Damned If You Do

A story this week begs for more exploration, and this is the place to do it. First, as usual, the story.


“My husband and I were told that people were finding out about it. So I knew this day was coming,” said Brianna Coppage, an English teacher at St. Clair (Mo.) High School. School administrators learned of her paywalled adult web presence, and Coppage, 28, was put on leave; she resigned rather than be fired. She set up the site over the summer to help pay off her student loans. “I have multiple degrees in education, and it would be helpful for extra money,” she said, knowing with her $42,000/year salary it would take years to pay it all off. She kept her face off the videos and didn’t use her real name, but someone told the school. “I’m not advertising it to students, but adults in the community continue to do so,” she said. That turned into a blessing: with so much publicity her paid subscriptions on the site have skyrocketed, so she doubled the price. In the past six months her take has been over $1 million. “I have no debt now, and that’s really freeing,” she said. “We were deeply disappointed that this negative attention was brought to our community,” grumped school superintendent Kyle Kruse. (RC/KMOV St. Louis, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) …Beating the system designed to keep working people impoverished? That’s a shamin’.

More nerdy than dirty: Coppage’s official school portrait.

We all say we want well-educated, dedicated teachers for “our kids” …but don’t want to pay them a reasonable wage. I didn’t have room for more quotes for this story, so let’s expand things here where there’s more room.

I’ll begin by making one thing clear, using the “p-word” and site name which (if I used either in the newsletter) would have necessarily meant it would be filtered by many email providers: her OnlyFans paywalled site — which means you can’t see the content without paying — is hardcore porn in nature. The “softest” advertised aspect is “self play.”

I have never used OnlyFans myself, but if you really want to find her there, I’ll make it easy for you: her handle is BrooklinLovexxx.

Highly Qualified

“I have multiple degrees in education,” she told KMOV St. Louis, which didn’t elaborate. Hell, with some teachers having no degrees at all, one degree would be a great start! Multiple — frankly, in any subject — is icing on the cake, assuming they’re from legitimate institutes of higher education.

Part 1 of the explanation of the tagline, if needed: a meme based on a scene in The Simpsons.

And at least one of hers was: the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She then worked as an academic adviser at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla before she was hired at the 750-student St. Clair High School, which is in a town of about 4,800 residents. A small town for sure.

“There is this expectation that teachers should be the moral leaders of students, and I do not disagree with that,” Coppage said. “I taught the curriculum. I taught students reading and writing, and I didn’t guide them on my thoughts or beliefs.” On the other hand, “I can’t control what people think of me. I just know that who I am as a person, I’m not doing anything illegal. I am a good friend. I am a good family member. That is all I can think about right now.”

How I pictured the tag when I came up with it. Still unknown: if it’s a good likeness of Superintendent Kruse. It was also used in the Story of the Week graphic (below).

What did she mean by her site being “advertised” by adults in town? Someone linked to her OnlyFans account in a St. Clair Facebook group. That’s when she knew it was out of control, and decided to resign from the school.

But what she really wanted to do is teach. “I’ve definitely gone through a grieving process, especially during that first week and second week,” she said. “Just knowing I won’t be going back to education and I won’t ever be seeing my students again in the classroom. That was tough.”

But then there this: “Missouri is one of the lowest states in the nation for teacher pay,” she said. “The district I was working for is also one of the lowest paying districts in the state. I feel like times are tough. I have student loans.” She was in a no-win situation …unless she came up with a creative solution at the risk of public disapproval.

Who’s Right?

There are clearly two worlds of thought on this: she’s not doing anything illegal, and did everything right in the sense that she didn’t talk about it, didn’t use her name, and didn’t show her face. And on the other hand, she works with children in a small town, and parents would clearly be uneasy (to say the least) with her side job, and odds are (in a small town) word will eventually get out.

“Our [school district employee] handbook policies are very vague and just say something about represent yourself well,” she said. “Did I violate that? I feel like that’s a matter of opinion.” She says that if teachers are to be held to high standards, then they need to be paid to the same standard. They’re not.

So who is “right” here? Her, and her “right” to have a non-illegal side job? Or the school, who has an obligation to provide good role models for the students?

Other than say both sides are right, leading to a conundrum, I’ll leave it up to you to hash it out in the comments.

More Details

Pretty early in the controversy, and well before the “exceeded $1 million” bit came out, the weekly St. Louis Riverfront Times scored a pretty candid interview with Coppage.

“The public outrage was swift,” the paper said — “not against Coppage, but at the school for acting so aghast that an employee they paid $42,000 a year would work to supplement that income.”

OK, now she shows her face on her site. (Brianna Coppage)

Well, that’s not what made the public aghast, is it? They didn’t exactly embrace her specific job. But let’s press on.

She was making $10,000/month at first (vs $3,500 before deductions at school) on OnlyFans, and “It didn’t blow up until I collaborated with some other creators who have a big following in St. Louis.” Which, of course, is probably how someone recognized her and informed the school.

“I really had two choices” when she was discovered, she said. “One was to delete everything and hide from it, and my name was still going to be out there anyway. I knew that I wasn’t going to go back into education. So it was either run and hide, or lean into it. And at the end of the day, I still have bills to pay and I still have like a family to provide for. So it was not really a difficult choice to just lean in.”

She now has tens of thousands of subscribers. Even just 10,000 subscribers at her old rate of $10/month is a six-figure gross. One source said she had “more than doubled” the $10/month subscription price. It adds up fast, so “leaning in” it is. If she’s smart, she’s banking a lot of the money for the future. And it sounds like she’s smart.


“A lot of people [are] asking, why didn’t you just get a part time job somewhere,” she said. “That seems like that would’ve worked better but teachers also take all of their work home. We don’t get to stop working when we leave the school day. We don’t get to grade all 130 students’ papers during the day. It’s just not possible when you’re teaching, so we take that work home with us on the evenings and on the weekends. Getting a second job is really not possible.”

Not surprisingly this was also the Story of the Week for easy sharing. You can grab this graphic to post to your own social pages.

Despite the school district’s actions, “The reaction has been very, very supportive,” she asserts. “I’m honestly surprised. Many people are saying, ‘Leave her alone, this is her personal business.’ A lot of people are pointing out this wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage. The support has honestly been overwhelmingly positive. There’s always going to be those negative comments that are out there. But they’ve been few and far between.

“Someone reached out to me and they said they were an administrator at a Catholic school. They said, ‘You do you. You’re doing awesome. You deserve all the support.’ That was surprising.” So Kruse is more reactionary about staff having sex with their husbands than a Catholic school principal. Go figure!

Even support from her family. Her husband, of course, knew about it from the start. “But it is tough to have these conversations with your family. That’s never easy.” They were “Shocked, at first. But then supportive.” Still, “I’m not embarrassed for myself. I’m really not even worried about myself.”

“Livable Wages”

“This wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage.” Kind of the crux of the matter, eh? That and the educational loan system is rigged against them, with high interest rates even when big borrowers were getting whatever they needed at near-zero interest rates for years.

“Follow the money” a friend likes to say. Well, “the money” shows what we really care about in this country, and in general it’s not teachers and other service workers, and certainly not sex workers.

So Coppage is left with only one thing to do: “I’m just going to lean into my online presence and try to make the most of it.”

Start IRA and Roth accounts pronto, Brianna!

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32 Comments on “Damned If You Do

  1. The interesting thing is that I had probably only heard of OnlyFans through random comments – and I just assumed it was a gathering place for sports enthusiasts. (And maybe it is, depending on your definition of “sports.”)

    • Charles O’Reilly I believe it was originally intended to be a way for all sorts of celebrities to connect directly to fans. But a combination of factors drove adult content away from several other outlets just as OF was getting off the ground, and it became their focus before they could establish anything else.

      • I’m sure you are correct; I remember it starting as a place where celebs could sell signed photos, phone calls, one-on-one chats, short recordings, etc. of PG-rated things like professional headshots or personalized voicemail greetings (“Hi, this is Joe Famous Quarterback here, and right now my friend Johnny Nobody can’t come to the phone, but if you kick me a message, I’ll make sure to “pass” it along!”

        OF was founded by a softcore porn guy, so it seems its direction was pretty clear from the start. The site you describe is probably Cameo.com, where you can pay a celebrity to (for instance) record a birthday greeting for your mom and such. -rc

  2. There is also the story here about another teacher in the same district that was also running an OF site but closed it down after someone in the School discovered it.

    It’ll be interesting to see if that story develops (as they say). -rc

  3. “A lot of people are pointing out this wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage.”

    I think this was a very creative and effective way to pay off student loans, debt which is crippling an entire generation of people who want to earn an independent living. As a nation, our values seem really twisted. How much of this is the fault of regular people and how much the fault of big money?

    • I think that America’s problem with student debt is because schools are no longer in the business of providing an education; they’re in the business of business. Their attitude as they raise tuition and fees is, “You want an education? Find a way of paying for it.”

      • And the more “easy” loan money that’s available, the more the schools compete on things that have nothing to do with getting an education, and the more tuition goes up to pay for all of that “extra” stuff. Not to mention the explosion in non-educational staff. Directors of this that or the other.

  4. I find it interesting that she felt the need to resign instead of fighting the dismissal which was sure to come. I guess I wouldn’t fight either considering the double standards applied to the average person. She knew the standards change depending on how much money or pull you have and she didn’t have enough of either to change the outcome.

    She does now, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. When the novelty wears off, her income will likely decrease. -rc

    • She’s got 20,000 subscribers at $20/month. In 12 months she earns $2.4 million. If she can sustain that for 2 years and not spend like a drunken sailor, then even after taxes she’ll have a couple of million bucks left after living expenses. Let us assume that she’s smart enough to invest that money rather than store it in the root cellar.

      If her income then drops to half that, or $1.2M a year, and if she spends at a generous $200,000 a year, her portfolio will grow by $400,000 or more each year.

      In today’s dollars, $2M in investment with judicious annual withdrawals of about 5% (she would need less than that) will outlast a 75-year-old beneficiary. She’s younger than that, so she’ll need more — maybe $5M. I see that as entirely attainable for her. …and I wish her well (and wealth).

      OF takes 20% even before taxes, but your points remain. -rc

  5. I am so glad that I teach in the Boston area where most districts have the money and political support to pay teachers well. This is my 18th year as a teacher, I have two masters degrees, and I make over 100k a year. That being said, housing is insanely expensive and only about 20% of the district’s staff live in the city I teach with many commuting 0.5-1 hour each way.

    Of course I wonder at what level you teach, but good to have another data point. -rc

    • @RC The level Ross teaches at probably doesn’t matter as much as the Ross’ level of education and the length of time teaching in the district.

      If that’s the case, it really does say something! -rc

  6. I’ve known several people who say that the pay may be low, but they only work for 9 months a year. Apparently they think the teachers should get summer jobs to cover the gap. How much do they think summer work pays, especially if the teacher’s degree(s) is/are all in education related work?

  7. This reminded me of a quote from one of our (Canada’s) former prime ministers* (and father of the current one), Pierre Elliot Trudeau: “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” It was regarding legislation aimed towards legalization of homosexual acts, but can apply in broader terms.

    *The statement was made in 1967, when he was justice minister under Lester Pearson.

    Wise words, especially for 1967. -rc

  8. It’s not just the pay, either — teachers are treated poorly in the States too.

    Seeing how teachers are treated outside the U.S. is an eye-opening experience. I’ve met more than one teacher in Japan that after teaching here going back to teaching back in the U.S. became unthinkable. Many I’ve known moved back, but gave up teaching rather than face the mess that education is in America.

    I wouldn’t want to be a teacher in South Korea after they passed laws that were supposed to be good but hamstrung education instead, though. Currently that situation makes the U.S. seem like a cakewalk by comparison. Oof. Not sure how bad it is for foreign teachers, but for Korean teachers it’s horrible.

  9. On the subject of livable wages, most teacher’s salaries are actually worse than they look, since the school doesn’t actually provide adequate classroom materials for student use. If the teacher wants to do even a decent job of teaching the kids, let alone a good job, they have to spend their own money buying supplies.

    $42,000 a year, $3,500 a month is fairly low. But if the teacher also has to spend a quarter to half of it on classroom supplies the school needs but refuses to pay for? I’ve known teachers who effectively made below minimum wage due to that — and who got in trouble with the administration for performance reasons if they didn’t!

    Add that to the unpaid overtime issue — planning classes, grading papers, etc, all happens when off the clock after the workday and on weekends — and you start wondering why anyone would ever want those jobs.

    Most jobs with that no-downtime, essential work profile are highly paid — teaching is not.

    • Your point about buying supplies is wide-spread enough that the IRS has a specific exemption for teachers’ purchased supplies. It’s been a couple of years since I noted that, but I recall thinking it was ridiculously low ($125?).

    • My wife taught for years and in a good school district. We made the decision that she needed to quit when the raise after COVID did not cover the cost of living increase (the previous 2 years didn’t either), yet somehow the sports budget got a big boost. She now works remote, less hours, better pay, less headaches with parents. She will mention that she misses working with kids though.

      Just so happens that we received our personal property tax bill this week and we pay over $5/$100 on asset value to the school district versus $0.10 for mental health. So our district get quite a bit of money but the teachers are not seeing it.

      Yep: as she would probably agree, there have been more and more administrators to pay for, and they get paid plenty. -rc

  10. Education is an investment in a civilization’s future. America’s pitiful disdain for its teachers and refusal to properly fund education says that America really doesn’t give a crap about the future. It’s somebody else’s problem.

    The other part of this is the sheer hypocrisy involved in leaving people with no way to make a living except crime or sex work, and then shunning them for choosing sex work — and THEN secretly subscribing to their OnlyFans or PornTube channel.

    If I knew a way I could make a million dollars, legally, on a web site in six months, I imagine I’d take it, unless it was something I found personally abhorrent, like selling drugs, or pretending to be some kind of religious authority figure, or going into politics.

  11. There have been a fair number of these types of stories lately: Person Z has a secret side gig with OF. Eventually, someone finds out and, lo, the righteous judgement commences.

    I do wonder… how does the original Mr/Miss Morality Police find out about said activity to begin with? If there’s no way to know the original person is posting on OF unless you’re on OF.

    And I’d be curious to know how they would respond if someone else outed some of their secrets.

    Bingo. -rc

    • That was exactly the point that I came here to make. EVERY time this happens, they make a big deal about the woman being on OF, or working in an “adult dance club”, etc, but nothing is ever said about the men that discover this and bring about unwanted attention.

      It takes two to tango. It always has. And yet, here we are with Scarlet Letter mentality.

      I appreciate your reading the comments first so you could add to Brady’s thoughts, rather than just restate the same concept. -rc

  12. Brianna may now earn too much per year to be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. According to Vanguard, the 2023 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit is $218,000 — $228,000 for a joint return. Still good advice to maximize your retirement account contributions.

    I grew up with a LOT of dinner table conversations about taxes and economics. My dad retired as Chief of Business Taxation at the US Treasury. The discussions never ended — a local brother-in-law is a former IRS Agent and retired Tax Lawyer.

    Ah: I’ve never been above the Roth contribution limit, so wasn’t aware of that aspect. Thanks for the refinement of the comment. -rc

    • As any good financial advisor or website will tell you, the “backdoor Roth” is an entirely legal loophole in the law that allows people of any income to contribute to a Roth IRA. In simple terms, anyone of any income can make “after tax” contributions to a traditional IRA, and anyone of any income can convert after-tax traditional IRA funds to Roth IRA funds with no additional taxation or penalty. Performing these two steps in sequence gives a high wager earner the exact same end result as directly contributing to a Roth IRA. Most brokerage firms have streamlined this process so you can basically do it all in one day, with minimal hassle.

      Bottom line, “Ask your financial/tax advisor before proceeding.” -rc

  13. Susanna Gibson is a registered nurse practitioner in the Richmond, Virginia area who gained the Democratic nomination for a House of Delegates seat in the just-concluded 2023 election.

    She’s also got a very successful private adult site with her husband.

    When the Republican candidate found out — of course he did — he stole pictures of the site and sent them to voters. Publicly. With no warnings. Classic revenge porn.

    He won by a few hundred votes. He should be in jail.

    I’m sure there’s a moral there, but damned if I know what it is.

    Naturally, it was an “operative” who notified the Washington Post (source, paywall). “It won’t intimidate me and it won’t silence me,” Gibson told the newspaper. “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”

    It’s sad that voters rewarded the Republican, David Owen, who certainly approved of the tactic to send (blurred) photos around. That campaign also included photos of her children, which absolutely put those children at significant risk of physical and emotional harm. -rc

  14. Clearly we can see by looking around that 98% of us are not going to make that kind of money based on our genetics. So the other teachers don’t have that option.

    OTOH, had Coppage offered to be a philanthropist to her school with just a percentage of her “earnings” — she could have improved the standards of all the teachers.

  15. The issue here is debt, and low wages even for a professional person. Glad to see your take on it agreed, and wasn’t puritanical.

  16. “This wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage” — I’m not sure that is necessarily true, she might simply enjoy the other job she has … and I definitely feel like she should be able to do so. Although in my jobs I’ve often agreed in the contract that any additional job would have to be approved by my employer, and I’m guessing she did not [have to?] do that.

    I was quoting Coppage, who asserted, “A lot of people are pointing out this wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage.” I seriously doubt she is of the opinion that no teacher ever would have such a side job even if paid well as a teacher. Nor do I hold that opinion. -rc

  17. Firstly, I hope no teacher that resembles the ones I had as a kid ever appears on OF — I went to a boys only grammar school! Secondly, I think it is a joke that someone apparently is willing to pay to watch “naughty ladies” but still thinks they should be penalised. (I hope that is not a pun!)

  18. For what it’s worth: She knew that the job was not high paying, yet she took it anyway. That she had to take a second job is not the fault of the employer, she accepted the job knowing how much it paid. Was she underpaid? Obviously. She made the decision to work for the amount offered, no one held a gun to her head and “made“ her take it. I don’t think she should have been terminated, but it’s not my call.

    I think it’s worth it to rationally explore various angles of the issue, and your considered opinion at the end is worth as much as others’. 🙂 -rc

  19. Donate $10 to see a teacher’s adult content? Absolutely!

    Donate $10 to fund a teacher’s class supplies? “I pay so much a year in taxes and they’re still looking for more from me!!”

    Teachers ask for liveable wage. “We didn’t get a raise. Who can afford to pay the teacher?”

    Your team does well. “Yeah, I scored some really good seats! Gonna buy my son a jersey before the game. The QB/ pitcher/ forward is on fire this season! Glad they renewed his $100m contract!”

    Teacher has summer off. “Must be nice to only work 9 mos a year. If they worked a full year, they’d earn more.”

    Teacher does 3-4 hrs unpaid work on lesson plans, grading, reaching out to parents. “They knew what they were getting into when they signed up.”

    No one has ever said “I want to make a fortune! I think I’ll become a teacher.”


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