Channing Tatum's recent sequel to Magic Mike made major headlines with its star's assertions about the wild, wild
conventions he attended during his early career as a stripper. Though he had hoped to feature one such event in the first film, he was dissuaded — "That idea alone is a movie," Magic Mike XXL director Stephen Soderbergh told him, according to GQ. But in the new movie, Tatum's original vision finds traction. The newest film sees the guys from the Xquisite Strip Club, Tatum included, on the road to a massive convention emceed by Jada Pinkett Smith. Magic Mike XXL left us with a lot of feelings, but chief among them was the lingering question, Could the ensuing insanity really happen? Can you go to a stripper convention?
At one point, you definitely could. Last summer, a production company called Travel Bugz Vacations, geared towards LGBT event planning, hosted a party bus from New Orleans to Atlanta, destination stripper convention. From August 1 to 3, it promised a host of events including dance workshops, sex toy demonstrations, and tutorials on sexual satisfaction — not to mention performances by strippers from across the country. It was slated as the "First Annual," but a second doesn't appear to be in the cards. Unfortunately, Travel Bugz did not respond to requests for comment from Bustle, and several of the contacts given on the convention's EventBrite page have since been disconnected.
The package came at a pretty steep price — $350 for the weekend, though this included accommodations and transport, as well as a mysterious "swag bag." But for those enticed by the activities promised at last year's convention, there are other avenues for exploration. The porn industry has really cornered the market in massive sexuality-oriented conventions with a variety of events for fans and professionals alike. Here are a few to note:
The Adult Video News Awards
The largest of the conventions is likely the Adult Video News Awards, AVN for short, held annually in Las Vegas. The four-day Adult Entertainment Expo culminates in the awards ceremony the final night, but the whole convention is a riot of industry and fan events. It's often referred to as the "Oscars" of the porn industry, and, replete with film shoots and lavish parties, it is the most prestigious of the porn conventions.
The XBiz Awards
Where there are Oscars, there are Golden Globes — as an LA Times feature analogized, the XBiz Awards are something of a lead-up to the bigger show. The glamorous XBiz's main focus is the award-giving itself, across an astonishing 150 different categories. XBiz honors a myriad of elements of adult entertainment; the 2013 honoree for Best New Starlet, Riley Reid, actually made her name as an exotic dancer before making the switch to screen. So while porn cannot be conflated with stripping, and an awards show can't exactly replace a stripping convention à la Magic Mike, the overlap between industries belies a more mainstream acceptance of both.
Then there's Exxxotica, an annual event held across three cities (Chicago, Dallas, and, this year, Edison, New Jersey), which appears to be more the layperson's adult entertainment convention. It markets itself as the “largest event in the USA dedicated to love & sex," and hosts hundreds of workshops and seminars. Each Exxxotica occurs over a three-day weekend — and on the Friday, women get free admission, probably inciting a wild event much like what Tatum described of stripping conventions.
While AVN, XBiz and Exxxotica are certainly the biggest names in the porn convention universe, smaller operations also offer the hands-on, pants-off experience promised by Magic Mike XXL's mystical stripper convention. A host of workshops and seminars can be found at shops like Babeland and Kink.com (which was also the subject of a James Franco-produced documentary entitled kink). Though stripper conventions might be a myth, the experience they promise can be found in alternate events across a variety of sexuality-oriented industries and organizations. Even if our Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer-fueled fantasies of a massive stripper convention don't prove realistic, there are events out there for both seasoned connoisseurs and newly minted strip fans.
Image: Giphy; Getty Images (3)