“I had just turned 19, and I was really short on cash,” camboy Benji Bastian (link NSFW) tells me. It was the summer after his freshman year of college, and he’d recently been arrested for marijuana possession. “That’s how my journey started: I had to pay the court fees, and I was like, ‘Man, I don’t wanna fucking pose naked on the internet.’ But I told myself that this was my self-inflicted punishment for being so stupid with the weed.”
Bastian proceeded to sell several photos of his dick and a video of himself jerking off for $2,000 to a website called Fratpad. Shortly thereafter, the site offered him a summer job at their camhouse. “The guys were making like an easy $1,000 a week with no bills,” Bastian explains. “So I was like, ‘Okay, I think I can do this.’”
Since then, Bastian graduated college with the money he made while camming, and having a degree eventually helped him score a job in finance. “Now I have a boring, corporate American lifestyle, and I love it — I freakin’ love the boring life,” Bastian says, enthusiastically. “I had too much of a crazy life for so long.” He still, however, engages in the occasional private cam session (once or twice a month) for old regulars.
After reading Bastian’s story, you might conclude that camming is an inherently profitable profession, requiring little but a willingness to get off in front of strangers on the internet. But the truth of the matter is, camming is a business just like any other, and camboys have to invest in their craft if they hope to make a profit. To find out more, I talked to Bastian and fellow camboy Jakub Stefano about the hidden costs of camming.
“You see a lot of people on Chaturbate or MyFreeCams who think they can just open up their laptop and use that built-in webcam — that couldn’t be more far from the truth,” Bastian explains. “Those people have the lowest views. If you want to be successful, you have to have a quality camera.” Bastian specifically mentions that the industry-standard webcam is the Logitech C920, which costs $79.99 on their website.
But Bastian also explains that having an even better camera can increase the number of subscribers and the amount of tips you receive. “Some girls have remote-controlled, super high-quality HD cameras. I mean, those aren’t fucking cheap,” he says, adding that you might also benefit from investing in a warranty. “I used to have my camera on me when I was in the shower — sometimes you have to put your camera and your computer into situations where they can get damaged.”
On the plus side, if your fans really appreciate you, they might help you invest in better camera equipment. “I eventually had people who would buy me a webcam as a gift,” Bastian says. “It was kinda like an investment for them, since they could see me in better quality.”
Meanwhile, Stefano adds that many successful cammers also invest in professional photo lights, which can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. He also mentions that you might benefit from decorating your room, which again, can cost however much you’re willing to spend.
“You have to have a solid computer, and it can’t be bulky, because you have to be able to carry it places,” Bastian explains. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen tablets — brand new, $1,200 or $1,400 tablets — break from carelessness. You aren’t really thinking sometimes, and when you’re in the show, you can’t think about crossing wires or getting tripped up [all of which is another reason to invest in that warranty].” Bastian says that he was provided with a tablet while working at Fratpad, but he now uses a MacBook, which can cost upwards of $1,000, during his private cam sessions.
“There’s a reason the top girls [and guys] look so good,” Bastian says. “They have the best equipment: Their computers can keep up with their internet speed, and their cameras can keep up with their computers.”
“You can’t just use free Starbucks Wi-Fi,” Bastian emphasizes. “You need to have a decent internet connection, and the expensive part isn’t the download speed — it’s the upload speed, because you’re uploading to a stream while camming.” Bastian specifically says that he spends between $60 and $80 a month on his internet.
If your internet connection isn’t good enough (and therefore, pricey), Bastian explains that you can’t even put on a show. “I imagine that my old audience was watching me naked with their dicks in their hands,” he says. “Who wants to watch porn when… I don’t even wanna watch a movie when I can’t load it. I mean, that’s such a buzzkill. Not only are you losing money in that moment, but you’re also potentially getting a reputation of being laggy or having a camera that’s really pixelated.”
“Once I [had a following], it was kinda like how you see these gym supplement guys that say, ‘I’m a brand ambassador for Gold Standard Nutrition or whatever,’ I reached out to these sex toy companies,” Bastian says, adding that he basically told them he would use (and advertise) their toys in his shows if they provided them for free, which worked, for the most part. “If you have the following, make the most out of it,” he advises.
“But let’s say I didn’t do that,” Bastian continues. “God, toys can cost up to $200 [a low estimate, if anything].” On the plus side, though, Bastian mentions that using these toys while camming can drastically increase the amount of tips you make. “If they know you’re a straight guy, and you hint like, ‘Well, I’m new to this whole butt-play stuff, but like, I’m willing to try it for this much money,’ oh my God, they freak out about that! If you’re ever trying to get some tips, get a butt plug and turn that shit up on high.”
Meanwhile, Bastian also mentions that the Lovense interactive sex toys, which vibrate when viewers leave tips, are super popular among cammers. These range from $89 to $199, but presumably, you would hope to make back whatever you end up spending.
“This is something I always hated paying for,” Bastian says. “It’s kinda like buying a cleaner for your house — it’s just a house item you’d always need to have around.” Bastians tells me that he bought a gallon of Wet Platinum lube on Amazon for $227.22. “I still have the gallon,” he says. “It’s been years since I bought it.” But he mentions that camboys can expect to go through a bottle of lube every two or three months, “and if you’re really shoving shit up your ass, maybe even every month.”
“I’d always buy costumes,” Bastian says. “I used to set a budget each month of $50 to $100. The most ridiculous thing I bought was a Halloween costume for a girl that was a French maid, but I bought it for me — a big muscular dude in a French maid costume. I thought it was hilarious.”
In addition to these cost, Stefano emphasizes the importance of investing in your body, which means gym memberships, haircuts, skincare products, supplements and so on. All of this, as you can imagine, can cost hundreds and even thousands per month (depending on how much you’re willing to pay).
But while the many costs that come with being a camboy might surprise you, what’s perhaps more surprising is that, as Bastian tells me, you’re able to write off the majority of these expenses come Tax Day. “Make sure you get a good accountant,” he says to any wannabe camboys reading this.
After all, you don’t want the IRS fucking you in the ass, no matter how much lube you have stashed under the bed.