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The classic stock excuse for the discovering of Old Shame, usually if it's either loaded with Fan Service 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 of I Was Young and Needed the Money include:

Fan Works

  • In DC Nation, Hotshot's teammates discover that he "starred" in a film valled "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.


  • This becomes a scandal for Julia Roberts's character in Notting Hill.
  • The phrase is used by Priscilla Presley in one of The Naked Gun movies, but that's not what Frank Drebin was looking for.

Live-Action TV

  • Friends
    • Joey was once in a porn movie because he was 'young, and needed some money'. He plays 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 really 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 as a teenage, pseudo-80's, Canadian pop star. 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."
  • 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"?

  • 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...
  • On Monk, Sharona once posed for a Playboy analogue when she was younger. This comes back to haunt her when the magazine's owner threatens to publish those pictures if she and Monk don't stop investigating the murder he committed.
  • 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.


  • 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.

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 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).
  • Sylvester Stallone, who made his acting debut in the porn flick Party at Kitty and Stud's.
  • 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 used to "dance" "professionally".
  • 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[1]
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine fame) was a male stripper for a time.
    • So was actor Channing Tatum. He's even getting a film produced about this time in his life, directed by Steven Soderbergh (he is playing himself).
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Back before Enix merged with Square, among the projects it had under its belt were at least two really old H-games.
  1. 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.