IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Got Scammed Into Writing Porn For Free

Vile people and the semi-naive 20-somethings-trying-to-make-something-of-themselves who believe their lies.

Oct 14, 2013 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

To say I was miserable at my nine-to-five job would be a severe understatement. And given the ridiculous competition in my field (library science), I am always on the alert for escape routes.
 
In mid-August, I found to this ad on Craigslist:
“ISO: Writer to Create a 15-20 Page Erotic Fiction Story
Hello! I seek a skilled writer who's comfortable creating erotic fiction to create a story on a specific topic that I can further describe to interested writers. Would prefer a female author to offer a better angle as well. Students welcome to apply, should you have the time! Turnaround would be within a month, so not too quick. Email if interested!”
As everyone knows, Craigslist is hit-or-miss, potentially shady and scam-filled, but still, I figured why not reply? What have I got to lose?
 
For the past year or so, I’ve been reading tons of erotica (mostly written by women), and had begun to write short fiction with erotic undertones. Nothing XXX or otherwise terribly raunchy, rather more subtle, heady, personal -- but in my existential panic, I figured if the library thing didn’t work out, which it hasn’t, not really, not so far, then maybe I could make money or even a living on the side writing erotica, fiction, editorials, reviews, whatever.
 
This Craigslist thing seemed like an interesting, straightforward project, a break from my usual weird subconscious and mystical fictional meanderings. This was a chance to try it out, see if I could follow and execute an “assignment” -- and get paid the “TBD” amount. 
 
“Kris A. Samson” immediately sent me three semi-manic emails, including a detailed description of what she was looking for -- a 15 to 20 page story, to be completed in two weeks or so, as an anniversary present for her husband. She included graphic information about the cuckold fantasies she shared with her husband, and how she wanted a writer to spin out a scenario wherein she and her husband would both be dominated by a wealthy black man.  
 
The story would ideally play up their bedroom alter-egos. Hers was a “wild submissive,” who, like Kris, wore gold jewelry, thongs and revealing black dresses when she went out on the town, and concealed her secret life under staid business attire at her day job as a university consultant. 
 
Kris told me a great deal about her sexual past, from her strict upbringing to her promiscuous college days and trysts with former bosses. She and her husband, Rick, met on a dating website and had been married a few years -- she was 25, a few years younger than I, and he was in his early thirties.  I replied in kind, to some extent at least, not too terribly comfortable sharing my private life with anyone, let alone a stranger -- but it seemed like we were striking up a weirdly fated email friendship, so I shared some of my own secrets in the spirit of camaraderie.  
 
My boyfriend encouraged me, too, thinking it would be a great way to push beyond my comfort zone and tendency to run away from becoming close to people -- particularly women. And I admit, I was so concerned that Kris would think I was a duplicitous Craigslist troll and perv, that I went out of my way to assure her that I was indeed a real person, exactly who I said I was, and committed to realizing her fantasy for her.  
 
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Of course, I was skeptical, but this chick sounded pretty legit, and, as I said, I wanted to try my hand at writing something seriously racy. I worked very closely with Kris for two weeks or so, writing over 200 emails between us, to get her fantasy down exactly as she wanted it.  And so the story ended up being 35 pages, which took me about 10 days to write. It is the second longest piece of fiction I have written -- 11,072 words.
 
My story for Kris is hands-down the filthiest story I’ve ever written. To some extent I was uncomfortable writing it, but I was just the ghost writer, after all. So I went with it.  
 
Above all, this experience inspired me: I would start a business writing custom-erotica for women with disposable income. Following the explosion of Fifty Shades of Grey etc., my keenly-tailored and personalized erotica would launch a huge movement of woman-centered erotica, putting our fantasies in our direct control, celebrating all the nuances of female subjectivity and desire.  
 
So it would be simultaneously a response to the growing trend of erotic fiction, but also, sure, of course, the culture of narcissism and self-obsession in response to social networking, diaristic blogs, and the like. But ultimately I’d be addressing the tried and sort-of-true stereotype that while men are aroused by images, women are aroused by words. 
 
It was a stroke of genius! I could literally feel the white hot light bulb hanging over my head. This was going to be huge.  I was gonna be on Oprah! Yes, Oprah would put her show back on the air just to showcase me, feminist pioneer.
 
I would find my market, and establish clientele (women only), and would spin out (almost) any fantasy with an open mind and with discretion. I’d work directly with each woman -- as I had with Kris -- to figure out exactly what she wanted. It would be an endeavor beyond any harebrained scheme I had come up with thus far. (To be fair, I’m not the first to come up with this. A quick Google search revealed similar enterprising freelancers on proto-Craigslist-like forums, as well as a company that offered the service of inserting names and details into 10 or so pre-written stories. However, my business as I envisioned it would be large scale and exquisitely personalized.) 
 
I even considered bringing Kris on as a consultant or silent partner for my burgeoning erotica business -- she could help me understand the perspective of the wealthy narcissist, someone who would -- or could -- pay for personalized erotica. 
 
Eventually, if exhibitionism or whatever were part of some of my clients’ specific kinks, I’d even publish a collection of the stories. 
 
Sure, I would be exploiting women to some extent, but with their consent, and it would be an entirely collaborative project.  And okay, I’d be this side of pornographer, but then again, aren’t we all.   
 
I even turned down a “legit” ghostwriter position for a small online publishing company, because I felt like writing personalized stories for other women was my true calling. If I were going to hide behind a pseudonym in writing, I may as well make some kind of name for myself on my own terms. 
 
As a  somewhat accommodating introvert, people often tell me their secrets and then just kind of zone out if and when I start talking about myself. It’s simultaneously enervating and hilarious, and I thought I could do something with it, use it somehow to my advantage.  
 
Another hazard of being a socially-anxious introvert -- I did not particularly want to talk to Kris on the phone, let alone meet her, and certainly not her “husband” -- it was so much easier to conduct it all anonymously, more or less.  
 
Kris sent me several pictures of herself -- some with Rick, some from her wild college days. My deeply ingrained sense of Internet paranoia was such that at least I did not send many pictures of myself. (I showed her a couple to confirm I was a real bonafide lady, and certainly nothing racy), although she kept pushing me to send more. (She also told me she’d pay more if I gave her a pair of my used panties for her husband to jerk off into, which I declined, citing my behind-the-scenes preferences. How that exchange would have happened I can only guess). 
 
I did, however, as aforementioned, share personal information about myself.  She was forthcoming, we seemed to be becoming friends, and so what the hell, I might as well tell her something about myself and my relationships, too.  And if the person I was emailing with wasn’t a 25-year-old woman who married way too young -- she (or he…ugh) was doing a damn good job of fooling me.  
 
It wasn't solely the thought that I’d amp up my writing portfolio, or to see how I’d fare working on a fiction project based on an “assignment,” and it wasn’t the money (but, living paycheck-to-paycheck, more or less, $150 sounded pretty damn good), but a combination of those things, along with the possibility of new friend.
 
I became suspicious when the “husband” -- Rick B. Samson -- began to write me emails. It immediately tipped me off that their middle initials were respectively “A” and “B." Plus, both Kris and Rick were unGoogleable. Rick wrote that Kris wanted to put him in charge of paying me. That was fine by me. Why not. But after I suggested PayPal, Rick balked, claiming his obscure “government job” watched his finances very closely.  
 
So, accommodating as I am, we arranged to meet at a fancy wine bar (along with my boyfriend, as I am not completely bonkers) on a work-week evening. It seemed safe enough --  Kris and Rick were both were doing a damn good job of acting like a couple of upwardly mobile, secretly kinky professionals, and anyway, we’d be in public.  
 
It wouldn’t just be safe, it was going to be hilarious: They wanted me to choose a pair of women’s underwear for Rick to wear. Kris requested I be bitchy to him and to “confirm” that he was indeed wearing the underwear (after hemming, hawing and trying to deflect -- I did not give a damn what underwear Rick was wearing -- they finally pressed me into making the choice. Dark pink lace seemed like the way to go.) 
 
I told Kris I probably wouldn’t be able to be rude to someone treating me and my boyfriend to fine wine, but I’d do my best to confirm the panties. Mostly I just laughed to myself, going along with her, letting her get her fantasies and ideas out there into the ether.
 
Rick had to cancel our initial meeting -- he told me he had to travel for work, and so we rescheduled for the following week. I had finished the story by that time, sent it over to Kris, and then didn’t hear from either of them for eight days. I figured, hey, it’s Labor Day weekend, they’re probably traveling, and it was, after all, the weekend she’d wanted the story completed, so maybe it was even their anniversary. 
 
And then on the morning of the day we were supposed to meet, I wrote Rick to confirm.  And obviously, of course, just as you saw coming throughout this sordid tale, and as I kind of half-expected the entire time myself, both of their email addresses had been disabled.  
 
When the email bounced back to me, I saw red. I wanted revenge. I felt like crying and puking and hiding out. I felt like my life would be ruined -- although I could sue them for a number of reasons if “Kris” and “Rick” decided to expose me. (In a panic, I even consulted with a lawyer friend).  
 
Sure, it was fun to write, but not exactly how I want to represent or express myself, and certainly not without my consent. The story for Kris was not my best work, not exactly my style, lacking in my usual purple prose, poetic flourishes and nuances of overwrought symbolism.  But mostly I was sick with the thought that I’d been completely deceived and screwed and violated -- even though I’d been suspicious -- if not fully conscious -- of that possibility from the outset.
 
Sure, I was relieved I wouldn’t have to “confirm” Rick’s lacy panties, and wasn’t exactly looking forward to meeting the husband of a woman who wanted nothing more than for me to write a story centered primarily on humiliating him.  But this deception went beyond what I expected.  The story I wrote was 20 pages longer than she had requested, and I put a lot of time and effort into it, not to mention the mental energy and consideration I put into it when I wasn’t even writing the story proper.  
 
Although every step of the way I became more suspicious, I still wanted to see it through. Considering all angles: This was a married couple, basically who they said they were, but just using fake names because they were young urban business professionals with a not-too-out-there kink but out-there enough that it could screw with their white-collar careers. Or maybe it was just the wife, pretending to be the husband (“Rick’s” emails sounded more like a female than “Kris’s” sounded like a male. Hell, “Kris” recommended Marguerite Duras’s “The Lover” to me -- I don’t know many straight guys who have heard of Duras).
 
Or maybe it was just one creepy dude. I don’t really want to think about that, but if so, well, good job, bro. You sure fooled me! 
 
I still can’t decide what’s worse -- some couple, basically who they said they were, who were, in addition to their cuckold fantasies, also into financial domination or whatever, deceiving and making someone feel somewhat close to them or at least sympathetic -- with the promise of cash -- or a pervy dude pretending to be a young couple just to get his rocks off.  
 
Well, either way, I learned my lesson. I should have known better, and did, in fact, know better -- but ignored all of the warning signs in favor of trusting this stranger who had trusted me with so much intimate information, and of finishing what I started.
 
And needless to say, my business plan has been shot to hell. If anyone out there wants to capitalize on it, go for it. Just get paid up front.