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La Bare (2014)

image via La Bare
image via La Bare

The news that Joe Manganiello was making a documentary about the Dallas male strip club La Bare thrilled me, because I loved Magic Mike and his performance in it. When it finally came to Netflix, I roped Matthew Lawrence into watching and chatting with me. It was no Magic Mike, but the real-life Magic Mike, Randy “Master Blaster” Ricks, didn’t disappoint. Below is an edited version of our real-time viewing experience. There’s probably spoilers.

Matthew: How many stars does Netflix THINK you will give this movie? For me it’s only one and a half!

Bubbles: Two for me! Seems like you don’t know me at all, Netflix.

Matthew: My Netflix is hampered by my boyfriend’s mysterious love of The Vampire Diaries, so maybe it assumes I will hate any documentary narrated by a True Blood cast member?

Bubbles: I’m so happy. I loved Magic Mike so much.

The film opens on two male strippers in cowboy hats and sleeveless shirts, about to perform for a bachelorette party.

Bubbles: Haha, it’s ok to take her number if she isn’t engaged. These outfits are fantastic.

Matthew: Those hats! I am in New England, I don’t see hats like that ever.

Bubbles: OK, so, it kicks off with the Flaming Lips “Free Radicals,” one of what I assume are many interesting musical choices. Is there a “businessman” male stripper? I guess that would be “Richard Gere Armani Suit” male stripper

Scene changes to the office of La Bare, where the manager talks about the club’s early days, when it switched from a topless club with female dancers to a male strip club named “La Bare.”

Matthew: Hahaha, nude in French or whatever.

Bubbles: “Which means nude in French or whatever.” Jinx! 9/11 killed the male stripping business? Had you heard anything about this?

The strippers are coming into work for the night. 

Bubbles: Is this guy old enough?

Matthew: Channing!

Music: Holy Ghost!

Bubbles: Holy Ghost!

Matthew: I love that The Music Man is what got him interested.

Bubbles: Glad to know “musical theater stripper” crosses the gender boundary.

Matthew: I hope he has a Broadway number.

Bubbles: You could never do that at a girl club.

We are introduced to Randy Master Blaster, who’s been stripping since 1979.

Randy "Master Blaster" Ricks and his momager (image via Ricks' Facebook page)
Randy “Master Blaster” Ricks and his momager (image via Ricks’ Facebook page)

Bubbles: The Master Blaster. So this guy had to be the inspiration for McConaughey’s character.

Matthew: I feel like I read articles about how nuts he is but I can’t remember. I’m so glad that Ed Hardy is over as a style.

Austin, the brooding stripper, makes his first appearance. 

Bubbles: Austin. GOTH STRIPPER!

Matthew: Vampire bondage surfer! I want all three at once. What do you think of the stage footage so far?

Bubbles: It’s so crazy how much more work male strippers have to do as far as doing a whole routine, they’re basically showgirls. Showboys. Silks!

Matthew: Purity Ring!

Bubbles: Very interesting music choices. That was a great crotch shot.

Matthew: The only all-male club in RI is gay and nothing at all like this place.

Bubbles: Yeah, the clubs with a male audience are way less complex, it seems. The lesson is that men only care if you are naked and hot.

Matthew: Gay strip clubs, here anyway, are the least showy places I can think of. Barely any dancing, lots of hustling the crowd.

A couple of women who strip in Dallas come on to talk about how most of their job is in talking to customers one-on-one. 

Bubbles: It’s cool they brought in some female strippers to contrast.

Matthew: I wonder how many places there are like this?

Bubbles: Not a whole lot. There was one in Austin for most of the 90s, then it moved, and closed.

JD, who is a self-professed terrible dancer, comes up on stage to do a cop-themed bachelorette dance. 

Bubbles: This guy actually looks like a cop, doesn’t he?

Matthew: “Dazzey Duks!” I love this guy.

Bubbles: He’s a hoot. Is he lipsyncing to a prerecorded track?

Matthew: He is! So wait, what are the touching rules in Texas again? Alcohol, no penis. But touching is okay?

Bubbles: There are laws prohibiting contact but they are never enforced by the clubs
So it’s allowed but it’s illegal. This becomes an issue if there’s an election coming up, then sometimes the clubs (in Dallas or Houston, mainly) get raided and people can get prostitution charges for giving a plain old lap dance.

Matthew: Gotcha.

They show us the guy who does the special effects and picks up the clothes.

Bubbles: Hey, it’s the stage manager/house dad. He picks up the clothes! And runs the fog machine!

Matthew: Not at this place, but are private rooms a thing in Texas? I’m guessing no?
Or in any other state that you’ve lived in? They’re a big deal here.

Bubbles: Some clubs have them. Most have common area VIPS where you might have, like, a booth, but not an individual room.

Matthew: Here it’s curtains, not doors. The mayor, who I like generally, issued a crappy release about trying to get rid of them and child trafficking and blah blah election coming up.
Open flames!

Bubbles: Whoah, that’s not usually allowed.

Matthew: That is the one thing that would never fly here.

Bubbles: I think they had a similar issue in San Francisco a few years ago.

Cesar "The Crowd Pleaser"
Cesar “The Crowd Pleaser”

Cesar “The Crowd Pleaser” tells the camera about how he’s had sex with, like, five women in his LIFE. 

Matthew: This hair though.

Bubbles: We have not seen a lapdance yet, have we? That wasn’t on stage.

Matthew: I don’t think so.

A female customer is on talking about her friendships with the dancers and how it feels like they have an authentic connection.

Bubbles: “Even though every time I give them a hug I give them a dollar.”

Matthew: That tiger is pretty amazing. “I had too much salt this morning.” That’s going to be my new answer for everything.

Bubbles: The DJ, rocking the Redemption shirt!

Matthew: He was a personal trainer!

Bubbles: And then he was like “fuck this.”

Hey, Matt! If this club had a male audience and the strippers didn’t shave would it be…

“La Bear”!

Matthew: Yes! Why is there not a Bear night?

Bubbles: I’d so be there.

Matthew: “You know, cuz I bang a lot of Playboy models…”

Bubbles: He’s a Playboy model groupie. Must be sad to be used and discarded by that many models.

Matthew: What kind of music you think they actually play at this place? We’ve half-heard “Dazzey Duks” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”

Bubbles: And”Pony.”

Matthew: Wait, does his jersey say “Kitten”?

Bubbles: I hope they play “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong” when Cesar does his officer routine.

Matthew: There have also been a couple of songs that I assume were written just to be played at strip clubs?

Bubbles: That’s totally possible.

screenshot from La Bare
screenshot from La Bare

Matthew: Trent’s a goober, I don’t think I like him.

Bubbles: “We bond by putting our penises into the same women.”

Matthew: DJ Hangups. I want more extended club scenes.

Bubbles: I want to see how they interact off stage.

Matthew: That too. Also let the black ones talk? I’m sure that’s not intentional.

Bubbles: It’s a pretty white crew. YESSSSS amateurs! One of the best things I ever saw was male amateur night at my old club.

They’re telling them not to do floorwork! Damn!

Matthew: You can’t simulate a sexual act? The cop, though…I mean I guess it’s about what you say v. what you do…

Bubbles: This is a good example of this difference between the rules and the practice.

Matthew: This movie has some unflattering cropping.

Bubbles: My money is on the preppy dude.

Matthew: Him?

Bubbles: Yeah, the strawberry blonde. Heck, he did the splits in pants!

Matthew: That’s pretty impressive. My one experience on stage stripping was this holiday party thing at a gay club. I went for the nerdy theme and I was so nervous that I forgot to take my shirt off.

Bubbles: One of the amateurs at my old club went to the trouble to have tearaway pants but when he tore them off he’d forgotten to take his belt off, so he ended up with pant flaps hanging down.

Matthew: Ha!

Bubbles: I wonder if these clubs have a token chubby dude. It’s so much less forgiving than girl stripping. A way narrower range of body types.

Matthew: It’s pretty narrow. I wonder if there’s even much of a height variable.

Bubbles: Yeah, which is weird, because actual women don’t all like this body type.

Matthew: THEY DON’T?

Bubbles: Lol. I just cannot get past the hairlessness!!! I guess there’s guy customers who feel that way about seeing nothing but shaved pudenda. That said I would totally do that redhead.

Matthew: I would too, and it would be awful but that would be fine.

Matthew: Mood change!

screencap from La Bare
screencap from La Bare

All of a sudden things get very serious as the film introduces Angelo, the best dancer there ever was at La Bare.

Bubbles: How did this guy die, how bad is it going to be?

Matthew: Like Elvis Presley! The best anyone’s ever seen! It’s so much more serious when it’s said in a  Russian accent.

Bubbles: How heartbreaking. A stripper pimp, dang.

Matthew: What year was this? Did they say?

Bubbles: They haven’t. It was 2012. There’s some narrative choppiness in this movie.

Matthew: I was going to say that same thing. So, right before they started making this, maybe?

Bubbles: That’s a couple months after Magic Mike came out, yeah? Oh cool, it’s a self-defense/stand your ground type deal.

Matthew: Argh, those are the worst laws.

Bubbles: “Nobody cares about a stripper.” Fucked up.

Matthew: I just realized who the Master Blaster reminds me of and it’s his voice only and it reminds me of this guy I used to hook up with when I worked for Brown. The oldest person I have ever slept with! That I could tell, anyway. This is unrelated to anything.

…and we’re back.

The mood abruptly shifts from tragedy back to a fun night at the club.

Matthew: “I make so much money off swingers.”

Bubbles: Wow, they have to invest a lot into the performance narrative here. That’s some bachelorette party get up.

Matthew: “We are coming to strip at your bachelorette party thing and we are bringing Joe Manganiello to stand there and keep his clothes on but also film you, so…” I wonder if the bachelorettes were going nuts, though?

Bubbles: Yeah, probably trying to grab his ass. “How much for a dance from YOU?” “Do the werewolf!”

Matthew: These dance numbers are so elaborate and I want to just see one all the way through with like a camera on a tripod.

Bubbles: I know, especially a group number. That was one of the best things about Magic Mike.
Feels like a lot of wasted opportunities here.

Matthew: I want a “Ladies of Dallas” song on par with “Ladies of Tampa.”

Bubbles: How could you not talk to the door girl? She must hear some amazing shit!

The Master Blaster heads to his dermatologist/med spa for some fillers and treatments, including a crazy full-body cryonics thing. 

Matthew: “It makes his body believe that he’s dying.”

Bubbles: This is … science?

Matthew: Oh, she totally looks like the dental hygienist I had yesterday.

Bubbles: It’s probably in a dentist’s office.

Matthew: What are they dancing to, “Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy”? “Boot Scoot Boogie”? “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”?

Bubbles: All of those, I bet.

Matthew: I am not unattracted to the Master Blaster.

Bubbles: Thin Lizzy, “Cowboy Song”!

Matthew: Confederate flag briefs!

Bubbles: Fuck those confederate underpants though. Oh look, stripper tribute number, wow.

Matthew: In white masks?? And is this Muzak Sleigh Bells?

Bubbles: Grimes?

Matthew: Oh, is that it? I only know her hits.

Bubbles: I only have to dance for 13 more years to have a career as long as Randy’s.

Matthew: Oh there he is. What a silly last shot.

Bubbles: Well, that was no Magic Mike. Thank goodness we have Magic Mike XXL to look forward to.

Matthew: I know! It deserved more than the 1.5 stars Netflix assumed, but it’s definitely no Magic Mike.

Bubbles: I’d give it three stars, but I also want Netflix to recommend all male stripper content to me, so maybe I will give it four. It did sort of make me want to go to La Bare. It’s effective as a promotional video, anyway.

Matthew: I want to go too.


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