Do you believe in MAGIC?

'Finding Magic Mike's' Ricky Negron wants to make a believer out of you

Ricky Negron photographed at Starland Yard.
Adriana Iris Boatwright

Spoiler alert for fans yet to finish watching HBO Max’s ‘Finding Magic Mike.’ 

Ricky Negron didn’t win. 

The show is dubbed as an “exhilaratingly sexy reality competition series” wherein 50 male contestants who “fear they’ve lost their mojo, bare their souls–and bodies–for a life-changing opportunity.”

Only 10 men make it beyond the first half of the first episode, and from there, they are ousted by the show’s hosts one-by-one based on performances in various (mostly half-naked dancing) competitions. Negron, the undeniable funny guy throughout the series, was eliminated in the sixth of seven episodes.

He fell just one cut shy of making the finale, despite longshot odds of his ever making it onto the show in the first place. Following the conclusion of the show’s two-month filming process in July and August, Negron and his girlfriend decided to move to Pooler in September of 2021. He recently spoke with Connect about his time on the show, how it changed him and what he plans to do now that he is living in the Savannah area.

Negron, 28, was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a city 48 miles from Philadelphia. He stayed in Allentown for college and, in 2015, Negron graduated from The Muhlenberg College of Theater & Dance with a degree in Film Study & Communications.

At the age of 26 he headed west to Sherman Oaks, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Like so many others hoping to make it in the film industry, he wasn’t going with plentiful pockets. Quite the opposite.

“I was by myself and I really needed health insurance and so I was just mass-applying to any (jobs) I could. Random things too,” Negron recalled with a laugh in a January phone call. “I started selling women’s shoes at a Bloomingdale’s out there in a world that was really completely foreign to me. But, I did realize quickly that I was pretty fucking good at selling shoes.”

He attributes the sole-selling success to his being different than most any other person slinging shoes in the department store.

“It became such a lucrative thing that I was like ‘screw anything else in California, I’m just gonna’ keep selling shoes,’” he says. “I felt like I was on top of the world because I could afford pretty much anything.”

As financially fruitful as the female footwear business was for him, Negron doesn’t regret leaving the money in favor of competing on Finding Magic Mike. He was, as he frames it, “stuck in the comfort” of a nine-to-five gig.

This show was offeringthe opposite of comfort. Through stripping (or dancing semi-clothless if you prefer) and partaking in intense choreography sessions, the contestants were judged on how they “grew” physically and socially. And yeah, it’s grand prize was $100,000 cash and the chance to perform alongside the cast of “Magic Mike Live” cast members at the SAHARA in Las Vegas.

Shoes to … stripping? Not exactly a career cliche.

“You go through college, or you go through high school and you think you want to be one thing your whole life,” says Negron. “And then, you wake up one day like ‘Oh shit. Maybe I don’t want to do that. Maybe I don’t want to be that.’

“You’re fine, but it’s like … you’re just stuck.”

Stuck is exactly what he was when he received the link to apply for the show from a roommate at a moment that perhaps was a sign of things to come. Negron filled out his original contestant application with his pants pulled down to the ankles, sitting on the toilet in his Sherman Oaks apartment.

Nature called. Destiny dialed. Ricky answered both.

“I was truly just ‘doing my business’ in the bathroom and my legs went numb because I was just sitting there applying for so long,” he recalled. “I thought it would be like a two-minute application process but it wasn’t that. It was like filling out a job application for why you were fit to take your clothes off.

“Naturally I was sitting on that toilet for a long while because I didn’t know if I should answer (the questions) seriously or with humor. I think I thought millions of other guys would be sitting on their toilets filling this thing out.”

Ever the outlier, Negron used humor to make his way through the application process and he used that same tool to reach the show’s final four. 

Negron has mockingly called himself a “caramel-flavored Harry Potter” in the past, and throughout the show, he shows actual growth on camera. A trait that this show–like most all reality programs of its kind do–so desperately desires for its magicless males.

On camera and on a phone interview, he is self-deprecating in the smartest manner and self-reflective in the smallest moments. After all, if he was picked for the show, he must’ve lost his “magic” at some point.

If he made it as far as he did in the competition, he must’ve found at least some portion of the potion once again.

“I did feel lost and kind of like I didn’t know what was going on or where I fit in (before going on the show). I definitely feel like the lure of ‘finding your magic’ worked for me,” he says when asked for an overview of the show’s impact on him. “For me, it was just about finding something that makes you unique, important when you’re lacking features that make you stand out in society focused on physical features.

“The show came at a perfect time for me.”

Negron says he isn’t sure that comedy is an actual career path for him. It’s not “a viable option” when trying to pay the bills, he admits. He is in search of a job now that he has decided to make Savannah his home, and he is hoping to bring the same energy to his next adventure as he did on his last.

Host of the show and actor in the film Magic Mike, Adam Rodriguez seems to think that Negron has a bright future ahead of him. Rodriguez spoke while Negron’s departing montage played in episode six following his elimination.

“I really believe Ricardo’s got just a unique point of view and that he can do something to enrich the world.”


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