This is a fucking picture of me.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I write words for money.  And I do some other things for money.  I speak occasionally. For money.

Money.  Money.  Not for fun.  For money.

Please do not ask me to do things for no money. Not writing.  Not speaking.  Not media interviews, either.  I know you mass electronic media outlets don’t pay people but whatevs. Unless you have money for me, I will not  provide free content to your television or radio program. I don’t really like doing interviews. Unless I have a book to flog, I would much rather stay home. I would rather garden than go to your television or radio studio where your host will probably be rude to me.

Pay me money.

Bitches, please.  I am in my forties.  I am not grateful for the exposure. I am grateful for being left the fuck alone.

But do not ask me to work for no money or shit money.

Especially please do not ask me to do things for no money or shit momey AND COVER MY OWN TRAVEL EXPENSES.  And do not suppose a plane ticket to Sydney is sufficient payment, either.  I have been on a fucking plane before. Going to Sydney is not exciting for me but a pain in my arse.  I would much rather stay home and garden than go to the rotten airport. AND FLY TO A GIG YOU EXPECT ME TO DO FOR NO MONEY.

And I don’t drive because I can’t fucking see so there had better be a cab.

Unless your organisation is super-worthy-IMO and is advocating for, say, Aboriginal land rights,  homelessness, asylum seekers resources or smashing the state DO NOT ASK ME TO WORK FOR NO MONEY DO NOT ASK ME TO WORK FOR NO MONEY.  The answer will probably be no and then “fuck you. Why don’t you value my labour?”.  I am a freelancer FFS.  And yes, how nice that a Member of Parliament, lobbyist or full-time employed eminent charity worker agreed to your terms of NO MONEY. Of course they did. It is a job they are PAID TO DO. I AM A FREELANCER. IF I DO NOT WORK FOR A DAY I DO NOT GET PAID FOR A DAY. MY INDUSTRY IS IN CRISIS FOR THE SAKE OF FUCK. PAY ME OR FUCK OFF.

Also. Just because you are a “women’s organisation” I will not provide a free keynote address.  Better be some pretty special bitches.

Do. Not. Ask. Me. To. Work. For. No. Payment.


Apart from being rude to dicks who ask me to do things for no money or too little money, I write books. One is out in the first few weeks of 2017. Another is with Bernard Keane from Crikey. A Short History of Stupid  out through Allen & Unwin.

Look.  I hate these About pages.  Google me.  I have a Wikipedia page that I swear I didn’t make myself. Most of it is accurate.  I think. Last time I looked. At present, I write for some independent organisations I really like.

Email me at helen at badhostess dot com

27 comments for “About

  1. Christine
    March 30, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Just found you – you have just seriously warmed my heart and made me feel good about the world.
    I wish you all the best things (including lots of money of course).
    PS love the paleo rant – excellent work.

    • Sue Baum
      June 24, 2016 at 2:53 am

      Just wanted to express my appreciation for your comments on TED talks. You are accurate on your assessment on what really contributes to “greatness”. As it is for all living things, their success boils down to the husbandry that informs their daily lives. In the case of humans that would be safe living environments, nutrition, education, good public health and opportunity.

      Thanks for making it simple.

  2. roy wilkinson
    April 20, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    paleo – well said helen

    have you considered reviving your cherry bar quiz show ? (I was the DJ that preceded the quiz)

  3. Jane
    April 21, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Long time reader first time commenter!
    Love your work.
    And your liberal and apt use of expletives.
    Your book was ace although sorry we passed it round the family instead of buying multiple copies.

  4. Brian Richardson
    April 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    I wipe my scrotum across the lips of paleo enthusiasts
    Just eat your greens JERKS!!
    I’ve missed you Helen, glad I found you
    Maintain the Rage…

  5. April 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    AMEN SISTA! A whole bunch of freelance writers/speakers/consultants etc sharing this shit all over Facebook as I type. Hope you make some money off the back of it! Big love to you and your brazen ways smart-funny lady.

  6. April 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    LOVE a good rant and I sympathise with you! When you finish this next book, when I am brave enough to ask for a review copy, and when I have read (and enjoyed!) it, I’ll ask you for a phone interview (to promote it!) on my radio program… and risk the consequences!

  7. Simon
    April 22, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Tell it like it is lady, the world is full of soft cocks

  8. Joe
    March 8, 2016 at 1:35 am

    My first unrequited crush, I did the teenage boy equivalent of a teenage girl writing in her diary about Helen as I waited for the better half of Mikey or Judith to come back on the airwaves.

    Now, to think of a way I can give her money to write words, that wouldn’t get me fired should I commission them…

  9. March 15, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I thought I was blunt – but you nailed it. I often feel the same. Value me or bugger off.

    • March 15, 2016 at 6:21 am

      No one has time for subtleties, Fiona.

  10. Ursula Fugger
    March 15, 2016 at 4:32 am

    You’re efffing awesome.

    • March 15, 2016 at 6:25 am

      No. I am simply effing broke!

      • March 18, 2016 at 2:46 am

        I write posts like this and delete them….. I agree with you and I am also broke and asking newer high fee schedules…. I cherish your words.

  11. March 15, 2016 at 5:35 am

    A friend of mine posted this on FB, and I am glad he did.

    Local non-profits here (I live in Oregon, USA) that have truckloads of money for other things, like expensive parties and employee salaries, are just as guilty of this. The only upside to it is that the work still belongs to me, the creator, to re-purpose if needed. But, for the most part, I have stopped doing work for them for this very reason. My favorite, of course, is believing they have a right to photographic work without a contract, as if they didn’t know Oregon law concerning such things, which they obviously don’t.

    I also do work just for the fun of it and post on my site, but I keep the site add free and post things that are of value to me, without the undue influence of others who simply wish to put their figurative two cents in without putting in a literal two cents in.

    Again, thank you for this, and I wish more organizations and businesses took the time to read it before asking for such things.

    Ben Brown Jr.

    • March 15, 2016 at 6:27 am

      Thanks, Ben. I doubt that in this “innovative” and “disruptive” world where workers in all industries are expected to be grateful for mere association with brands and corporations, my post won’t make a dint of difference. It did give me great hope to see the Uber drivers of New York organise their labour, though.
      Workers of the world and all that.

  12. March 15, 2016 at 6:48 am

    This is FABOOSH and I have been saying it for ages…

    If I wanted exposure I would Snap Chat my tits and scare the shit out of the world wide web…

    Just like Pretty Woman…anything you want from me is going to cost you and I don’t kiss on the lips..Great Read Cheers

    • March 15, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Quite! Now, shut up while I floss, Richard Gere.
      I should say that *very* occasionally, a freelancer, particularly a newbie, must accept the terms of the so-called gift economy and provide an item of work at no charge. But, the benefits of this non-financial exchange must be clear. Is my Twitter handle at the top of the published page, are you promoting my book, etc?
      But, for the most part, we must be very clear about the terms of our labour.
      This doesn’t mean we pieceworkers don’t have a sliding scale for clients and it doesn’t mean we have to join a union (although, I would advise this strongly as the only means to ensure fair wages.) What it does mean is that if WE don’t value our labour, nobody else will.
      I wrote this after a major, publicly listed media company asked me to MC a promotional event for one of their new digital properties. “You’d be perfect for our brand,” they said, as though this were a form of flattery. They “payment”, such as it wasn’t, turned out to be a bottle of wine and some taxi vouchers.
      Why ON EARTH would I, or anyone, choose to donate a perfectly good day that could otherwise be used for money making or leisure in service to a fucking “brand”?
      I guess every other fame-ravenous cow says yes. In the hope she’ll meet someone important, get another low pay or no pay gig or, heavens to Betsy, be invited to do one of those fucking tedious tedx gigs, for which she will also NOT BE PAID.
      I have been producing media content, both old and new, for twenty five years. I have found that money comes in when I am doing good work. Only then. And I can only do good work if I have time and a little money, neither of which are provided by this seemingly endless list of requests to “partner” with a “brand” who is offering me nothing save for the blandishment that I would be “perfect” for their demographic.
      It is NOT praise to be considered perfect for a brand. It’s a fucking insult. The minute I can be compared to an empty fucking commodity is the minute I know that I am in urgent need of psychiatric care.
      People. Charge for your work. Even if you can afford to offer it freely, the rest of us can’t deal with the fact that you’re crashing our market.

      • Anonymous
        March 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

        Exactly .. If I’m going to volunteer it will at a soup kitchen … Or as a message therapist for the World Cup soccer team…

      • Marcus Perry
        March 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm

        Work of any kind, deserves payment. Payment in modern society is generally cash or equivalent, but doesn’t have to be. As long as the substitute non-cash payment is agreeable to the worker, then it’s reasonable payment. That said, it is nigh on impossible to survive only on non-cash payment.
        The trick is to get whatever one decides is the minimum amount of cash for work, before taking alternative payment for work.
        Back in the day I was a ski instructor. Every one was my friend and everyone wanted a free pointer or tip. Although I’m not religious, when asked for a free tip, I would reply “God and my mother pay half price. Everyone else pays full”. I got less payment that way, but at least I did the work for free.
        Keep working for money!

  13. March 15, 2016 at 9:30 pm


    If I had a penny for every time someone asked me to “have coffee and pick (my) brain,” I’d have…a lot of pennies.

    Set your hourly rate. Set your minimum number of hours. And love what you do.

  14. March 15, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Oh my God,

    I think I love you!

    This is absolutely what is wrong with the creative industry ~ and the people who say yes to no pay are bringing it down further.

    Thank you for your honesty.


  15. Richard Kah
    March 16, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Fuck yeah, kick arse but not for nuttin! onya girl.

  16. March 17, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Just fabulous. That’s going to be my new mantra: Pay me or fuck off. I think I’ll put it on my business card.

  17. Linda
    October 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Hello Helen. Fanfuckingtastic. I needed to read that. I’m blind, just as an aside. I’m a musician (sorry) and I recently quit the venue I’d been working at for 18 months, where, even though I’d been attracting 60-100 people each time I played (okay, that is a small audience, I realize, but I live in the absolute middle of fucking nowhere, with a population of around 300, so not bad going), coz they asked me to work weekly. Well, okay, it’s not coz they asked me to work weekly, although that was a bad idea and I told them. No, I said, weekly is too often, for this tiny fucking population, I said…they said, oh c’mon give it a go. After a bit of that (you get the idea), I said okay. Now, this is a small venue in the middle of nowhere, so I had been charging them less than I did 15 years ago (well, I’m the only person in the area who doesn’t vote for P Hanson, so lynching is a real possibility) …AND, so, after doing the first of my weekly performances, where, because it was a wake for someone who’d died (well, I assumed, anyway), and there were over 100 people and they were drinking, which is the objective in my line of work…I performed for six hours, by choice admittedly…but when I finally finished and their pub was still full of happy drinkers, I asked for my drinks on top of my small pay, instead of deducted as they normally did. Well, wrong. Bad move by me. Or them. So there was a conversation about how I really meant ‘less drinks’ not ‘plus drinks’, which I clarified. After which, I was told that, now that I’m working for them weekly, they need to renegotiate my pay. I said, renegotiate? what ‘down’?. Yep, since you’re working weekly, we’re going to pay you less.

    I feel, Helen, that since we don’t really know each other, okay, we don’t know each other at all, that I should probably stop typing now. But, needless to say, I quit.

    Oh, okay, now I don’t have a venue to play in at all, and no money, and now we have to drive 45 minutes if we want an alcoholic fucking beverage, because I won’t shop in their steenkin’ establishment. But FUCKING PAY ME PROPERLY YOU FUCKERS!

    I now have plenty of time for gardening. In fact, I now have some chickens. So there.

    Well, succinct isn’t one of my strengths.

    Do hope life is treating you well and you made some money recently.

    • October 28, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      I am also quite blind, Linda. I think our inability to see the disapproval on people’s faces makes us cranky!
      IN the absence of a labour organisation, I think what one needs to do, as ludicrous as it is, is to form an agreement before performing work. If you talk to them and say “I will stop playing when you tell me to, but I seek ab hourly rate or bar percentage” then it’s clear up front. Back when I was paid by the word (this never happens much these days) I couldn’t just expect that the more words I wrote, the more I’d get paid. We have to accept that the orgsanisations to which we offer our services are in the business of profit, and negotiate accordingly.
      I really hope you can make some dosh from music again soon. Let me know!

      • Linda
        October 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm

        Yes, back when I was performing regularly (3-5 times a week, every week…from 1999-2004), I was right on the business side of things. And, was working in built up areas, where it was fully expected…not that underpaying or being offered a meal instead, wasn’t commonplace, but I was ‘all business’. No, a bowl of fucking soup is not payment.

        Stupidly, I was going with the ‘I’ll build this place up and then we’ll renegotiate’ concept…and the even stupider ‘They’re sort of friends…well we live in this tiny fucking ‘community’ (for want of words), so saying ‘we’re in this together’, will suffice, for now’. No, for these people, genourosity was met as sheer stupidity, which as it turns out, they were right…oh, that’s coz they knew they were arsehats.

        Unfortunately they have no morals, or scruples, and now an intense ‘lack of me’.

        Not that keen on playing locally, so it’ll probably have to be a tour of sorts, or when we sell up and move interstate (rather worn down with all the racism etc in this neck of the woods…absolutely fucking lovely land, close to beach, gorgeous weather, all that, but a culturally void, P Hanson lovin wasteland) But I’ll keep you posted!! (we’re in this for the long term, aren’t we Helen?!).

        BUK BUK
        (fuck I’m thirsty)

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