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Channing Tatum, Hollywood Reporter

Brian Bowen Smith

It's no secret that Channing Tatum used to be a stripper.

What many people don't know, however, is what went down behind the scenes when the movie star was an exotic dancer in Florida. "I wouldn't say I was losing myself in drugs because I wasn't doing anything habitually," he recalls in the Nov. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. "Just experimenting. Experimenting, I would say. Never the big ones—crack or heroin. I never OD'd or anything. Never."

What about cocaine? "Maybe a couple times, but that was later," the Foxcatcher star, 34, says. "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.'"

In a GQ's June 2014 cover story, Tatum called himself a "functioning alcoholic." Clarifying his comments to THR, the actor says, "It was something said that wasn't meant to be factual. 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."

But, back to the stripping. How much did Tatum make in a typical night? "Not as much as you think," the Magic Mike: XXL star admits. "On a good night, 150 bucks. On a bad night, 70 bucks—even 50 at times."

The sequel to 2012's Magic Mike focuses on a road trip through the South toward a stripper convention, something Tatum experienced firsthand in the late '90s. "I have no idea why it's called a convention," he says. "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."

Really weird, Tatum adds. One time, while 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. 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.'"

Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Golden Globes 2014

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Tatum's past may have inspired his present projects, but he'd rather look towards the future. He's been married for five years to actress Jenna Dewan Tatum, 33, with whom he has a child, Everly, 17 months, and the Step Up co-stars are already ready for another baby. "I don't think very, very soon," he says, "but it really depends if Jenna's show gets picked up for a third season. Then we would probably wait." (After the interview was conducted, Lifetime announced that Witches of East End will not be renewed.)

Though he's embraced all aspects of fatherhood, the 22 Jump Street star readily admits he doesn't know everything. "I don't know if I'm going to spank my child or not," Tatum says of disciplining his daughter.

For now, Tatum has bigger fish to fry—like whether he should sell his home in the Hollywood Hills and relocate to Ojai, Calif. If his wife agrees to move, "I would be immensely happy," Tatum says. "I just love the country."

Tatum could certainly use the privacy, given the interest in his marriage. Asked about reports of a $50 million divorce, the actor replies, "It's all bulls--t. These people just [make it up]. Some of our family members don't see [it's not true], and they read a stupid thing and don't understand it's a tabloid."

Rather than focus on fictional stories about his marriage, Tatum would rather spend his time trying to figure out how to better balance his personal and professional lives. "There's not enough hours in the day," the Book of Life star says. "I can't schedule my life and give my daughter all the time that I want to give her and also my wife and all the creative stuff. You can't really physically be fully present—mentally, spiritually. And that's my struggle: putting things in perspective [and] being there for everything."