Craigslist is a powerful tool. You can use it to get an apartment, find a job, or have sex with a prostitute. In college I was surprised to find out my good friend was one of the latter. He’d started on a whim after meeting some Craigslist sex workers at a party, and now he was making $100 to receive a blowjob. (Don’t get too excited, straight guys — he was getting the BJ from another dude.) And one of the girls he met at that party sold her panties on the site for $200 a pair. I’d heard rumors about this kind of thing for years, but here was proof it was possible. Two-hundred bucks for underwear? I wasn’t up for posing in my panties, but I could totally do that! Unlike sex for money, selling used underwear didn’t feel inherently sleazy or immoral. And sure, a guy buying panties online might seem a little off, but in the words of my friend the Craigslist gigolo, “Just because a guy’s a panty-sniffer doesn’t make him a bad person.” After years of flirting with the idea, it was time for me to find out: can a girl make easy money off her dirty laundry? And how much money are we talking?
• panties (worn)
• the internet
• girl parts
• fake name/e-mail account
• several people in my phone I promised to text after each panty drop off so they would know I wasn’t dead
My main concern (and everyone else’s) was my personal safety. So the sensible way to sell my panties seemed to be a mail-order system, until I realized you can only set up a Paypal account in your legal name. My legal name is Meghan Pleticha. Go ahead, Google that. I’m the only hit. Alternatively, I could have them send me a check, which gave them my home address (I don’t have a P.O. box) and my name. Somehow, meeting in person (with an escort, of course) actually seemed like the most sensible way to do it. I decided to make it a selling point.
Nervous, I e-mailed my friend the Craigslist prostitute to ask for advice.
He suggested I check out what other people were posting, make up a story about how I’m an impoverished college girl (not far off — I’m an impoverished journalist), and maybe start out asking for $100 per pair, adjusting the price up or down depending on people’s response. So I set up an e-mail account under the name “Janey Didit” and posted the following:
“I’m a college girl who just started school in the city and really need some cash for books and stuff. I have a bunch of panties I don’t need any more — some are super-cute, some are kind of old! It’s $25 for the not-so-nice pairs, but I have some more expensive lacy stuff too. Serious inquiries only please!”
The e-mails started coming in, but not a lot of them wanted my panties. More common were responses like, “I’m not interested in buying panties, but do you like to have your feet worshipped?” The few who did ask for underwear all wanted something more: pictures. They got a standard response:
“Hey, I don’t have pics of me in the panties, but here’s a shot for you. If you’d like, I can meet you in a cafe wearing the panties (tell me what kind you like) and then go to the bathroom, come out and discreetly give them too you. $100.”
Attached was the above picture. Some guys responded asking for more pictures of me, and I was ecstatic. They didn’t even question the $100 asking price! But when I said no pictures of my face and no pictures of me in the panties, the responses dried up. And when I started getting more responses complaining that my asking price was too high, I started to suspect that the men agreeing to $100 just wanted to get pictures of me in my underwear for free.
This was the sketchiness I was hoping to avoid, but I was desperate for a sale. I had posted my first ad nearly a week ago, my asking price had dropped from $100 to $40, but still no takers. I didn’t like this kind of bartering. Not only do I suck at negotiating, but it was making me feel like a whore after all. I’d envisioned a wallet full of Benjamins and a drawer of new panties. I hadn’t envisioned myself — and I’m cringing as I write this — making extravagant promises about how “juicy” my panties were. I was selling myself. It felt gross. I got very close to forgetting the whole thing.
Then I got an e-mail from Kris, who in a very polite and brief e-mail assured me, “I have done this a bunch of times, so I know how to handle myself and the women always leave happy.” Finally!
Kris and I worked out the details of our meeting, to take place at a Starbucks in the city. As he was the pro, I let him lead the e-mail conversation. He asked if I wanted to “upskirt” for an extra ten bucks, which meant I would walk up the subway steps in front of him, letting him get a nice “upskirt” view. I declined, and we agreed that for thirty dollars, I would meet him at 8:15 on a Monday morning for an exchange. He requested a dark thong, and gave me his number. He was going to be in a suit.
Sunday night, I was a mess. Having worn the thong all day, I had this nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong — not to the point where I was a bad person, just to the point where a psycho could rationalize killing me or a cop could find a reason to arrest me. I didn’t sleep at all. I kept waking up with my heart racing. (The discomfort of sleeping in a thong didn’t help.)
And then it was morning, and I had to go. Before I knew it I was at a Starbucks in Manhattan. As I stepped outside to call Kris (dialing *67 first to block my number), my bodyguard Megan arrived. I figured we’d pretend not to know each other, but she smiled and waved at me, causing me to briefly panic that she had somehow blown my cover.
I ignored her, called Kris and left a voicemail letting him know I was in a black trench and jeans. His voice recording sounded normal. Young. (You know who else was young? The Craigslist Killer.) Then I sat down in the bustling coffee shop and was pretending to read my book, when I saw a guy in a suit get in line — average-looking, probably in his late twenties. We made eye contact. He waved. I smiled and tried not to look like a scared puppy. I walked up to him and we made small talk about needing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. He asked me if I’d been waiting long, and then there was an awkward pause.
“So,” I hesitated, “did you want to… see?”
“Oh, yeah.” There were people all around us, but I thrust my hand down my pants, pulling the waistband of my underwear up into view. “Okay, good.” He barely looked, like he was in a hurry to make the exchange.
In the bathroom, I put my panties in a plastic baggie and pulled on a new pair. I tried to wrap the baggie in paper to hide the contents. Back outside, Kris was waiting for his coffee. He palmed me some money in a handshake. (Neat — no one had ever done that to me before.)
His voice recording sounded normal. Young. (You know who else was young? The Craigslist Killer.) I tried to palm him the panty bag, but it didn’t work as well. And we were done. Total time elapsed: less than five minutes.
I left the store, walked a couple blocks, and texted Megan and several other friends letting them know I wasn’t dead. Then I pulled the money out to look at it, and he had given me two twenties — ten more than we’d agreed to! The entire exchange had been super-easy; none of the grossness I felt from the negotiating e-mails remained. I was now forty dollars richer, with one fewer pair of panties. I didn’t feel dirty at all! (It probably helped that I’d just put on clean underwear.) I was excited to do it all again the next day, this time with a guy named Lucas.
Lucas, unlike Kris, was new at buying panties. I could tell because he agreed to my fifty-dollar asking price without question and let me lead where and when to meet. Lucas, like Kris, was an average-looking guy who seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties. Again, things went off without a hitch, and I was in and out in less than five minutes. The only snag was that I forgot to lock the bathroom door and someone almost walked in on me putting my panties in a Ziploc, my bare ass facing the door.
So, I made ninety dollars in two days!
Not so fast. I made ninety dollars in two weeks, four Craigslist posts and 166 e-mails. When Kris e-mailed back, suggesting we put the extra ten bucks towards his next purchase, I chose not to respond. All this hassle, for thirty bucks a pop? No thank you. I’m taking my extra ten and running. Lucas e-mailed back too, but again I didn’t respond. The legwork of finding a decent buyer was done, but I felt if I met with these guys a second time, I’d be developing a relationship with them, and that seemed equally tiresome. I’d already exchanged nearly twenty e-mails with each of them.
As the weeks went on, I got better at what I was doing. But getting better at it didn’t make me like it more. The stories I’d heard made it sound so painless. Maybe I just don’t like dealing with people. Maybe I should have listened to my dad when I was a kid, telling me there’s no such thing as easy money. (Maybe I should have listened to a lot of things he told me, seeing as I’ve now found myself selling my panties on the internet.) Plus it took a lot of time, and I’ve already got a full-time job.
I still don’t have a problem with the idea of selling my panties — if it were just that. But it’s not. It’s teasing and marketing myself, and ignoring upsetting propositions in the name of a buck. The e-mails are still coming in as my last Craigslist post is set to expire, but they’re going unanswered. From here on out, I’ll just have to do my laundry.