"I've always been weird about that stuff," the Toronto expat tells Spinner in a phone call from Los Angeles. "Even though I know the state of the music business, I think it's the state of music in general, of everyone. It's a fucking recession and it's horrible and I feel really awkward... I didn't want to raise money to make a record -- and I'm not dissing anyone who does this -- I just felt, personally, very uncomfortable with the idea of 'Hey! Give me money so that I can make something to sell you!' I feel really weird about that."
Despite these uncomfortable feelings, Esthero eventually gave in and signed on to music-only funding website Pledge Music to create a fundraising option that she felt comfortable with.
Essentially a pre-order campaign with perks, the singer allows fans to purchase a download of Everything is Expensive for $10. Hard copies of the CD as well as higher-ticket items and now-ubiquitous for this sort of thing "experiences," are also available.
The campaign has also given Esthero the chance to get creative with her more expensive offerings. From giving potential funders the chance to "Ghostwrite my Twats" for the low price of $20, to exclusive finger paintings by the singer, karaoke parties, or fashion advice via Skype, she's come up with a very unique and entertaining host of options for fans who want a little piece of "That Girl."
"What I liked about this is that the record is done. I made the record on my own, by the grace of God," she adds with a laugh. "And if you buy it in advance, it's going to mobilize me in ways that you could never have imagined and it's also going to allow me to pay it forward."
On top of helping the singer bring her new album to the masses, a portion of each purchase will also go to the Van Ness Recovery House, a Los Angeles non-profit dedicated to helping members of the LGBT community who are struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.
The campagin has already been a success. Though not quite Amanda Palmer level, Esthero's currently at 135 percent of her fundraising goal. There is, however, one big ticket item still unsold -- the opportunity to have your name tattooed on her buttocks.
For the low price of $150,000, she's willing to tattoo one lucky fan's initials on her posterior. Act fast, though, because the offer's only on the table until Oct. 30.
"I'm really hoping that someone gets that tattoo before the time is up," she confesses, laughing off any notion of second thoughts. "Are you kidding me? First of all, I have like 18 tattoos, so it's not really a big deal. I love tattoos. Second of all, I'm a grown-ass woman. And anyone that's going to give me $150,000, I will proudly wear their initials on my ass."
Frankly, Esthero is shocked that no company has taken her up on the offer yet.
"I'm really surprised that nobody from an ad agency saw that and dialed up one of their clients like 'You know what? This is a great campaign and we're going to film it.' Because that's what I'd do if I worked at an ad agency," says the gal who was the Black Eyed Peas' "Fergie" back before there was a Fergie and they were still cool. "I'd be like 'Oh, hey Pepsi. I've got someone here that's willing to do some crazy shit.' I think this is money well spent. This is a great campaign!"
She's also a little disappointed that none of her musical friends and collaborators have considered the opportunity, despite her best efforts to convince them to buy in.
"I made a joke to John Legend. I was like 'You and Kanye [West, with whom she co-wrote songs for his 808s & Heartbreak album] could go halfsies on it. I could give you each an initial at half price.' I thought it would be funny if somebody like Cee-Lo got it, like one of my homies or a musician. I was hoping it would get back to some rapper that thought it would be extravagant, like 'Yeah, I want to do that.'"
With mere days to go before the end of the campaign, though, Esthero's bottom remains sadly empty, and she's beginning to consider drastic measures.
"Maybe I should make the tattoo half price," she muses. "Maybe if we put it on sale this week? I feel like a hundred and fifty was kind of low, to be honest. This is some prime real estate over here! This is nice. It's 33, but it's still sitting high. I have the ass, definitely, of at least someone in their mid-20s."