Ex-stripper has the legs to run for U.S. House

Published: Thursday, August 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 1, 2002 at 12:00 a.m.
TAMPA - Congressional candidate Chuck Kalogianis wants affordable prescription drugs and social security to be the main focus of his campaign.
But his past as a stripper may get in the way.
Kalogianis, 39, acknowledges his two-year stint with "Men in Motion" more than a decade ago when he was a struggling law student in Boston.
In his act, Kalogianis wore a Big Bird suit that masked his face but exposed his legs. It ended with him doing a chicken dance, tearing off the bright yellow costume to show his French bikini thong to crowds of women throwing money at him.
That was more than a decade ago. Today he is a successful lawyer in New Port Richey, a family man and an unopposed candidate for a Democratic nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Mike Bilirakis in Florida's 9th District, representing parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties north of the Tampa Bay area.
But the dancer label keeps popping up. Kalogianis says he's tired of the attention it gets.
When he qualified to run, a one-sentence blurb in a local paper about his campaign mentioned his "former job as a male stripper."
He says his performances were "tasteful," that there was no "full Monty" or sex. And he's not ashamed of it.
"I'll talk about it all day long, as long as the campaign doesn't get sidetracked from important issues," he said.
His dancing past was first brought to light in 1998 when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Florida House.
He did not hide it, and he even performed a dance routine at a campaign stop to make light of it.
"He was working his was through law school," said Mike Scionti, chairman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.
"Whatever it takes to get you in school, in class and graduating, as long as it's legal, I don't have a problem with," he said.
But Brett Miller, president of the North Pinellas Republican Club, said "rank and file Republicans" are apt to see his background as a minus.
"It will not be something that's spoken about," Miller said, "but it will be a factor."
STRIPPER on Page 3B Continued from 1B STRIPPER: Paid for law school The Associated Press Democratic congressional candidate - and former male stripper - Chuck Kalogianis and his wife, Kathy, are seen in New Port Richey in June 1998.

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