Cue Ginuwine’s Pony, cuz things are about to get hot!
If you’re a fan of the Magic Mike film franchise, you know that producers of the movies embarked on the search to find the real life Magic Mike on HBO Max’s Finding Magic Mike. Over the course of the season, ten everyday guys were put through hard-hitting choreography in addition to getting in touch with their inner selves through emotional activities and challenges that unlocks who they really are.
Adam Rodriguez (Magic Mike XXL), Alison Faulk, Vincent Marini, and Luke Broadlick (Magic Mike XXL) sit in as coaches for the contenders. Guest judges include Whitney Cummings, Nikki Glaser, Nicole Scherzinger, Amanda Seaes, and Robin Thede.
Spoilers ahead! If you watched the show, you are one of the millions who fell in love with the show’s winner, Johnny Dutch, a 33-year-old professional track and field athlete who was moonlighting as a substitute teacher when he got the call to be on the show.
A bit of an underdog, Johnny wasn’t initially one of the finalists to get a lot of camera time. He was competing with major heart throbs like Nate, Austin, and Ross. But it was Johnny’s heartfelt moment with fellow cast mate Merlin that instantly made Johnny a fan favorite when he opened up about his sexuality to help Merlin through his acceptance of his own sexuality.
Little by little, Johnny rose to the top and competed in the finale against fierce contender Nate Bryan. The two had to learn 11 routines in a week, which included aerial numbers and some ridiculously sexy numbers.
Johnny took home the $100,000 grand prize and a spot on the hottest show on the Vegas strip, Magic Mike Live at the Sahara where you can get a chance to see him right now!
I had the pleasure of chatting with Johnny Dutch to learn a bit more about his journey on the show and how he is representing for queer men everywhere.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length. See the full video interview below.
DAVID LOPEZ: I just watched the show this weekend. I binged it. It was awesome. Definitely was rooting for you! How does it feel to have won Finding Magic Mike?
JOHNNY DUTCH: It’s starting to set in! I didn’t expect to win, honestly. My goal was to make it to the finale, but I didn’t know I was gonna win. Words couldn’t express how I felt.
DL: How has your life changed since?
JD: Oh, it’s night and day. I mean, I went from training to be an Olympian and I was substituting at a high school. And then all of a sudden, now I’m dancing as my job. So it’s really weird, but you know, I’m here for it.
DL: Have you ever done any kind of professional dancing?
JD: Like at home and when no one’s there, I’ll push out the chairs to the ends of the room, turn on the music, and go for it. Even if I look crazy! Sometimes I’ll record myself and say ‘Ugh! That was gross!’ But no professional training, though.
DL: Well, you made it look pretty easy! Either that or the editors had their work cut out for them. So how did you get involved with Finding Magic Mike?
JD: It was random, honestly. I saw the casting and social media and I decided to randomly submit. I didn’t think they would get back to me. But I just did that one week and I went on with my life, with training for the Olympics, and then ironically, I got hurt. I was like, ‘What am I going to do now? I can’t go to the Olympic trials. What am I going to do with my life? And then they called me 30 minutes later. ‘Hey, we think you’d be great for this show!’ I was in this mode where I was panicking. I didn’t know I was at a crossroads and then a producer called. So I think everything kind of just worked out like it was supposed to.
DL: What would you say was the hardest part of the whole process?
JD: Oh, great question. I would say the rehearsals, honestly. With no dance experience, having to dance 10 to 12 hours, sometimes 14 hours a day. My body was just really going through the first couple of weeks and individually I was good, but my body was sore for a couple of weeks when we first started.
DL: What was your favorite challenge?
JD: My favorite challenge would probably be the first performance. Just because it was the first one–we had never done anything like that. I had never danced on top of a pool and I’m gay. It made me feel like Brittany Spears, Lady Gaga, or Lil NAS X. I was in my element. That was amazing because it was just new. There were people in the pool, there were helicopters. The first performance was everything!
It felt surreal. After we finished our last dance routine for that night, I just sat there and looked around and I was just amazed at where I was at that point. From where I was to there–it was just mind boggling.
DL: You mentioned that you didn’t think that you were going to win, that your goal was to get to the finale. But were there any moments during the finale where you definitely felt that Nate had you beat?
JD: Yeah, for sure! I mean little subtle things. I mean, it may be petty to some–but he was getting a lot of camera time for an example! Like the camera was following him. And then I was like, ‘I’m not getting any camera time!’ As silly as that sounds, I felt like, ‘maybe I’m just not going to win now.’ And then at one point of the finale, I kind of got frustrated. I think I was just overwhelmed with the whole process and how I got to that point. Once we stepped on that stage, the athleticism just kind of snapped in and I just went for it.
DL: Yes it was insane! I can’t imagine all that at once! It was 11 dance routines in a week that you guys had to learn!
JD: Oh my gosh! I still can’t wrap my head around 11 routines in five days. I still don’t know how we did it. I think I was on autopilot by that point. So I can’t tell you how I did it. Really. The highlight there is those freaking aerials.
DL: Those routines were amazing! To see you guys progress on the whole show from where you guys started. Being able to do that stuff was really impressive! And I think that aerial routine–you should be super proud of yourself for being able to accomplish that alone!
JD: Yeah, that was some hard stuff! I’ve never done anything suspended from a rope where you have to hold somebody else’s body weight. So that was quite challenging, but it was fun toward the end. At first I kind of dreaded rehearsals for aerial because it was very painful. We got used to it.
DL: Changing gears a little bit here on the show you opened up about being sexually fluid. Why did you choose to come out on the show?
JD: Honestly? For so many years, I know people can relate, I was in the closet. For me, I wasn’t really because I know who I am. But to others, I wasn’t out. I knew. My mother knew. Maybe the guys that I dated and a few close friends, but that was about it. I always felt as an athlete, I had to be politically correct. I couldn’t tell because I thought I would miss out on endorsements. Especially as a queer black man, I was thinking, ‘Okay, can’t talk about my sexuality’, especially with what’s happened to Jason Collins and Michael Smith. I was like, ‘just keep that out of the picture’, you know? But then I got to the point where if you don’t want to network or communicate with me because of my sexuality, that’s silly. So I just looked at it as other people’s loss. I was tired of living my life based on other people’s expectations of what they think I should be and just live my life. The show also created a safe space for the guys to be transparent and vulnerable and open. My cast mates and everyone was very open about stuff and it just made me feel like, ‘Okay, it’s time.’ So I made the decision to come out and I’m glad I did.
DL: Was that something that you had shared with the guys off camera before that moment? Or was that like the first time you heard it?
JD: Yes. I shared it with individuals separately. I know I opened up to Jio, he was the first person off, but I opened up to him during lunch time and he was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool, bro.’ I was like, ‘Really? Cause I didn’t expect that.’ After that moment, I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ Then I started to open up a little bit and then that scene they showed, where I was talking to Adonis and Merlin, it just created a space where I could be opened as well.
DL: What has been the response from viewers or friends and family after you shared all of that?
JD: It’s been mostly positive. I think five years ago, it probably wouldn’t have been, but we’re here now. It’s been mostly positive and supportive. People have walked out of my life, that happens and it sucks. For the most part, it has been pretty positive. I haven’t gotten too much negative feedback. It’s kind of a good time to come out. For the people that feel like they need to just pop off, let it out now because the world is pretty open now.
DL: Right? I mean, it’s so hot to be queer now!
JD: Yeah, it’s kind of trendy, right?
DL: With being part of a cast with so many beautiful men, were there any times where it was just so difficult to be in a room full of all this gorgeousness? I mean, did you have any crushes in there?
JD: Of course! I mean, I was keeping it professional. I was keeping them passionate. I’m gonna look! I got to! As I’m single, I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have a husband, so I was looking, but I was very transparent. I wasn’t sneaky with it. So if a guy looked good, I said, ‘You look good’, you know what I mean? They would know. It’s all about being very respectful at the end of the day. Nate, he’s one of my really great friends now and I know Nick’s very good looking. I tell him, ‘Bro, you’re good looking’ and that’s okay. You can have hetero friends and tell them they look nice and vice versa. There were some good looking guys on the set and I’m not gonna lie.
DL: So has it set in yet that you are this sex symbol and icon now for the LGBTQ+ community?
JD: That has definitely not set in yet. If that’s the thing, I’m open to it, but that hasn’t set in yet. I’m grateful that I’m able to say I’m a part of the community now, because for so many years, I’ve had peers that have said negative and derogatory things about the community and I felt so bad in those moments. Very similar to Colton Underwood. I know he was saying in the locker room, the guys would say stuff, but he didn’t say anything. He felt so bad. I have as well. I think that’s a lot of our stories–where I wanted to stand up. I couldn’t because I was so fearful of rejection or criticism, but now it’s different. I’m going to say something and I feel like people should speak up. If someone’s speaking negatively about someone.
DL: What do you hope viewers will learn from your experience on Finding Magic Mike?
JD: From my experience, I would say vulnerability is your power. For so many years I was closed off and into myself and didn’t want to express myself out of fear of being judged and all those things. There is power, there’s strength and vulnerability, and being connected with your emotions. That’s healthy for men.
I think men, we can jump so many levels if we just decide to. To open about things that bother us and not be closed off and communicate. I learned how to communicate better on the show as well as my feelings.
DL: Are you and Nate on the same show or alternating shows?
JD: We’ll be on the same show. Same stage in Vegas, on the strip. Then I think maybe later down the year, Nate may go to the tour version of the show.
DL: That’s exciting! Aside from your recent fame on Finding Magic Mike, what else keeps you thriving?
JD: Filmmaking. I’ve been making films since I was a teenager and I just have this love for cinema. I’ve just always loved the art of production and the process of an idea going to the paper to casting, to production, to post-production.
I do it all. I color grade, I edit. I just love film. So I’m anything creative. I’m always writing and stuff.
I’m always putting out content.
DL: Anything else that you want to share that we didn’t cover, that you feel like you wanted to take this opportunity to say.
JD: This is a huge honor. Like I’ve actually been on the website several times to read stuff, so I’m very familiar. Thank you so much.
Here’s the full video with Johnny Dutch from Finding Magic Mike