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Turned On: The Women Behind Webcam Porn
  • January 19, 2014 : 23:01
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It’s this positivity that shows in the Vivid training videos. In person Aaliyah laughs at a mention of the videos. “I always worry about those,” she says, face falling in her hands. There had been little in the way of script, as Vivid expected she could speak from her experience. “When you’re starting out, you may not have any chatters in your room,” she explains on-screen. “But don’t just sit there and say, ‘C’mon, guysssss!’?” She glides a hand to her hip. “What I do is literally talk to myself, like ‘Aren’t these panties pretty, guys?’” she says to a blank computer screen, running her hands along her body.

Nikki Hearts, a model for alt-porn hub Burning Angel, moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles six months ago to do porn and has since acquired a sleeve tattoo depicting a postapocalyptic Hollywood Boulevard and social cachet as Dave Navarro’s “lesbian wingman.”

“We go to goth parties and creep on pale girls with dark hair who are really tiny and creepy,” she says, tinkering with a white bass she says once belonged to Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple, a gift from Navarro.

The first month Nikki moved here, Measure B passed. It’s a Los Angeles County law that requires porn performers to use condoms, something many in the industry protested. “I was like, Oh my God, is no one going to make porn anymore?” she says. The alt-performer had already been having a hard time finding work because she shoots only girl-girl and has tattoos and short hair. Nikki, who may qualify as a “tiny creepy girl” with her twiggy arms and giant brown eyes, lives with her long-term partner, Lindsay, in a small luxury apartment in Hollywood. She has no plans to shoot scenes with men and dreams of starting her own lesbian-porn studio.

Nikki’s agent warned that shooting only girl-girl would cut out 75 percent of her work opportunities and that she wasn’t sure how to market Nikki. “She asked if I was in porn for money or fame. I said that porn was the best job I’d ever had and I just wanted to show people how I, as a queer woman, actually have sex.”

She has shot a few scenes she’s proud of since being in L.A., but during the day-to-day grind she finds herself camming a lot. This day she sat on MyFreeCams for hours. Guys came into her room but weren’t spending. To shake off the negativity, Nikki is soaking in a hot tub with her girlfriend and another friend, Courtney Trouble, an indie queer-porn producer.

Post–hot tub, the trio sits on marigold love seats with the air conditioner turned on high. “So when you’re on cam, how do you get guys to go into private chat?” Courtney asks, tucking Nikki’s tiny Chihuahua into her cleavage. “As someone who has tried to cam, that seems to be the tricky part,” she explains as the dog looks around.

Instead of trying to get guys to chat by the minute, Nikki does group shows. She sets a goal amount and a timer, and if guys’ collective tipping reaches the goal, she will do whatever was promised—a private hardcore show or something as simple as bringing the cam poolside while she skinny-dips.

“I think the average porn customer is changing,” Courtney says. “You can make money if you’re really being yourself these days. People don’t want cookie-cutter starlets anymore. Porn is free on the internet, but if you’re captivated by a person, you will pay.”

Courtney advises Nikki not to give up on her lesbian porn-star dreams. “That’s the thing,” Courtney says. “If you’re just doing what you are told and no one gets to know you, then you are just an interchangeable body. You are not going to stand out and make money.”

In a way it’s a good time to be in porn, says Courtney, because it’s more socially acceptable than ever before: “Now it’s cool for celebrities to pose nude,” she says. “I mean, having a sex tape with Vivid just boosts your popularity. It’s the mainstreaming of porn that has allowed porn stars to be themselves. In part, it’s that the view about women in the industry has changed. It’s no longer thought that you were forced into porn.”

“Welcome, gentlemen. I am Amber Lynn, your porn star goddess,” says the woman next to a four-poster bed with stage lights clipped to its columns, just out of sight of the webcam. On the duvet is a towel and a wooden tray of sex toys. “You may recognize me from some of your favorite adult films,” she continues as men ping in from her Twitter feed or from browsing the “porn star” tag on Streamate.

Amber recently celebrated her 30th anniversary in the adult industry. She is approaching 50, though according to Amber, in porn, age doesn’t matter as much as whether you look good, which she does. When Amber walks past the pool outside her apartment building, heads swivel at her toned legs and striking features. We are at a small one-bedroom apartment in L.A. that Amber uses when she shoots porn and now also as her place to cam. Before going on, she brushes her teeth and touches up her makeup. “Someone called in to the show I host on XXX Porn Star Radio and said camming is like a cross between porn and prostitution,” she says, coating on two different Chanel lipsticks. “But even with stripping you have to directly engage doing lap dances. Here you don’t.” In the 1990s Amber made money visiting strip clubs as a popular porn star and a featured dancer. “Now everybody cams,” she says.

Sitting behind an old Dell laptop, Amber sees two chat rooms on the screen, one with site members and the other with nonpaying guests. As Amber moves around on cam, messages pour in. “Is it really you?” they ask. “You look great. So sexy!” Sometimes they’re mean, though, with the obligatory “old” and “ugly” comments and, worse, the men with disturbing requests. This is something every cam girl interviewed wants to talk about: the astounding number of bizarre or disgusting requests. “Which is fine,” Amber says, until they cross the line into illegal or just plain gross. “Most of my guys are great, though.”

Amber moves the entire time she is in general chat, blowing kisses, dancing and enticing the guys to bring her into private chat. “Oh, look at the rack on that girl,” she says and then looks at the comments. “Oh, you guys always want to see ass. You don’t even care about tits anymore. Ass is the new tits.” Amber lifts the webcam and shakes it behind her. “We’ve got a free Snuffleupagus!” she says.

When someone requests a private chat, Amber jumps on the bed and slips out of her lingerie. On the other end of the camera is a man with gray hair and a baseball cap, his eyes cast downward. She immediately begins masturbating with a toy. “I am going to come,” she screams minutes later. When the customer closes out of the chat, she is quickly thrown back into group chat. Near the end of the three hours, Amber does a group show with double penetration, using a bendable pink jelly dildo.

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read more: Sex and Dating, sex, porn, interview, issue december 2013

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