signup now
Turned On: The Women Behind Webcam Porn
  • January 19, 2014 : 23:01
  • comments

“It’s hard work, right?” she says afterward, sweaty and buzzing as a tiny clock on the screen counts down a two-minute break (designated by the site) before she’s thrown back into chat. “I mean, you have to jump on the bed, dildo your pussy and act like you like it, you know?” she says, laughing and out of breath.

Three hours later Amber has made hundreds of dollars. She brushes her teeth again. “Camming is the new porn,” she says into the bathroom mirror. “Porn is crumbling. The internet is melting the industry, and now a few companies own everything.” Driving through the Hollywood Hills, Amber talks about how different the industry was when she started, in the early 1980s. “It was just a handful of people, and we were all hippies. You’d close the set at the end of every shoot to try to get both actors to have actual orgasms,” she explains and then points—distracted—toward West Hollywood and her old apartment. “But now to make any porn it has to be really twisted and niche. Now it’s a circus act. It’s just about trying to fill as many holes as you possibly can without tearing anyone’s skin.”

Exiting a hunter green convertible outside a hotel-casino bar, Houston is striking in a well-kept California-housewife way, but up close certain things stand out: the beauty-mark tattoo, the plastic surgeries, the huge jewel-like eyes. Houston, 44, moved to Las Vegas in 2003 after quitting porn, and in the bar she goes on a rant. “I mean, we were the last Mohicans, the total last porn stars,” she says in a throaty southern California accent. “Dude, we shot on film!”

Houston’s antics got her inducted into the porn hall of fame: breaking the world record for biggest gang bang (620 guys) and going to a prom with a teenager who had asked her via Howard Stern and whom she ended up dating for a year. All of which, Houston says, boosted her career. It was all worth it. “I mean, if I dropped something on set, there was someone following me around to pick it up. Now you’d have to be crazy to get into porn. Are you kidding me? There’s no money.”

After leaving porn, Houston worked for five years as a real estate agent, which she calls the best job of her life. She was putting her daughter through private school, and things were good and quiet until—inevitably—Houston was called in to meet with her company’s CEO. “I thought, I’m getting another promotion,” she says and then pauses when Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” shuffles onto the playlist. Houston was fired for being recognized, an all too common problem for those who try to leave the high-profile sex work of porn. Weeks later Houston was diagnosed with cancer (she is now cancer free). During this time she spoke at churches about her history of drug use and her negative experiences in the industry. All this is chronicled in the book she just wrote.

Now Houston is back in the industry. “My boyfriend tells me, ‘Make your coin while you can, babe.’” She travels to L.A. for the occasional shoot and cams regularly out of her home in Vegas. “There is a stigma with camming, because people think, Oh my God, aren’t you rich? Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a couple of extra grand a week. I say I’m on cam to promote my projects, my book, whatever, but I’m here for the money, dude.”

Houston has to be up early tomorrow to cam (waking up at five to run and then doing her hair and makeup, which takes forever), but she is easily convinced to stay for another drink. Applying lip gloss in the bar’s bathroom mirror, Houston reiterates, “I was making millions, man. I really was. But now a few companies own everything in porn, and you’ve got to take what they’re paying if you want to work.”

Some girls come into the bathroom, and for reasons unknown, Houston takes selfies with them in the bathroom mirror. “How do I Instagram this to my boyfriend?” she asks a few times, creating nonsensical captions with auto-correct. (Later she does a perfect series of cartwheels in the hotel hallway—three in a row, landing with gymnastic precision on the paisley carpet.)

In the bar Houston squints at someone in the casino. “I thought it was this DJ guy. Never mind.” She takes a sip of her wine and returns to the topic. “Camming is what people do now. It’s a grind, dude. Thank God I have a big name. I don’t know how these nobodies make any money. You have to be on, you have to have a full face of makeup, you have to answer all their stupid questions.” In the background Shania Twain sings “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”

Today is Aaliyah’s first day off the porn set in a long stretch, and she’s booked with hair and nail appointments, STD tests and a tanning session. Since she started doing boy-girl scenes she’s been working 12-hour days and is trying extra hard to please everyone on set so she’s invited back. “Sometimes it’s just, like, you’re hot and exhausted and all your muscles are burning,” she says in a singsong voice. “And you’re super hungry and things are getting sore. But it’s funny, when the editor puts the footage together, none of that shows—thank God!”

Aaliyah could do shorter, internet-y scenes—she describes a studio where girls pop in to shoot a quick blow job for a few hundred dollars—but she prefers the glittering sets, scripts and makeup artists of feature films, a type that is increasingly rare. Aaliyah is grateful she’s able to get this work and chalks it all up to her camming fans. “I mean, I’m not the youngest or the prettiest or the dirtiest, but I have 10 years’ worth of fans, and that’s why I’m here,” she says.

The studios make less money now, and competition among starlets has increased dramatically. All this has changed the atmosphere of porn, Aaliyah explains. People used to make fun of those in the industry who took it too seriously, she says. After all, it’s just porn. People used to party on set. Aaliyah has heard stories about people smoking pot and having sex in the bathroom. “That doesn’t happen anymore,” she says. “Now when you arrive you hold your ID to your face, and they make you answer things on camera, like ‘Are you on drugs? Did anyone make you do things you didn’t want to do?’”

What it means to be a fan has also changed. To get off work, Aaliyah has to tweet that she’s turning off her phone and then disconnect. “I have made myself so available to the fans from camming. I see this with porn girls too. With social media, fans can get to know their favorite girl, and camming with them makes you less dependent on that porn check. But now it’s made the fans expect this interaction. They want their favorite porn star to do exactly what they want.”

As she calls for the valet, Aaliyah apologizes that her car is dirty and then apologizes for saying that. “Porn stars are obsessed with cars. It’s a Los Angeles thing to live above your means in general. But the thing is, no one is getting rich doing porn anymore,” she says, checking the rearview mirror. “No one is making millions, that’s for sure.”

Brittany Jean is on vacation in Vegas. It’s her first time outside the South, and in between trips to the mall she has been signing in to MyGirlFund to make more money. One of the guys on the site said he was sure he had walked right past her on the Strip. This shocks Brittany Jean, whose small-town infamy tumbles only through the gossip mill.

While her husband gambles, Brittany Jean hopes to meet up with Sheridan Love, a cam girl who broke into porn through her fan base, asking her 26,000 followers to tweet specific directors and companies and tell them to cast her.

“It would be awesome to just stay in Vegas forever,” says Brittany Jean. But for now, she explains, camming provides an escape. In her real life she has obligations to her family, and she doesn’t have much of a social life; on cam she can pretend to be someone else entirely. “I think it would be so cool, so awesome to do porn,” she says. “I watch YouTube videos of L.A. and just picture myself there sometimes. It all looks so glamorous and free.”

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
read more: Sex and Dating, sex, porn, interview, issue december 2013

1 comments

Advertisement