Stars Who Got Their Big Break Dancing For Their Money

Our past has a big impact on what we become in the future. Some of us look back on our past fondly, while the rest of us are constantly trying to block out the person we used to be.

For these stars, I’d say for the most part, they’d love to forget how they got their big break. All of these stars started the careers as erotic dancers or in adult movies.

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton is a television personality and socialite, famous for her trademark blonde tresses and ditsy persona. Paris was filmed in an adult video that was later called 1 Night in Paris. In 2004 the video was released. It was primarily filmed in night vision. Paris got a huge bump in interest after the video leaked.

The socialite played up her wildcard persona on The Simple Life, a reality show with Nicole Richie. She also released music singles, and a book called Confessions of an Heiress that became a New York Times Best Seller. Hilton took on a number of small roles in film and television, often playing a version of herself.

Anna Nicole Smith

Before she became Anna Nicole Smith, Vickie Lynn Hogan grew up in small-town Texas, where she dropped out of high school her sophomore year and married young. Into the early ’90s, Smith worked as a stripper for a Houston Strip Club called Gigi’s at the time. That is where 89-year-old billionaire oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall, took notice of her, lavishing her with gifts and asking her to marry him. She did, of course, after divorcing her first husband and leaving her stripper days behind.

After getting involved in a legal battle over Marshall’s estate following his death just a year after their marriage, Anna Nicole Smith’s life has been well talked about as she went from a model to an overweight woman living in the LA suburbs. Sadly, at age 39, Smith passed away due to an accidental drug overdose.

The Situation

Do you know The Situation? Michael Sorrentino made the name for himself after appearing on the hit MTV reality series Jersey Shore. Since then, he has tried to ride his wave of fame by appearing on talk shows and even on season 11 of Dancing with the Stars.

Known for constantly flashing his abs to cameras, it would come as no surprise to hear that The Situation had a brief stint as an exotic dancer. Before Jersey Shore, Sorrentino was a member of “All American Male,” an all-male exotic dance crew that worked around New York and New Jersey.

Cardi B

Belcalis Almanzar became a viral Internet sensation after being an original cast member of VH1’s reality series Love & Hip Hop. Still, no one really quite knew who Cardi B (her professional name) was or why she was famous. She infamously posted a video to her social media accounts, in which she says, “People be asking me, ‘What do you does? Are you a model? Are you, like, a comedian or something?’ Nah, I ain’t none of that. I’m a [expletive]. I’m a stripper [expletive]. I’m about this shmoney.”

Before her viral fame, Almanzar struggled to make ends meet working at a supermarket in New York City where she only made $200 a week. She was approached to try stripping but was at first apprehensive because she thought people ‘went all the way’ in those kinds of places. But after she learned how the stripping business worked, she made more on her first day than she did in a week at the market. Who else only became famous because they were a stripper? You’ll never guess!

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt is a superstar actor and a Hollywood heartthrob, but before he was heating up films like Thelma & Louise, Fight Club, Ocean’s Eleven, Moneyball, and World War Z, this famous hunk was a very different kind of entertainer.

Brad Pitt was briefly an amateur erotic dancer in college. While he was studying at the University of Missouri he was a member of a fraternity who formed a group called “Dancing Bares.” We are seriously disappointed camera phones and YouTube weren’t around back then, but it’s probably safe to say Brad Pitt is grateful that his colorful past was never recorded.


Nadya Suleman, AKA Octomom, is a reality TV personality. She rose to fame by having octuplets despite the advice of her doctors. They were the only full set of octuplets to be born alive in the United States.

Octomom used to be an erotic dancer named “Angelina.” After her fame, she made an adult film called Octomom Home Alone. Suleman also returned to an adult entertainer in men’s clubs. After having eight children at once (and six children before that), Suleman had filed for bankruptcy and was on public assistance. The return to adult entertainment was Suleman’s way of trying to earn money and get off welfare again.

Chris Pratt

Actor Chris Pratt is all over the place these days. From the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation to his role inGuardians of the Galaxy, he’s a huge Hollywood star. Before making it in Hollywood, Pratt used to be an amateur stripper.

Pratt told Buzzfeed, “I was always a very much naked person. I loved to always get naked. I was very free, so I thought, ‘I may as well get paid.'” Pratt worked at bachelorette and birthday parties. Can you imagine how long you could dine out on that story if Pratt had shown up at your bachelorette or birthday party once upon a time?

Amber Rose

Amber Levonchuck, better known by her pseudonym Amber Rose, is a well-known model, rapper, actress, and fashion designer (and Kanye’s ex) who is in the media spotlight very often. Rose has her own talk show, The Amber Rose Show, on VH1, and hosts the show Loveline. Rose also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, but before that, she was a different kind of dancer.

Rose started erotic dancing at age 15 to 19 in order to support herself and to provide for her family after her parents were divorced. Her stage name was “Paris.”Rose is definitely not ashamed of doing what she had to do and has spoken out about the way women are shamed.

Channing Tatum

Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum is a well-known actor and film producer, best known for his roles in theMagic Mike movies.What you may not have realized is that the Magic Mike movies are actually loosely based on Tatum’s own experiences. The current star started stripping at 18 in San Francisco, California.

These days, Tatum only plays a dancer on the big screen. With roles in Hail, Caesar!, White House Down, and a new role as Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit in the X-Men film universe, and two production companies (33andOut Productions and Iron Horse Entertainment), it’s safe to say Tatum’s moved up in the world.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous “non-star” celebrities out there today. Her father was a lawyer on the O.J. Simpson trial, but Kim wasn’t famous. Prior to becoming Mrs. Kanye West, Kim Kardashian appeared in a homemade tape with R&B singer Ray J. The film was called Kim Kardashian, Superstar and was released in 2007. Kim turned a bad situation into a whole lot of money and spun her notoriety into the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

She also started D-A-S-H clothing boutiques, has endorsed several products and has started fashion lines for jewelry, shoes, and handbags. In 2014, her net worth was estimated at a whopping $45 million and growing.

Carmen Electra

Carmen Electra is an American actress. She has appeared in Playboy magazine, on the MTV game show Singled Out, and on the TV series Baywatch. She also had roles in a number of parody films like Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie.

Carmen was a dancer at the Kings Island in Mason, Ohio in their show “It’s Magic.” Then she moved to California and met Prince, who gave her the stage name “Carmen Electra.” She had a brief singing and dancing career before she became an actress. After becoming famous, she even marketed her own dance pole!

Sandra Scott

Sandra Scott is a bounty hunter, wife, mom, former pro wrestler, and former adult performer. That just might be the most diverse resume we’ve ever heard! Sandra Scott appeared in a reality TV show Wife, Mom, and Bounty Hunter that premiered on the WE Channel in 2007. Before appearing on reality TV, she was a wrestler named Tiffany Mellon, and also an adult actress named Tiffany Million.

As Tiffany Million she appeared in adult videos. She now refuses to answer questions about her former career, though she did appear in a 2010 documentary that explored life after a career in adult entertainment. She knew how to strut her stuff.

Javier Bardem

Spanish actor Javier Bardem certainly spooked us with his psychopathic ways and atrocious haircut in No Country For Old Men, a role that earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. But before Bardem even became an actor, he too, struggled. He has confessed to Marie Claire in 2008 that he tried his hand at stripping while he was working to make it big!

Bardem told the magazine that he was a stripper “[f]or a day! It was a disaster. And you know who was there watching? My mum and my sister! It was kind of a thing – you go there and dance, they pay you some money. It wasn’t like a Full Monty thing. I think I have a good relationship with my family, thank God!”

Lady Gaga

Known for her great voice and outlandish fashion sense (meat dress anyone?), Lady Gaga was the first artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s “Contemporary Icon Award.” Her catchy pop hits and wild performance won over millions of devoted fans. Gaga has never had any problem stripping down onstage, and that includes before she was famous.

Gaga told News of the World, “I was working in strip clubs when I was 18. Girls from my background weren’t meant to turn into someone like me. I come from a wealthy Italian family, went to a good school. You’re meant to live with Mom and Dad until they die.”

Blac Chyna

American model and entrepreneur Blac Chyna got her mainstream start as a model and video vixen. She’s been Nicki Minaj’s stunt double in Kanye West’s “Monster,” and was featured in Tyga’s “Rack City.” Chyna has also branched out into beauty, with her own adhesive eyelash line, an online boutique called 88fin, and The Lashed Bar in Los Angeles.

Before her mainstream career, Blac Chyna was a dancer at Miami’s King of Diamonds gentlemen’s club. When she was asked what she would be doing if she wasn’t famous, Chyna answered, “If I wasn’t famous […] I don’t know. I would probably be working in the strip club. […] I’m just keeping it real. I can’t do nothing else.”

Catherine Zeta- Jones

Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones started out on West End musicals as a young teen, hoping one day to make it as a big-time actress. She certainly has met her goals since her early days, establishing herself as a Hollywood actress with lots of sex appeal in movies such as The Mask of Zorro and Chicago. But before she made it big, Jones insisted she needed a nose job.

How did she pay for the surgery? Stripping! Apparently back in the day, Jones briefly devled into the world of stripping to save money to pay for surgery. We suppose any moves she may have learned stayed with her into her career! Keep reading to see which of her Chicago co-stars have also bared all before making it big.

Mark Consuelos

Actor Mark Consuelos made his career breakthrough as Mateo Santos on All My Children, opposite his on-screen love interest played by Kelly Ripa. Their on-screen love turned into real feelings apparently, since the pair eloped in Vegas a year after dating! Happily married ever since, the now-talk-show-host Kelly Ripa divulged in 2012 that her hunky Latino husband stripped before making it big.

“A Lot of hot guys in Hollywood have done that,” Ripa told Vanity Fair. “He was straight out of college — he went to Notre Dame but he finished his degree at the University of South Florida. So, there he was in South Florida. He’s gorgeous [and], looking to break into show business. So, he started off as a roadie to a group of these guys, and then they talked him into stripping.”

Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels, also known as Stormy Waters or simply Stormy, is a former actress who worked for the film company Wicked Pictures. She built a career as an adult film star before branching out into the mainstream with appearances in music videos and bit roles in films.

She’s appeared inThe 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and as the star ofSpace Nuts: Episode 69 Unholy Union.She also had a role in the FX Network show Dirt where she played a stripper. She’s also appeared in one of Maroon 5’s music videos of the song “Wake Up Call” playing the role of a pole dancer, which wasn’t much of a stretch.

Renée Zellweger

Heavily awarded Hollywood actress Renée Zellweger’s career began to take off after she did films like Jerry Maguire and Nurse Betty. But we bet that you wouldn’t have expected to read this tidbit of juicy information out of Bridget Jones’s Diary! Apparently, while she was still in college, Zellweger tried to make ends meet by exploring the world of stripping!

She worked at a strip club called Sugar’s Uptown Cabaret in her native Texas in the city of Austin. She claims to have only worked there as a cocktail waitress, but the Internet doesn’t believe her. But seriously, why else would she seem like a natural in Chicago?


Eve is a hip-hop artist and actress who appeared in the Barbershop movie series. Before she hit the big time, Eve was an erotic dancer in her hometown of Philadelphia, which should come as no surprise to those who listened to “Heaven Only Knowns.”


Eve raps the line, “from dancing on tabletops to making labels pop.”Eve isn’t too hung up on her past, saying, “I don’t regret it. I was 18 and confused, going through personal problems. I did it for about a month and I was glad I did it. It helped me find Eve, helped me get serious. It was depressing.”

Sasha Grey

Sasha Grey is an American actress, musician, and author. Grey was also a very popular adult performer before crossing into mainstream entertainment. Grey broke into mainstream films with Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience in 2009.

Since leaving the adult film world, Grey has focused on a number of projects. She was a member of the industrial band aTelecine, modeled for American Apparel, and released a photo book and erotic novel. Her past followed her after her retirement, and Grey once received major backlash for participating in the Guest Reading Program at Emerson Elementary School where she read to elementary students in their classroom in 2011.

Farrah Abraham

Another reality star to delve into the world of exotic dancing is MTV’s Farrah Abraham. However, the Teen Mom star began stripping after she became a small-time celeb, instead of before. In 2014, E! News reported that Abraham was seen strutting her stuff at an Austin strip club called Palazio Gentlemen’s Club.

Sources say that “She was hired a couple of weeks ago as a cocktail waitress but wanted to make more money dancing, so they moved her up to the stage. She was on all three stages, the main stage and two side stages.” Originally claiming that she was doing it for “research,” the reality star reportedly signed a six-figure contract as a celebrity dancer.

Jenna Jameson

Arguably one of the most successful and well-known adult film stars in that industry, it would come as no surprise that Jenna Jameson has worked as a stripper in the past. After all, Jameson was born in Las Vegas to a mother who was a Las Vegas showgirl. As a teen, she attempted to follow in her mother’s footsteps but was apparently too short for any shows.

Having trained as a dancer growing up, Jameson’s then-boyfriend encouraged her to find dancing jobs. In 1991, an underaged Jameson used a fake ID card to dance at Las Vegas strip clubs. She began earning $2,000 a night before she graduated high school.

Nene Leakes

The Real Housewives of Atlanta fixture may have burst onto reality television’s radar with her sassy remarks, but before the show aired, she was a small bit parts on old televisions shows. Before that, however, Leakes was a former stripper and she hasn’t been secretive about it.

Leakes told E!’s Giuliana Rancic, “I remember going home and having something like $1,000 and thinking ‘I made $1,000 in one night. Baby we are doing this tomorrow night’ …It became an addiction. I thought I made pretty good money. It was a great hustle.” Leakes turned into exotic dancing back in the day following an abusive relationship in order to support her family.

Jake Pavelka

Jake Pavelka is an American pilot who somehow found his way into the realm of reality television. He first appeared as a contestant on The Bachelorette in 2009 but ultimately lost. The following year, he was brought back to appear as the star for that season’s The Bachelor. Pavelka was also featured on Dancing with the Stars and Bachelor Pad.

Near the end of his 15 minutes of fame, Pavelka was featured as a celebrity guest-host for Chippendales in Las Vegas in 2012. At the time of the announcement, sources said, “He’s really excited and has always wanted to be a part of some sort of live stage show, be it Broadway or something similar like this.”

Azealia Banks

The outspoken rapper has certainly gained attention for her ridiculous Twitter feuds in recent years but before all this, she was just a young kid from Harlem who had big dreams about becoming famous. She began rapping as a teen, but once she turned 18, he allegedly abusive mother kicked her out of the house. Incredibly broke and trying to make it as an adult, Banks had a brief stint as a stripper.

“My mother was like ‘you can’t stay here,'” Banks told Global Grind. “I went to this strip club in Queens and auditioned. I was stripping for two weeks, and then 212 popped off. The Gods were watching me.” 212 is the name of the mixtape Banks released before her rap career gained traction.

Diablo Cody

Screenwriter Diablo Cody is known for creating and producing United States of Tara and Juno, for which she took home an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. But before her big break, Cody was an exotic dancer and stripper. In addition to maintaining a blog that chronicled the year she spent stripping, she wrote a memoir called Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper.

In 2008, Cody told The Telegraph, “I feel so much more naked as a writer than I did as a stripper. When I was stripping I felt pretty emotionally neutral because it wasn’t a massive event in my life. But when I watch Juno there are bits I can only watch through my fingers because I cringe at how personal it is.”

Ron Jeremy

He’s an adult film legend and occasional actor and reality TV star. He actually got his start with the dirty st f, but became so famous that he crossed into the mainstream without really trying to be a “real” or “normal” celebrity. Is this the way of the future?


Ron is the most recognized man of his kind in the world. He has appeared on “Surreal Life,” Ghostbuster, Detroit Rock City and in numerous other popular movies. He is the biggest crossover adult performer as well. Here he is spoofing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video. It looks like Ron Jeremy has gone totally mainstream.

Kendra Wilkinson

Kendra Wilkinson is a model and one of Hugh Hefner’s favorite Playboy bunnies. Kendra appeared on the reality show The Girls Next Door with Hugh Hefner as on one of his “girlfriends.” She lived in the mansion with Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. Kendra appeared in a homemade tape with her boyfriend before she appeared inPlayboy.

After leaving the Playboy mansion, her reality series Kendra debuted in 2009. The series followed her relationship with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett. She took his name. She also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, and published a memoir Sliding into Home.

Rachel Sterling

Actress Rachel Sterling has mostly had minor roles in television, often in comedic shows like Workaholics or Reno 911! But before her steady acting career started, Sterling worked as a pin-up model and music video vixen for the likes of Kid Rock, Dr. Dre, Enrique Iglesias, and Limp Bizkit, just to name a few.

But Sterling really got her break when she was offered to join the original Pussycat Dolls live at the Viper Room, thus getting into the realm of exotic and burlesque dancing. A former showgirl, burlesque soon became second nature to Sterling, who would find success as a solo dancer. But after getting a small role in The Wedding Crashers, Sterling left The Pussycat Dolls to pursue acting.

Tila Tequila

Tila Tequila is a TV personality, blogger, and model. She was best known for her dating reality showA Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Tila also rose to fame during the Myspace era as an internet personality, which was how she landed the reality show.

Tila was a “dancer” while she was in high school. She was 18 at the time and wanted to save money to move to Hollywood. Looks like she got there. Recently it seems like Tila Tequila is desperately trying to hang on to her 15 minutes of fame by making anti-Semitic comments and remarks about supporting Hitler.

Courtney Love

The punk-rock wild child had big dreams of making it in Hollywood before she rose to fame. Of course, that meant she had to find a way to make ends meet. Courtney candidly told L.A. Weekly in 2013 about her stripper past: “I didn’t just work at Jumbo’s [Clown Room], I worked at Nude, Nude, Nude! Century Lounge near the airport. I worked at Seventh Veil… I got to work back in the day. To me back then, 300 bucks in a day was fine.”

Love went on to say that she stripped to help save money for her band, Hole. “I was able to do the kind of stripper economy which is … for every $5 I made, I would give [Hole lead guitarist] Eric Erlandson three of them and that’s how we bought our van and we bought our backline.”

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese is an entrepreneur and burlesque dancer. Dita worked as a dancer at 18. She did not like regular stripping, so she spiced it up and started doing burlesque dancing. She has done man-on-woman work in the past as well, and works as a model at times for people who have more “niche” interests when it comes to their private lives.

Von Teese also created a collection for MAC Cosmetics’ Viva Glam VI campaign. 100% of the proceeds went to worldwide HIV/AIDS charities. She designed a lingerie line with Wonderbra, and launched a makeup collection with Art Deco. She also puts her fame to good use by campaigning on behalf of PETA.

Joey Lawrence

Actor Joey Lawrence was prominent throughout the ’90s, starring in shows such as Gimme a Break!and Blossom. But in 2012, Lawrence became a stripper! Male striptease powerhouse Chippendales contracted Lawrence to be a special celebrity dancer in Las Vegas at the time.

Citing the movie Magic Mike as inspiration, Lawrence told Entertainment Tonight, “I think the whole male revue thing’s coming back. Actually a lot of actors did that before even acting. Why not, man? It’s harmless. People are having a great time, we’re having a good time up there … I mean, it’s all about that. Life is short. Sometimes you gotta just throw caution to the wind and do something crazy.” Who else was lured into stripping by Chippendales? Read on to see who!

Draya Michele

Draya Michele is a media personality who first gained notoriety for dating Chris Brown, following his notorious domestic violence charge against Rihanna. After her relationship with Brown, Michele joined the cast of VH1’s Basketball Wives LA, despite the fact that she wasn’t married, or even dating, a basketball player at the time.

Apparently, she had a reputation for getting around among the basketball players that were featured on the show. This is why when she appeared on Wendy Williams’s show in 2011, Williams tried to call Michele out on her stripper past. Remaining her composure, Michele simply said, “I stripped for a few years. Kinda like off and on just whenever I needed something.”

Karrine Steffans

Karrine Steffans is known throughout the realm of hip hop as “superhead,” for reasons you might be able to guess. She is known to have been involved with many big names in the industry, which is how she got that nickname, and she even wrote a book in which she dished about these exploits called Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Steffans is popular because she has appeared as a video vixen in over 20 music videos for big-time artists. But before her newfound fame, Steffans was a young teen who ran away from home and began working as an exotic dancer at the age of 16.

Sunny Leone

Born Karenjit Kaur Vohra, Sunny Leone is a former adult film actress. She now does mainstream Hindi movies and modeling. She was in the industry for several years before making the leap to mainstream films.

Leone’s first mainstream appearance was as a red carpet reporter for the MTV Video Music Awards on MTV India in 2005. Then, she appeared in the reality show Bigg Boss. She made a Bollywood debut in the erotic thriller Jism 2, which she followed up with roles in Jackpot and Ek Paheli Leela. Leone also puts her fame to good use by raising money for the American Cancer Society and posing for campaigns for PETA.

Traci Lords

Traci Lords is an actress and a former adult film star, though sadly she wasn’t actually an adult when she made her debut. During an investigation in the 1980s, law enforcement discovered Lords had been underage while making all but one of her adult films, and distributors and video rental stores were ordered to remove her videos or be prosecuted.

Lords rebounded by becoming a mainstream actress. Her role in John Waters’ teen comedy Cry-Baby was a breakout role for Lords. She also appeared in Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, Will & Grace, and more. Her film roles include Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Blade, and Excision.

Gypsy Rose Lee

We’re going to throw it way back to the early twentieth century for this next person on our list. Gypsy Rose Lee was famous throughout the 1920s as a burlesque entertainer who was known for her striptease act. She allegedly got into striptease when she was performing as a singer and dancer. In one performance the strap on her dress broke, forcing Lee to cover herself but she was encouraged by the audience to keep going with it.

She performed at Minsky’s Burlesque for four years and was often arrested whenever the police raided the shows since this was during the Prohibition Era. Releasing her memoir in 1957, it was subsequently turned into the popular musical Gypsy.

Andressa Urach

She may not be very well known in America, but Andressa Urach is a huge star in Brazil and you’re about to find out why. The Brazilian model was first famous for competing on the Brazilian version of the show The Farm, which is like Big Brother, except the contestants are maintaining a farm.

Before Urach was on reality television, however, she was known to ‘do favors’ and dance for money. Daily Mail reported that Urach “claimed she had been paid hundreds of thousands to sleep with ‘at least a thousand men’, including some of the world’s richest and most recognisable people…” Recently though, she has been known to leave that behind and turn to faith, even sometimes serving as a pastor.