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Relationships

Student by day, foot fetish worker by night

One university student tells how she earns extra cash from a secret side gig.

By Carmen Lichi
If you saw me in my lectures at the University of Otago, you’d think I was just like anyone else in my class. And up until a few months ago, I was.
Like most Scarfies, I flat with two other students in a damp, freezing flat, where the laundry never dries, and the distinct scent of two-minute noodles and toasties fills the kitchen most evenings. In my downtime, I enjoy the odd drink and love to dance when I go out to bars, but I’m equally at home curled up watching a movie.
I grew up in a happy, middle- class household with loving parents and siblings, and was dux of my high school. In my second year of a dentistry degree, I’m getting straight As and on track to graduate in four years’ time.
But unlike many of my friends, I’m hoping that I’ll be totally debt-free. It might sound like a fantasy, but it’s beginning to look entirely possible. In the last month alone, I’ve earned $9000 – enough to pay for a year’s tuition.
I’ve bought a new iPhone and a camera, and had my car fixed up. And no, I haven’t got rich parents! In fact, if they found out how I make my money, they’d be shocked.
You see, I make my money by showing my feet to strangers around the world – men with foot fetishes. It all started a few months ago when I was on a dating app. A guy told me he had a foot fetish and asked me to send him a picture of me cradling my feet in return for $70.
I thought it was a bit bizarre, but at the same time, I thought, “What the hell – it’s money and I’m a cash-strapped student.”
So I sent him my bank details and, sure enough, he put the money into my account, so I sent him the picture, as agreed. I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
That moment set off a lightbulb in my mind – surely there were many other men who would pay money for similar sorts of things. I discovered a website for “sugar daddies” – older wealthy men who are happy to pay for the online company of younger women.
I put my details up and included a photo of me, fully clothed and from the neck down, to protect my anonymity. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a guy in the States. We agreed to talk on Skype.
He was a very large guy and he was so lovely. He just wanted company and paid $100 for a 10-minute chat. There was no dirty talk, just really simple stuff like, “How was your day?” and, “What are you studying?”
The next guy was another foot fetishist. He wanted me to clean my feet with a toothbrush and toothpaste on video chat. I thought it was odd, but he paid me $100, so I did it.
Some of them clearly want sex, but I won’t do that. I have my own morals and boundaries.
One guy in Australia paid me $5000 to strip for him on Skype. He was a millionaire and he told me he just likes to be in charge of people online – that’s how he gets his kicks. Stripping to my lingerie was nerve-racking, I almost had a panic attack, but in the end it was fine.
It was just an act and it took 15 minutes to earn $5000. It felt like a dream when the money appeared in my account. I stopped talking to him, though. His requests got too weird – he wanted me to stroke a dog while I was stripping!
Every week, I average $200 off feet photos alone. I’ve got bunions and for some reason, a lot of guys are into it! It’s so strange.
I spend about three hours a night on my phone, managing my clients, sourcing new ones, and sending pictures and videos. My clients are from all around the world and range from bored millionaires, top-ranking government officials and stressed CEOs to supermarket workers and taxi drivers.
I’ve got another client, a cosmetic surgeon, who wants to meet me. He’s offered me a lot of money for dinner and “maybe a movie but no intimacy”. I’m still not sure whether I’ll do it – real life is a whole different matter.
The truth is, as much as there are some seedy, sleazy and downright weird guys out there, there are also a lot of men who are lonely and just want someone to talk to.
Do I feel guilty about how I earn my money? No. When I look around the lecture hall, it gives me satisfaction knowing that I don’t have to struggle financially any more.
Some people might say that I am letting myself be exploited, but it’s quite the opposite. I’m single, so I’m not hurting anyone and I feel in control of my life. Plus, I find it fascinating.
Every time I get a message, it’s so interesting to see what they want. I’m providing a service that helps people. It’s better than being exploited in a badly-paid menial job!

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