Joe Manganiello Strips Away Stereotypes, Bad Etiquette

The "Magic Mike XXL" star gives us an in-depth look at the world of male strippers, then advises our listeners on horrible nicknames, breakfast birthday bashes and open-shirt policies.

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Joe Manganiello. He is probably best known as the werewolf… is it pronounced “AL-seed?”

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Joe bandana-ing it up in “Magic Mike XXL”

Joe Manganiello: “al-SEED,” yeah.

Rico Gagliano: Alcide.

Joe Manganiello: Not “El Cid.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: No.  That’s a great bar in L.A.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: He is not a bar; he’s a werewolf named Alcide, in the smash HBO series “True Blood.”  And of course he also plays Richie, one of the tribe of male strippers whose lives were portrayed with a surprising sweetness and intelligence in the hit film “Magic Mike.” That movie wound up on a bunch of critics’ top ten lists. Joe reprises the role in the new sequel, “Magic Mike XXL.”  And Joe, it is a pleasure to have you here.

Joe Manganiello: Thank you. Great to be here.

Rico Gagliano: So, a lot’s been made about the obvious beefcake appeal of these movies but, as I said, they’re very smart. They portray this very warm friendship between the guys in this troupe of strippers. I will say, this one is a lot lighter in tone than the first one. Tell us a little bit about the process behind making that decision.

Joe Manganiello: The first movie had to service this love story, and have an indie feel to it.  Because I think when you’re the first male stripper movie [laughs]… I think there is a bit of — you have to take the critics into play.

I think once it came out, everybody enjoyed it, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s do another one, but have this one be about the guys. And let’s take the chains off and get wild, and make the movie that I think people really wanted to see, or expected to see, the first time around.”

Rico Gagliano: Oh, really? This is like the dam breaking? It’s like, “Let’s get these shirts off!”

Joe Manganiello: [laughs] I wouldn’t say that, but I think that the idea of male stripping is inherently funny.  And I think the first one gave all of the reasons why someone would want to leave that lifestyle. It was almost like a “Saturday Night Fever,” like, “You’re the king of this world, but outside out that bubble, you’re nothing.” Whereas the second movie gives all of the reasons why you would never want to leave that lifestyle.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So after the first film, “Magic Mike,” you decided to make a documentary about male strippers. What most surprised you about that world when you actually took a close look at it?

Joe Manganiello: How damn likeable these guys were. Most of them came from really great, nice families.  Like, Bible Belt — It took place in Dallas, Texas — so a lot of God-fearing, really sweet, nice people and good guys who were former athletes, who were struggling at jobs that didn’t pay a lot of money. And someone would say to them, “Hey, you’re in great shape, and you’re athletic, and you could make more money doing this!” And they’re 23, 24, 25 years old and… I mean, this is the greatest job I could ever imagine having.

Oh, my God! It’s like being a rock star. You get to train like a professional athlete.  And one of the guys, in fact, was a 55-year-old male stripper named “Randy the Master Blaster” who had been stripping consecutively since 1979.

Rico Gagliano: Damn!

Brendan Francis Newnam: Wow.

Joe Manganiello: And he loved it, and he now mentors, tutors, and coaches the other guys, much like McConaughey’s character did in “Magic Mike.” So, it was a fascinating world. And he lives with his mom, who was 78 years old, who answered the phones from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for their stripper-gram company.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, my God!

Joe Manganiello: Who just loves him to death, you know, and is his nutritionist. So, it’s not what you think.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, Rico and I still have a chance [Joe laughs].

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say; I think we’re out of the radio business after this interview.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Because we are — you can acknowledge this, Joe — we’re ridiculously cut specimens.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah.

Rico Gagliano: You’re one of us.

Joe Manganiello: Ripped.

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Brendan Francis Newnam: Maybe it’s a good moment to turn to our etiquette questions.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah, all right.

Shirt button propriety

Brendan Francis Newnam: First question comes from Chris in Williamsburg, Virginia. Chris’s question is, “How many buttons at the top of a button-up shirt should one be allowed to unbutton at a dinner party?”

Joe Manganiello: Oh, boy. I think anything that keeps you out of “Miami Vice” territory.

Rico Gagliano: I see. But what does that entail? Is that, like, a couple of inches of chest or…

Brendan Francis Newnam: Didn’t he wear T-shirts?

Joe Manganiello:  Yeah, that’s actually true. Well, then, Cuban drug lord.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, OK.

Joe Manganiello: I think you go top button, and next button down. Past that… [looking down at his shirt] I mean, what am I doing right now? I don’t know. I think you’re safe with the two. If you get into the third, I think it’s about button placement, because not all shirts are the same. So, you kind of… that gets into the judgment call.

Brendan Francis Newnam: How about you use the nipples as a guideline. You want to be above them.

Joe Manganiello: Keep it above the nipples.

Rico Gagliano: That I think we can all agree on.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right.

How do you celebrate a night owl?

Rico Gagliano: And here’s something from Tim in Phoenix, Arizona. Tim writes:

“When a friend works nights — say he’s a fireman, or a performer, or a vampire, etcetera — is it all right to throw a breakfast bash for his birthday? More generally, what is the best way to celebrate with someone who is asleep when most of us are awake?”

And you did shoot a lot at night, right, in “True Blood?”

Joe Manganiello: Oh, man, you have no idea. I mean, I remember falling asleep at a red light driving home from Malibu.

Rico Gagliano: You were OK, apparently.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah, but it’s scary when you come to, and you’re in a car and your foot is depressed on the brake pedal.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, my God!

Joe Manganiello: So, I would say maybe send a car service to bring that guy to breakfast [laughs]!

Rico Gagliano: That does sound like a good idea, actually.

Joe Manganiello: No, but I’m all for mixing it up, you know? I mean, heck, I was a big fan of the breakfast date. You don’t have to go to dinner; you can go to breakfast. So, I just think don’t keep that person up if they want to go to sleep. I would wait for the day off, to be honest with you.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, I was going to say, wouldn’t you wait for the day off?  Because isn’t there… doesn’t it sound wrong to your ears: “a breakfast bash?” I mean, how wild can we get here, guys?

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Richie getting wild in “Magic Mike XXL.”

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, we just got up.

Joe Manganiello: You can get pretty, pretty wild at breakfast time.

Brendan Francis Newnam: [laughs] All right.

Rico Gagliano: We’re talking to a guy in “True Blood.”

Joe Manganiello: Yeah.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You’re talking hot sauce on the eggs Florentine.

Rico Gagliano: Is that a euphemism or something?

How to change nicknames

Rico Gagliano: Anyway, here’s something from “Not Going To Tell You What It Is, Sorry, Not Even For Joe” in Chicago. This guy is not going to tell you what his name is. Oh — and here’s why!  He says:

“I’ve been given a nickname that I’m not a fan of, and it has taken root. How do I kill that one, or maybe better, how do I get myself a new one?”

I don’t know why he’s asking Joe, who has a pretty straightforward nickname.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, I think he has a pretty interesting nickname in the movie.

Rico Gagliano: Oh, well, that’s true.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But we can’t talk about that.

Joe Manganiello: Oh, I can’t talk about that on the air?

Rico Gagliano: Well…

Joe Manganiello: I noticed you called my character “Richie” earlier [laughs].

Rico Gagliano: Yeah. It’s… well, we can beep it: Your name is “Big Dick Richie” in the movie.

Joe Manganiello: Yes, or in the Latin market, “Ricardo Grande.”

Rico Gagliano: See, it seems so much more elegant that way.

Brendan Francis Newnam: [laughs] All right, but the point is, do we have any advice for “Not Going To Tell You What It Is?”

Joe Manganiello: Well, I think it’s a matter of time. I think you just… for years, wherever I went, it was “Wolfman,” or “Le Loup Garou,” or “El Hombre Lobo,” whatever all the “wolf” stuff was.  And now I’m “Big Dick Richie.” [Everyone laughs.] So, all that werewolf stuff goes away!

So I would say, get out there, get on your horse, and do something worthy of a better nickname.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, just do two major motion pictures and…

Rico Gagliano: And get it done.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah. My mom has a T-shirt that says”Big Dick Richie’s Mom” that she wears to Starbucks in Pittsburgh.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, when you’re in trouble, does your mom call you by your full nickname?

Joe Manganiello: Like, “Big Dick Richard, get in here!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Manganiello: “Did you leave these toys on the floor?!!” [Laughs.]

Is there a better term for this shirt?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, there you go. You’ve got to work harder, Chicago. All right, another question. This one comes from Patrick in Santa Monica. Patrick writes:

“You wear these often in the movies: Is there a more PC term for a ‘wife-beater’ shirt? Please say yes. That term grosses me out.”

Joe Manganiello: Well, technically they’re called “A-shirts.”

Rico Gagliano: That’s right.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Ah, there it is.

Rico Gagliano: “A-shirts.” I only realized that after I finally went and got some. I never really wore them because I’m a shrimp?  But I finally got some, and it was like, “A-shirts? What the hell are those?”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Guys, I never understood… the only reason I wear a T-shirt is to absorb sweat — not to be gross here — and an A-shirt doesn’t work! There’s no cotton in the critical part of your body where you sweat, so what is the role of the A-shirt? I don’t get it.

Joe Manganiello: You’re absolutely right. It does fall into the category of useless articles of clothing.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah!

Joe and the stripper essential sleeveless hoodie.
Joe as Richie in the stripper essential sleeveless hoodie.

Joe Manganiello: Much like — you know, I found out that essential to a male stripper’s wardrobe is the sleeveless hoodie.  Like, to keep you warm, with the hood on it?  But you don’t have sleeves to keep your arms warm!

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, it keeps your arms icy cool.

Joe Manganiello: So, what is that all about!?!

Brendan Francis Newnam: I think that’s so you can cover your head when your mom’s wearing her “Big Dick Richie” T-shirt next to you.

Rico Gagliano: There you go; form follows function.

Joe Manganiello, thank you so much for being here today and telling our audience how to behave, I think.

Joe Manganiello: Yeah, there’s your etiquette tips for the day.