On Thursday, Channing Tatum made an announcement that is as exciting as it’s extremely unsurprising: There’s going to be a Magic Mike show in Las Vegas. A revue that brings the popular movies to audiences “live and in 3d.” The show, as the movies before it, will apparently distinguish itself from similar dancing-dude revues (no offense intended, gentlemen of Thunder From Down Under) by attempting to answer the question that is so enduringly perplexing that even a bewitched, fedora-ed Mel Gibson could not answer it: What do women want?
The Magic Mike movies, sweetly delightful and whimsically rompy though they may be, failed a little bit in their assumption that 1) the what-women-want question is legitimate to ask in the first place, and 2) men can answer it without consulting, uh, women. The films didn’t ask what ladies want so much as they informed them.
In that sense, what’s perhaps most interesting about the Vegas version of Magic Mike is the fact that the new show professes to be moving beyond its predecessors’ impulse to mansplain female desire. The site for the show features a quiz—though “quiz” doesn’t quite do justice to the psychological and sociological and philosophical questions it ponders—which is titled “Magic Mike Asks,” and which is ostensibly written by Magic Mike himself. Here is that fraught question—what do women want?—asked again, only this time in the service of a strip show that will be gyrating its way through a theater in the Hard Rock Hotel.
I wanted to find out what, exactly, Magic Mike wants to find out about me. (Spoiler, Mr. Mike: What this woman really wants is equal pay for equal work, health care for women of all classes, tampons that aren’t taxed as luxury items, etc. But your quiz doesn’t ask about that.) So I took Magic Mike’s quiz. Another spoiler: It’s really weird.
* * *
It begins innocently enough, in the manner of a lighthearted, low-stakes Buzzfeed quiz:
(If you’re curious, I chose the pizza one. Because the rest were weird, and also I’m more of a dog person, but mostly because pizza.)
Things, however, quickly get serious. Things quickly get Real. Mike asks questions about the Self, and about the Self in relation to the Other:
Things also get sociological:
And, whoa, also philosophical:
Occasionally, sure, things get typo’ed:
Mostly, though, things get personal:
Sometimes a little too personal:
But that’s because Magic Mike’s quiz has a very practical purpose, which is ostensibly to inform the proceedings of an upcoming Vegas strip show:
Like I said: weird! But also kind of productive? Magic Mike XXL, in particular, assumed that what women (that lady-monolyth, put-upon and misunderstood) want is, in the end, some combination of getting married/having fun with their girlfriends/being referred to as “queens” by worshipful males/being gyrated upon by men who are well-muscled but not so much so as to be threatening/being crooned to by men who bear a pleasing resemblance to the extremely charming Donald Glover. It was all absurd—to treat women as a collective, to assume that the audience for a show like this will consist of women in the first place—but it was also, in its way, a sign of progress. The guys were at least trying, you know? Their hearts, as well as every other part of their chiseled bodies, were in the right place.
Magic Mike’s quiz is a (deeply strange, but also deeply charming) continuation of that. Sure, it’s also a publicity stunt and a canny way for Magic Mike Live to get the market itself to do its market research; it is also, however, data. It’s a Kinsey report for the age of the online confessional. And it suggests the revue that will take its findings into account might just turn out to be that rarest of things: a strip show that also, in its way, celebrates women. A strip show that is, or at least claims to be, a dancing, prancing, shirt-shedding, gyrating woke bae.
After all, as Magic Mike puts it at the end of the quiz:
You know what, Mike? I do. I really do.
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