Celebrities have a hard life because they have to climb a slippery ladder of success. To make it in the entertainment industry, you have to work hard, and you’re not handed a job on the spot. Often, that trek from the bottom up to the top has many peaks and valleys included, and most people bump up their services by including sex work.
If you hope to become an actor, you should learn to hear “no” often. You require thick skin to make it, and most famous people now turned to sex as prostitutes to keep afloat until they made it big. That’s no life for the thin-skinned!
There have been tons of prostitution scandals come out, but some might be surprising. Though sex is everywhere on the big screen, it’s funny to learn who paid for it and who provided prostitution services.
Find out more about the prostitution scandals that led to these celebrities making it in their careers!
Click To View Table of Contents
The Top Famous Sex Workers
Have you heard of the “casting couch?” When you want something bad enough, you will work hard to get it in your life. That often meant sleeping around to get a break or doing things that sex workers do to make it by. Regardless, there are plenty of celebrities who had no golden path to success in their careers.
They are famous now because they’re in Hollywood, but that meant prostitution, sex, and scandal.
Still, the celebrities on this list made large sacrifices that paid off well. Some might have gotten caught, but they moved on with life! Let’s learn more!
1. Marilyn Monroe – That Original Bombshell
Marilyn Monroe was the blonde bombshell everyone knew and loved. Before reaching celebrity status, her name was Norma Jean Mortenson. This singer and actress exploded on the Hollywood scene as a sex symbol and pin-up girl for the whole world.
Before she got to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy, she got a modeling contract at 20 years old with Blue Book Modeling Agency. Then, she moved to acting. However, Marilyn didn’t break into show business immediately, posing nude for $50 in 1949 for the famous photographer Tom Kelley.
Monroe had the eyes of the producers and directors on her at all times, so reportedly, she “hung out” with powerful men in the industry for $500. This screams prostitution, but she was never caught for her “services.” However, in some of the biographies written about her, there are claims that Marilyn admitted to having dates with men to get extra money or decent food.
2. Al Pacino – Known for The Godfather
When thinking about a prostitute, you rarely imagine Al Pacino. The legendary actor is now a household name because of his amazing characters that seem to jump from the screen. In fact, his roles in The Godfather as Michael Corleone and Scarface as Tony Montana cemented his career. Prior to getting Hollywood gigs and becoming an Oscar winner, he worked the streets to survive.
During the early times in his career, he was homeless and struggling to eat. He lived in Italy after dropping out of school. Once he was older, he admitted to the New York Post that he sold the only asset he had, which was his body. One older woman traded housing and food for sex.
Once Pacino got back to the U.S., it took a while to get his career going, so he stuck with prostitution services. Now, he’s one of the most famous actors of all time!
3. Denise Richards – High-end Escort
Denise Richards graced small and large movie screens as a sexual temptress in the 1990s. She was the “hot” leading lady of the time and rose to “Bond Girl” status for one of those epic roles. Likewise, she married Charlie Sheen, but we’ll talk about that a little later.
Before appearing on camera, Richards worked for secretive escort services from Heidi Fleiss and others.
Overall, Richards was a high-end escort who capitalized on the relationships she had with clients. It’s no coincidence here that Sheen was Heidi Fleiss’ best customer, and he and Denise struck up a relationship. The dots are incredibly easy to connect. Being a prostitute helped Richards break into Hollywood, causing her to leave the escort business world.
4. Russell Brand – The Male Gigolo
Russell Brand is a successful comedic actor, which allowed him to marry Katy Perry and mingle with the top celebrities. He’s open about his childhood, so most people know he was sexually abused as a young child. Likewise, he was bulimic as a teenager.
His dad hoped to turn him into a man, so the pair went to Hong Kong when Brand was 16 years old. The father hand-picked a prostitute for the official and first sexual experience. Russell had it rough during his early career because he had a drug addiction and thought of himself as a sex addict.
When he was young, he felt that he had to sell his body for sex to afford the drugs he craved. He was an escort, which helped him get by before he became a celebrity.
5. Raquel Welch – The Working Girl
Raquel Tejada changed her last name to Welch and became a sex symbol during the 1960s. This young woman was a highly sought-after escort who made tons of money for her services. Originally, Welch moved to Dallas, Texas, with her kids. Then, she became a Neiman Marcus model and worked on the side as a cocktail waitress.
When she lived in Dallas, it was said that high-profile officials paid for her services as a prostitute. Raquel made a great name for herself in that aspect and wasn’t shy about taking off her clothing. In 1979, she was on the cover of Playboy!
Once she found Hollywood success, her days of prostitution ended. However, men still dream about the timeless spread found in Playboy. She was never caught for her “crimes.”
6. Tony Danza – The Man for Merv
As strange or twisted as it sounds, women aren’t the only ones who rise to the top as prostitutes. Tony Danza is a television star from the 1980s after showing up in Who’s the Boss?, but he wasn’t such a boss early on in his career!
Tony wanted to make it big, and he caught the eye of one prostitute at a boxing gym. She helped Danza out, passing his telephone number to a producer she was banging at the time.
That connection worked because Danza was introduced to Merv Griffin. He was seen as unusual because of his behaviors. In fact, it’s alleged that he paraded Tony around naked/half-naked at social gatherings and parties. This wasn’t unusual for Merv, and it paid off well for Danza in the end! We don’t think he was a prostitute, but he was in that world for a while!
7. Sophie Anderton – Beyond Modeling
Sophie Anderton was highly successful as a model and is now a reality TV specialist. This British beauty became addicted to drugs and alcohol. In fact, she used the celebrity status to prostitute herself, reportedly charging wealthy men $15,000 per hour to fuel those addictions.
During the days, she drank vodka, and at night she enjoyed cocaine. When her stash ran low, she’d sleep with more men to get things restocked.
Anderton primarily blames modeling for her start down the dark path. In fact, she said she’s not the only one who suffered, and she was right! Many models become prostitutes and get between $10,000 and $40,000 each night!
8. Nancy Reagan – “First” Escort
Nancy Reagan is the former First Lady, and she is always shown with poise and grace. However, you may not realize that she had a part in prostitution. President Reagan’s wife had aspirations for Hollywood like her husband. Nancy Davis/Reagan struggled to get roles, finally landing a job as a hostess girl. She was there to entertain, wine, and dine actors.
As Nancy Davis, she dated many actors, gaining a reputation as a prostitute. Finally, her “job” came to an end when she met Ronald.
9. Eliot Spitzer – Busted in a High-end Prostitution Ring
Eliot Spitzer was the New York Governor but had to resign once he was identified as “client nine” in an affidavit for Emperors Club VIP. This was a high-end prostitution ring, and it’s alleged that Spitzer paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to bang Kristen/Ashley Dupre and other prostitutes.
Though he was caught for his actions, he didn’t face any criminal charges. While we all aspire to be that lucky, it’s probably better to just use a dating app instead of finding escorts!
10. Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant was actually arrested for lewd conduct in 1995 after he was found with the prostitute called Divine Brown by the L.A.P.D.
Actor Hugh Grant pleaded “no contest” to the lewd conduct charges, got two years of probation, and had to pay a small fine.
In fact, Hugh was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, doing an interview just a week after Grant pleaded “no contest” after getting arrested. He brought it up, saying he did a bad thing and didn’t seem all that phased by it.
Though he was born in London, he lives in the US and works here. This all happened a few weeks before Nine Months was released, which was his first film. It seems he hasn’t done anything else wrong, and his job as an actor definitely didn’t suffer!
11. Heidi Fleiss – Hollywood Madam
Back in the 1990s, Heidi Fleiss was known as the Hollywood madam. She was caught running a large prostitution ring. While she never named any names, the police found uncashed traveler’s checks from Sheen in her purse during the arrest.
Heidi Fleiss was sentenced to about 37 months in prison because of tax evasion, but she only served 21. No one knows about the other celebrities who used her service. However, in 2011, it came out that Charlie Sheen had spent well over $25,000 for a wild weekend with three escorts. The Hollywood madam is no longer in business, as far as we can tell.
12. Charlie Sheen
It’s well known now that Charlie Sheen had many demons in his closet. His history of drugs and alcohol makes it no surprise that he was into prostitutes. Though he never prostituted himself that we know of, his job as an actor seemed to take him to many naughty places.
He was caught up in Heidi Fleiss’ sex ring, and you learned about the story earlier. We’re sure there are more of them out there, but those women weren’t caught!
13. Tiger Woods – Reported from the New York Post
Everyone knows Tiger Woods as a pro golfer. As with other celebrities, he had a dark side. In 2009, The New York Post reported that he had regularly contacted one madam, paying more than $60,000 to have sex with various prostitutes. In fact, it was revealed that Woods had extramarital affairs with over 12 women!
After the incident came to light, Woods’ wife asked for a divorce, which happened in 2010. He lost many endorsement contracts because of it, including General Motors, Gatorade, and AT&T. It’s probably a good thing he was never in a movie; even more fans would have ripped him to shreds for his naughtiness.
14. Jimmy Swaggart
Jimmy Swaggart is a highly popular preacher. A private detective followed him to a motel in Louisiana, taking pictures of Swaggart with a prostitute. He finally came clean once ABC News put the story on Nightline, causing him to tear up while speaking to a television audience and his congregation.
He said he had sinned against the Lord and his parish and wanted to ask for forgiveness. Though we’re paraphrasing, you can probably guess that his words talked a lot about God.
15. Deborah Jeane Palfrey – The D.C. Madam
Deborah Jeane Palfrey was dubbed the D.C. Madam after getting convicted of racketeering. She ran a very high-profile escort agency in Washington, D.C., called Pamela Martin and Associates.
While there were no celebrities as we know them, the agency served various government officials, such as Randall L. Tobias, the former Eli Lilly CEO. At the time, he was the Ambassador for the U.S. International Development Agency. Tobias resigned after the scandal came to light.
Palfrey had already gone to prison for similar crimes in the 1990s and couldn’t bear to spend upwards of 55 years in jail now. Therefore, she committed suicide. In the note, she begged for forgiveness from her mom and claimed she was a victim of a lynching because everyone turned against her after the truth came out.
While it’s sad, you also have to remember that prostitution is illegal. These high-profile businessmen could have used a free casual dating app to find hookups for free! They chose to use her service (and she decided to create it). Don’t do the crime if you’re unable or unwilling to pay the consequences!
16. Rupert Everett
Rupert Everett is an English novelist, actor, and New Wave singer who was born into a well-to-do family. You wouldn’t think sex workers would come from that background, but he got through college by escorting.
After landing his first film role in Another Country (1984), he chose to come out of the closet and announce he was gay. Likewise, he wasn’t shy about his feelings and revealed that he was a “rentboy” while promoting his role in My Best Friend’s Wedding. He’s also hosted various interviews about different British sex workers!
17. Dee Dee Ramone
Douglas Colvin, also known as Dee Dee Ramone, was the co-founder and bassist for The Ramones, a legendary punk band. He spent most of his time as a New York street hustler. While reluctant to go public with the information, other members of the band imply that “53rd & 3rd” was inspired by sex workers and Dee Dee’s experiences in that cruising area.
The song is pretty grim. It talks about the “johns” being uninterested. Finally, one is, but the narrator stabs the john to prove he isn’t a sissy. Sex work can be very dangerous, so it’s no surprise that celebrities must be careful, even in a song!
18. Jerry Springer
Most people don’t know that Jerry Springer was a councilman in Cincinnati. While serving in that role, his name popped up on a personal check for prostitution services during a raid on a brothel in Fort Wright, Kentucky. Springer admitted he had sex with a prostitute and resigned from the post.
His candor and truthfulness are said to be part of why he was re-elected in 1975 to the council, and then he became mayor of the city in 1979. Regardless, he moved away from politics and started The Jerry Springer Show, which has risen to fame for its fights and other antics.
19. Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein was a noted philanthropist. As a billionaire already, he founded a financial management firm called J. Epstein and Co., which was later renamed to Financial Trust Co. Allegedly, he paid many underage girls for sex, and they all attended his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
In 2008, he pled guilty to soliciting prostitution charges. He’s dubbed one of the famous people because he also allegedly committed suicide, hanging himself because of his guilt over what he had done.
20. Cardi B
Cardi B started her career by dancing for dollars as an exotic dancer. At just 18 years old, she used the job to pay her bills. However, the rapper said she stopped stripping back in 2015 because she wanted to take a different path. Being a stripper isn’t illegal in itself, but most strippers pad their wallets with extra money from hooking.
21. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt might have played a dork in his first role on Parks and Rec, but he quickly turned into a superhero movie guru before our eyes. Still, he was a stripper before he became famous! During a Buzzfeed interview in 2015, the actor revealed to all that he used to strip for money in Hawaii while he lived out of his van.
Pratt said that he enjoyed getting naked because it was freeing. He believed it couldn’t hurt to get paid for something he already liked to do. However, he has said he wasn’t the best stripper, so he didn’t get the best gigs.
22. Lady Gaga
One of the most famous people right now is Lady Gaga. However, before she started earning awards for her singing, she was actually a burlesque dancer on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. This pop star is very candid about her pre-fame jobs throughout the years, but only recently has she confirmed that she stripped for money in the past.
She said that she made more money while stripping than she did waitressing. However, Lady Gaga also said that she never revealed everything.
23. Blac Chyna
Blac Chyna started her career as a stripper in the King of Diamonds club in Miami. Though she was never charged with lewd conduct or did anything illegal, she became an entrepreneur and reality TV star. In fact, she says she’d probably still strip if she hadn’t broken into Hollywood!
24. Sydney Biddle Barrows
Sydney Biddle Barrows was called the Mayflower Madam because of her heritage. She created a high-end escort service named Cachet, which ran in New York City for five years before authorities shut it down in 1984. Some of her clients included oil sheiks, foreign diplomats, and business executives.
Everyone is focused on what they can get, and when it comes to sex, everyone’s similar. You want personalized content when you view pornography, like on Camsoda, and most people turn to real-life adventures at some point.
While some celebrities did naughty and questionable things, most were not part of prostitution scandals. They were quiet about their dealings, did non-illegal things, such as stripping, and rose to fame.
Some celebrities believe that sex work is a business and shouldn’t be illegal. Whether you agree or not, I highly recommend using dating and hookup apps instead of prostitution services!