Prince Could Ball! 7 Unexpected Pre-Fame Lives (RIP Prince)
Every celebrity works one or two strange jobs before hitting the big time, and often they're jobs they'd rather the rest of the world never knew about. But as we learned when we discovered that Christopher Walken was a lion tamer and Jimi Hendrix masturbated his way out of the Army, sometimes those jobs are so insane they deserve to be recorded in a golden history book and preserved for all time.
Hulk Hogan Was In A '70s Rock Band
Let's all take a moment to lament the trajectory of the Hulkster's slow decline -- from a larger-than-life Real American clobbering the likes of the villainous Undertaker and King Kong Bundy, to a leathery old racist banging his best friend's wife on a grainy sex tape while his daughter's music screams at him from his cellphone -- and let's take that moment while listening to the beautifully arranged, poignant song "Hulkster In Heaven" from Hogan's 1995 album Hulk Rules:
We wish Hulk's love could bring you back too, big guy.
You might think that song was just a shameless attempt to cash in on a child's tragic death, and you'd be right. But what would you say if we told you that Hulk Hogan started out as a real musician in a real band before he became a wrestler?
Bass guitar and Lycra. Checks out.
It's true. Hulk Hogan was an aspiring musician and spent 10 years playing guitar and fretless bass in various bands. In fact, he even dropped out of college to focus on one such band, a five-piece called Ruckus. This is back when he was still plain old Terry Gene Bollea, a mustache-less proto-Hogan who looked more like a pet store clerk than an international superstar.
"I got these 24-inch pythons, brother, and they're yours
for only a hundred bucks each, this week only."
See if you can find him on Ruckus' album cover (Hint: He's lurking in the background like some kind of disco genie):
They summoned him by rubbing a magic lava lamp.
Ruckus became kind of a big deal in Tampa, Florida, attracting a lot of young fans, mostly female. According to Hulk, "There was all this hot ass running around, you know? All of a sudden, before I knew it, there was a bunch of wrestlers at our gigs."
He recognized one of the muscle-men as the manager of Superstar Billy Graham, a famous pro wrestler, and started following him around. Eventually, Hulk asked if he could try out, and the wrestling crowd happily auditioned him by breaking his leg. When he came back after that, sans police or lawyers, they began his training, because wrestlers only recruit people who are insane. Ruckus wound up being the Hulkster's final band (not counting Hulk Hogan And The Wrestling Boot Band) before his wrestling career took off and he became known across the globe as that orange goblin who was great at wrestling but had chronic difficulty hearing when crowds were cheering for him.
Prince Was An Amazing Basketball Player
When Charlie Murphy talked about the time he got destroyed by Prince during an impromptu basketball game at Prince's house on Chappelle's Show, you probably wrote it off as a hilarious piece of sketch comedy. We are thunderously happy to report that at least part of that story is completely verifiable -- in his youth, Prince was a sick-ass basketball player with an equally solid Afro game.
Though, somehow, not the most impressive Afro on the team.
According to teachers at Minneapolis Central High, where Prince went to school back when he was still regular old Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince was a good kid who was shy and a bit nerdy. Rather than getting pushed around by the jocks -- like Prince would later have us believe in his biographical ballad Purple Rain -- he was more likely to be found hanging out with them. Which makes us wonder how factual an account Purple Rain really is.
"You thought Minnesota was a real place? Heh, it's just one of my nonsense words."
Prince was also a great basketball player who was super quick and had great ball-handling skills, but due to his funkadelic Hobbit stature, he could never make the starting lineup. He was always going to be spending a large portion of the game on the bench. But music journalist Toure (the writer of I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became An Icon) played ball with Prince, and this is what he had to say:
He picked up my ball and made a face that was understood in international shit-talking parlance to mean I'ma kick yo' ass, and started knifing around the court, moving quick, dribbling fast, sliding under my arm to snatch rebounds I thought for sure I had. He was showing off, being competitive, and, yes, engaging me in the same way I'd interacted with so many men I had played basketball with before. He moved like a player and played like one of those darting little guys you have to keep your eye on every second. Blink and he's somewhere you wouldn't expect. Lose control of your dribble for a heartbeat and he's relieved you of the ball. He jitterbugged around the court like a sleek little lightning bug, so fast he'd leave a defender stranded and looking stupid if he weren't careful.
Also, he was guaranteed to go skins every single game.
So, not only can Prince dominate at basketball -- he can apparently also teleport. The only way that story could be more awesome is if Prince was playing while wearing platform heels (which, according to Wendy Melvoin, one of Prince's ex-guitarists, is totally something he used to do).
Chris Pratt Was A Terrible Stripper And A Decent Amateur Artist
At age 17, Chris Pratt quit college to work for a company that lured him in via a newspaper ad demanding to know: "You like rock-n-roll music? You want to make money?" Discovering that he did, in fact, like rock-n-roll music and making money, Chris answered the ad, which for some inexplicable reason wound up being a job selling coupons door-to-door (the coupons were for haircuts, manicures, and other things likely not worth the cash that had been spent to print them). The coupon job couldn't have paid that much, however, because he supplemented his wages by moonlighting as a discount male stripper.
According to him, he made "about $40 a pop" dancing at a few bachelorette parties and a not-at-all-depressing birthday party for his friend's grandmother, where he stripped down to his boxers because he was dedicated to his craft. He also worked in a local restaurant owned by his friend's family, where he painted a Roman-themed mural on the wall (which is still there to this day, and not simply because the paint won't come off).
"We're holding onto this. Macklins only appreciate over time."
See that little framed picture in the corner of the painting? That's a Teen People interview with Chris from 2003, exclusively about his work as an artist. It even featured several of his paintings, which ... aren't bad, honestly:
Which is more than we can say for his haircut.
After quitting his pyramid-scheme job at 19, Chris and a buddy moved to Hawaii, where they were both basically homeless and living out of a van.
According to Pratt, he was just having a blast, working as little as possible and painting more pictures, such as this vaguely haunted-looking self-portrait:
This looks like it should be in a room with no exits.
It is unclear whether he was intentionally transforming into Bodhi from Point Break, but, judging by this picture, he was clearly four president masks and a bank away from full-on Swayze:
Keep him away from all surfboards.
And because Chris Pratt is just the sort of person everything works out for, while working at a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., he met Rae Dawn Chong, also known as Tommy Chong's daughter and the lady from Commando.
Jon Hamm Was A Set-Dresser For A Softcore Porn
Despite being so distinguishedly handsome that he appeals to all sexualities and genders simultaneously, Jon Hamm's acting career took a long time to go anywhere. According to him, back when Dawson's Creek was on TV and he was 25, he looked too old to play anyone other than Dawson's father.
"No one will believe you're in high school. You look like you're
on your second divorce, minimum."
While he was struggling to finally land that career-making role in The Day The Earth Stood Still, Hamm took a job as a set-dresser on a softcore porn film. And according to him, it was the most depressing time of his life. Remember, we're talking softcore Cinemax porn, which means that everybody involved has to deal with the stigma (and potential shame) of acting in a porn, but nobody gets to actually have any sex. That's like decorating a Christmas tree and then immediately throwing it out on the curb for the trash collector without ever opening any presents.
Everyone Hamm worked with was dealing with varying stages of personal tragedy. And he was the freaking set-dresser. Being the set-dresser on a softcore cable film is like being the guy that buys Tom Cruise's groceries. The experience was so discouraging and miserable that, when Jon Hamm told the story to Anderson Cooper, Cooper immediately poured him a drink.
Considering Hamm later checked into a clinic for alcohol abuse, this gesture,
while well-meaning, probably only added to his woes.
Whoopi Goldberg Was A Mortuary Beautician
Before Whoopi Goldberg became a professional lunatic, she was a gifted actor. And before she became an actor, she had to pay her dues working random odd jobs, just like most people do while they're struggling to break into the industry. However, the jobs Whoopi took while getting her career off the ground were the kinds of professions typically limited to Charles Dickens characters trying to work off a dead parent's debt.
For instance, Whoopi Goldberg worked as a bricklayer. And, according to her, she was pretty good at it. Good enough to join the bricklayer's union, at any rate, which is apparently a thing that exists. Whoopi said, "I needed money and I needed to work. So I figured I would rather lay bricks than lay men for money." Which makes us wonder if all bricklayers chose their profession with this same logic.
But Whoopi's weirdest job of all was putting makeup on dead people. See, Whoopi had a beautician's license, so when she saw an ad in the paper to doll up dead folks at a funeral home, she took it, because a job is a job and corpses don't bitch you out if you screw up their eye shadow. On her first day, her boss called her into the basement for a sort of "new hire" meeting. However, this was a clever trick -- her boss was actually hiding in one of the drawers normally used to store dead bodies, and when Whoopi came in, he slowly slid the drawer open and sat up, which caused her to knock herself out against the basement door in her fury to escape.
Her boss felt this was a valuable lesson that every new hire should learn so that they wouldn't get freaked out working on dead bodies alone. You may recognize this as something a maniac would say, but Whoopi thought it was great and truly appreciated the wisdom she'd gained by being knocked unconscious by a strange man in a mortuary basement. We assume a similar series of events led to her relationship with Ted Danson.
Mick Jagger Worked At A Mental Hospital
Mick Jagger has had exactly two jobs in his entire life -- being Mick Jagger and working as a porter at a definitely creepy and almost certainly cursed psychiatric hospital. It is hard to say which job involved more skeletal creatures.
... this one?
That's Bexley Hospital in Dartford, England, formerly Bexley Mental Hospital, and known as Heath Asylum even before that. There aren't that many photos of it now, possibly because they all burst into flames the instant someone tries to develop them, but the ones that do exist look like they should be hanging in the foyer of the Overlook Hotel.
All these patients believe they're plants.
When Jagger was 17 years old, he worked at this medical spookhouse before heading off to university to study how to be in a rock band for half a goddamned century. Jagger's parents were apparently pretty stuffy, and they made him get a job while he was commuting between home and college. While he was working at the hospital, Jagger said, all the staff (and even the patients) were sex-crazed lunatics. According to him, Bexley was full of "nymphomaniac nurses and nymphomaniac patients" hungry for young orderly flesh.
The hospital is undressing you with its windows.
It was while working at this mental hospital/sex dispensary that he lost his virginity, he claims. One day (again, according to Mick Jagger's personal historian, Mick Jagger), one of the nurses grabbed him, pulled him into a cupboard, and rolled his stones. Because we assume anyone who comes into sexual contact with Mick Jagger contracts struttin' disease, we can only imagine that nurse is still out there somewhere, dancing to Cheap Trick in a karaoke bar for the second consecutive hour.
Robert Durst Was A Camp Counselor
For those of you who didn't see HBO's The Jinx: Robert Durst is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the country, and he probably killed his wife, his best friend, and his elderly neighbor. We say "probably" because he basically admitted as much after forgetting his microphone was plugged in during The Jinx's final episode.
After being the subject of a terrifying documentary series, it's hard to imagine there's any more nightmare material left in Robert Durst's past. But, like all horror franchises, there's always room for a prequel about the killer's early years. And, much like Jason Voorhees, Robert Durst spent his teenage years at a children's summer camp.
Suddenly, Camp Crystal Lake doesn't seem all that bad.
After watching The Jinx, writer Michael Sigman couldn't help but feel a dim pang of recognition. Chasing after the tiniest hint of memory, he took out his old summer camp photos ...
... in which he saw Robert Durst standing right behind him.
"And after this, we're going to make wallets out of human skin-
I mean, duct tape."
It turns out that, in 1964, Robert Durst somehow got a job at Camp Lenox in Western Massachusetts. According to Sigman, there were no signs that Durst would later become a giant murderous insect person. The most evil thing Durst did as a camp counselor -- that we know of -- was to smuggle ice cream into the camp. That kind of seems like a nice thing to do, until you realize that he shook the kids awake in the middle of the night to give them the ice cream. If Robert Durst snuck into your house and woke you up in the middle of the night, ice cream or not, you would call every law enforcement agency in the immediate area, starting with the Super Friends.
Aaron Short is a freelance writer from Edinburgh who's terrified of Robert Durst now.
Also be sure to check out 5 Iconic Roles That Made Actors' Lives A Living Hell and 7 Famous Actors Who Lost Their Minds Getting Into Character.
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