It was a family affair on Wednesday night as Joe Manganiello and brother Nick Manganiello introduced their documentary that pulls the curtain back on male strippers — “La Bare” — to Hollywood.
Produced by the brothers’ 3:59 Inc., the film also marks Joe’s directorial debut, and a host of celebs came out in support of the project, including “Saturday Night Live’s” Taran Killam, Joe’s “True Blood” co-stars Kristin Bauer van Straten, Nathan Parsons and Chris Bauer, actress Aisha Tyler and singer Josh Groban (whose brother, Chris Groban, is the film’s editor).
“It was really kind of an amazing experience, people turning up and people really responding,” Nick told AccessHollywood.com of the ArcLight Hollywood screening, where there were more attendees than available seats. “It was packed. … We always kind of have high expectations for this project, just because we’re so proud of it, but for it to be met in the way that it was last night, I mean it was just awesome to be a part of that.”
The theater audience was also peppered with several of the dancers who opened up to Joe and his crew during an eight-day shoot at Dallas’ La Bare (the club the film is named after). And, Nick said the openness of the men featured in the film had a lot to do with his brother.
“The first day that we walked in the club, they have a giant poster of ‘Magic Mike’ on the wall and Joe points to [his character] on the poster, like, ‘Oh, that’s me!’ and they’re like, ‘Oh.’ So as soon as they realized that this was the guy in this movie that like, doubled their business, they just were really kind of forthcoming and just open,” Nick said.
“And there’s actually a girl that we interview in the movie, who’s actually a dancer at a club across the street from La Bare, and she phrases it where the relationships that they have with each other is, ‘Honor among thieves.’ So, it’s like they have this understanding that, ‘This is what you do for a living, this is what I do for a living,’ and they understand each other,” Nick continued. “I think that was an important piece of getting these guys to open up and be honest and talk about what it is that they do with somebody that they trusted as well, telling their story correctly. And all the credit to them, all the credit to Joe for how this all kind of came together.”
The documentary film shows the entertainment side (with plenty of toned men dancing on stage) as well as the backstage life of the men of the club, including Randy “Master Blaster” Ricks who has been performing since the late 1970s, and who provides inspiration for the younger dancers.
There’s also a young performer featured in the doc, whose stage name – “Channing” – was directly inspired by Joe’s “Magic Mike” co-star, Channing Tatum.
“People wouldn’t believe you if you tried to script this, so the fact that it’s actually happening and the kid goes and watches ‘Magic Mike’ with his sister and is like, ‘I want to do that,’ and then he winds up being called ‘Channing,’ it’s almost like… you just have to look up at the stars and be like, someone’s looking out for us on this one,” Nick said. “You can’t script this stuff.”
Fans of the La Bare dancers were also interviewed to help fill in the stories and hint at the appeal of the club and profession.
One woman prominently featured in the documentary is Randy’s mother, Mary Lou, who welcomed the Manganiello brothers with open arms (and some home cooking).
“We really kind of bonded with these guys, we relate to them. They’re good people, they were raised right and case in point, Randy and his mom, Mary Lou — she’s the sweetest, most genuine, supportive [mom], like, loves her son,” Nick said. “It’s just great. There’s no judgment. He makes a great living. He supports her, she loves him. It’s just that thing that’s relatable.”
Asked what viewers have told him after seeing “La Bare,” Nick said movie watchers are finding themsleves surprised by the film.
“It’s always, ‘It’s not what I expected,’” Nick said of the reaction to their project. “I think people are kind of coming into this thinking that it’s going to be, you know, these guys taking their shirts off and there’s not a lot upstairs and… on to the next routine, and who’s having sex with who. … We absolutely do appeal to the people that are showing up and wanting that sex and fun, but these guys have very interesting lives and they’re all kind of this band of brothers and there’s family and it takes a twist. People just come out of there and they’re just like, ‘That was not at all — in the best way possible — what I expected.’”
“La Bare” opens in theaters on June 27, 2014.
-- Jolie Lash