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- Before making it big in Hollywood, some celebrities were strippers.
- Lady Gaga was an exotic dancer in the Lower East Side and Channing Tatum used to perform at a strip club in Tampa, Florida.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Stars like Channing Tatum and Cardi B are known for their success in movies and music. But before breaking through Hollywood, they took jobs as strippers to earn money — and they're not the only stars who have turned to exotic dancing.
There are many other celebrities who revealed that they were strippers, whether it was for a weekend, a few months, or several years.
Keep reading to find out which celebrities shared this same job.
"Real Housewives of Atlanta" star NeNe Leakes worked as an exotic dancer for years, and views the experience as empowering.
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In her 2009 memoir titled "Never Make the Same Mistake Twice," Leakes explained what prompted her to start stripping. At the time, she was a single mother struggling to pay rent and support her son. Leakes took a job as a stripper under the name "Silk" and said that she felt "powerful" as a dancer.
"With every piece of clothing I took off, the more I got my life back," she wrote. "I worked this body like a well-oiled machine, and every movement got me closer to my goal of financial independence for me and my child."
"Magic Mike" is loosely based on Channing Tatum's days as a stripper in Florida.
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Fans of Tatum are probably aware that the actor was an exotic dancer before starring in movies like "21 Jump Street" and "Step Up." Pre-Hollywood, Tatum used to perform at a strip club in Tampa, Florida.
A video sold to Us Weekly in 2009 showed Tatum — who went by the name "Chan Crawford" — dancing for guests who were clearly pleased with what they saw. Tatum has spoken openly about his past. In 2011, he told GQ that he's "not ashamed," nor does he "regret one thing."
Though Tatum isn't hesitant to discuss his time as a stripper, he has made it clear that he doesn't miss it.
"I don't miss anything about stripping," he told People in 2017. "I stripped in Tampa for like, 25 girls, at best. It wasn't glamorous whatsoever, so there's nothing that I miss about stripping."
Rapper Cardi B has repeatedly opened up about her time as a stripper — and she's not stopping any time soon.
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Cardi B started stripping as a young adult and did it for three and a half years. During an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in April 2018, she explained that the job helped to pay her bills, afford an apartment, and invest in her goal of becoming an artist.
She also said that by the time she was 20 years old, she had accumulated approximately $20,000 from her work.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Cardi B said that she continues to be vocal about stripping because she feels as though people who work in that industry aren't respected.
Courtney Love's days as an exotic dancer helped her to form a band.
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Prior to singing, acting, and marrying Kurt Cobain in the '90s, Love was an exotic dancer at places like Jumbo's Clown Room and Seventh Veil.
Speaking to LA Weekly, Love said that she used to earn $300 a day. With the money she earned from working, Love was able to kick-start her band, Hole.
Long before becoming an Oscar winner, Javier Bardem had a brief stint as a stripper.
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According to Bardem, it initially started off as a joke. But then he got hired to perform again — and his family members were in the audience to offer support.
"It was a disaster," he told Marie Claire UK in 2008. "And you know who was there watching? My mom and my sister. It was kind of a thing – you go there and dance, they pay you some money."
Bardem added that he didn't remove too much of his clothing, and he has "a good relation with my family."
Azealia Banks was a stripper for a brief period before her music took off.
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The controversial rapper worked at a strip club before reaching mainstream success — but it didn't last very long.
"I worked at this little strip club and it was a low point, but I wanted some fast money," Banks told The Daily Beast in 2014. "I was such a chicken in the strip club. It was not my thing at all. I was there for just two weekends, and then I quit because '212' blew up."
Kendra Wilkinson considers herself a "free spirit," and was a stripper for a few months.
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Shortly before Wilkinson entered the Playboy Mansion at 18 years old, she was a stripper.
When Wilkinson competed on the UK show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" in 2014, she revealed more details about her former job.
According to Wilkinson, she started stripping because she wanted "to see how much money I could earn."
Chris Pratt is a blockbuster star, but he had several odd jobs to make money when he was younger.
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Fans of Pratt probably know that he spent some time living in a van in Hawaii. In addition to jobs as a babysitter, waiting tables, and mowing lawns, Pratt was also a stripper.
"I was always a very much naked person," Pratt told BuzzFeed in 2013. "I loved to always get naked. I was very free, so I thought, I may as well get paid."
Pratt added that he was paid $40 to perform at a grandmother's birthday party.
"I was never like 'Magic Mike,' you know," he said. "I did go one time and audition on a stage for a club, but I don't think I got the job. I don't think I'm a very good dancer."
Blac Chyna started stripping so she could pay for her education.
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Before being an entrepreneur (and wrapped up in drama with the Kardashians), Blac Chyna was a stripper in an effort to save up for college. When she started attending Johnson & Wales University in Miami, she continued pole dancing — but realized that she couldn't dedicate enough time to her job and her classes.
After dropping out, Chyna started dancing full-time.
"My mom used to be a stripper," she told Elle in 2016, "So she was like, 'If this is what you want to do, be the best at it.'"
Chyna was an exotic dancer at Miami's King of Diamonds and revealed that she made up to $15,000 in one night.
In a 2016 Facebook live chat, she said that if she wasn't famous, she "would probably be still in the strip club."
After college, "Riverdale" star Mark Consuelos got talked into stripping.
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According to Kelly Ripa, Consuelos' wife of more than 20 years and cohost of "Live With Kelly and Ryan," the actor was a stripper before landing roles on shows and movies.
"A lot of hot guys in Hollywood have done that," Ripa told Vanity Fair in 2012.
She added that after he received his degree from the University of South Florida, he got the gig.
"There he was in South Florida, he's gorgeous, 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," Ripa said.
Amber Rose has spoken positively about her time as an exotic dancer and called out double standards.
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Rose tried stripping at 15 years old, but stopped and revisited the job when she was 18. Speaking to Cosmopolitan in 2015, she proudly stated that stripping "was the best time of my life."
"I had so much fun," she said. "I really did. All the girls were really cool. The guys weren't allowed to touch you. I was never sexually assaulted or [anything]. I was young, beautiful, I was onstage, I wasn't really ashamed of my body. I made lifelong friends."
In a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan South Africa, Rose compared the ways she and Tatum are viewed. Like Tatum, Rose started out as a stripper, then moved on to modeling and acting.
According to Rose, if she were to make a movie like "Magic Mike" about being a stripper, people would probably call her "disgusting."
"It's so ridiculous," she said. "We've had the same life, [Tatum] and I, and I'm dumbed down for it. It's not his fault – it's just society."
"Jersey Shore" star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino was a stripper in college.
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In 2012, it was revealed on the MTV show that Sorrentino was once an exotic dancer who went by the name "Vito Durado."
When Sorrentino tried to show off his moves for his fellow "Jersey Shore" stars, they weren't too impressed.
"Mike really has no moves and I'm starting not to believe that Mike used to do this for a living," Paul "PaulyD" DelVecchio said.
Lady Gaga now sells out arenas across the globe, but before fame, she was a stripper.
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Gaga attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, but dropped out and moved out of her parents' house. To support herself, she worked as a waitress during the day and a stripper at night.
"My act was pretty wild," she said, according to News of the World's Fabulous magazine. "I'd wear black leather and dance to Black Sabbath, Guns N' Roses, and Faith No More. Very rock 'n' roll."
During an appearance on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," the singer told Cohen that she was a stripper in NY's Lower East Side because she "made more money stripping than waitressing."
Singer Eve was pushed to pursue a career in the music industry after she was discovered at a strip club.
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During an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music," Eve explained that exotic dancing led to her music career after rapper Mase met her.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eve added that she doesn't regret being a dancer.
"I was 18 and confused, going through personal problems, she said. "I did it for about a month, and I was glad I did it. It helped me find Eve, helped me get serious."
"Hustlers" star Constance Wu went undercover at a strip club to prepare for her role in the 2019 film.
"I gave lap dances to strangers," the actress said during an appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" in February 2020. "I made 600 bucks my first night!"
Wu also said that her first-hand experience "helped me to know that feeling — because you can't duplicate it — [of] the first time you walk into a club and say, 'Hey, I would like to have a job here,' and then you go work that night."
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