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I Was Young and Needed the Money
aka: I Was Young And I Needed The Money
The classic stock excuse for the discovering of Old Shame, usually if it's either loaded with Fanservice or is so lame or cutesy that it may ruin someone who thinks what they were involved in is beneath them. Usually given for a lot of mainstream models and actresses once their past in "glamour photography" or low-rent soft-core pornography or sexploitation is discovered.

Note this need not be something "racy" (and probably won't be, if the trope is being Played for Laughs); just something the performer would rather not have done, but did it anyway just for the money.

Compare Money, Dear Boy, which is when the performer's current choice of work is so bad that he or she is only in on it to get money from it.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Fan Works 
  • In DC Nation, Hotshot's teammates discover that he "starred" in a film called "Bi The Shore" while in college. The females on the team rent it out and have a screening, playing it for all the Snark Bait it's worth.
  • In violet-quill's Harry Potter fic, Wolf Masterson in The Naughty Professor IV: Prefect's Revenge, Remus Lupin once made films. Naughty, naughty films.
  • In multifandom parody vid L is sick of walking by Go Devil Dante, Jin posed for "ukelicious" nude photos because he needed the monies.
  • Yamcha's excuse for his "Cat loves food" song in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. "And no, it was not worth it."
  • In Superwomen Of Eva 2 The Magic Touch, Bridge Bunny Maya Ibuki was a stage magician on a strip club (while wearing the sexy, leg-exposing mage outfit that she would later use as "Zatanna", but never undressing more than that) in order to pay her college tuition.

    Film 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Drama on an episode of Monk - Sharona posed for nude pictures when she was in her late teens, because she needed money to support herself and her son Benjy. When the photos are unearthed by a suspected murderer in an attempt to blackmail her and Monk into not pursuing his case, she is forced to explain to Benji about the photos and why she did what she did. She then says that she and Monk are planning to pursue the investigation anyway, which will result in the photos being sent to newspapers and Benjy probably getting made fun of at school for it. Benjy's response? Not to let a bad guy get away just because he might have a bad day at school.
  • Friends
    • Joey was once in a porn movie because he was 'young, and needed some money'. When he couldn't go through with it, they let him play a guy who walks in during a sex scene to watch the couple have sex on the photocopier. At least he had a speaking bit, "You know, that's bad for the paper tray."
    • In another episode, Joey tells his agent that he's frustrated that she hasn't been getting him any good jobs lately. She replies, "Well you're just going to say no again, but gay porn?"
  • In How I Met Your Mother Robin uses this to explain her past career. Of course, Barney slap bets Marshall that it's porn, resulting in Robin revealing the whole truth by saying "Porn? I wish, it would be less embarrassing." Turns out she was a teenage, pseudo-80's, Canadian pop star.
  • Played with in Stark Raving Mad: an episode focused on Ian's extreme reluctance to discuss what he was doing during a particular year and a half of his life, going so far as making up a cover story about having spent it in a mental institution. After insistent prodding by Henry, he finally snaps and starts closing all his blinds, orders Henry to lock the door, warns him that what he's about to see "will disgust [him]" and produces a tape that he's "deeply ashamed" of and that he only keeps as a "reminder of how far [he] can fall". And when the tape starts playing we see that it's...a cheesy musical.
    Ian: The Grinning Americans. I was living in Florida. Flat broke. No direction. I saw an ad in the newspaper. They were holding auditions, it was fast money. You get sucked into the life, Henry. Now you know.
    Henry: So wait a minute, you would rather have people think you were in a mental institution than...
    [Cut to more musical scenes]
    Henry...I understand.
  • From Scrubs, "My Best Friend's Baby's Baby":
    Jordan: Nice job, Perry. Your son just asked me if my vagina's ever been on television.
    Perry: And, did you tell him not since the 80s when you were trying to make it as an "actress"?
  • Apparently Wilson, from House, was in a porno back in college. He swears that it wasn't a porno when they were shooting it, and he was doing it as a favor to a friend that he had no idea would become an actual director, and said friend added some scenes in afterwards so he could release it as a porno... The fact that Wilson is entirely absent from all the sex scenes does lend credence to his story. House just wanted to see him squirm.
  • Stephen Colbert was once a male prostitute, but classy. Actually, that was his street name: Butt Classy.
  • Melanie from Queer as Folk appeared nude in a magazine to get money for college after her parents had cut her off for being gay. They apparently changed their minds after about three weeks, but by then she had already paid that year's tuition and the next.
  • Goodness Gracious Me parodied this trope in a sketch where Bollywood superstar Chunky Lafanga is exposed as having starred in "a hardcore porn film" (using the exact phrase "I was young and needed the money" to justify his actions.) We then see a clip from the film in question, the joke being that because this was Indian cinema, the scene is more like saucy Carry On-style innuendo than explicit porn.
  • Played lightly in Downton Abbey where Carson is blackmailed over an apparently scandalous secret from his past. It turns out that he used to be a pierside entertainer, which is amusing to the rest of the household but cringemaking for him.
  • Another example, in Grey's Anatomy, Izzie gets humiliated when Alex discovers pictures of her as a lingerie model. However, it turns out that those photo shoots paid for med school - so she comes out on top.
  • Unsurprisingly, Karen on Will and Grace once starred in an adult film called Next to Godliness in which she plays a neat-freak dominatrix.
    Karen: Well, I was just out of college. I was broke. It's the oldest story in the world. Boy meets girl, boy wants girl to do dominatrix film, girl says, "naked?" Boy says, "yeah." Girl says, "forget it." Boy says, "ok, then just wear this rubber dress and beat the old guy with a scrub brush." Girl says, "how hard?"
  • Detective Kate Beckett worked as a teenage model once.
  • Erin in Blue Bloods worked as a cocktail waitress at Roxy's (a famous NYC nightclub). She told her parents she worked at a roller skate rink. The part about wearing roller skates was true...
  • Cam of Bones was strapped for cash starting at med school and so agreed to play a role in the low-budget "The Invasion of the Mother Suckers". It's hard to tell whether the film was more embarassing or the fact that it featured her in 70's clothing with an afro.
  • Parodied on In Living Color!, during the "Anton at the Recruiter" sketch.
    Recruiting Corporal: I am in the business of signing up real-life soldiers, maggot!
    Anton: Maggot? I ain't no maggot! Hey, I ain't never been with another man before! Who told you that? Clarence? He's lying! He's lying! I'm telling you—alright once, I was desperate, I needed the money, I was drunk and dying out! Don't hold it against me...
  • Bomb Girls has Kate who, having recently gotten a job at the factory after escaping her abusive father, needs fake documents to keep her job since she has assumed a false identity. She poses for racy pictures that are to be sold to World War II Soldiers overseas.
  • The killer in the Elementary episode "The Long Fuse" turns out to be the female CEO of a PR firm, who was being blackmailed by one of her employees with the secret video of them having sex many years ago, while she was in college and worked as a prostitute on the side. Sherlock Holmes admits that he sees nothing wrong with prostitution, as sex is just a commodity. However, he's fully aware that most people don't see it that way.
  • In an episode of Steptoe And Son, Harold finds an old What the Butler Saw machine. The nude couple in the film are Albert and his sister-in-law.
  • This is what was behind Catherine Willows being a stripper in her younger years on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

    Music 
  • Used in the Steve Taylor song "Cash Cow" as a line setting up the following:
    I was young and I needed the money
    I had money, but I needed more money
    I was filthy rich; all I needed was love!
    ...and a little more money!

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Bill Hicks claimed that this was the only valid reason anyone other than Willie Nelson could have for doing a commercial. Willie was excused for his $24 million tax bill.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout: New Vegas your companion Veronica will say this when you talk to her sometimes. Used as a joke, because she always cuts off whatever you were going to ask.
    • This in turn was a nod to a line from Fallout 2, in regards to the player's choice of becoming a porn star.

    Web Comics 
  • In User Friendly, this was Greg's justification for once having worked for Microsoft.
  • Ray from Achewood paid major hush money to cover up his past as... a hip-hop dancer.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first Halloween episode of South Park, Cartman tells his friends that the reason why his mom posed for Crack Whore magazine was because "...she was young and needed the money," with Stan telling Cartman that the pictures for the magazine were taken last month. Granted, Cartman's mom doesn't seem to have any source of income beyond whoring herself.
  • Part of a chain of excuses in The Looney Tunes Show when Daffy markets Bugs' design for an automatic carrot peeler.

    Real Life 
  • When it was brought up on Get This, these were Ed Kavalee's exact words about an old film project of his, Meat Pie, in which he played a teenager who has sex with a meat grinder and gets a penis transplant. Kavalee's comment was, "After seeing it, people look at me differently. They ask things like, 'Were you in some kind of trouble? You could have asked me for money!'"
  • This is how Jackie Chan justifies having once appeared in a porn flick (if Cracked is to be believed, which it may not be). He's actually unashamed of it and points out that Brando took his clothes off on camera.
    • He started doing his own stunts because of this, but it became his calling card as he gained fame.
  • Legendarily, Marilyn Monroe (although it was just nude pictures, which happened to be featured in the first issue of Playboy).
  • Sylvester Stallone, who made his acting debut in the porn flick Party at Kitty and Stud's. How much did he need the money? He had been evicted from his apartment and had been sleeping in a New York bus station for three weeks. He later said he was so desperate it was either "do the movie or rob someone".
    • The films creators' later edited the film and re-titled it Italian Stallion to cash-in on Stallone's new found fame.
  • Simon Rex acted in a few porn films.
  • When Dave Barry ran for President (long story), this was a common answer on the Q&A forum.
  • Maya Angelou was an exotic dancer. Yes, really.
    • Same deal with Channing Tatum (who, in one magazine interview, did it because — true to the trope — he was young and needed money after dropping out of college. This period of his life served as the basis for Magic Mike)
    • Rapper/actress Eve is another celebrity who worked as a stripper before becoming famous.
  • Vanessa L. Williams's Penthouse photoshoot was explained as such. She still lost her Miss America crown over it, however. The issue featuring Vanessa Williams' photoshoot ended up being banned as the centerfold (Traci Lords) was revealed to be underage at the time she posed for her picture, rendering all her porno pics and films child pornography.
  • Danny Slavin, who played Leo Corbett in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, only did it because he needed money for law school. Understandably, it took a lot of convincing to get him to return for the 10th anniversary Reunion Show (not helped by the fact that, during the filming of the Reunion Show between Lost Galaxy and its successor, the producers tried to screw the actress who played LG's Big Bad out of her paycheck; Slavin walked off the set in protest and only returned for the 10th anniversary as a personal favor to one of the producers).
  • Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine fame) was a male stripper for a time.
  • Up until about 1991, Merzbow (yes, that Merzbow) made soundtracks for S&M porn flicks.
  • Subverted by Jessica Biel, who did a topless magazine shoot in late 2003. She didn't need the money at all, having just come off of the very successful remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and also having signed onto Blade: Trinity, but her agent (who she fired not long afterwards) apparently negotiated a very nice chunk of the money for himself. Biel did it mostly for Playing Against Type (she was on the end of her long stretch on 7th Heaven) and to go for some indie cred.
  • The ex-Daily Mirror political editor and UK political adviser Alastair Campbell, New Labour titan and inspiration behind Malcolm Tucker, gives this as an excuse for his first journalistic appointment: Writing (possibly autobiographical) pornography for Penthouse Forum.
  • Sasha Grey, now an actress and avant-gardist, spent five straight years in the porn industry. She's known just as much for one as the other nowadays. She's not ashamed about it though.
  • Back before Enix merged with Square, among the projects it had under its belt were at least two really old H-games.
    • This has happened a lot with Japanese game makers, the hentai industry there is not nearly as stigmitized as its equivalent is in the United States, though usually once a company makes it big they no longer go back to making hentai.
  • Thin Lizzy's forgotten Deep Purple tribute album under the name Funky Junction was explicitly done for the money. Similarly, the song I Need You (B Side to The Farmer) was recorded as part of a deal for studio time, the song being written by the studio's owner.
  • Peter Steele of Type O Negative posed for Playgirl in the 90s. Whilst it certainly got him more female fans, he quickly regretted it because it made people think he was gay. In his case, he had been in music for about 16 years when it happened, so being young is not exactly an excuse.
  • An out-of-universe WWE example would be Mickie James and her multiple, explicit nude shoots while trying to make it in wrestling.
  • Neil Gaiman, now an award-winning fantasy author, got his first published book with a decidedly non-literary biography of Duran Duran. Worse yet, the publisher folded shortly afterward and he didn't even get the money. He says it taught him that selling out isn't worth it. On the plus side though the band itself said that they thought it was their favorite biography.
  • Actually inverted for actress Valerie Leon, who appeared in several Carry On films and other cheeky British comedies in the Seventies; she steadfastly refused to appear nude, but has said in some recent interviews that she actually regrets that she was too shy to do so, because she understands now what a great figure she had back then.


I Was Just Passing ThroughExcuse of an IndexJerk Justifications
I Was Never HereStock PhrasesI Will Show You X
Hollywood Hype MachineShow BusinessInternational Coproduction

alternative title(s): I Was Young And I Needed The Money
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