A stage is a stage, right? Even if it has a floor-to-ceiling pole in the center and is covered in glitter and dollar bills?
Everybody has to start somewhere, and for some musicians, the strip club seemed like a good place to start. Whether it’s how they were discovered or were just trying to make ends meet, before these musicians could sing in concert halls, they had to dance in strip clubs first.
Check out which musicians climbed their way down the pole to get to the top – one Uncle Luke song at a time.
Azealia BanksGetty Images
To make ends meet, Azealia Banks worked at a strip club in Queens before her single “212” made her a star.
“Strippers make way more f*ckin’ money than a lot of people working desk jobs. They’re walking out of there with $1,200 a night. Now me, with my little butt and my little A-cups, it wasn’t happening like that. I worked at this little strip club, and it was a low point, but I wanted some fast money. I was such a chicken in the strip club. It was not my thing at all,” the rapper said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
Joseline HernandezGetty Images
Joseline Hernandez is used to being in the spotlight, stripping under the name Shenellica Bettencourt.
In 2007, she was also one of the strippers involved in the Adam “Pacman” Jones Scandal in Las Vegas.
Now, Joseline Hernandez is a rapper and a star on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.
A stripper turned rapper, Trina gave lap dances before she got her start spitting rhymes. She is even featured on Ricky Rude’s song “Stripper Ass, Model Face.”
But now she says she wants to move on from her bad girl reputation as “Money Ain’t a Problem” for the rapper anymore.
It should come as no surprise that the “Pitbull in a skirt” used to dance in platform heels, stripping for a living. She even raps about it in her song “Heaven Only Knows” with the line, “from dancing on tabletops to making labels pop.”
Reflecting on these past experiences, Eve said, “Come on. That was a hustle, too; there’s a song about it on my album, ‘Heaven Only Knows.’ But 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.”
And it looks like her time sliding down a pole helped because now she is a star.
Lady GagaGetty Images
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.
Courtney LoveGetty Images
Before Courtney Love was a rock star, drug addict or the widow of Nirvana’s frontman, she was a stripper at Mary’s Club in Portland. She said that the money she made stripping funded her band, helping her get her start as the wild blonde musician we know her as today.
Rapper Kat Stacks owes her start to stripping. At the age of 17, she started showing skin to get stacks. Through stripping, she said she would have never been introduced to Soulja Boy, Bow Wow and other young rappers who she loves to expose.
Amber RoseGetty Images
With a name like Amber Rose, it’s not surprising that the rapper used to strip.
She stripped for the first time when she was 15 and spent seven years (from age 18 to 25) sliding up and down the stripper pole.
In an interview, 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.”
Amanda PalmerGetty Images
Amanda Palmer, commonly referred to as “Amanda F*cking Palmer,” used to strip back in her early 20s before she became the dark, alternative punk cabaret singer she is today.
At a CMW event, she told Bob Lefsetz, “There’s a million parallels you can draw between Stripper World and Music World. And Human Statue World, actually. But I went in there as 24 thinking I’m a really strong woman, I love human beings, I’m totally compassionate, I’m a feminist, I’m going to make a lot of money, and I’m going to figure it out. And what I found was that it was the attitude that you bring to it. I was very, very different from the other strippers.”
Tila TequilaGetty Images
Before singer-songwriter Tila Tequila was taking a “Shot at Love,” she took a shot at stripping.
She even has a song titled “Stripper Friends,” which is about how at the end of the day, “we all want the same thing.”