One unemployed man decided that after losing his job at a Big Four bank in March 2009, and sending out resume after resume and sitting through dozens of interviews without getting a job offer in 15 months, he had only one choice left: to put on a skirt and start dancing for money.
"I haven't danced at this level in years," said Aswad, who goes by one name and said he is 46 and lives in Portland. "I have gigantic silk dance skirts that I use when I dance. They're bigger than Batman's cape."
Aswad told HuffPost he's dancing partly to protest congressional dithering over reauthorizing unemployment benefits, partly to make his rent. He's uploaded a YouTube video of himself dancing like Michael Jackson while wearing a Utilikilt. He's asking for $1 donations via PayPal (his blog, www.willdanceforrent.blogspot.com, advertises the not-so-modest goal of raising $100,000).
HuffPost asked Aswad how he came up with the decision to "dance for his rent."
"A combination of fear, anger, and my cat," he said. "You're laying there with your dog and your cat and you're worried about your unemployment running out. I've been with this cat for 13 years... I live in a small little one-room apartment that costs $500 a month and I have to give that up because a Republican says I don't want a job... I should not have to give up my cat until she passes of natural consequences."
Oregon happens to be one of the fifteen states in which the unemployed should be able to continue to receive extended benefits despite current lapse in extended benefits programs caused by Congress. Nevertheless, Aswad said he's struggling to make rent.
WATCH the Utili-Dance: