I need money to get a Ph.D. -- should I do some fetish videos?

I sold my underwear to a skeevy dude and was shaking for an hour after he left.

Published December 13, 2006 12:52PM (EST)


Here's the thing. I need cash flow. I work two part-time jobs for about 50 hours a week and I am barely making ends meet. I have a huge mortgage (working toward selling but the market and such ... ), a reasonable car payment and some credit card bills (not enough for debt consolidation but more than I want). I do not go out often, but I do partially support a family member as well, which is where all my money goes. If my tips stay decent, I will make about 20K this year.

Part-time jobs just aren't cutting it and I have been looking for a full-time job for over two years. I already tried car sales -- I suck. I got a useless degree for the job market, and don't have the cash to go on to a Ph.D. so I can teach (my personal goal) and have a career.

So I contacted a guy about doing a fetish shoot/video. It would involve no nudity on my part. It pays quite well and could be a repeat gig. Am I nuts? I already sold my underwear to some skeevy dude. It felt great not to dip into my savings account just to pay for gas, but also, I was shaking for an hour after he left. Scared. I feel like the fetish video would be more professional (ha-ha) so I would feel safer. I'm not eating ramen yet, but I can see that day in my future and I want to avoid it.

Please let me know soon. I am only 25, so if I am about to ruin my life I want to know!

A Girl With Few Assets

Dear Girl With Few Assets,

The most important thing in your letter is that you want to get your Ph.D. and teach. That is the whole story right there. That's your life dream. That's the thing you were put here to do.

This other stuff is secondary. I have read about women who financed their graduate work by dancing in strip clubs or doing prostitution. My intuitive sense of it is that one has to be rather tough and very sophisticated to succeed in such a thing. One has to be good at business and survival. I have a feeling that you're not cut out for sex work. I hope that does not come as a disappointment. But you let a guy come to your place to buy your underwear and then you were shaking for an hour after he left. It was unwise to let him come to your place. It was unsafe. I think you know that. You put yourself at risk. That was not good judgment. So I would suggest that you stay away from this kind of work.

Just make getting the Ph.D. your primary goal. Avoid anything that distracts you from that goal. You may be able to make more money by doing some fetish video, but I fear that it will be emotionally draining and distracting. Your other jobs may not pay very well, but they will not force you to keep secrets and live in fear.

You of course are going to make up your own mind. So if you do go into sex work anyway, please do it in ways that minimize the danger. Do work that puts you in contact with other women doing similar work -- by learning to dance in clubs, for instance. Likewise, if you decide, against my better judgment, to do the fetish video, insist on some conditions. Do it only if you can talk to other women who have worked with this filmmaker, if you can get references, if you can bring someone with you to the shoot and if you can have some ground rules you feel comfortable with. And put limits on your involvement. Only do the fetish video work three times, for instance. Do it three times, take the money and get out.

But again, I don't think it's such a good idea. It's a distraction, mentally and emotionally. It's draining.

Concentrate on your goal of getting the Ph.D. OK, let's get corny. Tack up signs around your place that say "I'm working toward my Ph.D. so I can teach." Tell people "I'm working toward my Ph.D. so I can teach." Start filling out applications. Don't worry about the money. Just start going in that direction. Just start walking. You'll get there.

This is a crucial point in your life. You are 25 years old. You can start now working toward your dream in life, or you can get sidetracked. You can start now being the person you genuinely want to be, or you can continue dabbling in risqué sideshows. There isn't much time. It goes by quickly. So make a decision: Put the Ph.D. first. That's the only way you can accomplish it. It's too hard otherwise. It has to be first.

As somebody who has wasted a lot of time, I say this to you: Start now and you can have a great life. The longer you dabble, the harder it gets. Start now.

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