Here's What Melissa Did Before 'RHONJ'

by Marenah Dobin

The easiest drinking game to play while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey would be to take a sip every time the women take about being "old school" or having "traditional values." These ladies are all about being successful wives and mothers, but during the current season, Melissa Gorga is adding more to her identity beyond taking care of her family by opening up a clothing boutique called Envy. She may be embarking on a new career now, but what did Melissa Gorga do before she was on RHONJ? Everyone who watches the show knows all about those rumors that Melissa used to be a stripper, which she has adamantly denied, so I can't help wondering what the true story is.

On a recent episode of RHONJ, Melissa mentioned that she wanted to be a teacher, but did not pursue that when she married Joe Gorga because he wanted to have a "traditional" marriage with her staying at home as a wife and mother. (Fans of the show know that he's still trying to keep that ridiculousness going.)

According to NJ.com, Melissa graduated with a B.A. degree in elementary education from New Jersey City University. While she was a student, she worked as a tanning consultant at a place called Tropical Tanning in Bayonne — which probably explains why her tan is so on point these days. Also, according to her rep, she did once work at a gentlemen's club, but not as a stripper. Her rep told Huffington Post in 2012, "Melissa worked at the club behind the bar, not as a dancer. Worked one day a week for almost a year. She has nothing to hide."

Melissa really got her professional inspirations underway when she joined the show. Obviously, she is now a reality star, but she has capitalized on that exposure and has tried out new careers.

When she first joined the show, Melissa shared her aspiration to be a pop star. I'm probably the wrong person to ask about this since I love all of the Real Housewives musical endeavors, but I thought her song "On Display" was fun and I was feeling it. It even made it onto the iTunes dance charts. It seems like Melissa is done with singing for now, but it's still pretty cool that she took a shot at achieving her dreams.

Melissa used her persona as a "traditional wife" on RHONJ to write a book called Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage. The views shared in the book caused controversy for Melissa, because many of her "tips" for relationships were viewed as misogynistic. Melissa defended herself on Twitter, and hopefully, learned a lesson or two in the process.

Melissa really seemed to find her niche with her Melissa Gorga jewelry line for HSN. In fact, I'm going to guess that her success with this line is part of what lead her to take on opening her own clothing store.

It's never too late to try out different experiences or set new goals, so I really admire Melissa taking on this new venture with her boutique in such a public way, too. She may not have a lot of professional experience from before she became a reality TV star, but she is more than making up for that now since she has used RHONJ to try out many new opportunities from singing to designing to writing. And hopefully, she'll teach husband Joe a thing or two about what a wife "should" be in the process.

Image: Bravo