It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Actor Joe Manganiello ("True Blood," "Magic Mike,") had originally conceived of "La Bare" as a reality TV series detailing the backstage life of the male dancers at La Bare in Dallas, known as "the most popular male strip club in the world." Manganiello's research for playing his role in "Magic Mike" had pierced through his preconceived notions of what male strippers were like, and he was curious to learn more. "La Bare" shows its reality-TV origin in its structure, to sometimes a clichéd degree, but overall it is a friendly and affectionate backstage look at the world of the mostly-straight male dancers at La Bare.
There are "confessionals" with the various dancers, all of whom have different strengths (one says, "I can't dance at all. But I can f***. So I use that in my act."), there are glimpses of the shows themselves, the screaming women, there are interviews with fans. Some of the really interesting elements are merely sketched in, like how La Bare, which has been around since the '70s, turned itself around from a kind of skeevy dive into the showstopping club it is today. A new owner came along, a Russian named Alex, who is interviewed wearing a T-shirt with "CCCP" across the front. He wanted to create a strip club that was run like a business; he wanted to hire dancers who thought like businessmen and weren't drug addicts or troublemakers; he wanted to build a brand. And he did. Alex would be compelling enough for an entire documentary.
The dancers come from all walks of life. One talks about how he was homeschooled and not allowed to listen to secular music, which meant he had no idea how to dance "to the beat" in his early time as a dancer. One had owned a restaurant, which he then lost, and uses dancing as a way to make money to open up another restaurant. One, with a blue mohawk and multiple piercings, talks about his time in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Ranger.
Overseeing the dancers at La Bare is a larger-than-life personality named Randy (aka "The Master Blaster"), who has been a dancer for 34 straight years (he's in the Guinness Book of World Records). He jokes that he has now performed for five generations of women. Randy has no children of his own and sees the dancers as his sons. He "raises them," reminding them of the Golden Rule, for example. He puts them on diets, he helps them with workout plans. Randy is unable to speak without making a motivational speech. He has a devoted fan base.