It had been about 3 months since I moved to Sydney. I still hadn’t gotten a job and I was fast running out of money. It also didn’t help that my landlady occasionally requested for her rent in advance. I had called my dad in Nigeria to send me extra money for two weeks rent but I could tell that he had expected me to have gotten a job already. At this point I was in full panic mode because if I didn’t get a job as soon as possible, there was no way I would be able to keep up with paying my rent. I had tried everything I could and I still hadn’t gotten any positive response from any job. Some of the employers I contacted stopped responding after I introduced myself as Nigerian, some didn’t respond at all while others told me the position had been filled. It seemed like I couldn’t get a break somehow and this made me frustrated and edgy.
In the midst of this chaos, I would attend classes and most times watch lecturers drone on without actually hearing anything they were saying. Some lecturers were cool and were able to connect with the students and build a rapport with us but their course content was very shallow. This added a bit to my disappointment. At the end of each lecture, Karan and I would go to the UNSW Faculty of Arts foyer and we applied for as many jobs as we could. We would contact employers and send out resumes endlessly. Karan got most of the callbacks and in no time he got a second job. I spent most of my time in the UNSW library. Since my house was a trekking distance from school, I would stay in the library for as long as possible searching and applying for jobs and catching up with school work.
As was the usual practice, I was looking for jobs on gumtree and I came across this advert. It didn’t particularly state what the job was about but it mentioned it had something to do with videography and editing. I had worked as a videographer for a year before I moved to Australia so I was quite excited about this job also because the pay rate was AUD$25 per hour. I sent the employer a text to express my interest in the job and I was asked to come for an informal interview the next Friday.
That Friday, I went to the coffee shop that was the venue of our meeting and met one other lady there. The man who was to talk to us about the job was a local and he looked to be in his mid forties. He seemed older than his age and had a tired, worn look on his face. He sat and asked if we wanted coffee the and I ordered a one – flat-white with no sugar. While waiting for the coffee, he gave us a bit of background information to the job. Apparently he creates prank videos and puts them on youtube. We asked what kind of pranks and he explained that he comes up with them and they may involve a bit of nudity. He however stated that we didn’t have to be the nude party. As soon as the other lady heard the shoots involved nudity, she excused herself and said she was no longer interested in the job. I on the other hand was curious and broke! I needed that job or there was no home after the next week. So I was left alone with him.
He mentioned he had a van just a few metres from the coffee shop where he shoots from and could show me some of his work and we could do a demo prank shoot. He picked that spot to park because there was a university around and lots of students usually pass by in the afternoons. It was around 1:00pm and as expected, the street was busy with students going to and fro as we walked towards the van. It was a white sedan with no windows except for the drivers seat. The back of the van did not have the normal passengers’ seats instead it had two long, slim sofas placed on opposite sides such that they were facing each other. t was not a bit van, and there wasn’t much space between both seats. Clothes and gadgets were strewn everywhere which suggested to me that he probably lived in his van. In his defense, he tried not to appear creepy but the situation was already weird enough and was going to get more creepy.
I sat on one side of the van and he sat on the other. I asked him what who comes up with the content (I had some creative ideas I was ready to share). He said he did, and that he already had someone who did the editing and uploaded it on youtube. This actually made me wonder what exactly my job was. He repeatedly said I didn’t have to be the person exposing any body parts in the shoot but it was less emphatic than when he said so at the coffee shop and this time he added “if I wanted to.” He proceeded to tell me about the wonderful assistant he had before who was up for doing anything. He then showed me some of the works they had done together. In the video, there was this young Asian lady who was naked from her torso up, she had on some flimsy panties and was bent over on all fours (knees and hands). There was a man behind her who seemed like he wanted to spank her and that was the prank, to suddenly open the door of the van so people could see what was going on. According to him, the prank was to shock people. I was struggling to understand what I had seen so far so I asked him what kind of reactions he got. He said some people were disgusted, some called him names while a few others got the prank.
He asked if we could do a short demo before I made my decision and I agreed partly because I wanted to hear what his next genius idea was and because I figured $25 per hour would really help my financial situation. He brought out a small digital camera and explained that he would be the one going nude and I just needed to open the van. He said he was going to be exposing his penis but that he needed some help getting an instant erection. He brought out a syringe and was going to inject himself right there. As he was talking, I thought about appearing on youtube as the girl who was in a bus with a semi-naked man who had an erection and I decided my reputation wasn’t worth $25 per hour. For a moment, I did think nobody probably watches the videos and it wouldn’t be a big deal but I also know the internet never forgets and this was one thing that could most likely haunt me in the future.
He was about 2 seconds away from injecting himself when I yelled STOP! I told him I was really sorry and I couldn’t got through with the “prank”. Then I opened the door of the van and fled! I was a few minutes from the train station when I slowed down a bit and the absurdity of the whole scenario hit me. I couldn’t believe what had just happened and I started chuckling almost uncontrollably. While I got on the train, I had a silly smile on my face I couldn’t seem to get rid of; not because I was happy, but because I was still a bit shocked by the whole scenario. Halfway through the ride back home, I was back to my sombre mood. The reality of my situation had finally caught up to me. I had just one week’s rent left and I still had no job.
I’m not sure why I stayed back and I would like to think curiosity got the best of me but who knows. This is definitely one memory I look back to oftentimes in reflection. It was some sort of defining moment for me where I had to decide how far I could go to survive and I got an understanding of why people go overboard sometime in their fight for survival. Nevertheless, I decided my name and face can’t be dragged through the mud but I still remained a broke person who was bordering on homelessness.