Channing Tatum's penis is gross. It looks like a hot dog that's been left too long on the grill. The tip is hot-pink, singed, and shriveled. It appears angry. And it's painful to view. My penis hurts just from looking at it. Movie stars tend to be vain, by nature and profession, but Chan—that's what everyone calls him—does not mind one bit showing me his sad, withered wiener.
"It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life," he says, flipping through photos on his iPhone until he lands on a grainy snapshot of a scorched member. His scorched member. "I'm good . . . now," he says with a grin. "Now my penis is fantastic! One hundred percent recovered. Put me back in the game, Coach." Tatum's no nancy boy: When not on set, the former high-school-football standout, who did all his own stunts in a movie aptly titled Fighting, spends most of his time in his basement gym, engaged in ball-bruising mixed-martial-arts workouts. "I've been to the hospital, gotten stitches, had broken fingers and toes. But this was a suffocating kind of pain."
We're seated at a picnic table on the slate patio of Tatum's cozy Laurel Canyon home, drinking beers near the pool as the sun drops behind the Hollywood Hills. The famously chiseled star of the 2006 dancesploitation sleeper hit Step Up and '09's boyhoodmemorysploitation blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is happily lugging around some extra pounds between films. "There's this YouTube thing called 'Channing Tatum Got Fat' that has the whole spectrum of me, from model-skinny"—he Zoolandered for Abercrombie & Fitch and the Gap, among others, before breaking into movies—"to my actor weight." When I ask him what he currently weighs, Tatum responds by patting his tummy: "I'm about 20 pounds more than you—around 200. I either have to gain 30 pounds or lose 30 pounds for my next role. I haven't decided which yet." But he knows well that no one's gonna drop 11 bucks to see a doughy Channing Tatum. A stud can dream, though: "I'm gonna give it five more years and then say, 'Get me some fat roles, boys!'"
Sporting sleepy eyes, camouflage cargo shorts, a wicked case of bed head, and a can of Coors Light, Tatum has the chilled bearing of a frat boy the day after the big kegger. On film and in person, he carries his pinup looks and guy's-guy brawn with real lightness and humility—and that's the essence of his appeal. Tatum is a fitting action hero for our downsized times: modest, decent, able-bodied. His house, the first he's ever owned, is situated on a small cul-de-sac, perched on a mountainside, cocooned by trees, and walled all around, but the effect is much less paparazzi-proof fortress—"Trust me, no one is waiting outside to take my picture," he says—than honeycomb hideout, a $2.6 million tree house for the 29-year-old Tatum; his wife, Step Up costar Jenna Dewan; and their two dogs, Lulu and Meeka.
Inside, the place is warm, comfy, and sparingly furnished; unpacked boxes still line the hardwood floors of the upstairs bedroom. "We're both away so much," he says with a sigh. Downstairs, the small living room is unremarkable—a wall-mounted flat-screen, a dog-friendly sectional sofa, some vaguely Moroccan brass-angel knickknacks—save for a large, gushingly romantic Technicolor painting of the couple hanging above the stairwell. In it, Tatum and Dewan are bare-shouldered, staring deep into each other's eyes from inside the outline of a heart. "That was a wedding gift," he says admiringly, commissioned by a friend whose occupation Tatum describes as "life coach."