Porn is a strange thing. Right now, Pornhub is the 14th most popular website in the world and 8thin New Zealand, right behind Netflix and just in front of the Wikipedia page for the under-arm bowling incident. Everyone does it, your flatmate who just came downstairs to grab his laptop for “Netflix” is doing it right now.
But, we never think about who just happens to be in front of the camera fulfilling your extra weird kink. But it’s got to come from somewhere right? And in 2017, 810,000 amateur videos were released on Pornhub alone. Just like our bagels, furniture, and everything else in 2018, it seems like we want our porn to be handmade, shying away from the big corporations making our meat (or in this case, making us beat our meat).
But while many are amateurs doing it for the love of showing their stuff to the public (or incognito mode) some people are making serious money catering to that demand for “authentic porn.” On Reddit and Twitter, many people are making a living showcasing their bodies to anyone who wants to see … and is willing to pay extra for the fun stuff.
Take BambooFever, whose primary perverted patrons are located on Reddit, where she runs her own page, shows off some free content and advertises everything else she does. The name BambooFever might be due to her being Asian-American, and poking fun at the fetishisation/sexualisation of Asian women in western culture, or she may just really be into bamboo. She’s a uni student and says this is “currently my full-time job and it will continue to be so after I graduate college”.
She’s extremely focused on the monetary aspect, working just as hard as you would at your typical 9-5 job. “I can’t work for a few hours a day and then go home and have my personal and work life separated. I am always checking my porn social medias and opening/responding to messages, always paying attention to the other girls in the industry … I generally only answer messages that ask questions or that pertain to business sales. Time is money and I don’t like to waste it chatting when I could be improving my business.”
VirtualGeisha is another woman who utilises both Reddit and Twitter to advertise her services. She also works full time, seeing herself as “a content creator and use mainly Manyvids and Patreon to earn my income”. For her, moving into porn was “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I graduated one of the top in my grade but was disenchanted with academic life and having to interact with a lot of people I don’t like on a daily basis at that point already - university would have been a nightmare for me”. Which is very fair, as I’d take ten dicks daily before doing another group assignment (and probably still get less fucked over). She started out as your typical amateur photographer, getting her first camera at 12 and taking pictures of anything and everything, including nature photos that did well on Reddit long before she started showing herself off. “I’ve always been passionate about photography, particularly mountain landscapes and portraits of people/self-portraits … I’ve always thought of the human body as a beautiful thing, and turned the camera upon myself and started to create nude photos once I turned 18.” She’s staunchly committed to staying in that amateur market. “You can make more working independently and it is much safer as well. I do lesbian porn with my female co-workers, but it is self-shot and edited. We set our own boundaries, can choose who we want to work with, no one is pushing us to do something we don’t want to.” That authenticity of creating and managing your own content seems to be what they come to her for. “Photos that seem too professional really put people off as they want that amateur girlfriend feel.”
It’s a crazy profitable business, despite the strange nature of it. BambooFever offers access to her premium Snap for the low one-off payment of $80, as well as selling custom videos, the most expensive of which would cost $549 and would include a whole bunch of fun stuff, including “requires cleanup,” which is enticingly unspecific (unfortunately that’s doubleCritic’sannual budget so we were unable to confirm if it’s worth the money). VirtualGeisha’s most expensive custom video would set you back $649.96, including a $149.99 charge for her saying your name (Otago lecturers charge $200 for that, so VirtualGeisha is a bargain).
It seems like easy money, right? Just get on camera, strut your stuff and make triple your Studylink with probably less work. Well, it’s not quite that easy. For BambooFever it’s managing her brand, protecting her copyright and sifting through the dickheads. “Having to sift through like a hundred messages a day, 95% of which are just people who say ‘hey’ or guys who send dick pics and tell me they want to "get to know me", video directing and editing takes a good amount of time, and monitoring the internet for people who redistribute my content without my consent and people who try to dox me.” For VirtualGeisha, it’s more the stigma of working in the sex industry that she struggles with. “I think the hardest part from the external world would be the stigma I have to face as a sex worker. It can hinder us from getting other jobs in the future, people don’t respect us, we get obsessive stalkers, it can be hard to explain to family.” And there’s the schedule. After all, if you’re not performing, you’re not making money.
Then there are the pushy fans. To be fair, if you’re willing to even pay for porn in 2018, you’re already an ‘avid fan’ but some go the extra mile. “Many people also ask for an in-person meeting and offer to pay thousands for a weekend with me, and after I say no, they keep pushing it. Almost every guy will ask ‘why not?’ or push me when I tell them I’m not interested in chatting or getting to know them.” Wow, I wonder if there are any guys that do that to normal people (hint: it rhymes with blommerce bajors)?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “golly gee I’ve been showing my stuff only to people I want to have sex with, like a sucker,” what do you need to know if you want to go down this route? BambooFever stresses the importance of protecting your identity. “Use a fake name, maybe do your makeup differently or wear a wig on camera, privatise your personal social media accounts, and DO NOT give blackmailers what they want.” Watching your competition is important. “Look at other girls' pages to see what kinds of things they offer and for what prices.” VirtualGeisha spoke mostly about the importance of knowing exactly what you’re after. “You need to be sure that it is something you can handle, that you will work hard, find your own niche and figure out what you want to do. Also, what services you offer (custom videos, public camming or private shows, sexting sessions, GFE, premade videos, photosets, premium snapchats, cock ratings, in person services, etc).” I did askCritic’seditor if Critic Cock Ratingscould be a thing, but apparently “that’s not actual journalism”. (But hey, there’s always our Snapchat page).
There’s also the issue of your significant other if you’ve got one (so med students need not worry about this part). Both BambooFever and VirtualGeisha are in relationships, with BambooFever’s boyfriend being “completely supportive and takes lots of my photos, edits my videos, and films boy/girl content with me”. He was also the one that originally got her to go from amateur to pro. “When I met my boyfriend during summer 2017, he asked me why not start offering things like Snapchat and custom content for sale like I saw many other girls doing.” VirtualGeisha actually met her boyfriend after he messaged her online. “We now live together and are very happy with our relationship … and got engaged as well! He has posted for fun as well (non-nude but shirtless) and people were also asking to buy his underwear haha.” There were some rocky patches where he wasn’t entirely comfortable, “but we discussed things, came to compromises, and since then things have been smooth sailing. Communication is very important.”
So, if you’re looking for a summer job that still has fewer dicks than retail, consider porn. After all, it’s probably the most stable market in 2018 (as noted before, people REALLY like porn), you can work from home, and it’s still probably easier to explain to your mum than your Philosophy degree.