In the latest installment of Hopes&Fears’ anonymous interview series, we talk to a struggling actor who made a livelihood selling his semen.

I’m a professional sperm donor. It kind of started off as a joke. I knew that you could earn money donating sperm. I was trying to make it as an actor. I guess you could say I was a starving artist. I was basically just working a bunch of random part-time jobs to hoard as much funds as I could to pay for acting classes and agent meetings. I needed something that would make me a quick buck.

On a whim, I decided to look up sperm donation online. I was in the city most of the week anyway and I found out that, in the city, there were a bunch of different sperm donation centers. I hit up a couple. There’s two major ones: California Cryobank and Manhattan Cryobank.

California Cryobank pays pretty well but is extremely selective. You got $200 every time you donated, which is pretty good. You could do it at least twice a week depending on how potent your sperm was. They’d be like, “We want to you to come back every other day. You have to wait 48 hours since you last ejaculated.” I went and filled out an application. They had a section for your medical and family history. What about your parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc.? Me, being the idiot I was, put down that my grandfather had diabetes, even though it was type 2, which was pretty much brought on by poor diet and other bad lifestyle choices, not a genetic predisposition. They immediately threw out my application. Bummer.

Manhattan Cryobank pays less well but they’re less selective. Everything in life is a tradeoff! They paid $80 a pop if the sperm count was good. You got an additional $40 if someone conceived off of your sperm. That always struck me as being a little on the low side, considering you’re bringing a life into this world or whatnot. They had this kind of weird salesy-type thing going. Building a multi-level masturbation operation—it requires a lot of marketing.

I was a professional sperm donor. Image 1.

Anna Khachiyan

Author, as told to

I was a professional sperm donor. Image 2.

Arina Shabanova




I was a professional sperm donor. Image 3.

I was a professional sperm donor. Image 4.

hen there’s other places. Oftentimes, they’re specialized in some way or another in terms of clients or donors. The thing I found out was that you could get more money the more advanced degrees you had. If you had a Master’s or PhD, you were in higher demand.

There’s this one place I found—I forget the name of it now—where they strictly dealt in in vitro solutions for lesbian couples. If you we’re approved, you had to sign a non-compete agreement. You couldn’t legally jerk off at any other place. They put you on a salary. They paid you $32,000 a year to come in three times a week and donate sperm in Midtown. You were basically a kept man. I applied to them, but they wouldn’t accept anybody who didn’t have a MA, which is kind of crazy but also kind of amazing. 

To make a long story short, I eventually settled on Manhattan Cryobank and ended up working exclusively with them. Like most other places, they specified that you could only donate two or three days a week, tops. But then a strange thing happened. At the time, I was playing a lot of squash. I was hooked on going to the gym and working out in general. I was in the best shape of my life. I just had really, really high testosterone. When I went in to donate for the first time, they ran all these tests to determine whether I was even eligible. They did extensive blood work. I also had to give a urine test every month, which was crazy because I was smoking tons of weed at that time and never got caught. Thank God. This was all done in-house. They had a legitimate medical facility with a professional licensed staff. It wasn’t, like, some dude’s garage.

It took them a week to get back to me but when they did, they were super excited. Turns out I have really, really potent sperm. It’s something like in the 0.2 percentile of Manhattan or whatever. They were like, “You can come in as often as you like. No problem.” Most people who donate sperm don’t have active sex lives but that wasn’t the case for me. I was able to donate every day.

What ended up happening was that I was making $400 a week, on top of my other gig. It got to the point where it was my second full-time job, pretty much just rolling up and jizzing in a cup. I became so comfortable that I ended up learning the schedules of the nurses. I would personally contact the nurse on shift to see when I could come in because I didn’t want potential clients or other donors to notice that I was coming in everyday.

There was only one occasion when they ever said my sperm count wasn’t high enough to obtain a sample, but that was because I had spent the weekend with my girlfriend at that time. We were just getting high and fucking around the clock. Marijuana reduces your sperm count to begin with. But we were also having tons of sex. I went in to donate the next day and came out with, like, an old ketchup bottle of jizz. It was pretty sad.

The sperm donation market by education*

% of sperm donors | % of US male population 

Only high school:

2% | 32%

Some college:
31% | 26%

BA, BS or higher:
65% | 26%

* Data is in 2006 numbers from a sample of 1,156 US sperm donors.

Source: Cynthia R. Daniels and Erin Heidt-Forsythe, “Gendered Eugenics and the Problematic of Free Market Reproductive Technologies: Sperm and Egg Donation in the United States,” Signs, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Spring 2012): 719-47. 



The quickest buck
you’ll ever make

The first thing they did was interview me and record it for potential mothers who wanted to get a sense for the various candidates. They asked me a lot of questions, some basic, some more incisive. The big one was, “Why are you donating?” I think I nailed that one. They also requested a bunch of photos. They have photos of me as a baby, as a child, as a teenager, as an adult. I threw in my professional acting headshots too. Not surprisingly, a lot of actors do it. It’s literally the quickest $80 you’ll ever make.

You could pick differing levels of information to reveal to the clients. I let them see my face. They got to hear my voice. They were aware of my physical attributes and medical history. But they didn’t know my name or where I lived. If they became pregnant with my semen, if their body accepted it in and they ended up conceiving, I opted to release my identity at that point. I guess they were charged an additional fee on their end to have access to that information. Once you elected to make your name public record, that is, allow the person who’s getting the sperm donation to access it, it became this huge legal thing. Of course, you are guaranteed some level of legal protection and recourse by the organization, otherwise no one would do it. For example, the client couldn’t seek parental involvement or financial assistance from you at a future date. But, let me tell you, there was a lot of fine print. 

I was a professional sperm donor. Image 5.



Paternity issues

I have 32 kids. Officially confirmed. That’s 28 boys and four girls.

They were all conceived through the same facility within a three-month period. Right now, they’re probably a little over a year old, a year-and-a-half, 18 months, maybe two years. 

One day, I received a call from the center. They were like, “We need you to come in and fill out some paperwork.” To be honest, that was the last thing I wanted to do. But when I went in, they presented me with this fucking fat check. I was like, “What’s this?” They told me that I was the biological father of 20 kids. I was like, “Shut up.” And they’re like, “Nope. You have 16 boys and four girls.” Since then, I’ve supposedly sired twelve more boys. So, I’m genetically predisposed to having males. Apparently, those metrics are extremely useful for the women who subscribe their services, depending on whether they have a preference for the sex of the child. What’s interesting is that most women from overseas, especially from Asia, prefer boys, and many prefer mixed-race children.

There was a guy who became my point person there. He was some sort of company representative. He said that most of the women who got impregnated from my sperm were from China and India. “You have the most success with Chinese and Indian women. Apparently, they find you most attractive. They want to have your babies.” I was like, “Cool?” That’s when things got kind of weird. He was always cracking these jokes that made me vaguely confused and uncomfortable. “Asian women must really like you, man.” I was like, “Okay... I guess that’s useful knowledge for future reference? I don’t fucking know what I should do with that information.” He was really eager about showing me the various demographics and statistics. 

I don’t know too much about my clients outside of the generic things the guy told me. I assume what drives a woman to go through a sperm donor are the usual things, like maybe she’s opted to be single mother because her biological clock is ticking but she hasn’t had any luck finding an ideal mate or her husband is having fertility issues or whatever. The stuff the guy told me, that’s super confidential. He’s not legally allowed to disclose that information to anyone. But we were real buddy-buddy, so he made an exception for me. I’m sure it happens more often than people think. I got to know everybody there. I’d bring them coffee and shit because I saw them everyday.

I was a professional sperm donor. Image 6.


I was a professional sperm donor. Image 7.

Pavlovian dick 

At the time, I was working for this PR company company in Williamsburg. I had to be there at 10:00 AM. What I would do is literally get to the donation center at 9:15 AM. They’d have porn DVDs and magazines. Sometimes, they’d also have erotica novels. I thought it was really funny. Like, stuff only aging spinsters read. Come on man, who the fuck is going to use that? They were clearly unopened. All of this stuff probably dated to 2000 or something. I don’t know who jerks off to print anymore. Maybe it was for the old timers. Every room was equipped with a sink, where you could wash up after you did your business. They stocked it with fancy soaps and those nice restaurant-grade hand towels you get from BJ’s or Costco. There was a flatscreen TV mounted on the wall and a kind of loveseat thing. And that was that, you’d go in and jerk off into a cup.

There were several different rooms and each room had a different selection of DVDs. Room one had the shittiest fucking porn. It was really miserable. I would always request room two because they had a better material. One time they put me in room one and there was nobody in room two. I guess it wasn’t ready or something. I kind of just snuck out, grabbed a handful of DVDs from room two, and shoved them in room one.

The DVDs were mostly a joke too. Asian Ass Explosion Number Five, I think that was one of them. They also had this weird reality TV-based porn. They had a Big Brother spoof. They had an MTV Road Rules spoof. Weird shit like that. You get so fucking deep in this. A week in, I was just so over it. I pretty much gave up and just thought about my girlfriend. It’s weird. I got so used to it. It felt so transactional, I just want to be done with it, so I’d just revert to my most erotic memory and bang it out really quickly.

It was a bit of a walk from Grand Central, so it occurred to me that I could also load something up on my phone and use that. After I left the subway and got cellphone reception, I’d queue up a clip from XVideos or something. Sometimes, I didn’t even watch it, but kept the volume on because I like to listen to sex sounds more than anything else. I just kind of imagined my own stuff. The whole process really makes you realize how desensitized you get from being constantly exposed to porn. It was Pavlovian dick conditioning. You go in. Rub one out. Get your money and leave.

After a while, I began to notice that it was having certain adverse effects on my sex life. I had a steady girlfriend, and our sex sessions were becoming longer and less satisfying. I was coming so often for work that sometimes I couldn’t come with her. I was donating almost every day and seeing her almost every night. Some nights, I’d come over and just pass out. My performance definitely suffered. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened often enough to be a cause for alarm.

The sperm donation
market by height and weight

% of sperm donors | % of US male population 

>6 feet tall: 44% | 10%

Underweight: 1% | 1%

Normal: 62% | 32%

Overweight: 32% | 43%

Obese: 5% | 24%

Source: Cynthia R. Daniels and Erin Heidt-Forsythe, “Gendered Eugenics and the Problematic of Free Market Reproductive Technologies: Sperm and Egg Donation in the United States,” Signs, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Spring 2012): 719-47. 


I was a professional sperm donor. Image 8.


Community service

I’m married now, and my wife and I are expecting a baby in two months. She knows all about my history as a sperm donor. The thing is, she doesn’t really mind. She gets that the people who are going to these facilities are doing it as a last resort. These are people who have weighed their options and really want to have kids. They are primed to make better parents. It’s not like I went out and knocked up some fucking ratchet chick I met in Hoboken one night, and now have some kid out there that I have to pay child support for in addition to providing for my own kid. I like the fact that these are people who are committed to the idea of raising a child. If they’re there, then they probably can’t conceive on their own. At the end of the day, I was getting paid and that was great. But it’s also kind of cool that I’m able to help somebody in a meaningful way. It’s a really good feeling

I’m providing a community service. I’m a fucking hero the way I see it. I go in there and I help give somebody life. What the fuck? That’s a pretty big deal! How many other people can say they’ve done that? Nobody is going to these centers and shelling out $30,000 or $40,000 just for shits and giggles. They’re dead serious. No one’s paying that kind of money to have a kid they can get welfare payments for.

These kids have the option to access to my name and everything. There’s a hypothetical scenario where I might encounter one or more of them down the line. It’s not something I entertain very often, but it does cross my mind every once in a while. I think about what would happen if a child came to me and said, “Hey, um, you’re my biological father.” It means a lot to me that it was my sperm that caused this other human being to materialize on this planet. I’d like to think I’d treat that person just like I treat anybody else: with kindness and respect. Past that, I don’t really think about it that much. It’s a business transaction, after all. 

Needless to say, I got pretty efficient at it. Toward the end, I would fucking knock one out in two minutes or under. In the beginning, it took a little longer just because it was such a foreign concept. Like I said, it was a Pavlovian thing. As I walked to the place, my body automatically sensed it and began to react. I’d walk in with an erection, ready to go. It was kind of funny, actually, smuggling the thing out of the subway and into the building with all these people around. The security guard and receptionist would greet me every morning. “Hey, man. How’s it going?” If only they knew I was walking in with a throbbing hard-on.

The sperm donation

market by race

% of sperm donors | % of US male population 

White: 80.4% | 66.4%

Black: 3.5% | 12.2%

Latino: 2.8% | 14.8%

Asian: 8.6% | 4.4%

Other 4.7% | 2.2%

Source: Cynthia R. Daniels and Erin Heidt-Forsythe, “Gendered Eugenics and the Problematic of Free Market Reproductive Technologies: Sperm and Egg Donation in the United States,” Signs, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Spring 2012): 719-47.