Donate US$10, get a nude photo: Los Angeles model raises funds for Australia wildfire charities

Ms Kaylen Ward, a nude model, said she wanted to help after having experienced the havoc fires wreaked in California in 2018. According to receipts she has been sent, more than US$1 million has been raised. PHOTO: KAYLEN WARD/TWITTER

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Australia is facing a devastating wildfire season. Since October, fires have destroyed more than 1,400 homes, killed at least 24 people and countless animals, and burned millions of acres of land.

Ms Kaylen Ward, a nude model in Los Angeles, found herself particularly affected by this news. She lived in Redding, California, in 2018 and saw first-hand how the Carr and Camp fires wreaked havoc on her family, friends and neighbours. The scale of the Australian fires has dwarfed those blazes.

She wanted to help. Last Friday (Jan 3), she told her 30,000 Twitter followers that she would send a naked picture of herself to anyone who donated US$10 (S$13.50) to charities involved in relief efforts.

"It's a really good incentive for people who wouldn't donate, as bad as that sounds," she said this week.

In order to receive a nude photo, each donor would need to send Ms Ward a receipt as verification. The model said that by the end of the first day - once she had added up the totals from the receipts sent to her Instagram inbox - she had encouraged the donation of about US$5,000 to charities focused on Australia's fires.

She now claims to have raised more than US$1 million, though she was candid about her inability to verify individual donations. She provided screenshots in which it appeared that she had received multiple submissions per minute.

"I was trying to proof them as best I could," Ms Ward said. "I do think it's very possible that a lot of them aren't real."

Her example has inspired others. A 26-year-old Colorado woman who poses nude using the name Lana Evans said that her husband sent her Ms Ward's original tweet. She quickly posted something similar and said that she stopped counting donations when she had US$2,000 in receipts. She said that she joined an impromptu group of more than 20 women doing the same thing.

"I think it's just motivating normal guys to donate because it's giving them an incentive, you know?" she said.

These efforts, though surely more risque, do have precedents. Partially dressed firefighters are known to pose for fund-raising calendars, and pageants with swimsuit competitions are often held for charitable purposes.

Charitable nudes are certainly a more immediate means of gathering donations, although it is possible that only a fraction of those messaging Ms Ward and others have actually donated.

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