These side gigs will help you pay for beer, chips-and maybe even rent.
TURN YOUR PET INTO A HAM. Isn’t it about time your freeloading dog, cat, chameleon or rat started earning its keep? Obedient beasts can earn $60 for a 20-minute catalog photo shoot and $200 a day for film work. Send a head shot of your spotlight-craving animal, along with a résumé detailing any training and credits to Animal Talent (email@example.com), a local agency that has cast critters for everything from Sixteen Candles to Purina commercials.
Prerequisites: Limelight-comfortable animal
FAKE AILMENTS. It may not be a Steppenwolf-caliber role, but out-of-work actors can put their chops to good use by playing “standardized patients” for University of Illinois at Chicago docs in training. Pay ranges from $14 an hour for a part like sprained-ankle sufferer to $25 an hour to front a more extensive medical history and undergo invasive procedures like a pelvic exam. Apply at chicago.medicine.uic.edu/grahamcpc/standardized_patients.
Prerequisites: Have you ever faked a sick day from school or work?
SERVE UP YOUR EGGS. The green may be sizable ($7,000 to $10,000), ladies, but so is the two- to four-month process to become an egg donor. At Alternative Reproductive Resources (2000 N Racine Ave, 773-327-7315), Chicago’s premier baby-making lab, that includes a 90-minute interview, a battery of physical and psychological exams, medication that stimulates egg production and, finally, the harvesting of your huevos with a fine needle.
Prerequisites: Fertility, time, ID stating you’re age 21 to 28
PAWN YOUR PANTIES. Ebanned is a kinkified eBay where people auction every fetishized object under the sun, from defiled marshmallows ($5 for one) to a few ounces of breast milk ($19). Recently, a local gal we spoke to made $30 after posting two pairs of old underwear on the site. Did she feel degraded? “No! It’s a service,” she says. “If a guy’s willing to pay to sniff my panties, I’ll make some money off it.”
Prerequisites: Internet connection, no qualms
CATCH CRAPPY CLERKS. As a check against slack service, companies hire mystery shoppers to furtively patrol their employees. During each “shop” (as the missions are called), you get paid to do stuff you’d normally do anyway—order a cocktail at a restaurant to see if the server cards you (pays $8) or visit a bank branch (pay averages $25, depending on the task’s complexity). Then, simply fill out a short survey online. You can contact local companies Mintel International Group (351 W Hubbard St, 312-932-0400) and Synovate (222 S Riverside Plz, 312-526-4000), but to nab the most gigs, get certified by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
Prerequisites: Shopaholic tendencies, consumer alertness
TALK DIRTY. Women fare best in the phone-sex-operator world. For instance, Phone Sex Professionals, is now exclusively hiring the ladies. Pay rates fall anywhere from 50¢ to $1.30 per minute of talk, or a flat fee of $9 to $20 per hour. Voice versatility and familiarity with BDSM and fetishes are pluses; applications inquire about any subjects you’d be uncomfortable talking dirty about, as well as specific ages and ethnicities you can convincingly portray. Finally, a chance to put that fake Brit accent to good use!
Prerequisites: Landline phone, libidinous vocabulary
BE A FOCUS GROUP GUINEA PIG. Want $75 to react to beer ads for 30 minutes? How about $150 to test drive a flashy new cell phone for an hour? Yeah, we thought so. Big companies throw around lots of cash to gauge consumer sentiment on everything from video games to Internet apps, and it’s time you got on the receiving end. Register your demographic information directly with market-research companies such as Schlesinger Associates (625 N Michigan Ave, 312-529-2131) or do the hunting yourself on findfocusgroups.com. “We’re not just looking for yes men,” says a Schlesinger rep. “If you hate Diet Coke, they want to know why, too. Honest, articulate answers are the key to best results.”
Prerequisites: Authoritative opinions, consumerist proclivity
BECOME A TICKET MASTER. Stubhub.com makes it easier and more legit to hock seats to hot-shit concerts, theater and sporting events—and legally inflate the price to your heart’s content.
Prerequisites: An instinct for which events will sell out, Internet connection
GO TO THE DOGS. On weekdays, busy 9-to-5ers don’t have time to pamper their pups (and pick up their poo). Agencies such as Chicago Dog Walkers (2215 W Cortland St, 773-394-9961) assign employees regular routes that usually include seven to ten dogs. Most of the 20- to 40-minute walks take place between 10am and 3pm, and compensation varies from $200 to $300 a week (plus tips), for as little as 20 hours of work.
Prerequisites: Must love dogs (and their doo, too)