Why not have a trial membership option? if it's $36 for a year, you could have a trial offer of $3 for a month or a $1 for a week. if VIP is as good as you say it is then i'm sure people would renew for the year. plus this would help the people who can't afford VIP see what it is about.
Also if you are worried about people paying the $1 just to be a troll in the VIP make it a lifetime ban if someone does that.
Just a thought.