Everybody’s got to start from somewhere. In any business or profession, there comes a long and gratuitous road to the top of the success ladder. Getting famous and successful is never an easy feat to accomplish, especially in the kooky and all too screwy land of Hollywood. Hollywood is full of celebrities competing for some proverbial brass ring that both ensures their career longevity and solidifies their rise to prominence. The brass ring is hard enough to secure when the stars finally reach Hollywood. Imagine the kind of painstaking costs and risks future stars took get there.
Before the lights shine bright on any star, it is more than likely that this star had to go through many jobs just to get where they are. Most stars tend to work odd jobs in order to raise money to get to Hollywood, but some stars are willing to take a sleazy job or two to make a quick buck before hitting it big, like stripping and adult films. We’re not knocking anyone who chooses to pursue those professions and enjoy themselves. The fact of the matter is that for a lot of people, these jobs would be classified as dirty work that’s unappealing. Here’s what some of our favorite Hollywood stars had to go through when they used to have these jobs.
15. Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm first became famous for his work on Mad Men where he played Don Draper, a character most notable for being wildly charismatic despite dedicating his time to an ordinary job at the office. In real life, when Hamm was still a struggling actor looking to make ends meat, his job was anything but ordinary. Prior to hitting it big as an actor, Hamm was a set dresser who worked on the set of erotic movies. When explaining himself in an interview with Anderson Cooper, he noted the talents he found on the set would fall under the “Skinemax” movie category, which playfully refers to the Cinemax channel’s late night block of adult softcore films.
14. Cardi B
Cardi B has come a long way from her stripper lifestyle. Cardi B continues to remind us where she came from, but few of her fans truly know what got her to that sticky, slippery stage to begin with. The whole reason she became a stripper was to escape an abusive relationship. With no family to help her out, nor a penny to her name, she used stripping as a means to get money to quickly get away from her abusive boyfriend. Not only did she succeed, but her Internet escapades filmed in between shows went viral enough to get her a reality TV gig on Love and Hip Hop. Then, she recorded “Bodak Yellow” and it became the hottest song in the country. Now she doesn’t need to dance when she makes money moves.
13. Jackie Chan
Over 40 years ago, Jackie Chan felt that he needed to make money by taking part in a pornographic film. It happened back in 1975 and the film was called All in the Family. No, it is not a porn parody of the famous American TV show of the same name, and with a title like that, we shudder to think what the plot of the film could have possibly been. In any case, Chan admitted to appearing in such a film once in an interview, but also noted that he doesn’t think that it was a big deal since adult movies were much more “conservative” back then than they are now. Interestingly enough, with all of the action films that he’s done to date, this was the only movie that Chan didn’t need to do a stunt for.
12. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has always been a musical artist whose songs and live performances have always had a sensual essence to them. With that said, it should come as no surprise to find out that Gaga was once a burlesque dancer while living on the lower east side of Manhattan at age 19. While burlesque dancing is a profession that lives under the same umbrella as stripping, Gaga promises she only ever stripped down to her bikini. She also used to be a waitress at a diner, but even the superstar admits that she made more money dancing than she ever did waiting tables.
11. Channing Tatum
Much of Channing Tatum’s fame and notoriety is due to his time as a stripper in Magic Mike. Turns out, playing the role was not a stretch for Tatum at all considering he used to be a stripper in real life. Tatum took up stripping about eight months after finishing college. Back then, he performed under the stage name of Chace Crawford. When his acting career started to blossom, he tried to keep his past under wraps, but was soon outed after someone sold footage of Tatum stripping to US Weekly. Tatum wasn’t too bothered by the outing. In fact, it did not take long before he decide to embrace it fully by signing up for two Magic Mike movies.
10. Catherine Zeta-Jones
When actors first start out in Hollywood, they feel like they have to go through extreme measures to ensure success in this business. For Catherine Zeta-Jones, it was stripping. She was under the impression that she did not have the quintessential look of a Hollywood starlet and opted for a nose job. She did not have the money to spend on plastic surgery and decided to strip in order to pay for it. She didn’t stay in the business long, though. As soon as she got enough money to pay for a nose job, she got out of there and got a nose job. Years later, she became an A-list actor and won an Oscar. We don’t know if the new nose had anything to do with it, though.
9. Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem is best known as the Oscar-winning, show-stealer from No Country for Old Men, and most recently the star opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!. Not many people know that he used to be a stripper, although that might be because his time as a stripper was so brief, Bardem hardly deems it worth mentioning. Back when he was young and looking for money, he became a stripper, but he was so bad at it that it only took one weekend before he realized this lifestyle was not for him. So bad, in fact, that both his mother and his sister came to the strip club to support and cheer Bardem on. Bardem recalls feeling exposed as a stripper and he prefers living a more private life as an actor.
8. Diablo Cody
Diablo Cody broke out onto the Hollywood scene after writing the Oscar-winning screenplay for the teen pregnancy dramady, Juno. The hits just kept on coming for Cody as she continued to produce successful scripts like Jennifer’s Body, Young Adult, and Ricki and the Flash. But before any of that, she was a stripper. It all started when, on a whim, she signed up for amateur night at a Minneapolis strip club. She enjoyed the experienced so much, she quit her day job to become a stripper full time. All the while working peep shows at S*x World, an adult novelty and DVD store. She pursued a writing career at the same time and landed a gig at Entertainment Weekly. One thing led to another, and she wrote Juno. The rest is history.
7. Sylvester Stallone
Much like the character who made him a world famous Oscar winner, Sylvester Stallone lived a difficult life that was akin to an underdog. Struggling as an actor in 1971, he found himself homeless after getting evicted from his apartment and for three weeks, he was forced to live and sleep in a bus terminal in New York. He was so desperate for money, he resorted to appearing in an adult film called The Party at Kitty & Stud’s where he appeared in a drugged-out group scene. Some years later, he was able to rise to superstardom thanks to Rocky, but the studio that originally distributed the porno decided to re-release the film highlighting Stallone’s appearance and re-dubbing the film Italian Stallion.
6. Sibel Kekilli
Sibel Kekilli is recognized best as the love interest of Tyrion Lannister, Shae, in Game of Thrones. However, she started out in the porn industry. She only made a few films for a short time, but the news was made public once she started winning awards for her breakout performance in the German film Head-On. In wake of the news, Kekilli’s parents disowned her and broke off contact with her. Meanwhile, the German media subjected her to a seemingly nonstop “dirty smear campaign,” as she put it in her award acceptance speech. Kekilli was able to move on from the stress thanks to her success on Game of Thrones and now dedicates most of her time as a social activist.
5. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt may not have always been the chiseled action star he looked like today and mostly stuck to a more portly shape in his pre-fame days, but that never stopped him from wanting to flaunt his stuff. Long before his days on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy and even before his Parks and Recreation days, Pratt worked as a stripper back when he struggled to find acting gigs at age 18. Unfortunately, probably due to his then-pasty skin and aforementioned portly figure, he struggled to make a living as a stripper. Apparently, nobody wanted to throw money at him and he only made about $40 whenever he took his clothes off. It didn’t help that he couldn’t dance worth a lick.
4. Cameron Diaz
Ever since her star-making performance as Jim Carrey’s love interest in The Mask, Cameron Diaz was marketed as something of a s*x symbol for much of her Hollywood acting career. What few people know is that behind clothes doors and prior to her acting career, Diaz is much freakier than one would expect from judging her work on the big screen. When she was 19 years old, she appeared in an S&M video where she dressed from head to toe in leather clad and walked around with a man wearing a leather clad mask as she held a collar around his neck. After releasing the footage back in the mid-2000s, photographer John Rutter was sued by Diaz for trying to blackmail her.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived quite the interesting life. He has singlehandedly gone from being Mr. Olympia to a Hollywood box-office superstar to the Governor of California to the host of The Apprentice. But long before any of those career choices came to fruition, Arnie went on a career path that he rarely talks about nowadays. In 1977, Arnie did an interview and posed for a 22-page spread for a gay porn magazine called After Dark. What makes this so interesting is that despite posing for a gay porn magazine in the ’70s, Arnie vetoed two gay marriage bills back when he The Governator. Funny how one man’s opinion on homosexuality can change in a matter of decades.
Eve is one of the very best female rappers of her generation. She skyrocketed to the top of the hip hop game thanks to Grammy-nominated tracks like “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Satisfaction,” but the road to success was not always an easy one for Eve. Prior to becoming a successful rapper, Eve was a stripper at the age of 18. She does not regret being a stripper since she once reflected on her past in an interview as “a hustle” that she pursued back when she “18 and confused.” Her story of rags to riches is evident in her own music as she reflects on her past as a stripper. As Eve said herself in the song “Heaven Only Knows,” she went from “dancing on tabletops to making labels pop.”
1. Matt LeBlanc
Everyone’s favorite Friends star had a very interesting career trajectory prior to getting cast on the show at NBC. Prior to Friends, Matt LeBlanc starred on a softcore pornographic show called Red Shoe Diaries. The show aired on both Showtime in the mid-’90s and was distributed by the Playboy Network, both networks being notorious for distributing scandalous material. Each episode followed a girl who discovered a newfound s*xual awakening in herself and was anxious to act on her sensual impulses. LeBlanc gets down and dirty in one episode, as does X-Files star David Duchovny, oddly enough.