Most sex workers meet customers in person. For them, the coronavirus spells economic ruin.
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“The virus is a disaster for client-facing businesses – and sex work is no different,” says Goddess Cleo, a dominatrix from London.
“Most of my income is generated from one-on-one sessions and events. I [normally] only make a bit of money through online avenues,” she said.
But like many others, Cleo has switched focus to digital since the lockdown came into effect.
Online dominatrix Eva de Vil says: “There’s lots of new girls joining the scene right now – or offline sex workers moving online to help with finances.”
And she has seen a growing appetite from her clientele for isolation-themed roleplay “clips” – on-demand videos not filmed live.
“It’s not so hard for established cam girls like me to adapt to coronavirus. We’re used to working [online] and from home,” she adds.
Not so easy
But for many client-facing sex workers, moving online is not a simple solution.
“It’s not about flashing ya nipple and earning big bucks”, wrote UK sex worker Gracey on Twitter.
“It takes ages to gain an online following and even longer for [them] to buy your content.”
Using the online platforms means having to give them a cut of earnings.
And there is a need to invest in equipment, including “tripod, decent lighting, sex toys, et cetera”, which can be challenging to acquire during the lockdown.
“The marketing requires so much effort, it is unreal,” Gracey says.
“I’m not brave enough to [be] naked online and [receive audience] criticism.
“The emotional labour that goes into camming is unreal – constantly chatting, trying to be yourself [and] pleasant.”
Privacy is another concern.
It is much harder to hide one’s identity online and video content can be stolen.
In February, for example, London-based OnlyFans saw 1.5TB of content-makers’ pre-recorded videos and images leaked.
UK sex worker Lizzy says camming has become even more competitive since the pandemic began.
And data from the world’s largest “camming” websites supports this.