, gender and cult cinema. Rome is first introduced to the audience as a former employer (and lover) of Mike, then as an emcee who sells sex, but also clearly still enjoys it. She seduces the crowd, readying their bodies for what their eyes are about to see. At the convention she riles the women up by asking: “Is there anybody up in here that ain’t on birth control?” The crowd screams in assent, but she interrupts them, “Oh no! I’m keepin’ it real with you ladies, because there’s about to be some grown woman shit up in here to-night.” She punctuates each of these last six syllables with a bounce of her hips and shoulders. Rome knows her product is good because she, too, is a woman. The crowd goes wild.

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