I Sell My Body For Money To Pay My College Tuition

College is expensive. So I turned to sex.

woman in lingerie, looking at labtop Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

"Bump N Grind" blares from my cell phone, which means it's a customer. I just walked in the door and heated up my leftover pizza but I promised I'd stay on the clock for the next two hours. And missed calls are terrible for my reputation.

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Pizza in one hand, phone in the other, I answer. "Hi, sweetheart. I missed you," I say in a sultry voice. I'm a picture of exquisiteness in my oversized t-shirt and unwashed hair piled on top of my head. Luckily, BigBoy79 has no idea.


"Vanessa, how was class?"

After working in the adult industry for only one week, I already have a few regulars. They're usually polite and ask about my day.

I chew my pizza away from the phone receiver and swallow before giving him my best impression of how I imagine Dita Von Teese and Zooey Deschanel's love child would sound if she were a phone sex operator.

It's not only phone sex, though. The adult entertainment industry falls onto a huge spectrum, ranging from five-minute sext sessions to wrapping up panties to mail to some Joe Schmoe in Michigan. If it exists, there's a fetish for it. And I'm doing it all.


I've spent my third year of college brainstorming creative ways to make rent because freelancing isn't exactly a gold mine.

According to The New York Times, the "cam girl" industry alone brought in approximately $1 billion in 2013, and numbers have only grown since. There are over 20,000 models online at any given time, and that means that there are many more people watching.

I'm not a math whiz but when most models are setting their own prices, I'm pretty sure I could hypothetically make the month's rent in seven days. And yet, here are a few things I heard constantly when I was considering selling my body for sex:

"Alex, you're so smart. You don't need to resort to this. You could have a real job!"


OK, first of all, this is a real job. I'm providing services to people who choose to pay for them, and we have a mutual understanding of the business transaction. I have two other jobs and I'm a full-time honors student at one of the best private universities in the state. When I start making that extra 29 cents on the dollar that men are making, then I'll consider sitting in a cubicle all day. The keyword here is "consider."

"You should be treating your body like a temple, not a trash can."

I know my body is a temple. I decorate it accordingly. Dress me up, dress me down; worship me. That's the point.

"You're going to get a wh*re reputation and never get hired or find a spouse."


Right. Because the hundreds of thousands of adult entertainment workers who show their bodies for money don't have fulfilling lives, meaningful occupations, or happy families, either.

So after taking all of these admonitions into careful consideration, I signed up for a multiple-service site. I engage in a multitude of sins if you will. I take photos, record personalized videos, host live webcam shows, and text via Kik, among other things.

Some people may be surprised to learn that the subculture as a whole is civilized, organized, and — for the most part — respectful. But they're horny, too. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

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When I received the email that confirmed I was certified to start working, I logged on right away.

Then I saw it: "INBOX (1)" I open it to read a request from a friendly ParisGuy. "Hi, are you available to phone call for 15 minutes?" And then continued to list the things he expected of me. Deep breath. "ACCEPT." Click.

But I wasn't nervous. It was surprisingly natural to me.

R Kelly started playing as my phone's screen lit up. I practiced saying "hello" about seven times before I picked up. And before I know it, I hung up and I made $10. That was literally the easiest, most fun $10 I've ever made. The guy thanked me and said, "Hope to talk again soon," before he hung up. What a gentleman.


It's more time-consuming than I thought marketing myself on Twitter, attracting new clients, keeping relationships with my regulars, and constantly making sure that I'm looking at least a 7/10 in case someone wants a last-minute chat or photo. Between services and these marketing strategies, I put 15 hours a week on average into entertaining. Making money and self-trained marketing? Right on.

And I'm meeting all kinds of interesting people. Sarah is an alternative porn director from Philly. Zoe is a former topless waitress and cam girl who used to move between exotic islands and now resides in Iowa. Misty is stripping her way through med school. Sarah even offered me a job at her studio, behind the camera.

Then there are the few out there that have nothing better to do with their lives than drag models down. These are self-proclaimed "moderators." They monitor chat rooms, tell models step-by-step instructions for shows, and even order the models what to say and to whom they should say it.

And when you don't deliver, they sh*t all over you. Not literally, although there are some people who are definitely into that. (And I've learned that $500 is still not enough for me to even consider it.)


My first run-in was with Moderator NickX. He private messaged me, telling me I had a lot of potential and explaining his proposition. He would help me get major tokens (10 tokens = one dollar on the site), and in turn, I give him a percentage and free shows/photos. At the time, it seemed like a nice deal.

So I kept his private chat open during my public show. He explained how to get tips from viewers, how to chat with them while still being engaging on camera, and when to tweet to let people know I was online. And it was working.

But soon, comments like "a little to the left" turned into "you stupid b*tch, you better listen to me or else." The quick transition was very jarring. He added me on Skype and Kik, demanding free services at extremely inconvenient times.

Dirty requests turned into personal attacks on my body, my ability to perform, and even my personality. However short-lived, it was an extremely toxic relationship that I diffused within a week. I deleted him on all media platforms, reported him to the site, and haven't heard from him since.


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Luckily for me, I've grown a thick skin over the years and I'm very confident with my body. But I can only imagine how many girls are out there who are stuck in these horrible relationships, taking all of the negativity and abuse from a moderator, just waiting for him to tell her she looks nice one day a week.

Dr. AJ Marsden, assistant professor at Beacon College in Leesburg, FL, teaches classes in human sexuality, health psychology, and human development. While she notes that common health problems reported by performers include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, bipolar affective disorder, and suicide, correlations do not mean causation. Some of these disorders are related to toxic relationships with people like NickX, but the social stigma is just as relevant.

"As attitudes become more positive and the negative stigma decreases," says Marsden, "we may see a decrease in mental health issues among those in the adult entertainment industry."


I'm not saying you have to get naked on camera to have a good time. I'm just saying do what makes you happy, whether it's for work or money or fun or something else. I've never physically felt my confidence flourish in such a short period of time.

Having dealt with depression, sexual identity crisis, social anxiety, extreme introversion, and panic attacks, I would have never pictured myself doing this sort of work. After growing up in a Catholic, Republican farm home, I'm finally able to express my sexuality. It's liberating. And providing a safe, non-judgmental place for others to express their sexuality to me is very fulfilling.

It's a business venture as well. I sell photos of my feet for five dollars. I sext while I do my homework for 20 cents per incoming message. Sometimes customers Skype just to talk. Depending on the services I'm providing, I'll make anywhere between $15 and $100 an hour.


"There are many instances of women being able to successfully walk away from the industry debt-free [after college] and ready to start their new careers," says Dr. Marsden. "However, it's important to understand that taking on positions like those in the industry may impact their careers... and opportunities later in life."

That's why I've taken such care in creating my online personality and keeping it separate from real life. I've even gone through the "State-block" process, where I can block specific states from finding my online profile or streaming my shows.

I have my bad days, too. I get called names or I invest time that doesn't see the reward. But the reputation I build for myself on the site and the support I get from my clientele make up for it.

Professional Cam Model Ashe Maree said it best in an interview, "For the most part, you're getting a really personal experience. Even if you're going there only for the boobies and only for the booty, you're going to leave there with some [of the model's] personality whether you like it or not." And I get a taste of their personality, too.


I'm still learning as I go. I don't know how long this will last or how much money I'll make, but I'm not worried about it right now.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take this call.

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Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango but is choosing to remain anonymous.