Sliding Off: Celebs Who Left the Stripper Pole for Stardom

November 3, 2011  |  
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Ask a lot of people what is one thing they wouldn’t do for money, and a lot of folks say being a stripper. There’s something about putting your goods on display for complete strangers that gets the degrading stamp and a boo boo face from some people. But if you ask NeNe Leakes, it isn’t anything to look down upon whatsoever. In fact, it’s fun. During an interview with Bravo and the cast of The Real Housewives Atlanta, she broke down her past in the exotic dancing world as a 20-something mother like this:

“I sold a fantasy, not p—y. Like that’s just what it was. I just felt very powerful. I made a ton of f–king money, like I just couldn’t stop. I went and bought a brand new car, I was paying my son’s tuition. I thought of the men as an ATM machine. I gotta tell ya, I liked it.”

But Leakes is not the first celebrity to get their start dropping it like it’s hot only to leave it all behind for big fame and success. There have been a good number of high-profile folks who have tried their hand at the profession for a short time. If you were wondering who those folks are, keep on clicking!


In the hopes of making money to get out of her mother’s home as a 17-year-old, Eve hung out with a crew of girls who got her into the stripping business. They were making big money, so she wanted to make the same while trying pursue her rap career. Eve calls it a big mistake now. She says once she found herself in too deep stripping with friends, a job she was doing for about two months, she became both depressed and admits that she used to drink way too much to get through it all. Lucky for us, she she got out of that lifestyle and continued her pursuit of getting a record deal and reaching success, which of course she did. As she rapped in one of her songs, “Heaven Only Knows,” “I went from dancing on table tops to making labels pop…”


The self-proclaimed “Baddest B****” doesn’t seem to have a long story about why she got into the stripping business or how she even feels about that time in her life. All we know is that a video was released a couple years back of the Miami-based rapper popping for dollars in a club, and that’s how word got out to the masses. While it’s not something she has ever really gone in depth about, like Eve, she touched on her stripping past for a hot second in her rhymes: “You know it’s really funny how the tables turn/I moved forward and thank God for the lessons learned/I used to strip clubs as a stepping stone/Hit the stage got paid it wasn’t my second home.” Interesting…But also like Eve, Trina left the exotic dancing world behind, teamed up with Trick Daddy (and his Slip-N-Slide friends) and made a profit as a rapper in the ever-changing female rap game.

Lady Gaga

Guess we know why this little lady is so comfortable wearing close to nothing not only during performances, but while walking the damn street. The pop diva confessed in 2009 that stripping was how she got down when she was 18 and was trying to support herself (though her parents were wealthy, she didn’t want to be dependent on them like that). Unfortunately, Gaga, born, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, says that when she started working in strip clubs, she got into drugs; hard drugs at that, to help her get through her performances. But despite the hard times and the drug use that followed, she doesn’t regret those days: “I discovered a real personal freedom through it….I was drawing huge crowds, setting hairspray alight on stage and dancing madly…I have a strong sense of my own sexuality. I love the naked human body and I have huge body confidence.”

Amber Rose

Unless this is your first time hearing about Amber Rose, your probably already knew that she was making a living back in the day doing exotic dancing. But for her, it was not a decision made by a misguided young adult, but something she got into as a straight-up teenager. A 15-year-old teenager! (Uh, what were YOU doing at the age of 15???) Not that she made it sound like it was a horrid time in her life: “I was a stripper since I was 15 years old. South Philly. I was a South Philly hood rat my whole life.” Oooookay. Well, we all know what came next. She got pulled out of the strip clubs, hopped in a music video or two, met Kanye West, he put her on BIG TIME, they broke up, and now she’s professing her love about another rapper he’s keeping her well-kept: Wiz Khalifa. This isn’t really that hard work type of success I was talking about, but I guess success is success and she’s no longer a South Philly hood rat like she once thought herself to be…

Brad Pitt

No lie, I would make some real money rain to see a young Brad Pitt get his stripper on! I’ve got some laundry quarters right here! Not good enough? Okay.

But let’s be clear, Pitt wasn’t dropping his draws in a seedy club filled with bright lights and eager women. Instead, he took part in a lighthearted strip “club” in his fraternity called “Dancing Bares.” How it allegedly worked was that when a woman from their sister sororities would hit the big 2-1, the small group would come out and get scandalous for them. That must have been the best birthday for some of those chicks! But Pitt was able to keep it discreet in a creepy way: the “Dancing Bares” came out naked–except for a pillowcase on their head to keep their identities on the low. Ah, very slick.

Draya Michele

Okay, okay, so once again, the definition of success can take on many interesting meanings. If you’ve seen at least one episode of Basketball Wives LA, you probably already know that Draya, an ex of Chris Brown and other elite NBA players, had her time in the stripper spotlight. Coincidentally, like Amber Rose, she’s from Philly (but I don’t think she referred to herself as a South Philly hoodrat though). She’s even shown off a few of her moves on the show. However, she says that dancing for money is something that should be left in the past, and she’s moved on to do bigger and better things. Things that include dating Chris Brown, and getting bullied by middle-aged haters on television. But hey, do what works for you boo.

Channing Tatum

Mr. Channing Tatum, the cutie actor from films like Step Up and Dear John shook his body down to the ground in a G-string from time to time. Like many of the other people on this list, Tatum said in an interview with GQ, he has no regrets about his dancing days, but he knows it’s not something he plans on doing again: “I had wanted to tell people. I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t regret one thing. I’m not a person who hides s**t.” Oh yeah, by the way, the actor’s stage name was “Chan Crawford,” and his past inspired a movie he’ll be in called, Magic Mike directed by Steven Soderbergh. Say whaaaat??? Now THAT’S turning a stripper past into success for real!

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