For several years, I taught English at what I will coyly refer to as a "major mid-Atlantic university." I was often surprised by the fact that most of my students never seemed to think about why they were in college. In fact, when I asked them this key question, their responses usually followed the same general line: they would tell me that they were in school to make more money, get a better job, or set themselves up for enjoyable, successful lives.
At this point, I would tell them that, while college might help them on their way to lucrative careers, most of them would make far more money if they dropped out and began working as undertakers, plumbers, or electricians. After all, I pointed out, people would always die, defecate, and be afraid of the dark, and the people who make those three activities easier will, inevitably, make a ton of dough.
In retrospect, I should have mentioned the most lucrative career of all: having sex with celebrities. After all, while most high-paying jobs require training, years of hard work, and single-minded dedication, becoming a trophy spouse, girlfriend, or high-priced hooker only takes a firm body, a lack of self-respect, and a lot of greed.
Recently, reading about Paul McCartney's spectacularly bitter and miserable divorce, I was struck by the insane amount of money that the court ordered him to pay to Heather Mills. Although she didn't win the $250 million that she was aiming for, the $48 million she ended up with should go a very, very long way. One article that I read did the math, figuring out that Mills' settlement works out to approximately $34,000 for every day that she was married to McCartney. Of course, this doesn't account for the considerable amounts of money that Mills already accumulated during her marriage, nor does it consider the fact that she had free room, board, and benefits for the four years that she was a McCartney.
To put this in context, as an extremely popular instructor at a prominent state university, my salary topped out at just over $35,000 per year. I don't want to whine, but geez!
And Mills' gargantuan settlement is only the seventh largest celebrity divorce payout in history. She ranks below Michael and Juanita Jordan ($151 Million), Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphy ($151 Million), Stephen Spielberg and Amy Irving ($100 Million), Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva ($82 Million), Kenny and Marianne Rogers ($60 Million), and James Cameron and Linda Hamilton ($50 Million). Now, I don't want to speculate about the married lives of these famous men, but I have to wonder what their wives did to earn these impressive payouts.
While spouses are the ones who rake in the big bucks, the boys and girls on the side also seem to do pretty well. For example, May Pang, John Lennon's famous girl on the side, is still cashing in on her few months of coital bliss, and Christine Keeler is still making money off the Profumo affair, decades after she brought down a British Minister of War. In a more recent vein, Teddy Pedersen, who famously had an affair with former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey and his wife Dina, seems to be doing pretty well for himself. By spilling his story, he's undoubtedly gotten some cash, in addition to putting his name in the press. Hell, maybe he'll follow in Ashley Dupre's footsteps, release a horrific song and make a million bucks.
As Dupre demonstrates, it's not even necessary to become a significant other. After all, her tryst with Eliot Spitzer was a profitable enterprise from the get-go. The night it happened, he paid out $4,000, some of which she ended up taking home with her. She subsequently made money with the aforementioned songs, has probably gotten a fair amount for selling her story to the highest bidder, and will undoubtedly cash in with a big pictorial in one of the major men's magazines. If she has any talent at all, this will give her a springboard to a B-list movie career or moderate-level recording contract. In the meantime, she can always hire a ghost writer (ahem!) to pen her memoir of the whole sordid affair.
As a man, I can only regard such celebrity hanky-panky with a mixture of amazement and raw envy. After all, boy toys rarely get major payouts. Even Kevin Federline, the patron saint of celebrity gigolos, only pulled down a measly $1 million, plus child support. Still, balancing Federline's profit margin against my low-paying teaching gig, I might have to reconsider my priorities.
I need to go work on my abs.
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. His wife isn't on board with the whole "celebrity gigolo" idea.