Channing Tatum: I “Experimented” With Drugs During My Stripper Years

Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum discussed his stripper past in detail with The Hollywood Reporter, admitting that he experimented with drugs. Brian Bowen Smith/The Hollywood Reporter

Channing Tatum, stripped down and unfiltered! Touting his Oscar-buzzed performance in Foxcatcher, the actor opened up to The Hollywood Reporter in its Nov. 14 issue about his known past as a stripper, and his not-so-known experimentation phase with drugs.

Tatum, 34, explained the premise of Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to the 2012 dramedy partially based on his own exotic dancer history. The Warner Bros. movie takes its main character Mike to a stripper convention, similar to one Tatum himself attended in the late '90s. "I have no idea why it's called a convention," he told the mag. "The 'convention' was not strippers peddling stripper technology or anything like that. It was just a big show with 50 to 70 strippers and 2,000 to 3,000 women. It was crazy. They attacked me every night."

He also recalled one particular incident when he was giving a woman a lap dance. "The lady goes, 'Oh my God! Look at you! You remind me of my nephew!' — and then grabs me," Tatum reflected. "It hit me like a hand grenade. It was like tick, tick, tick, boom: She's grabbing my butt and saying, 'You remind me of my nephew.'"

The Cullman, Alabama native started stripping at age 19 after dropping out of the University of South Florida. "On a good night, [I made] 150 bucks. On a bad night, 70 bucks — even 50 at times," he said of stripping. For Tatum, he reasoned that there was an allure at that age to perpetual partying, heavy drinking, and living a wild lifestyle in general.

Channing - dance
Brian Bowen Smith/The Hollywood Reporter

Part of that included dabbling in illegal substances. "I wouldn't say I was losing myself in drugs because I wasn't doing anything habitually," he reasoned. "Just experimenting. Experimenting, I would say. Never the big ones — crack or heroin. I never OD'd or anything. Never." As for cocaine? "Maybe a couple times, but that was later," he told THR. "Drinking was probably the biggest [thing]. I didn't look at drinking as a problem. It wasn't at that point, and I still don't think it's a problem. But at that time in my life, it was, 'Let's go out and have a great time.'"

Channing - green shirt
Brian Bowen Smith/The Hollywood Reporter

The actor also clarified his self-described "high-functioning alcoholic" comments he made this past May to GQ. "It was something said that wasn't meant to be factual," he claimed. "It was said in context with the glutton side of myself. I'm constantly a flip-and-flop of extremes. I take care of it, to an extent — and then I kind of knock it all down and destroy the sand castle. All I meant was that I do things in extreme."

Tatum's family members, after all, pay close attention to his interviews. The actor's father learned of his son's stripper past while watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2010. Us Weekly first revealed Tatum's exotic dancer past in 2009, after publishing an old video of him at age 18, stripping inside a Chippendales-style revue. "We were walking together, and my dad said: 'Why? You didn't need the money. We always provided,'" Tatum revealed to THR of the heartbreaking conversation. "I told him it had nothing to do with him. That was my road. That was the road I had to take."

Channing close up
Brian Bowen Smith/The Hollywood Reporter

He also discussed his talked-about marriage to Jenna Dewan Tatum, slamming split rumors as "all bulls—." The star even credited his wife, 33, for mellowing him out. "I [had] a lot of anger in me. 'I hate this industry,' or whatever," he recalled of the beginning stages of his career. "Because it was frustrating. When things aren't easy, you go, 'Oh, I don't need this.' And I think [Jenna] made me realize that that was really just me being afraid."

As for whether he and Dewan Tatum plan to make baby Everly a big sister in the near future? "I don't think very, very soon," he admitted, "but it really depends if Jenna's show [Lifetime's Witches of East End] gets picked up for a third season. Then we would probably wait." (Lifetime announced Tuesday, Nov. 4 that the show would not be renewed.)

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