Cam modeling has never been more entrepreneurial. Thanks to platforms like OnlyFans, Discord and Skype, performers have been able to ditch sites that previously monopolized the means of production and distribution (Chaturbate, MyFreeCams, etc.) and take control of their own businesses and cash flow.
That’s not to say it’s suddenly become easy, though. The government continues to take aim at sex workers with legislation like FOSTA-SESTA. Promotional vehicles like Instagram frequently shadow ban performers. And even once adult-friendly venues like Patreon have caved to credit-card company pearl-clutching and made it harder for performers to receive payment for all of their hard work.
As a result, cam girls have carved out a little space on Reddit, r/CamGirlProblems, where they can vent, ask for advice and/or learn the ropes. And because most wisdom is gleaned from problem-solving, along the way, the moderators of the nearly 9,000-subscriber-strong subreddit have learned a thing or two about sex and desire (naturally) but also loneliness, taxes and that even their pets need a nom de cam.
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Success in the camming world is in the eye of the beholder. There are obviously vanity metrics such as viewers or followers on social media. But others consider themselves a success if they’re able to pay their bills and can take breaks without fear of losing subscribers or not being able to make up the lost money. Yet more see success in the positive feedback they get from their followers, which honestly, can be a dangerous path.
I’ve seen models leave this industry in far worse shape than when they started. Those who handle it well have solid boundaries. They’re careful with how much they allow fans to maintain illusions about their relationship. They have solid self-care practices, and they know when to take a break. This industry can be really isolating, too, so the models who maintain outside interests and real-world friendships seem to fare far better than those who don’t.
Because this can be serious emotional labor on several fronts. I find myself playing the therapist-girlfriend more often than I’d like to, and it can definitely take a toll.
If we’re not being the caretaker or validating men’s desires, we’re surviving a barrage of backlash and threats. It can be a lot to handle when people you don’t know openly talk about hating you and wanting to hurt you — especially, again, for those who need the money and have to do their best to make everyone happy and subscribing.
There is no doubt that camming exists because of men’s neglected emotional lives, not to mention their sex lives. If men felt desired, emotionally connected and supported in their daily lives, performers probably wouldn’t be able to charge $75 per day for platonic texting or $3 per minute for sexting, would they?
Which leads to the flip side of this business: It’s funny how this industry is seen as being exploitative of women when it could just as easily be spun the other way. We see firsthand the financial stress loneliness can put on an individual. Some men drain their bank accounts just to feel a connection with a model, and it breaks my heart.
People believe we’re on camera because we’re forced to be, and that we hook-up with the majority of the people we interact with on cam. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! I can’t speak on behalf of all camgirls, but I can say for myself that I choose to do this work. I somewhat hate hook-ups, and I’m socially awkward in person anyway. Plus, on the work side of things, I don’t like dealing with a lot of people that I can’t get away from due to having to work in the same building (more so if we dislike each other). Camming then gives me the freedom to do almost whatever I please. Better yet, I don’t have to worry about losing my job due to someone else.
Physically, a lot of us wind up losing our libidos as getting ourselves off multiple times a night can be exhausting. If you have a peppy persona, you’re also putting a lot of energy into trying to keep up a bubbly attitude even when things seem slow. So when there are additional challenges posed by mental health or by having mixed feelings about even being in this industry, things can get ugly.
Models are afraid of future repercussions of doing this work and of their broadcasts being watched by people they know in real life. As a community, I’ve seen it said frequently that there’s a risk of being “explored,” meaning loved ones and employers finding out and thinking you’re basically a porn star.
The secrets, the taboo, the allure of the forbidden are part of what makes this business so compelling — and dangerous. Some guys are deeply resentful of our power and might really invest into finding out our identities. At the same time, some are Adonis-types who come to play. Others just appreciate the personalized interaction we offer and a way of being sexual that allows them to feel whole.
As a community, we’ve gotten much better about protecting ourselves, and those starting out. We use alternate birthdays and VPNs; even our pets get aliases. We study facts about where we say we’re from so we can speak fluently about it, and if our information is leaked, it can be hard to verify whether it’s legit or not.
That said, the other most common fear, especially for models in the U.S., is that they don’t know how to fill out their tax forms.
The thing performers want most is for consumers to be considerate. Just because you’re on a computer/phone doesn’t mean you have more power over someone else. We’ve come to expect to get asked to do things without anything in return, but when I’m asked for a freebie and I decline, you have no right to be angry.
The same goes for when I decline to hook-up with someone. I’m not a prostitute. I will never sleep with anyone for money, and I will never put myself in danger for someone who isn’t my family.
There’s truly nothing more threatening to people than a woman who owns her sexuality and does with it as she pleases.
People’s attitudes about sex and sexuality come down to how they relate to themselves. Most people have relegated their sexuality to the fringes of their lives. They don’t see it as an inherent need, an integral part of themselves or something that can serve their wholeness and self-actualization.
A lot of people think we just sit in front of the camera for a few hours and make thousands of dollars a week. That’s true for some camgirls who already have a name in the porn industry, but not so much for those who solely make their money via camming. It takes a lot of marketing and charisma to be able to do this as a full-time job. Think of it like game streaming. Anyone can just sit in front of a camera and look pretty. But it takes someone who can establish a connection with every individual member to actually turn it into a career.
Oh, and if you don’t want to do that, there are plenty of others who will.