Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in Arkansas John Burkhalter said being a male stripper in Little Rock was one of the many "tough jobs" he had in his past.
"I did have that job for a while, a very short time," Burkhalter told Larry Henry in an interview for 5NEWS, a CBS affiliate in Arkansas. He was asked about being portrayed as a candidate with a "different background, from Chippendales dancer to multi-millionaire."
"It was when I was in Little Rock," Burkhalter said. "I’ve always been an athlete, and I was actually buying cows from a farm."
"I had like 17 acres in a little place called Billy Goat Hill, which is in North Pulaski County, and I was trying to make my way in life," he said.
On a message board entitled "Old Chippendales," a user going by the name "verymarried," recalled Burkhalter’s stripper days.
"John was once a major body builder and moonlighted as a male stripper in so called straight strip joints in a low-end southern Chippendale style circuit," the message said. "He wore white tuxes with tails and handed out long stem roses to ladies, then took everything off."
A commenter on an article in the Arkansas Times said Burkhalter used to go by the name "Metro Express."
"Single moms endorse John too as a former stripper John will work hard to create jobs!" they said. "GO METRO EXPRESS (which was his stripper name back in the 80's @ Breckenridge Village)!"
A request for comment from the Burkhalter campaign was not returned.
Burkhalter, a former state highway commissioner, is running against Rep. Tim Griffin (R., Ark.). Speculation had been brewing during the race regarding Burkhalter’s past line of work, including a mysterious robo-call that asked voters last year whether it would affect their vote. At the time Burkhalter was considering a gubernatorial run.
"John Burkhalter’s experience includes having worked as a male stripper," a recording of the call said. "Does this information make you more likely to support John Burkhalter? Press one. Less likely to support John Burkhalter? Press two."
Burkhalter’s interview with 5NEWS was conducted in September, though no news articles have been written about his admission.
Though he seems to have left dancing behind, Burkhalter now considers himself a "dance dad" since both of his daughters are into competitive dance, he told the Little Rock Soiree in 2012.
In the interview Burkhalter said he has lived the "Arkansas dream," working many jobs before owning his own piping business.
"I grew up in a small town, rural area Sylvan Hills, north of North Little Rock, and I grew up blue-collar," he said. "I grew up working hard, tough jobs. I used to lift railroad ties out of boxcars at Tie Plant in Rose City. When I was working my way through college at Fayetteville I would work at the chicken plants, catching the chicken plants at night and load them into boxes. I’ve had a lot of tough jobs. I also cleaned out theaters."
"I am that guy that came from nothing," Burkhalter said.