Illustration by Agata Sasiuk
You don’t have to be a prostitute to make money off your body. The next time you want to afford one of life’s little luxuries, do what these Berliners did and use what nature gave you.
Party all summer long... by donating your plasma!
Valentin*, a physiotherapy student, liked to have fun in addition to his studies – but his main source of income, his parents, wouldn’t bankroll Berghain and beers. So he found another way. “There is a plasma donation centre in the building where I study. You’re allowed to donate 45 times a year, as long as there’s at least two days in between.” He gets €23 for each 860ml donation. “I started last February, and I usually go once or twice a month. But in July I donated nine times, to be able to afford the partying!” Valentin says. He can’t party too hard, as his blood gets checked for drugs and diseases beforehand. But at least he doesn’t have to worry about feeling faint. “The plasma and the blood get separated, and then they pump the blood back into you. It takes about 35-45 minutes.” There are definitely worse ways to make a quick buck.
Spoil your girlfriend... with sperm!
Chris*, a painter in his mid-twenties, wanted to surprise his girlfriend with a generous Christmas present. He’d heard that a simple sperm donation could earn him over €100, and signing up at Berliner Samenbank was a snap. It was only after he’d arrived at the sperm bank that he realised he should’ve read the fine print: he’d only get €35 up front, then €75 a couple of months later, once his sample had been tested for infectious diseases.
“ I was very disappointed – my plan to finally buy her something nice for Christmas was ruined. But since I was there anyway, I donated... and I got her a beautiful ring for Valentine’s Day!” He didn’t tell her how he’d paid for it. “I don’t think she would like the idea of me going to a sperm bank so I’m not sure if I’ll ever tell her. But I think it’s an easy way to earn a bit of money – it took only 10 minutes for me! As long as I don’t think about how, 25 years from now, I might meet a young, hot girl who could actually be my daughter...”
Finally write that novel... by becoming a human guinea pig!
Leo has to stay at a hospital for two weeks, where he’ll be monitored for possible side effects – rashes, fever or vomiting. 'But 40 percent of people get the placebo, anyway!'
Leo*, 23, dropped out of art school with plans to become a social worker, but what he really wanted to do was write. “I’m trying to write a book about the experiences I’ve gained in the past three years, since my mother died... a diary for my yet-to-be-born children.” To buy himself some time, he signed up for medical trials at a Berlin research centre. “I’m testing a meningitis prevention vaccination that’s already been approved in the US,” he says. He has to stay at a hospital for two weeks, where he’ll be monitored for possible side effects – which could include rashes, fever or vomiting. “But 40 percent of people get the placebo, anyway!” And he’ll be well-compensated for his troubles. “I will get €2500 after I leave the hospital, and then €2000 more after a few follow-up checkups. I won’t be allowed to drink, smoke and take drugs for a while, but I think this will be good for me, because I want to feel what it’s like to be clean.” He plans to use some of the money to help his sister with her financial problems, but mostly, he says, “I want to concentrate on myself, and this money will allow me to do that.”
Eat luxuriously... by getting naked!
As a dancer, 27-year-old Valentina Wong was already comfortable with her body. “I studied contemporary dance back in Chile and I came here to take classes, improve myself and get a job as a dancer. But that all takes time, so for now, I’ve signed up for life drawing modelling,” The 27-year-old poses nude twice a week or so, either at Berlin’s University der Künste, where she’s surrounded by up to 40 students, or smaller courses like Aktsalon. Her sessions usually take around four hours, at €10-15 per hour. “I spend the money I get on food! I like to take care of my body, and this way I can afford organic groceries – but of course, I also go out to restaurants...” She also works part-time as a massage therapist, but “I don’t want to get too far away from dancing – that’s what I came to Berlin for.” Although at first she thought it might be awkward to pose naked in front of painters and students, she found that everyone in the art world has been “very professional, so far”.
Boost your child’s savings... with breast milk!
After giving birth five months ago, Flora* found herself positively bursting with breast milk. “There are women who have way too much milk for their babies and others who are struggling to squeeze 100ml out. I belong to the first group, and so I thought, why not offer it to less fortunate women?” So she signed up for Only The Breast, an online platform created by German mother Tanja Müller in 2014 that connects breast milk buyers and sellers. You can search according to different categories: “fat babies”, “vegan” and, yes, “willing to sell to men”. For her part, Flora only sells to women within a 50km radius, charging €1 per 100ml. The proceeds – about €100 so far – go into a savings account for her daughter. “It won’t be much money, since I might not have so much milk for long. But still, I want to save that for her for the future.”