My bank account was in the red. In bold numerical symbols, periods and dashes, Wells Fargo informed me that I owed them two hundred bucks. It was money that I didn’t have, money that I haven’t seen in weeks. Living in New York City had sucked me dry financially. With the job market still in turmoil and old roommates who took my rent money and ran, I was on the verge of being homeless. I didn’t know anyone minus the random guy I met online a few weeks back. I never thought that I would be the girl who went on dinner dates just so she wouldn’t go hungry at night but I was. I charmed an older man into buying me expensive pork tenderloin meals and somehow, managed to keep my pants on after our good night kiss. He stopped calling me, probably after realizing I’d never give myself up to him. I resorted to the internet when I couldn’t take my hunger pains any longer. It was time to find someone else with money to manipulate.
I combed through my usual meal tickets: Match, OKCupid, Craigslist. No one stood out. My stomach rumbled and I wondered if the homeless men I saw every morning begging for handouts really did make more than 30K a year doing so. I heard that those folk were secretly millionaires, bored with their luxurious lifestyle. Maybe I could seduce one of them. I shut my eye lids and fell asleep on my sheetless air mattress.
I spent the next morning at the laundry mat, checking the dusty floor for quarters. I had luck once and found a fist full of change but today wasn’t as fortunate. I sat down on a bench, frustrated but enjoying the cool AC, other luxury I haven’t felt in weeks. I picked up a recent but abandoned copy of ‘the Village Voice,’ flipped to the music reviews and finally, the job classifieds. Nothing was listed. There were drivers wanted but of course, I didn’t have a license and living in New York, had no desire to get one. I turned to the last page and read a blurb about a website needing ‘models.’ I often wondered if things got truly bad, would I resort to prostitution. No; much as I loved Soderberg’s ‘the Girlfriend Experience,’ I could never be a hooker. But posing nude… ‘Earn up to $1000!’ the ad promised. That sentence turned me on. I sent an email to the listed address as soon as I got home.
Ned was short but attractive with ginger curls and full arm-sleeves of ink. He went to school for political science but later learned he would make bank talking suggestive photos of cute girls. He was professional and kind and was excited to shoot me. I met him three days later at his Park Slope studio after emailing him fuzzy pictures of my face and breasts. We talked about the end goal of the shoot and he asked me if there were any positions I was uncomfortable with. I shook my head and told him that I was flexible like Gumby. Ned smiled and nodded in approval. I took off my clothes and he took out his camera.
The type of photographs we decided to take catered to a certain demographic but the group was growing. Babes and their bicycles, hot girls with tattoos and studs, riding their hot fixed gears. Mainstream porn was losing its touch and the industry looked at other creative outlets for inspiration and money. I bought my blue Schwinn Victory to the set and leaned over it in various poses draping across the metal handlebars like tan fabric. I did feel like a model, with my wing-tipped eyeliner and straighten hair, brushing across my face. I spoke to Ned the entire time, asking questions about his background and career. He was a true southern gentleman, who constantly complimented my curves and sweetly asked if he could touch me in order to pose. After a few test shots and a quick lighting adjustment, the shooting began, the shutter on the camera never ceasing to stop. Spread eagles. Vessels stretched open. Flying fingers. The pretty color combination of my bicycle’s navy frame against my dark skin. We listened to Vampire Weekend and talked about the future of porn. Ned clicked and I posed. What a shapely form. I felt high and smiled the entire time.
A week later, I met Ned back at his studio. It was lightly raining out as he poured me Earl Grey in a tin cup. I opened the check his production company cut for me. Six hundred dollars and no cents, it read. Perfect. It was money and I needed it badly. I let Ned explore my body for an hour or two before I walked through the wind and water, looking for a bank I could make a deposit at.