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When Channing Tatum Dirty Danced With Elton John

Channing Tatum and Sir Elton John perform during the 2012 Concert for the Rainforest Fund
This happened. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Elton John got more than he may have expected last night when he performed a Marilyn Monroe number during the Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund at Carnegie Hall. Launching into “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” the singer was soon joined onstage by Channing Tatum, wearing a bowler hat and a vest and doing a flirty bump and grind. In Magic Mike mode, Tatum wiggled around John in what nearly could have passed for a lap dance, reaching out here and there to festoon him with the song’s titular jewels. “No, I didn’t know Channing was going to do that,” John insisted when Vulture caught up with him afterwards at a late dinner at Pierre. “But it was fun! I didn’t know he could dance that well.”

Tatum also busted out some sexy tango-like dance moves with his wife Jenna during opera singer Bryn Terfel’s take on “Roxanne” and he broke into a twist for John’s cover of “Rock Around the Clock.” By the end, he had impressed even guest of honor Bill Clinton (“I loved it!”), who shook his hand and complimented his fancy footwork. “That may be one of the coolest things anyone’s ever said!” Tatum told us. “This was the very first time I’ve ever met him, when he was coming off stage, and it was one of the moments where you’re like, ‘Wow — this is my life?’ Jenna and I, we don’t meet people like that very much.

Unlike the rest of the performers — from Sting to Rita Wilson and Meryl Streep — who each did one or more songs, Tatum didn’t vocalize at the show, claiming, “I’m not a singer.” But we know better — and the evidence is here. (The backstory: One late night when he couldn’t sleep, Tatum recorded himself singing along with a folky Metaphorist song called “Shadow Wonder” for his friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s website Tatum’s tastes tend more toward R&B — he told us that when he used to be a male stripper, he had an Usher routine and a dance to “Pony” by Ginuwine — but he says he found something “magical” in the song’s simplicity. “Other than that song, I never sang anything in my life,” Tatum said. “I would love to learn how to sing. But you’ve got to devote part of your life to it, and I don’t know if I’m there yet.”

When Channing Tatum Dirty Danced With Elton John