These Former Exotic Dancers Are Now Winning at Life

From Blac Chyna to Brad Pitt.

By Christopher Rosa, Breana Burek and Lily Martis

Everyone has to start somewhere, right? For some, it’s a fast food joint. For others, it’s retail. Or, ya know, the strip club. Yes, you read that correctly. Several Hollywood bigwigs got their start showing a little skin for some coins. From the pole, they worked their up the show business ladder to revered star status. Modern-day Cinderella stories, to be honest.

These 8 people have particularly interesting from-stripper-to-star stories. Read on to get the deets.

  • Cardi B

    Jen Marigliano for VH1

    From the strip club to being the breakout star on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, Cardi B’s life has come full circle–and she’s only in her early 20s! She directly references her barely-clothed past in her song “Stripper Hoe,” a rap anthem that will make you feel fly AF. Get that schmoney, bb!–CR

  • Blac Chyna

    Getty Images

    Chyna is a notorious former stripper; however, she turned her fishnet-patterned past into a booming lifestyle brand. She has a new line of clothing and adhesive eyelashes, and opened her Lashed Bar in 2014. Products at Lashed Bar include liquid lipstick, eyelashes and other beauty goodies. Oh! And did we mention she is engaged to sock maverick Rob Kardashian? New power couple!–CR

  • Lady Gaga

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    Before Lady Gaga was the person she is today – practically naked on stage, wanting to take a ride with her disco stick and making millions – she was practically naked on stage, wrapped around a stripper pole, with dollar bills in her leather G-string. She said, “I was working in strip clubs when I was 18. My act was pretty wild. I’d wear black leather and dance to Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses and Faith No More. Very rock ’n’ roll.” And very Gaga.–LM

  • Channing Tatum

    fabfitfun

    Before hitting the big time, Tatum was a stripper who went by the name “Chan Crawford,” according to The New York Daily News. In fact, his Chippendale’s-esque past inspired the 2012 Magic Mike and its sequel Magic Mike XXL (2016). Tatum–and a gaggle of muscular studs like Matt Bomer–starred in the film.–CR

  • Brad Pitt

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    Yup! While in college at University of Missouri, Brad was a part of dancing club called the Dancing Bares. They would dance for girls, sororities and friends’ parties. Their schtick? Completely nude…with a pillowcase on their heads. Quite a far cry from the blockbuster movie career he’s known for now.–BB

  • Catherine-Zeta Jones

    ”] The New York Daily News reported Jones wanted to get a nose job to make it big in Hollywood. To do that, she decided to strip and save up her coins. We guess the planned worked: She’s now an Oscar-winning actress.–BB

  • Diablo Cody

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    Before writing the script for Juno, Cody used to be a stripper. She even wrote a book about her experience called Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. At age 24, she quit her job at an advertising agency and ventured into the exotic dancer scene. And–guess what?!–she thought it was a total thrill. Even more thrilling, though? An Oscar. –BB

  • Amber Rose

    @amberrose

    Rose stripped for the first time when she was 15 and spent seven years (from age 18 to 25) sliding up and down the pole. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she reflected on her time as an exotic dancer, saying, “That was the best time of my life! Oh my god, I had so much fun. 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.”–LM

Watch Rose honor Amy Schumer at VH1’s Big In 2015 with Entertainment Weekly.