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Four Strippers Who Became Stars

Channing Tatum is not the only celebrity to take his clothes off professionally. These surprising stars all stripped before becoming household names.

By Colin Bertram
|  Friday, Jun 29, 2012  |  Updated 9:44 AM EDT
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How closely does the story in "Magic Mike" resemble Channing Tatum's past as a stripper? Plus, Channing discusses with how nervous he felt filming his nude scenes.

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If you somehow managed to miss the avalanche of advance press for "Magic Mike," you probably don't know that Channing Tatum was once a male exotic performer who danced under the pseudonym Chan Crawford. It was Florida in the late '90s and Channing was part of a revue called Male Encounter.

The new film "Magic Mike" may be based on those experiences - with artistic license no doubt taken by "Erin Brockovich" director Steven Soderbergh - and costars Alex Pettyfer ("I Am Number Four"), Matthew McConaughey ("The Lincoln Lawyer"), Matt Bomer (TV's "White Collar") and Joe Manganiello ("True Blood").

Sure, these buff dudes were all famous before taking on their stripper roles. On the flip side, here are some surprising celebrities who started out taking it off before their dream careers actually took off:

Lady Gaga

"I was working in strip clubs when I was 18," revealed Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) to Fabulous magazine. "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. I don't want to talk about it too much but there were drugs, serious drugs. I wouldn't want to inspire other people to do the same." But the pop star does not regret her time spent dancing around the pole. "I discovered a real personal freedom through it ... I have a strong sense of my own sexuality. I love the naked human body and I have huge body confidence."

NeNe Leakes

"I'm not ashamed!" said Leakes of her time working in an Atlanta strip club long before she joined the ranks of Bravo's "The Real Housewives." "Yes, I was a stripper," Leakes said on the show, adding, "Let the judgements ensue!" Leakes - who will reportedly be the highest-paid performer on the upcoming fifth season of "Real Housewives of Atlanta," has a recurring role on "Glee," was a contestant on NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" and recently announceed the launch of her own fashion line - famously displayed her stipper pole moves during a "Housewives" photo shoot.

Diablo Cody

The Oscar-winning screenwriter behind "Juno" spent a year as a Minneapolis strip club dancer. In fact, Diablo Cody was her stage name, a moniker she continues to use proffesionally. "I've incorporated the pasties into my business wardrobe," the writer told Esquire. Cody (real name Brook Busey) even wrote a blog about her experiences, which became the book "Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper."

Javier Bardem

The "No Country for Old Men" actor's career as a stripper lasted all of one day. "It was a disaster," Bardem revealed to Marie Claire. "And you know who was there watching? My mum and my sister! It was kind of a thing - you go there and dance, they pay you some money. It wasn't like a 'Full Monty' thing." So if you are picturing Bradem as a go-go dancer with that bowl haircut right now, our work here is done!

"Magic Mike" opens in theaters nationwide on June 29.

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