The lights go down and the men come up. They are dressed in the kind of sexy costumes you might find at a Halloween discount store. My shoulders drop. I don’t want a tacky strip show. A dancer approaches an audience member and starts thrusting upon her. She is not enjoying it. I feel an almost primal urge to rescue her. To let her know that it is not OK for anyone to invade your space like that even if you bought a ticket for the show. Then they pull her up on stage and suddenly she is living a nightmare. Men thrusting, space invading, silly string flying. There is tension in the crowd. Few, if any, of the women in the room would swap places with the woman on stage. She is visibly uncomfortable and so are we. It is loud and obnoxious and abrasive and just when you think you are about to invade the stage yourself to stop it, she utters the magic word... UNICORN.
The surge of relief that the woman is part of the show is replaced with a warm glow of awesome as she calls out this tokenistic representation of what women want. Amy Ingram strips the male MC of his microphone and she takes over. She is his equal and she will be our voice on this night as we celebrate sexuality and let our inner Jezebels honour their wonton ways without shame.
It was Sigmund Freud who coined the term Madonna-whore complex. The idea that men can’t have all their needs met by one woman as the innocent and sweet is loveable but not desirable. The sexually empowered and erotic female is desired but utterly unlovable. If the truth be told there is a Madonna and a whore in all of us and Magic Mike is testament to the fact that both are gorgeous and both are allowed to exist in the one body.
Once Ingram has the reins you really are in for the ride of a lifetime. She introduces us to the dancers giving each of them a label. A vet, a barista, a tradie and a CEO who pays women the same rate as men. Ingram scratches that, makes herself the CEO and then the men begin to dance. And really this is the best part of the show. The human body is capable of such wonderful things. Yes, the bodies you see are perfect specimens of sculptured sixpacks and biceps you could walk over and get at least 2000 steps in. But they are muscles moving bodies in marvellous ways. These boys can dance and every movement is potent. Towards the end of the show Max Francisco joins the party. She is beautiful to watch. She dances in the rain with Blake Varga and it is incredibly sexy. There is desire in the dance and a raw sensuality that is expressed poetically and as the rain falls and the dancers become wet the innuendo is not lost, but gracefully embraced.
Magic Mike Live makes a claim that permission is the world’s sexiest word. And they back it up. Magic Mike Live gives you permission to enjoy sexuality without feeling like a whore. To want emotional connection without being a needy or insipid maiden. It allows you to explore what turns you on in a safe and sensual space. You have permission to feel everything and nothing and you are not judged by anyone. To everyone involved I say thank you for holding permission as the holy grail to a woman's heart.
Magic Mike Live really does try and have something for every woman. There is tap dancing, romantic roses and serenades, pure physical delights, men in suits, men in tiny briefs, men, men and more men. This buffet of buff men is a blessing and a curse. Yes, you will find something that tickles your fancy but there are also moments when what is offered is not your thing. This is unavoidable but not a disaster. If you find that you are in a part of the show that is not talking to your body, then let your mind wander and appreciate your environment. The tent you are seated in was purpose built by master tent builder Rik Klessens in Belgium. His family have been building Spiegeltents for generations and this was designed and constructed specifically for this show. It is beautiful and you should admire the craftsmanship within the details.
Channing Tatum is the mastermind behind Magic Mike Live and he comes through on all his promises. The men in the show are genuine and the women in the audience are honoured. Tatum walks the fine line between tacky strip joints and romantic comedies and in his trail, he leaves the possibility of passion and a lot of titillating sweat.
There is no mistaking the magic in this spectacle. The magic is bold, bodacious and beautiful. It is emotional. It is provocative. It values feelings. It is women's sexuality being honoured without shame and if that isn’t a kind of magic then I don’t know what is.
Channing Tatum presents
Magic Mike Live
conceived by Channing Tatum
Venue: The Arcadia | The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, NSW
Dates: from Thursday 17 December 2020
Tickets: from $59