In many ways, she comes across as a wholesome, All-American girl. In so many others, she is Churchill’s classic riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
In truth, her real identity probably lies somewhere in between. It is a paradox now shrouded by her new provocative alter-ego, crafted under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Raine.
The aspiring physician with a runway build and looks to match has held on to her virginity for 27 years, choosing this moment to give it away for neither love nor desire, but rather, for money.
The self-described “virgin whore” will relinquish her chastity to the highest bidder in a global auction, scheduled to commence April 1.
But she is not the first girl to try to fetch a handsome fee for her flower.
In 2008, a 22-year-old women’s studies major, under the assumed name of Natalie Dylan, announced that she would auction off her virginity to fund her college studies at the illustrious Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Though bids reportedly soared as high as $3.8 million, Dylan failed to consummate the arrangement.
Two years later, an unidentified 19-year-old university student in New Zealand’s Northland region followed in the trail Dylan blazed, accepting a bid that placed a $45,000 price tag on her purity.
Just last winter, Brazilian native Catarina Migliorini, 21, gave up on her dream of auctioning off her virginity after four failed attempts, in which she refused bids as high as $2 million.
Instead, she now hopes to award her virginity to the winning contestant on “There’s Something About Catarina,” a proposed reality show to be aired in Brazil.
In each case, for one reason or another, these women put their sexual innocence squarely on the auction block and had it appraised through a bidding war.
They were compelled to do so by an undeniable truth: Virginity always has a price. Sometimes, it is retailed as a loving gesture. Other times as a mistake. Often, it is given away for the desire to be branded by it no longer.
For Ms. Raine, 27 years have come and gone, and the price of her virginity is yet to be determined. It has become “part of [her] identity,” as she puts it, acknowledging that she probably values it “in a very different way than most women.”
“Many women are raised believing that they should hold on to their virginity and that it’s something that’s important for their marriage, for their relationship.It is a measure of how good they are as a person. I never believed that and I never even intentionally tried to stay a virgin. It just really happened this way.”
Though deliberate and decisive in her intent to sell her first sexual liaison, she is less so in her motives. Citing the adventure, eroticism, scandal and absurdity of the pursuit while touching on her ideas of feminism, culture, sex work and personal liberty, Raine ultimately points to financial considerations as her foremost prerogative.
Even on that point, Ms. Raine vacillates as she does on so many others, either unwilling or unable to articulate a clear position with absolute resolve.
“Money is my motivation, but by no means do I need the money. I’m pretty safe and secure financially,” she proclaimed, mentioning moments earlier that she hopes to earn upwards of $400,000 from the auction, which she expects to last for roughly a month.
And she plans to donate 35 percent of her windfall to a charity that helps bring education to women in developing countries.
“I think I have a very lucky opportunity here. I don’t need the money,” she said, a singsong quality in her words. “I know a lot of other people, for instance, women who don’t have an education, who will never have an opportunity like this. I guess for peace of mind, it just makes me happy to give some back.”
But charity seemed to be only a tangential concern. There was still something wholly unsatisfying about her rationales for embarking on this journey.
Through our conversation, I had hoped to understand how this woman could make the drastic decision to simply sell her virginity after clinging to it so tightly for so long.
I wanted to know if she was truly prepared to accept whatever consequences might come – including the potential for her career in medicine to be derailed – if her identity is somehow revealed. I wanted to grasp what led her to this point.
To unearth this mystery, I began by asking Ms. Raine about her upbringing, which she described as “privileged,” having “always been taken care of” and afforded “every opportunity.”
She told me that she spent the majority of her childhood as an expat, leaving the United States when she was in kindergarten and returning midway through high school.
As a young girl, she played “every sport imaginable” and had a fondness for art. In middle school, her attention turned to boys, and she developed a crush for the cutest guy in her class. But she was idealistic then, and ultimately concluded that he just “wasn’t that special.”
That idealism came to define her earliest concepts of love, relationships and sex. She never held the belief that her virginity would be reserved for a man she loved. Instead, she hoped her first foray in intimacy would be with someone with whom she felt comfortable.
But those circumstances never materialized as she aged from adolescence to adulthood, developing into a venerable beauty, standing now at a slender 5’10” with emerald eyes that perfectly complement her multi-tonal blonde locks.
By every definition, she is still a virgin, never having removed her undergarments for a man, nor allowing him to shed his own.
She has dated, but has never been in love. Instead, she pined for the sciences, earning high marks in school that would gain her admittance into a medical program.
Her virginity aged like a fine wine. But her motives for keeping it intact were neither righteous nor virtuous, and at 26, it seems Ms. Raine felt pressure to attach some grand purpose to her chastity. Rather than turn to introspection to understand the real reasons behind her celibacy, she made the decision to put it up for auction.
Inspired by an article Dylan wrote five years earlier explaining her choice to do the same, Ms. Raine began making preparations.
Through that process, she carefully constructed the fictitious persona of Elizabeth Raine, whose identity she would use to fend off any criticism that might arise over her controversial endeavor.
“The stigma that surrounds (sex work) did give me a lot of pause,” she reflected, detailing her earliest concerns. “Since then, I’ve sort of just said, to hell with it, I’m just going to do what I want to do and deal with the consequences. And I am trying to avoid the consequences. That’s why I’m staying anonymous.”
But she couldn’t remain anonymous to everyone. Before she could begin, she first had to secure her family’s blessing.
“It’s just something that’s harder to tell your family,” she lamented. “So I waited until things were pretty much a sure, done deal.”
After arranging the auction through a management team in Australia in order to circumvent prostitution laws in the United States, she wrote a five-page letter to her parents explaining her plan.
“They’ve been on board ever since. My brother is a different story. He is a bit more,” she paused before finding the right word. “Conservative.”
Even after being rebuked by her brother, Ms. Raine still moved forward with the idea. She created a website and blog, appropriately called “Musings of a Virgin Whore,” to both entice bidders and to mount a defense for her “scandalous, impertinent, immoral, shocking, brazen and defiant virginity auction.”
But her arguments fall short of convincing. On both sites, she readily expounds on her supposed motives, but in more than one instance, she directly contradicts herself.
Ms. Raine describes her views on societal attitudes towards women and sex work, calling herself a feminist of sorts while criticizing other feminists whose views differ from hers.
She admonishes those who are “noisy” about their beliefs while simultaneously characterizing her auction as a form of “social rebellion.”
When I asked how she is able to square those two ideas, Ms. Raine told me that her intention was never to cause a stir.
“I think it is really important to stand up for your beliefs and I don’t blame people that do that. But I think it’s also really important to engage people and not isolate them by doing that.”
If that were her intent, she said, “I’d probably run around showing my face and saying, hey, this is who I am.”
But she is freed by anonymity and permitted to speak her mind across her digital platforms, her true self hidden from the world.
She criticizes society for placing such a value on virginity, saying that “ideally, virginity should not be valued,” despite having orchestrated this entire event to capitalize on its perceived worth.
I questioned whether this was hypocritical, and she responded that in this case, her virginity “is not being used as a tool to control [her]. Rather, it is being used as a tool to bring [her] opportunity. [She thinks] that’s a really important distinction.”
It is an opportunity that she would like to see afforded to more women. But her ideas on personal freedom and liberty are incongruent at times, as she explicitly insists that young girls have “no business whatsoever selling their virginity.”
When asked how she would feel if a young girl, perhaps even under the age of 18, claimed her as inspiration when deciding to auction her own virginity just as she had Dylan, it appeared that Ms. Raine had not fully considered the scenario.
After a long pause, she responded, “I would feel really badly about that. I think, I mean, I guess I would feel really badly about that. I also think that it’s probably very unlikely. I mean, I think in most places it would be illegal.”
The legality of her campaign was Ms. Raine’s primary concern when starting out. Soon, though, she learned how easy it is to prostitute oneself legally, especially if that person is armed with resources that allow her to do it overseas.
“A lot of countries have very relaxed prostitution laws. And I will say, something that was very eye-opening to me too was how, honestly, easy it is to do this all legally.”
“You know, I was always raised somewhere where prostitution was illegal and I come from an American culture where it’s very, very frowned upon. It’s taken for granted that that is the law, you know, properly selling sex is not okay. But, you know, I have thought about it a lot and it just became much less of a concern.”
Her privacy, however, remains an utmost concern. Ms. Raine knows that if her identity is revealed, she risks being rebuked by the medical community, dashing her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. “Without hesitation,” she places more importance on her medical training than her virginity auction.
I asked if a medical residency council would be justified in blocking her from a residency program if her true name leaks, and were that to unfold, if she would view the campaign as having been worthwhile.
“If my identity were to be revealed, I think I should absolutely still have a career in medicine. I don’t think this changes my qualifications or my abilities at all. I’ve been working on [the virginity auction] for about a year now, and it’s really had a very positive impact on my character. It’s made me much more open-minded, less judgmental. Qualities that would probably make me a better physician.”
She concluded, “Why I don’t think I would regret it is because I disagree with (it)… [If they] were to kick me out… it’s kind of a situation where, well if that’s how they’re going to act, if that is how they feel, I’d rather not be a part of it.”
But she is resolute in her intention to follow through with the auction. “I feel very confident in this decision. It really has been about a year now so I really feel prepared now to handle whatever may happen. And I’m very well aware that anything might happen.”
After nearly an hour, our conversation began to wind down. As it concluded, I was left with no-clearer picture for why this girl, with such a promising future, who had been afforded every opportunity in life, would jeopardize everything she has worked for by auctioning off her innocence to a complete stranger.
But I was content to leave that a mystery, deciding that perhaps it is Ms. Raine’s enigmatic nature that makes her story all the more compelling.
Before saying our goodbyes, I asked what kind of man she hopes places the winning bid, buying the right to explore her body for the first time.
“Most desired? That’s tough. I mean the most money is mainly what I’m looking for. Otherwise, I don’t have any expectations. I’m just trying to be very open-minded about what he might be like. If we get along well-enough, I would be very happy with that.”
Photos Courtesy: Elizabeth Raine