Exotic dancer, burlesque queen, striptease artist -- call 'em what you will, but the women (and men) who entertain us on stage sans clothing are best known as strippers. We've seen them in the movies as early as 1943, showing off their physiques and working the pole.
The latest stripper-on-screen role can be found this weekend in "We're the Millers," where none other than Jennifer Aniston gets down to her bra and panties during a "Flashdance" homage.
We don't have to feel guilty (or creepy) watching our favorite actors get naked on screen because we're not paying for it, right? So feel free to look back on movie stripper history, from the ones who struck an emotional chord to those who made us gawk (and get a bit insecure of our own bodies --damn you, movie stripper's diets!).
WARNING: As if it's not obvious enough, most of these are NSFW ... very NSFW.
Gallery | A History of Movie Strippers
- Demi Moore - ‘Striptease’ (1996)
For the love of a child, Demi Moore will strip. As former FBI secretary and single mother Erin Grant, Moore takes to the stage to raise money for her child custody battle. In this striptease she comes on stage fully clothed in a suit and tie with a fedora... until she tosses each article off to Annie Lennox’s “Money Can’t Buy It.” If anyone can go from business to casual in a matter of minutes while making the crowd go wild, it’s Moore (just look at how she uses that tie!).
- Jennifer Beals - ‘Flashdance’ (1983)
Jennifer Beals’s Alex is one of the most iconic film strippers for two reasons. One, she has the weirdest side job of any stripper ever: steel welder (we guess that's one way to stay toned...). Two, she made cascading water and a chair the most referenced dance accessories ever. Of course, we can’t blame her. If we strutted our stuff on stage in stiletto's for three minutes we’d want to sit back and cool off, too. Work it, Beals!
- Melanie Griffith - ‘Fear City’ (1984)
Melanie Griffith plays a Manhattan exotic dancer in “Fear City,” a rather unusual stripper film that follows a stripper-murdering serial killer (that’s a new one!). But before the killer shows up, Griffith is already half-naked on stage, teasing an excited crowd as she sheds her sparkly blue dress in less than a minute. This movie sure doesn’t waste any time.
- Halle Berry - ‘The Last Boy Scout’ (1991)
In one of her first roles, Halle Berry shows some serious skin. Playing the stripper girlfriend of Damon Wayans’s ex-football player, Berry shows her skills in this scene donning cowhide butt-chaps, a platinum blonde wig, a cowboy hat, and silver star pasties with a toy gun. We totally think Ginuwine ripped off Berry for his "Pony" striptease video.
- Elizabeth Berkeley & Gina Gershon - ‘Showgirls’ (1995)
The first NC-17 film to get a wide release (and one of the worse films to get released period), “Showgirls” does strippers Vegas style. Elizabeth Berekley, an aspiring dancer-turned-showgirl-but-previous-prostitute (so Vegas) ignites a heated rivalry with Gina Gershon’s Cristal, the star of the Stardust Casino’s strip club. Movie strippers don’t get any more cheesy, melodramatic, and naked on-screen than this.
- The Men of ‘The Full Monty’ (1997)
Male strippers don’t often grace the screen, especially in large groups, but when they do they go all out. In "The Full Monty," a handful of unemployed British guys decide to form an all-male striptease to make some cash, one that does more stripping than teasing. In this British comedy we get to see Robert Carlye, Tom Wilkinson, and Mark Addy among others strip down to their birthday suits, causing the women of the British Isles to go crazy. This is Chippendales, British edition.
- Salma Hayek - ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ (1996)
Salma Hayek makes even the most high-class stripper look like a trashy call girl. Her Santanico Pandemonium in "From Dusk Till Dawn" is the star performer at the Titty Twister -- and she wears a live giant snake around her neck . Can it get any more exotic? Yes, yes it can. Santanico commands a room of jaw-dropped men as she sways her hips and pours beer down her leg into Quentin Tarantino's mouth. If there's one stripper we'd crown queen, it's Santanico.
- The Women of ‘Dancing at the Blue Iguana’ (2000)
“Dancing at the Blue Iguana” centers on a non-glamorous California strip club and the dysfunctional lives of the women who work there. Daryl Hannah plays a stripper longing to have a baby, Jennifer Tilly is pregnant but wants an abortion, Sheila Kelley is having a relationship with her brother (seriously dysfunctional), and Sandra Oh writes and reads her poetry (not so dysfunctional). This is one unhappy bunch of strippers, and probably a more honest and gritty portrayal of the profession.
- Channing Tatum - ‘Magic Mike’ (2012)
We already saw dudes shed their clothing in “The Full Monty,” but unlike that British comedy, Steven Soderberg’s “Magic Mike” is based on a true story -- Channing Tatum’s true story. For those who didn’t get to see the “21 Jump Street” actor work the stage in real life, Tatum reenacted (to exaggerated degrees) his stripper experiences on-screen. We see him, along with Matthew McConaughey, show off six-packs, don butt-chaps, swing umbrellas to “It’s Raining Men,” and, in this scene, get up close and personal with one lucky lady.
- Natalie Portman - ‘Closer’ (2004)
Natalie Portman is one of the most cunning on-screen strippers in the adultery-heavy relationship drama that is Mike Nichols’s “Closer.” Portman’s Alice (or at least that’s who she says she is) is an American living in London who jumps from waitressing to stripping -- and also jumps between Jude Law’s Dan and Clive Owen’s Larry. In this scene Larry confronts Alice in her club asking her for the truth while she toys with him. What’s more tantalizing than a stripper who won’t tell you her real name (or does she?) and who smiles slyly at her every word, knowing she’s killing you with her secrets? Lying certainly is the most fun Alice has without taking her clothes off.
- Jessica Alba - ‘Sin City’ (2005)
In “Sin City,” Jessica Alba plays Nancy Callahan, the grown-up little girl that Bruce Willis’s John Hartigan saved eight years prior. When Hartigan gets released on parole he goes looking for Nancy worried about her and comes to find her working in a strip club. It’s not everyday you see a stripper so skilled with a lasso with a perfect breeze blowing through her hair.
- Barbara Stanwyck - ‘Lady of Burlesque’ (1943)
In this classic musical comedy, Barbara Stanwyck plays Dixie Daisy, a burlesque performer who tries to solve a mystery when her rival dancers are murdered. Stanwyck may not show a lot of skin or fit the modern day description of a stripper, but in this song she tells us to “take if off the e-string and play it on the g-string” all while shimmying her way across the stage. Don't underestimate those burlesque girls, they can be dirty too.
- Natalie Wood - ‘Gypsy’ (1962)
In the film version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical, a young Natalie Wood portrays the real-life burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. Pushed by her stubborn mother (Rosalind Russell) into becoming a vaudeville performer, the shy Louise transforms into the seductive and confident Gypsy. In her final performance in the film Wood proves that a true, classic burlesque entertainer need not use cheap gimmicks to excite a crowd. Instead she dons multiple elegant gowns until finally stripping it all off, covering herself with nothing but a feather. Now that’s stripping in style.
- Rose McGowan - ‘Planet Terror’ (2007)
Could there be a more badass stripper than Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling? Absolutely not. Hand it to Robert Rodriguez to craft the ultimate stripping killing machine in his B-zombie movie “Planet Terror." McGowan’s Candy is a small-town stripper who gets her leg ripped off by zombies. But that won’t stop her from using her looks to kill -- so she attaches a machine gun to her stump of a leg. Entertainment and protection, now that's a double-feature perfect for a zombie-pocalypse.
- Lindsay Lohan - ‘I Know Who Killed Me’ (2007)
While Lohan plays twins once again in this horror film, let it be known that cute little Hallie and Annie are nowhere to be found. In “I Know Who Killed Me,” Lohan is both pianist Aubrey Fleming and stripper Dakota Moss, the latter of which is hardly naked on stage but still manages to heat things up. A stripper role seems fitting as the segue from the once-freckled child star to the (supposedly recovering) addict we know Lohan as now. Stay away from the pole kids, and keep to the Disney movies.
- Jessica Biel - ‘Powder Blue’ (2009)
In this dark, morbid drama Jessica Biel plays a stripper tangled up in a whole mess of unhappy situations. As a single mother living in a motel with a comatose son, Biel’s Rose-Johnny (real name or stripper name? we’re not sure) works in a club run by a sleazy Patrick Swayze. With a red wig and a swing set Biel’s well-practiced stripper routine is definitely believable in this sad drama.
- Halle Berry - ‘Frankie and Alice’ (2010)
Halle Berry gets back on the pole again in this Canadian drama, but instead of showing skin she shows a completely shocking (and terrifying) side of herself. Based on a true story, Berry plays Frankie, a 1970s go-go stripper who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Frankie's main alter ego is the last thing you'd expect, a racist southern white woman named Alice. Who knew a stripper movie would get this bizarre?
- Joanne Woodward - ‘The Stripper’ (1963)
In 1963’s “The Stripper” Joanne Woodward plays Lila Green, an aging, failed actress-turned-stripper. After her boyfriend runs off with her money and she loses her stripping job, Lila moves in with her neighbor whose son Kenny (played by Richard Beymer) becomes infatuated with her. You’d think every young guy would go crazy for a stripper roommate, but when Kenny finds out Lila's profession he realizes she’s not the girl of his dreams.
- Rosario Dawson - ‘Rent’ (2005)
In the film version of Jonathan Larson’s musical “Rent” Rosario Dawson plays Mimi, the most cheerful stripper with the darkest, saddest secrets you’ll ever meet. Mimi is a heroin-addict and is HIV positive, but that doesn’t stop her from swinging around poles, spreading her legs with a smile, and singing her way through it all. If there’s any struggling stripper who knows how to remain full of life and have a good time, it’s Mimi. After all, she just wants to go ouuutttt tonight.