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I was digging into a large, syrupy stack of pancakes at a diner in Manhattan when my friend Sadie*, a professional in her mid-20's, said, "I am going to tell you something, and I'm only going to say it because I know you won't judge me."

As soon as she says this, the diner gets uncharacteristically quiet. Besides the squeak of forks on plates and the occasional sound of skin sliding of vinyl, it is almost silent. She drops her voice to a whisper and says: "I have been selling my used panties online."

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She is right, I didn't judge her... but I certainly had a lot of questions.

Of course, I am not naive to the fact that underwear fetishism is a thing. It is even one of the few fetishes depicted, or at least discussed, in popular culture. Selling worn underwear was a major plot-point in season three of Orange is the New Black, sparking major interest for women looking to make quick money. A quick Google search will turn up several articles (and many more NSFW websites) about the fetish.

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It isn't new, and it is not even that bizarre, but I still was eager to pick Sadie's brain about her experience selling her used panties. Thankfully, she was more than willing to answer my questions over email.

Let's start at the beginning here. What inspired you to get into pedaling panties in the first place?

When the thought first occurred to me, it seemed like a savvy way to make a little side cash with almost no effort. I could literally be sitting in a gold mine and cut down on laundry costs to boot. It felt almost irresponsible to NOT give it a try. I've always known selling used panties was a thing, but one lazy Saturday I read an article on it somewhere, which made it real. I went down a rabbit hole of research and boom, I was setting up a seller profile.

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Okay, so let's talk money. How much do you charge?

My base rate is around $30 [per pair], but have sold for as high as $50. A lot of this has to do with the buyer and the interaction you have with them. I've let a few people set their price and I'll consider it... especially if I haven't made a sale in a while.

How have your interactions been? Creepy? Friendly? Dirty?

More tame than you might think! You both know why you're there, so it's akin to a business transaction... with a hint of role play. I never thought I'd talk about something like the way I smell, or my grooming habits in such a straight-forward way, but that's your identity as a seller, how you market yourself. You embrace it and find the wording that works for you. Most buyers know exactly what they're looking for, so there's not a lot of fluff.

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I have to admit, that is a lot more boring I than I thought it would be.

A buyer will reach out to you with something they're looking for, and from there it's quick. There is an element of light flirting with pet names, winky faces, and other affectionate tidbits (it's all part of the fantasy for the buyer) but otherwise it's cut and dry. I get called various pet names from "sweetie" to "sexy" and usually call buyers "babe" or "hun." I haven't had a buyer be derogatory or step over a line. I don't think that's what it's about for most buyers.

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What is the most surprising thing you've learned through selling used panties?

Truly, it's a lot less passive than I originally thought [it would be]. It's not just listing them for sale and waiting for the money to roll in. You do have to be aware you're fulfilling a fantasy for someone, so you take on a bit of a character to make a sale. This is a side gig for me, and not a part of my sexuality, so keeping it professional, even within my own head, helps me section it off from my sex life. They are not intertwined.

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Okay, I have to ask. Have you ever gotten any odd requests?

I had a man offer to pay me $85 of bake him brownies in the vein of that "special" pie from The Help. It was a hard pass from me, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else was willing to make that happen for him.

Also, $85 is not NEARLY enough money for what he's asking.
Also, $85 is not NEARLY enough money for what he's asking.
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I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Would you recommend other women try selling used panties?

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Not all women. If you're comfortable with sexuality in general and aren't spooked by seeing a lot of dick pics, sure. The plus side is that in a lot of cases, it requires little work and little resources. The downside is fielding requests that definitely veer into sex work. I think it requires a lack of a judgmental attitude and maybe even an appreciation for people who are turned on by things you aren't.

Where do you buy the underwear that you wear for this? Do you buy in bulk?

Here's the best part for me: I'm selling the stuff I already own. No start-up costs! Panties that don't fit me right or are older or just things I'm not into anymore. For some men, the personality of the panties seem to be part of the pull, and I wonder if plain cotton briefs you buy in packs would sell as well. Maybe, but I don't think they'd go for cheaper.

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So what determines the price? What's the difference between a pair you can sell for $30 and a pair you can sell for $50?

Prices can go up by how many days you wear them, if they have period stains on them, skid marks, if you masturbate in them, if you have sex and then wear them after, if you're willing to sell them with videos or photos... if you can think it up, people will pay for it. Rule of thumb: the more you're willing to do, the more they'll sell for. But you gotta know your boundaries, and you learn pretty fast what you'll do for a chunk of cash. Spoiler alert: it's both more and less than you think.

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Logistically speaking, where do you mail the panties? What do you tell the post office you're mailing?

Hah! I just mail them in a well-sealed envelope (zip lock baggie in a thick envelope) with some postage and drop them in a blue mailbox, no human interaction required. If I do ship internationally, which I avoid for cost purposes, I classify it as "used clothing." I also avoid a return address, or I put their address as both addresses.

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Sneaky! So, how many people in your life have you told about this? Do your friends and family know?

I've told a handful of more open-minded friends. I'm not embarrassed about this as a side gig, but it's also not a part of my identity that I want to share with everyone.

*name has been changed for sake of anonymity.