Most of the world is obsessed with celebrities and tracks their every move through paparazzi shots, gossip magazines and social media. But beyond being famous for their various roles as actors or musicians, celebrities are regular people just like us. They all struggled through odd and sometimes straight up horrible jobs to make ends meet and earn a few dollars while trying to catch their big break. Nobody’s first job is going to be what they want to do for the rest of their lives – with the exception of a very, very lucky few. Unless your parents spoiled you while growing up, chances are you had to work a waitstaff or retail job to pay for your Friday night movie tickets and Slushies at the 7-11.
While it’s hard to believe our favorite celebs scrubbing toilets, taking orders and folding clothes, they’ve been there. In fact, many of them have taken it to the next level and have worked jobs you and I would never even think of applying to. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most unlikely jobs that superstars have taken to pay their rent. We took a lot of pleasure in writing this and feeling just a little bit better about ourselves. Read on to find out who worked as a ballpoint pen salesmen, who sold crack, who rolled around on roller skates dressed up as sperm and who applied mascara to the dead. Yep, you read that last part right.
10. Madonna – Dunkin Donuts Worker
Before Madonna jetted off to France in her youth to work as a showgirl, she spent a bit of time hawking sugary carbs at a Dunkin Donuts in Times Square, New York City. The famous singer had quit college and decided to move to the Big Apple to pursue her dreams, but unfortunately they didn’t come true as quickly as she may have liked. She was fired shortly after starting for squirting a tube of jelly onto a customer. Nice one, Madge.
9. Whoopi Goldberg – Morgue Beautician
As a licensed beautician, comedy legend Whoopi Goldberg decided to support her younger self by applying to work at a morgue. When she wasn’t busy trying to land as many acting gigs as she could, Goldberg applied make-up to the faces of the dead to make them look beautiful for their funerals. In an interview with Now Magazine, the actress recalled how her boss at the time hid in a body drawer and jumped out to scare her as an initiation ritual.
8. Jay-Z – Drug Dealer
Before he was a famous rapper and the billionaire CEO of Roc Nation, Jay-Z was a teenage crack dealer in New York. He was raised by his mother in a rough neighborhood, where he said that the drug was inescapable. There were addicts in his apartment building, needles on the streets and the smell of crack was everywhere. He sold the drug in order to help support his mother with the bills and never used it. While he is the first to acknowledge the devastation it causes, he credits his time spent dealing for having taught him about business and budgets.
7. Johnny Depp – Ballpoint Pen Salesman
While struggling to make it big in the acting world and desperate to find a way to support himself and his new wife, Johnny Depp decided to take up the fine craft of ballpoint pen sales. His job was to sit in a telemarketing center all day, cold-call people and convince them to buy his less than exciting stock. He remembers using a high pitched overfriendly voice and promising clients that if they bought enough pens, they’d receive a grandfather clock. When Depp’s supervisor would walk away, he’d urge the customers not to buy the cheap pens and confess to them that the clock was made of cheap corkboard.
6. Victoria Beckham – Sperm On Roller Skates
Before Victoria Beckham was part of the wildly successful Spice Girls group and became a fashion designer with impeccable style, she took small acting gigs to make ends meet. She must have been pretty desperate at one point because she agreed to dress up as a sperm on roller skates for a BBC educational show called Body Matters. We’re sure she did the outfit justice with her signature posh style and we kind of wish that real life sperm rolled around on wheels too.
5. Jon Hamm – Adult Film Set Dresser
Jon Hamm is known to most of the world for his award-winning role as an advertising executive on Mad Men, but he had several odd jobs before catching his big break. He decided to become a set dresser to try to get his foot in the door of the acting world and quickly landed a job at Cinemax. He worked on many of the network’s late night soft core adult films and was in charge of making sure every prop down to the ashtray was set up right. While sexy movies may seem like fun to some, Hamm only remembers his time there as classless and depressing.
4. Jon Bon Jovi – Christmas Decoration Maker
While we would have put money on the fact that Jon Bon Jovi’s former jobs may have involved hairspray or leather, his worst job ever completely took us by surprise. While struggling to make ends meet in his youth, the singer decided to take a job as a Christmas decoration maker. We thought ornaments were mass made in factories, so imagining a young Jon focusing hard on the perfect glitter pattern really made us smile. Who knows, the creative skill required for ornament making could have been a precursor to the making of his legendary stage outfits.
3. Rick Ross – Prison Guard
He’s made it big rapping about drugs, prostitutes and guns but Rick Ross’s past was ironically the complete opposite of his life today. With a young family to support, the rapper took a short-lived job as a correctional officer in a prison. When photos of him in his uniform leaked many years later, Ross flat out refused to address the rumors before finally confirming them in 2009. Of his time working at a prison, he insists that it was just a fast way to make money and that his credibility as a rapper shouldn’t be underestimated because of it.
2. Mick Jagger – Psychiatric Hospital Porter
Way before the Rolling Stones became one of the most popular rock bands in the world and Mick Jagger’s signature moves gained notoriety across the globe, the singer worked as a porter in a psychiatric hospital for less than five British pounds per week. Maybe his time spent there taught him the wild antics he would later become known for. Or perhaps it was the inspiration for songs like “19th Nervous Breakdown and “Mother’s Little Helper”.
1. Christopher Walken – Circus Lion Tamer
Last on our list of celebrities who once had strange jobs is the quirkiest actor of all time – Mr. Christopher Walken. He’s gained notoriety as much for his strange looks as his alien-like voice and his former job suits him perfectly. As a teen, he joined a traveling circus and became a lion tamer. He found the position in the classified section of his local newspaper and has referred to the feline being like “one big dog.” The thought of Christopher Walken making a lion jump through hoops is fascinating enough to make our day.
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