<p>It's a brave new world of selling sexuality online. Discover the strange fetish videos cam girls are making.</p>
I like to believe I’m a worldly man when it comes to sex and adult content on the Internet—I write about sex for my job, I spend a fair amount of time online and I have some secret bookmarks my wife doesn’t know about. But recently my eyes were opened to a whole new universe of sex and selling sexuality online.
While out for drinks with the missus and her friend Amanda (not her real name), the subject turned to sex and Amanda regaled us with stories from her stint working as a cam girl. For four years, Amanda clocked in to work at a studio designed to look like a private home. There, from nine to five, she performed sexy times via webcam for paying customers. This is nothing too shocking to me; cam girls are all over the adult sphere of the Net. But then Amanda told us how she branched out into high-paying private sessions where the content was…not what I expected. “One request, which paid well,” she said, “involved dumping 49 cans of Heinz beans into the electric blue spandex onesie I was wearing…while seated in a kiddie pool.”
Although I was momentarily flabbergasted, I pressed her for more details, asking her if she then proceeded to get naked or perform conventional sex acts in the kiddie pool. “No,” she explained. “That was it. I never got naked or showed any skin; the onesie was on the whole time. And I charged a higher rate. These kinds of strange fetishes are super popular online.”
That’s when I realized I was unaware of an important online sexual economy. “People are paying good money for this kind of content…and it’s popular,” said Amanda. “There are menwhose fetish it is to watch a woman cough or clean a house. And we’re talking fully clothed; these videos have nothing in them you would identify as porn or adult content.”
Amanda’s now retired, but she pointed out some leads for me to continue my research. “Camming is no longer where it’s at,” she said. “You can’t make the same kind of money anymore and the field’s too crowded. Clip-making’s where a woman can do well.” I asked her to explain clip-making to me and she told me how women will make short video clips—some catered to specific requests—and sell them through a specialized middleman site such as Clips4Sale, which takes a cut of the proceeds.
Intrigued, I headed to the site Amanda suggested and searched keywords like “food” and “sneezing.” That’s how I found Frankie Chemical (a pseudonym she uses for her work), a young woman with a punk-meets-1950s style whose full-time job is producing short fetish videos from the comfort of her Midwestern home. I got in touch through the email address she had posted and set up a phone interview to talk about her unconventional career.
Frankie cammed for a number of years but as time went on she found the customer base drying up, and those who did come on were more surly and expected more sexy times for less and less money. A cam girl she knew had gotten into producing clips. “This former cam girl was clearing a lot more money by making her own videos,” Frankie said. “And the stuff she was doing looked easy, even fun! So I gave it a try and now it’s my full-time job.”
I asked Frankie for examples of some of the videos she’s now producing and selling online. “I’d say 30 percent of what I do is overtly sexual. Real traditional NSFW stuff. But the other 70 percent of what I make could air on primetime television. There’s nothing in a lot of my videos that is technically X-rated.” Even if the clips don’t resemble what’s in standard porn, the videos are obviously titillating for her paying customers. She told me her sneezing clips are the most popular right now, but that she’s also had success with clips featuring cleaning, balloon popping, slurping noodles, smoking and shaving.
A new fetish she’s been successfully experimenting with is that of playing a giantess. “I tower over the camera, the camera’s perspective makes me look huge, and I pretend that I’m a giantess, like in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.” As a giantess she threatens and cajoles her viewer and even “devours” him. To do this Frankie will take out some gummy bears to serve as stand-ins for the customer; catching them doing “something naughty” she “punishes them” by ripping the gummies apart with her teeth.
Frankie told me she may not have any of these fetishes herself, but a lot of the clips are enjoyable to produce. “The sneezing ones are my favorite. I used to make myself sneeze when I was a kid just because I thought it was a cool feeling, and now I get paid to do that. And I have a series of me playing with my belly fat and that’s really fun to do, too.”
Frankie might be her own boss with a job she enjoys, but she’s quick to point out that her camming is work, and a lot of it. “It’s definitely a full-time job—I have a schedule and everything. On the days I film I get up, I do all my normal life stuff, then I film for about four or five hours, depending on how many clips I want to put out and how hard they are to film and to get just right,” she said. After shooting it’s time for more “normal life stuff” like cleaning the house or making dinner, and then it’s time for Frankie to edit. The editing, uploading, GIF-making, screen caps, all of that is another four or five hours of work. So she’s basically putting in an 8- to 10-hour shift every day.
On average, the videos range from six to 10 minutes and cost a dollar a minute, with Frankie taking 50 percent and the rest going to the Clips4Sale site, which handles the hosting and credit card payment processing. She also has an email address posted and will make custom videos to a customer’s specifications. I asked her if there’s anything she won’t do or if she’s turned down requests in the past. She said it’s fairly common that she’ll say no as she’s not comfortable with acting out some desires. As an example, she told me the story of a guy who emailed in a request for her to drive out to a farm, kill a turkey, gut it, cook it and eat it. The man wanted her to film the entire thing, including the trek out to the farm, which would have meant big money due to her by-the minute-rates, but this scenario is far outside her boundaries.
I wanted to know if Frankie had any insights into her clientele; after all, most people would find such fetishes bizarre and not remotely sexual. “I think sexuality starts at a really young age, maybe a lot younger than we, as a society, want to admit,” she said. “So I think there’s something in these men’s past when they were starting to sexually grow and become aware that imprints these intense fetishes. Be it sneezing or the rush they got when someone popped a balloon at them or how the balloon felt on their skin.”
Finally I asked her if clip-making and selling sexuality on the Internet is just something to pay the bills or if it’s something she wants to stay with. “I plan on doing this for as long as possible,” she told me. “Clip-making seems so varied—if I get bored with one type, or it stops selling, I can just jump from one category to the next. As soon as I found online sex work I knew I wanted to stay in it one way or another. I’ve always found sex work really empowering.”