Justin Duke from site: “It does not have to be a dime."
Send me a dime and I'll entertain you for life.”
This blunt supplication just about sums up the purpose of Justin Duke’s website. Justin, 21, is from El Cajon and, in his own words, “flat broke.” He explains: “I am employed and trying to go to school at the same time. Usually the ends just don’t meet. It’s not a question of time or dedication, just cost for education vs. money I actually have.”
His solution to this common problem is novel, to say the least. On April 9, he launched a website (www.justinduke.com) that serves both as a personal home page — complete with a pictorial biography, a curriculum vitae, and original writings and artwork — and a fundraising stratagem.
“Here’s my plan,” Justin writes. “Everything on this website is for your enjoyment, your perusal, If anything you see makes you go, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool,’ stick a dime in an envelope and mail it to me. I will be able to finance my-education and do more stuff that will make you say, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’ ”
The thing is, Justin is being literal when he asks for a dime. “Why only a dime?” he asks rhetorically. “Simple, everyone can afford a dime, no matter how bad off you are, I guarantee there is a dime somewhere you can do without. Also, a dime makes it somewhat of a novelty, a conversational ; donation.”
What’s the point, you wonder? “It all comes down to a question of volume; if I can generate enough interest and buzz I will be able to finance my education with dimes. And that, my friends, will be an incredible thing.”
But, of course, “It does not have to be a dime, I would never turn away any contribution.” Smart boy.
Justin says that his inspiration for the site is a kid who wrote a letter to a newspaper columnist !n 1987 requesting that he run a column asking each reader to send the kid a penny. “People sent him penny after penny,” Justin says. “Some people made MUCH larger contributions. All together the kid made about 30 grand for his college education.”
Because I’m flattered by Justin’s faith in the power of newspaper columnists to change people’s lives, I won’t press him for his sources for this apocryphal-sounding anecdote. Plus, why parasitize such youthful optimism with hackneyed, predictable cynicism? I mean, this Justin kid really thinks it will work.
“I have faith in humanity,” he says. “I trust that we as a society have not grown too lazy to put a dime in an envelope and mail it to a guy in the hopes that he’ll achieve his dream. I think this will work because, for the first time in history, it is cheap enough for one guy to contact the world that he can ask for a dime for his work and hope to show enough profit to get an education. Because of the Internet, because of e-mail and chat rooms, this is possible. With your help, this will work.” Naturally, there’s a catch. Justin, it turns out, wants to be an artist — more specifically, an actor. “It is a dream I have long held on to. The money you send will allow me to go to UCLA, a very expensive but good film school, and achieve my dream. I will not attempt, I will do. And when I make movies they will be for you, they will be a product of your generosity, a testament to people helping people. That is what I want.... My friend,” he implores, “for only a dime you can help send me to college to become an actor. Once I start I will never cease.” Hence: “Send me a dime and I’ll entertain you for life.”
Yikes. Who’s going to tell this kid there’s no better way to chase people’s money away than telling them you need it to support an acting career? Who’s going to tell him there’s no u in “generosity”?
Speaking of which, I’m going to send him a dime, for two reasons. First, he needs it. Justin tells me that as of April 24 he’s raised $50.30. That’s $29,949.70 short of his target sum. Second, a personal essay that Justin posted at the site, titled “Fear of Falling,” makes it clear that college is this young man’s natural habitat. “Every woman I ever see,” he writes, “I evaluate my chances with.
And more than the standard ‘could I get her into bed,’ because it’s more complicated than that. These things always are. I ask myself: ‘would she go out with me,’ ‘does she have a boyfriend,’ ‘is she out of my league,’ ‘is she religious, if so how much,’ ‘how hard would it be to corrupt her.’ I know all of these questions aren’t politically correct, but they are what guys actually think about. I know this, I am a guy. And this is what I think about when I see women.”
My dime’s in the mail.
Mail your dimes to: Here’s Your Dime Justin, P.O. Box 20101, El Cajon, CA 92021-0101.