From Sex Scandals To Business Success: How 4 People Built Careers From Misfortune

How do you make it in 2012? In an age of global economic uncertainty, it's never been harder for Americans to find a job, especially a secure one. Simply getting a degree from the local state university won't guarantee you a safe job, anymore.

But in the early 21st century, one thing does appear to make you a more marketable commodity, and that is public notoriety. While the Internet is not the sole cause, nor its only forum, the web has helped escalate the phenomenon; if you rank highly on Google search or have oodles of followers on Twitter, the market will surely fall in line. So it doesn't matter if you get there by being a call-girl under arrest, an ignorant Miss Teen USA contestant or even a hysterical fan of Britney Spears: as long you've as you've become a recognizable brand, you'll be able to build a thriving career.

The Sex Ticket To Success

In an article called, "Sex to Success," The Week put together a list of infamous call-girls who parlayed their fame into legitimate and thriving careers as fashion designers, writers, businesswomen and activists. It notes that Zahia Dehar, a hit at this week's Paris Haute Couture Week, was mixed up in a sex scandal two years ago. (She entered the spotlight for having sex with three French soccer players, who said at the time they didn't know she was underage.) Far from running away from the world of sex and erotica, she doubled down, launching a lingerie label, "Zahia By," this past January. And as proof of high far she's come: no less than Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld shot her first "lookbook."

The transformation from sex tabloid fodder to richly employed need not even require all that much creativity. The infamous street walker Divine Brown, aka Estella Thompson, says she "was just trying to pay a few bills" when Hugh Grant patronized her in 1995. But what ensued was a public speaking career including guest appearances on British television from which she says she's netted 1 million British pounds, or $1.55 million. "I'd agreed to go with him for $50, but ended up with more than ten thousand times that," she told the Daily Mail. She's also reportedly running a music production company.

Laughable Stupidity Helps, Too

The dynamic isn't limited to the salacious. Sometimes ignorance, or at least the commercial appearance of it, can help lead to a healthy payday, too. When Caitlin Upton, then 18, was asked at the 2007 Miss Teen USA Pageant why more Americans couldn't locate their country on a map, she said:

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"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh. . . people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S." Watch here:

A video of her performance garnered more than 54 million page views on YouTube. And the attention turned into appearances on "The Today Show" and "The Ellen Degeneres Show." Despite finishing third runner-up for the 2007 competition, she was able to do what many winners of beauty pageants only dream of -- launch a successful modelling career. She's appeared in ads in magazines like Seventeen and Cosmo Girl, and has been signed by Donald Trump's agency.

Not Just A Female Phenomenon

Men can get in on the act, as Chris Crocker, seen in photo above, demonstrates. Back in 2007, few public figures were as embattled as pop singer Britney Spears, who was going through a divorce and a public meltdown. But rising to her defense was Tennessee teen, Chris Crocker who posted a YouTube Video entitled, "Leave Britney Alone." In it, Crocker delivers a tearful monologue from what appears to be his bedroom. He says Spears is "only a human," and then wonders, "When is it professional to publicly bash someone who's going through a hard time?"

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After the video went viral, garnering some 4 million page views in the first two days after it was first posted, Crocker's sincerity was called into question. While he maintains he was truly worried about his idol, his own professional life as a videographer was only the better for his association with the video. His YouTube channel, on which he regularly uploads new content, has some 350,000 subscribers, and plenty of advertising to go with it.

He's also the subject of a new HBO documentary, entitled "Me @ the Zoo," premiering this summer. The documentary takes a look at his life starting with his childhood in eastern Tennessee, where he was targeted by bullies for being openly gay. In the documentary he says his videography career was never just about launching his own brand and career. It was also, he says, a "way of defending myself against the people in my hometown without having to fight back physically."
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Miss Teen South Carolina is a waitress at Pink Taco in LA.

July 10 2012 at 12:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nothing the Donald likes moere than airheaded blonds, next thing she'll be some republican candidate somewhere following the steps of Palin and Bachman..

July 10 2012 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jmcphoto1's comment

Congratulations on making the most uneducated, GENERALIZATION. Obviously you are just as 'airheaded' as Caitlin Upton, who, by the way, has actually made a career for herself, while you, a pathetic lowlife, criticize her at the bottom of an aol article. And you're talking about airheads? Pft, look in the mirror, please.

July 10 2012 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BUT THOSE 2 are not blonde, just grey and dark

June 07 2014 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember: becoming a model, male or female, has nothing to do with personality or intelligence. She's good looking and had plenty of exposure....that's all it took.

July 10 2012 at 12:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stupidity is our great american industry! obama campaigned in 57 states! yes, fifty seven. all in video. His dad served in WWII... (he was 3 yes, three yrs old.) miss America contestant said exactly what she knew: ALL PURE BS. Member of our "distinguished federal government asked a USN Admiral if they move the Marine Corps bases from Okinawa to Guam... Guam will CAPSIZE. (On tape, during a congressional hearing) GOD BLESS STUPID AMERICA.

July 10 2012 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I say that Miss South Carolina is selling stupid pills somewhere.....

July 09 2012 at 11:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Melania better watch out because "The Donald" is about to do an upgrade.

July 09 2012 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She was given a very hard question. They should have asked her "If it is 10 p.m in New York, what time is it in LA? I think she would have had a 50-50 chance of nailing that one.

July 09 2012 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good for Caitlin Upton!! Glad it worked out for her. I dare say there's many of us ~ that are a ways from 18 now, that might freak if having to answer a question in front of SO MANY people. I say don't judge til you've walked a mile in that person's shoes......

July 09 2012 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hopefully Miss Teen South Carolina is finishing third grade!

July 09 2012 at 8:37 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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