10 Celebrity Icons You Had No Idea Were Sex Workers

Celebrities: they’re just like you and me. They eat, they drink, they poop. They have bills to pay. So, how many of our most iconic celebrities have dabbled in sex work? More than you might think! Show business doesn’t always pay well nor reliably, and some performers and artists have found sex work to be a good source of consistent income. Yep, sex work has saved lives, and sex work is WORK. A few of the celebrities below may have only dabbled in some stripping and burlesque here and there, while a few others used escorting—with no apologies and no shame—to help make ends meet. Here are ten celebrity icons who have dipped their toes into some kind of sex work, and a few of the people on our list may really surprise you! THE MORE YOU KNOW….

1. Nancy Reagan


Long before she told a nation to “Just Say No,” former First Lady Nancy Reagan was heavily rumored to have been a Hollywood escort. The former First Lady was once an aspiring performer with Hollywood dreams long before she met Ronald Reagan. Nancy had trouble landing roles when she first started to navigate Hollywood, and she allegedly did some escorting. Nancy’s official job title was as a “hostess girl” who would wine, dine, and “entertain” actors that the big studios wanted to recruit for roles. Rumor also has it that the former First Lady had oral skills that were comparable to none. Yep, Nancy Regan was the blowjob queen (allegedly!). Once Nancy Reagan was introduced to her future husband, she brought her side-gig as a hostess to an end, and well, the rest is history….

2. Chris Pratt


Chris Pratt naked? Yes please! Long before Star Lord was a household name and before he was sticking his foot in his mouth on Twitter, Chris Pratt was a young actor who just needed a job to help pay the bills. And in his own words, he was a young actor who really enjoyed being naked, so he took a brief gig as a stripper in Hawaii to grab some quick cash. It wasn’t the best of times financially for Chris; he had to live out of his van at the time. It would be some time before things started to look up, because according to Mr. Pratt, he was not a very good dancer. He eventually gave up stripping because he had such a hard time getting a gig in a real club. Fortunately, things did end up turning around for him…

3. Lady Gaga


Lady Gaga briefly worked as burlesque performer in Manhattan not too long before she hit it big and became the iconic, award-winning performer we all know and love. According to Gaga’s own words to Andy Cohen, she didn’t show “very much,” which might sound little vague, and she’s been quite open about other past gigs before she became a pop icon. We hope do hope Lady Gaga at least showed a little leg… Lady Gaga also said that she made more stripping than she ever could waitressing. And how!

4. Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou is known as one of the greatest poets of her generation, and much has been written about her humble beginnings, but many in the media have kept Ms. Angelou’s time as a sex worker in her younger years a closely guarded secret. It’s important to know that Ms. Angelou was not ashamed of her past as a sex worker. She wrote about her time in sex work in her memoir Gather Together in my Name, which explained how a young woman of color lived in the white-dominated society of post-WWII America. It is a shame how many choose to omit this aspect of her life when talking about Ms. Angelou’s incredible legacy.

5. Roseanne Barr


The controversial comedian and fallen star has been candid many times about her past as a sex worker and prostitute. Roseanne’s current trajectory has been a bit sad to watch, but she will always be a comedy legend. Roseanne has said many times that sex work should be legal and it’s simply just another way for someone to make money. We agree Roseanne… on this point, anyway.

6. James Lipton


James Lipton is a distinguished professor and host of Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio. For years, Mr. Lipton was able to pry deep into the techniques and personal lives of countless actors, but James’ own early life was a very interesting one. Back in 2008 while interviewing comedian Dave Chappelle, James revealed that he was once involved with sex work in France. Later, Lipton offered more juicy details of his brief foray into sex work in an interview with Parade magazine. Mr. Lipton said that while in France after WWII, many men and women were unable to find employment, and sex work was provided an opportunity to stay afloat. A woman Mr. Lipton met in France introduced him into the world of prostitution, which Mr. Lipton further detailed in the book Inside, Inside.

7. Dee Dee Ramone


Dee Dee Ramone, aka Douglas Glenn Colvin, is the bassist and founding member of the pioneering punk-rock band, The Ramones. Dee Dee was also the band’s most prolific lyricist. Not all fans may have realized this, but Dee Dee details his time as a sex worker in the hit song “53rd and 3rd.” Dee Dee was often the sex worker picked last on that very corner, summoning melancholy connotations of being last pick for soccer, football, or something much worse. Back in his early years, Dee Dee would have to do some things beyond sex work to get any extra cash, as he conveys in the lyrics to “53rd and 3rd.”

8. Al Pacino


Hoo-ah! Al Pacino is one of the greatest living actors of our generation, and like many young actors, Mr. Pacino spent some time as a male escort to make ends meet while living in Italy as a young man. This early in his career, Al was actually homeless and struggling to get meals. Al met a woman with whom he exchanged sex for food once, and continued to use sex work to take care of himself until his return to the States. His career as a serious actor took off not long after.

9. Carmen Electra


Carmen Electra was a 90s “it-girl” whose gorgeous face graced the bedroom walls of young teenage boys all over the world. Carmen was also briefly married to Dennis Rodman, and you could find her profiled in pop culture magazines everywhere before the nineties mercifully came to its bitter end. Before hitting it big, Carmen worked as a stripper, and she never really distanced herself from where she got her start. The beautiful icon later released her own signature brand of stripper poles and a collection of striptease fitness videos!

10. Marilyn Monroe


Norma Jean is the quintessential blonde bombshell and probably the biggest icon on this list. At just 20 years old, she scored a modeling contract with Blue Book Modeling Agency. From modeling, Monroe moved on to acting. But Monroe didn’t break through right away, and she modeled nude for photographer Tom Kelley. With the eyes of producers upon her, it was heavily rumored that Monroe would arrange dates with men of influence and power in the entertainment business for a few hundred dollars a day. Numerous claims have been made that Monroe admitted to going on dates with men in order to get a good meal or extra money to pay the rent. With those looks, why not?!

You can find more celebrities who’ve done sex work in our celebrities category!

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