Interviews

Two Former Camgirls and a Voyeur Discuss Camming

June 28, 2018

Camming – so, performing sex acts in front of a webcam for money – is a lesser-discussed form of sex work, but it offers its own set of benefits and issues. Here, Rosie Solomon talked to two former camgirls and one camgirl-enthusiast about their experiences with the work and the cam community.

Main image is of cam girl Onnartist, from the Slutever episode “Cam Girls”

The girl lies naked on her bed, hands gripping the dildo pounding in and out of her, her face contorted in both pleasure and determination. As she comes, she glances at her laptop, a webpage chatroom open on the screen. She sits up, types a reply and smiles as she watches points and money trickle into her account. Saying goodbye, she logs off and closes the webpage, revealing an open document entitled “Third Year Dissertation – fourth draft”. She sighs, closes the laptop, sets her alarm for her lecture in the morning, and goes to bed.

Many girls in their early twenties use online camming to make money during university. I am close to two such women, Hayley and Janelle*, so I decided to ask them what prompted their decision  to start camming, as well as their thoughts and advice about the experience itself. For insight into the appeal of camming from an audience perspective, I spoke to Ron, a man who has been watching cam sites for many years. As seen below, the three offer very different perspectives on the subject.

Ron*, 22

Ron has been watching cam sites since he was eighteen. His opinions on camming sites are overwhelmingly positive, and I dug deeper to find out why.

Rosie Solomon: What are the main differences you notice between camming and mainstream porn?

Ron: We live in a world where everything is available to us immediately. Traditional porn, the kind you would see on Pornhub, caters to this demand. On camming sites, popularity and conventional attractiveness come into play similarly to how they do in mainstream porn – but the biggest difference is that, nine times out of ten, it seems like the individual camming is doing it because they legitimately enjoy it. They have full control over their hours and the kind of services they expect to provide. They don’t have to deal toxic consumers because cam sites provide different gatekeeping methods for cam workers to restrict who can watch their streams. It’s just a far more ethical way of watching and working in porn, even if it isn’t completely perfect.

RS: Why do you prefer to watch camming?

Ron: For me, it’s got to be the personality aspect of camming. It seems like you get more of a community on camming sites – it’s actually a pleasant experience to be in chat rooms –at least in comparison to the slimy comment sections on porn sites. I don’t think it’s really that different from watching your favourite youtuber or a live twitch stream – there just also happen to be boobs involved. Camming seems like a more light-hearted form of sex work. It’s also a far more accurate representation of sex and sexual relationships, and, I think, a healthier learning tool for younger or less experienced people watching.

So, do you feel differently about women in porn versus women who cam?

Ron: Well, first of all I want to say I think it’s a great career choice and I don’t see either in any kind of negative light. Sex work can be fantastically liberating. Cam girls aren’t veiled in the same celebrity mystique as porn stars; it’s much easier to have a one on one conversation with the former. But I wouldn’t say I see any difference between the women themselves, it’s just the way their individual industries present them.

Hayley, 22

Hayley cammed for a few months in her freshman year of university. Here she discusses her time as a camgirl.

RS: You have quite a negative view of camming. Can you explain why?

Hayley: It’s not that I have a negative view of camming in itself. I think that if it’s done right it can be a really fun, empowering and easy way to make money from the comfort of your own bedroom. I just think I went about it in entirely the wrong way. I started well before I was confident enough with myself and my sexuality, and it led to me pushing myself past my comfort zone I ended up doing things that I found really degrading just because I hadn’t set hard limits for myself.

What advice would you give to other girls interested in trying camming?

Make sure you set boundaries for yourself that you don’t cross. This is more of a guideline than a rule, but I would recommend not trying anything while camming that you haven’t tried in the real world beforehand. It just means that you won’t find yourself in any uncomfortable positions and it’ll make sure that you stay in control while you cam, which is the main appeal of it anyway.

Would you ever give it another go?

I wouldn’t rule it out. I have some friends who are interested in trying it as well, and I’d be way more up for doing it with others there as well. Being with friends makes the experience more enjoyable and less scary. It’s also easier to deal with any assholes who may be online.

Janelle, 22

Janelle had primarily positive experiences working as a camgirl. Speaking to her about her experiences as a cam girl, she says she originally began to cam after watching a documentary about sex work.

How did you feel about camming initially, and how successful were you in terms of money made?

Janelle: Oh, it was great! I think the first week I was on it I made the most – you get listed as a new model for that time and so people pay you more attention. I made friends with some regulars during that week and so even when the icon disappeared I had the same faces returning again and again. I was never on it for too long or for too many days unless I really needed to save up. But I was shocked at how much I managed to make even doing so little – I could make a couple of hundred pounds in a few hours! I also enjoyed getting dressed up and drinking on camera – I’d get ready for a night out and stick the site on; they’d pay me to take a sip of my drink, so they were helping me get drunk and paying for my night out!

What was your strangest request?

A fairly common one was guys who wanted me to laugh at their small penis – somebody even wanted me to get my uni friends in on it for the extra humiliation. I’d always refuse that request though because I felt too mean and just wanted to tell them that size doesn’t matter. I was once asked to crack an egg on my chest, which was about exactly as sexy as you’d imagine.

Did you ever have any negative experiences camming?

I really don’t think I ever had an obviously bad experience with camming. Occasionally there’d be people on the site who would say something rude. The only one really negative thing I’d say is when I had a regular who asked me to put on my sluttiest clothes and perform a show for him. I really like dressing up and I’d always love it when somebody would simply pay me to change my outfit, but then he also asked me to write “whore” on my forehead. I didn’t feel good about doing that, but it was only going to be seen by him and I fancied testing myself. When I did it I only felt degraded by literally labelling my body with a horrible word. Maybe it was just way too real for me considering I’d sometimes wonder whether camming was a morally terrible idea, despite genuinely enjoying it.

Why did you decide to stop camming?

I was really into it in my first year of uni, but through the summer break and the moral dilemmas about webcamming, I thought that the longer it went on, the harder it would be to get out of it. The money and the company can be addictive. Occasionally I took requests from regulars, but ultimately, I got a bit bored of it. I do still think that if it was completely socially acceptable I would enjoy making a great living from it, but at the end of the day I want something that I can be proud of and not slightly ashamed of – which is the case despite the amount of times I’ve told myself it can be completely empowering and feminist if I want it to be.

Overall, what is your advice for anyone wanting to start out?I would say that it’s not something you should go into without knowing what you want. I’d always lay low and not go on too often. It’s easy to just test out the site without much trouble and that way, you can see how you feel about it. It’s an amazing way to make a lot of money if that’s your goal and if you manage to make a career out of it, you’ll be laughing in your nice fancy house at anyone who tells you it’s wrong anyway.

Camming, like other forms of sex work, is still stigmatized in today’s society.  Once we tackle these prejudices, we can begin to separate these forms of media into “better” and “worse” portrayals of sex, something which will be instrumental to the breakdown of judgemental attitudes towards sex workers but also towards female sexuality as a whole. Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, and camming is merely its newest incarnation in this digital age. It deserves an open discussion, an open mind and an open laptop.

*all names in this article have been changed in order to protect the subject’s privacy

Rosie Solomon is a writer specializing in feminist film reviews, which can be found under her alias The Bechdel Bitch.

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