‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Star Detailed How Things ‘Got Messy’ When Bouncing for a Strip Club

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Everyone has to start somewhere. Before they were actors on television, many stars worked odd jobs to make ends meet including this ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ star.

Christopher Meloni may have created one of TV’s iconic characters in Elliott Stabler. But back when he was trying to break into the industry, he was a bouncer at a strip club. Meloni was still young and a bit reckless, and he absolutely hated the job. He only worked as a bouncer to put food on the table.

In a recent interview, Meloni discussed those early odd jobs he performed and why being a bouncer was the worst of the worst.

“The most miserable job I ever held, but it was either that or starve in New York City,” Meloni said. “I was a bouncer at Kenny’s Castaways, The Bitter End, and Stringfellows. Which was a nightclub that turned into a strip joint. I was just a kid, I didn’t know what I was doing, and  I wasn’t imposingly big. I worked out, but I was just another guy. You’re there to try to police people who are shitfaced, so you should have a gift for gab, and I’m not that good at that. And I don’t have a diplomacy bone, so consequently, there were a couple of times where it got messy.”

Chris Meloni Returns to ‘Law & Order’

Chris Meloni shocked fans back in 2011 when he walked away from “Law & Order: SVU” between seasons. Contract negotiations fell through between the actor and the network. As a result, Elliott Stabler was written off the show. The early seasons of the show relied on Stabler being out front and center with partner Olivia Benson.

The show changed and continued to find success after Meloni left. But many “Law & Order” fans wished they could see the pair together one more time. Over the next decade, the actor pursued other projects. He ventured into zanier, comedic roles such as the “Wet Hot American Summer” franchise or the underappreciated show “Happy!.”

But Meloni always kept a special place in his heart for Stabler. And in 2021, he returned to the franchise in a big way. Meloni’s Stabler became the star of the spin-off “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” He also returned to the “SVU” fold for several guest appearances. With Meloni expected to return next season, the future is looking brighter than ever for Elliott Stabler.

But even if Meloni quit “Law & Order” once again, he would probably never return to being a bouncer for strip clubs. He moved past that era in his life, fortunately. Now, he can look back on a time where he had to struggle to make it and remember how far he’s come in his career.