by Furry Girl
"Charities aside - and, let it be said, there are many worthy and honest ones - there are also the academics, researchers, and writers who earn their living not through hands-on effort, but by writing papers. Papers which allow them to win grants. Grants so that they can write more papers.
For instance, funding for studying trafficking is enormous - in 2009, it was funded worldwide to the tune of nearly a billion US dollars. This is a total greater than the amount of grant money awarded to study lung cancer, which of course, is also devastating, and affects far more people. And spending on trafficking since 2000 has dwarfed the grant awards on such important international health concerns as malnutrition, malaria, or tuberculosis - conditions that kill millions of people worldwide every year, and affect hundreds of millions more. "
-- Dr Brooke Magnanti, in How the Anti-Sex Lobby Profits on sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com
by Furry Girl
"When the magazine first launched in 2005 we drew the ire of many radical feminists who were in fierce opposition to the sex industry and sex workers. One of the rumors hurled around was that $pread was funded by Larry Flynt and/or organized crime rings. Which is hilarious, if you know anything about the budget of $pread and our all-volunteer staff. It became something of a joke among us that we were funded by unorganized crime, since much of the magazine's work was sustained by contributions from sex workers who worked in both legal and illegal parts of the industry."
-- Audacia Ray, in Unorganized crime on audaciaray.tumblr.com
Let's here it for "unorganized crime"!
by Furry Girl
Anyone else feel like this is true? I know it's not a hard and fast rule, but god damn, does it feel like it some days!
As people who know me are aware, I'm a serious night owl, often not going to sleep until after 6 in the morning. Getting me to wake up early for anything short of the apocalypse is a big deal. I woke up early today to take a morning cam appointment with a nice kinky guy I spent a lot of time with on cam last week. I told him I don't normally do camming early in the day, that I don't like mornings, but he politely begged, so I decided to make an exception for a well-paying pervert who is into things I genuinely like. What happened? 5 minutes before our scheduled appointment, he emailed to let me know he's busy but will try to be able to see me later some time.
I once had another kinky guy who was a great client when I could catch him (he even once flew me to his city for an in-person fetish session), but he was such a monumentally irritating flake and time-waster, I stopped even trying. It wasn't worth all the following up with him to get the money. (I spoke to another sex worker who'd had the exact same experience with him. Maybe his real kink was getting us to chase him?)
I have many other examples of guys who popped in on cam, spent a bunch of money, bought me gifts, had truly fun shows with me, the promised me the world, and then disappeared. If you don't want to see me again, I get it - variety is the spice of life - but don't make a an appointment in the morning after I told you I don't like doing that and then blow me off after I dragged myself out of bed for you.
Time-wasting on the part of clients is one of the top sex worker pet peeves. If you're one of my readers who's a client/customer, please don't pull this shit on us. If you wouldn't stand up your accountant, your lawyer, your doctor, your boss, or your wife, don't do it to sex workers.
Arg. Getting only a few hours of sleep basically ruins my whole day, and I don't even have anything to show for it. Maybe I'll go and see if I can fall asleep again, otherwise I won't make it past 8pm or so, when the real cam show clients start showing up.
For more sex worker infographics, see: Calico's stripping graph, Miss Maggie Mayhem's anti-porn flowchart, Kat's strippers-who-insist-they're-not-sex-workers flow chart, and my own anti-sex worker BINGO card.
by Furry Girl
"We are in a recession. It's not pretty out there. Everyone is counting their change, updating their resume, taking out a second mortgage, moving back into an apartment, moving back home, taking on an extra job, cursing the banks and wall street. I don't have to tell you this. Floating above our heads is that magical phrase, 'sex sells.' It's a post-it note permanently attached to our frontal lobes. I think it's a troublesome phrase if not an outright lie and I blame this prevailing notion as the main reason people still believe that sex work is illegitimate. It's because we've all been told time and time again that it's easy. It's the old reliable thing to fall back on that requires little to no thought or effort. If you can't think of something creative, just throw a pair of tits there. It will sell. When sex is on the table we are helpless to resist and we will open our wallets like hypnotized monkeys. We hate sex workers because we think they cheated. We can't precisely name what it is they are cheating, exactly, but we don't like it one bit. We 'work' for our money, then there they are on their backs.
But an increasing number of people hear that message and rather than getting into an upset huff decide that if you can’t beat them, join them. The problem is, this thought emerges from the same place. People get into the sex industry and assume it’s all going to be easy."
-- Miss Maggie Mayhem, in Changes to the World of Porn on missmaggiemayhem.com
by Furry Girl
"Eva Pendleton, writing in Whores and Other Feminists, has argued that the act of charging money can be subversive because it reverses the terms under which men feel entitled to unlimited access to women’s bodies.
For many performers, their job has taught them invaluable skills about how to stand up for themselves and how to protect their rights, integrity, respect, comfort, safety, boundaries and professionalism.
Their work often gives them the vernacular and practical experience in their wider lives as women to speak up about their individual beliefs, take control of situations, and exercise increased confidence, self-esteem and bargaining power.
Certainly I think mainstream society could learn a lot from the fetish community, who has an emphasis on communication, trust, boundaries and consent that is often largely absent from other relationships and workplaces."
-- Zahra Stardust, in In defence of stripping and sex work on thescavenger.net
by Furry Girl
"Many seem to have problems with me doing this job for money, and seem to think that my only motivation should be personal enjoyment. Fyi, I do like my job, most of the time. But my pay should be independent from whether or not I, at the bottom of my heart, like everything I'm doing all the time. Imagine if you went into work one day and weren't paid because someone thought you weren't enjoying it as fully as you should be!"
by Furry Girl
It seems like every couple of months, there's a new fear-mongering book being hawked by one of the professional feminists about the vileness of sexual commerce. A core component of their actual Serious Face critique of the jizz biz is insinuating that we have the totally unique atrociousness of possessing a financial motivation with our jobs. We in the sex industry work to earn a profit. We make money. We get paid to do stuff. We sell things and services. Gasp!
This line of attack would be hilarious, if it weren't also so disgusting to see that these types make their living off the backs of sex workers - meaning they are literally nothing more than the most disrespectful and exploitative of pimps. They spread panic about us to get interviewed on TV. They use naked photographs of us without permission (in flagrant violation of federal porn statues) during their paid speaking appearances. They twist our words and purposefully misrepresent our stories in their books. They draw salaries as the heads of nonprofits who exist to take away our rights. They make up statistics out of thin air about how awful we are in in order to get donations for their projects. They receive tenure at fancy universities by lying about us to impressionable students.
They have a financial motivation. They are out to earn a profit. They get paid with their book deals and public appearances. And they're probably better at profiting off the exploitation of sex workers than any pimp or trafficker out there.
There's 10 seconds - a single line of dialog - from Wayne's World that always plays in my head whenever I see professional feminists soliciting for their latest cash-grab. Now it can can be what plays in your head, too. This clip is from the middle of a scene of Wayne and Garth ranting about the importance of not selling out, while engaging in product placement.
by Furry Girl
Last week, I had a pushy customer on cam who went from a "cute begging little boy" routine trying to sweet-talk me into fingering my ass (after I already told him that I don't do anal cam shows), to insulting me and textually yelling at me that I have to finger my ass for him. While I don't enjoy dealing with people like that, spending time with that dumbass netted me $28 in profit. I could have kicked him out or insulted him back, but I actually wanted to see how long he'd last so as to extract as much money from him as possible.
I've never gotten so much as 28 cents when regular people (feminists, conservatives, and other irritants) insult and degrade me. At least when a customer is a rude and obnoxious person, they have the decency to pay me for putting up with them.
by Furry Girl
In one week, I can now make as much money camming as I'll make in an entire month of operating my small porn sites. This makes me quite sad in many ways, and I feel like I'm staring down a precipice and deciding which way forward and how to channel my energy into the most productive outlets. A theme I noticed during this summer's Desiree Alliance conference in both casual discussion and formal talks was that a lot of sex workers are looking to branch out and diversify right now. We're all asking where the good money is these days, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Here's my piece of the puzzle when it comes to the indie porn and camming worlds.
First, for those unfamiliar, camming is like being an online peepshow performer. I log in whenever I like, and on the network I use - iFriends - I set my own per-minute rate. I get half of the $4-a-minute that I charge, so a 10-minute cam show nets me $20 in profit. I don't make $120 per hour, though - more than half of my time is spent just waiting around for customers. I have the option to either a) engage in free chat and beg illiterate, pushy cheapskates to buy private shows from me, or b) only let people see me who are already paying customers. That latter option is the way to go. So, I sit there, logged in, looking cute, waiting for someone to decide they like my profile image and description, ready to spring to life when someone picks me. I've been using the in-between time to keep up on sex worker's rights blogs as I wait around for customers, which strikes me as an excellent system of double-dipping.
As someone who started into porn in 2002, camming has never been a huge thing for me until these last few months. I began occasionally working on iFriends back in 2005, but found that my time was better spent (in the profit-per-hour sense) maintaining my subscription porn sites. This summer, I've had a lot of expenses, which made me give iFriends a try again. I wasn't expecting much, but figured, "What the hell? I'll log in while I'm sitting here reading my RSS feeds anyway." With the recession in full swing, and the porn industry practically circling the drain, I was surprised to discover that private, pay-per-minute cam shows are selling well. I'm making as much or more (per hour logged in) as I was before the recession.
What's the explanation for this? I emailed five other cam performers who also have experience in the porn side of the adult industry.
Isobel Wren (on CamWorld.com) - new to doing cam shows, but involved in nude/alt modeling since 2005 - said that camming is now 60% of her income. "Honestly I wish I'd discovered it earlier, I enjoy the heck out of camming and I really enjoy that I can make a comparable amount of money without traveling across the country, hell, without traveling from my HOUSE!" She had used to travel for modeling gigs, but "the majority of the people who booked traveling models were hobbiest photographers. When the recession hit these guys couldn't afford to pay $100 an hour for a model any more."
Mistress Roxxie (on CamModels.com) said, "I previously made more than enough with my websites, but business hasn't been so good and I need to make up that extra income somewhere. Modeling isn't worth the time and energy I would need to put into it. I tried doing more pro-domme work, but that industry is saturated." A sex worker since 2001, she told me that camming is "100% crucial" to making ends meet now.
Adorable Audrey (on NiteFlirt.com) has been involved in amateur porn sites for around ten years. "Camming was a little less than half my income before the recession, and about 65% of it since the beginning of this year," when she went back to working a straight full-time job on top of operating her porn sites.
Tasty Trixie (on CamModels.com) got her start with camming in 2000 before going onto starting her first porn site. She observed that camming might be good because rather than in spite of the economy. "During a recession or when news in the world is bad, people crave a personal, service-oriented touch to everything, especially something as intimate as sexual pleasure. We saw that with 9/11 - there was never a better time to cam that whole year than in the aftermath of of the towers falling."
Delia DeLions (on CamModels.com) has been in the industry since the early 2000s with her partner Trixie. "It has been really nice to have the extra income coming in at a time when things have been pretty tight. With the slumping revenue from our websites it does end up being a larger portion of our overall income."
Everyone was in solid agreement on the growing importance of interactivity with online erotic entertainment. As Delia said, "With the massive amounts of free porn that are out there on illegal tube sites, bit torrents, forums, etc., I think the value of live entertainment with potential for interaction like cam shows does increase." Trixie noted, "Once you've established your customer account on a camsite, paying for shows becomes far less intrusive than having to put on a condom for meatworld sex. You don't even feel or see the money coming out of your pocket; there's no physical exchange of money, you just grab your dick and start jerking."
Trixie suggests an important angle I hadn't thought of: "There might also be less competition from camgirls who aren't serious about making money because of the visibility of naughty-cams all over; it might be more obvious to them that you aren't going to be able to retain any privacy or keep your webwhoring a secret... In the old days of camming there was more of an illusion of safety/freedom from discovery - maybe people don't have that anymore." (Although, Audrey suspects the opposite. "The sites are definitely more competitive these days... and more camgirls than ever, possibly a result of more unemployment overall.")
Keep in mind, the people I spoke with have experience in amateur, niche, fetish, and independent porn, so if they are finding that customers are in search of more personal connections, I can't imagine how the mainstream cookie-cutter porn industry must be feeling.
I understand the strong appeal of interactive entertainment, but I've wondered why clients pick cam shows over other forms of erotic fun. If you're looking for conversation and personal interaction, why spend $200-400 for an hour for private cam shows when you can find a dominatrix or escort to see you in the flesh? For my tastes and comfort level, if I had $20 to spend, I'd buy porn, and if I had hundreds to spend, I'd buy an in-person session with a sex worker. Maybe for most of our cam show customers, though, the first option is too impersonal, and the latter is too personal - potentially crossing some kind of arbitrary line into "seediness" or "cheating". I suspect that camming is the ideal neutral zone for clients not yet ready (or who will never be ready) to take the plunge and see sex workers in person, but who still crave individualized experiences.
So, what should small-time pornographers like me do? What are the pros and cons that I'm looking at right now? It comes down to both money and my personal satisfaction.
Porn has become an unreliable source of full-time income for me, even though it's still great to have that recurring revenue stream, however much it dwindles. I'm not going to close my sites and declare failure or anything, but I need to seriously think about how my time and energies are best spent, and make decisive cutbacks to the porn site part of my work. (I can't help but notice the perfect harmony in the fact that my time spent porning versus camming is now about 1:4 on the profit-per-hour-spent-working ratio, and 1:4 weeks of the month I'm bleeding and can't be on cam anyway.)
Despite its mishmash of incongruous 1997/2010-looking interfaces, animated sparkling GIFs, and truly embrassing insistence on always referring to us chat hosts as "stars" ("I am a star! A big bright shining star!"), iFriends has never been late paying me. CCBill, the renowned "most stable" porn site billing processor, has flat-out not sent my checks three times this year. They claim these checks must have gotten lost in the mail, but in this economy, I'm simply not swallowing it. CCBill has paid like clockwork for years and never once has a check ever been "lost in the mail" before, nor am I missing any other pieces of mail from other senders. (And, of course, when these checks mysteriously go "missing in the mail", I have to pay a $30 fee to re-issue the "lost" check.)
There's also the issue of my enjoyment with what I'm doing. The vast majority of the work associated with running porn sites is boring. 95% of the job is staring at a computer, not all that different on the surface from what the rest of my white collar friends do. I love that other 5%, though. I love the creative process, even if I'm not the most creative person in the world. I love still photography, and challenging myself to get better at shooting other people as well as myself.
But, I also love interaction with clients on cam - especially submissives and the ones with interesting kinks. I love getting into a good session with someone who clicks with me, I love the immediate feedback, I love the variety of human sexuality, I love how glowingly happy people often look (when they have their own cam I can watch) when they have a great experience with me. At the end of 8 hours of camming, I tend to come away feeling more accomplished than I do after 8 hours of resizing photos or trying to explain to technophobic site members to how watch my videos on their WebTV. (Of course, the price I pay for the ease of camming is giving 50% of my income to iFriends. In comparison, with my adult sites, between credit card processing, hosting, and affiliates, I'm losing at least 25%, maybe as much as 35%, of my sales price.)
I don't have any grand solutions or "take home point", I'm mostly scheming out loud and hoping to see what other people have to say on the subject. I like being a pornographer and I like being a cam whore - they each have their ups and downs. I'm working on finding my own balance in the current financial climate.
In the comments, I'd love to hear from other sex workers who do camming and porn. I'd also love to see more sex workers in any sector writing on their own blogs about how the recession has changed their business so we can have a conversation about how we're adapting to the economy. It feels like the elephant in the room, and I'd love to see if we can all help each other by sharing ideas and experiences. (Let me know if this prompts you to write something, I'll link to it from here.)
by Furry Girl
"Monday and Tuesday were extremely slow. Not only did the bell not ring a lot (I spent most of my time napping or doing my day job), but I wasn't closing the deal. Too many Larry the Cable Guy truck-drivers who wanted the world for $100, ideally $20 if they could get it that cheap.
I wasn't being a team player, but I needed to find the balance of feeling good about myself, making money and taking care of the house. It's not an easy spot to find, especially since the house encourages you to go ahead and have sex at what amounts to street prices. If I wanted to be sucking dick in a car in an alley, I'd already be doing it. Yes, this is some of the class issues I was talking about. For an American in the US, it's easy to spot class (might not matter or be so clear-cut in another country). And I know what sort of class of man I like best, and who appreciates me properly.
Besides, I grew up with those redneck, trailer-trash, KKK-loving bastards and I really have no intention of giving them pussy if I can help it. Not mine, at any rate."
-- Amanda Brooks, in the right to say no - days 6 and 7 on texasgoldengirl.com
I recently read and appreciated Amanda's posts about working in a legal brothel in Nevada, which answered a lot of questions I've had about that system. I especially identified with this bit, since I also grew up amongst racist and ignorant people, and most certainly would never want to fuck any of them for the price of a meal at TGIFriday's. Hell, if that's what I wanted, I would have stayed in flyover land and married one of those guys.
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna