The influx of remote work has caused a lot of people to turn to the online world of cam modelling – but with all it’s popularity, there still lies heavy stigma.
Elliot White (they/them) // Features Editor
John Pachkowsky // Illustrator
“They make, like, $3,000 a week. Sometimes, I think — well, I could do that.”
Rachel Weathers*, 23, muses about the possibility of entering the world of cam work. “I already have a decent setup and some lingerie my boyfriend bought me for Christmas,” she laughs.
Camming or cam modelling is a profession that has surged in the last few years thanks to the increase of remote work. The growing profession consists of creating an online presence and performing acts, often sexual, for paying viewers. Sites such as OnlyFans, Fansly and Chaturbate offer aspiring cam models safe and streamlined ways to find audiences and build a following.
“I want to do it. I know I can do it. I just don’t know what I’d tell people.”
Currently, Weathers spends her nights working as a server at a fairly busy restaurant, during the day she attends university, aiming to finish with a degree in criminal law. She also spends quite a bit of time with her live-in boyfriend, Ross*. “We’ve been dating for about 3 years now, we’re comfortable y’know? I don’t really want to do anything to fuck that up.”
There’s an ongoing stigma around camming, even in our current political climate. As much as the world seems sex-positive, most people still find it a little uncomfortable or “wrong” to engage in online sex work. Even going as far as to use the term “accountant” in order to mask the actual nature of their jobs — a phrase that was essentially coined by the sex work community after Rocky Paterra’s musical TikTok went viral — explaining why he, as an actor, always tells people he’s “just an accountant” so no one will ask questions. Almost immediately, cam models flocked to this audio, posting videos of lip-syncs to the song while they comedically pretend to hide their setups. It’s become a tongue-in-cheek way people have started referring to sex work in general, in order to remain discrete.
Discretion seems to be an ongoing theme amongst people who decide to get into cam modelling. “I asked my boyfriend if he’d be comfortable with me trying to pursue it, and after sort of…mulling it over he said: as long as you don’t tell anyone about it,” Weathers says. “It got me thinking about how I’d start to navigate my life moving forward, who I’d tell, who I’d have to hide it from, the kind of lies I’d have to start weaving.”
It’s common for a lot of aspiring cam models to have fear of judgement going in — Reddit threads and comment sections on existing cam models’ videos are a screaming example of this. Scroll down any of these and you’ll find a plethora of people asking “I want to be a cam girl, but how do I get started?”, “I want to do this! But I’m afraid of judgement.”
In order to combat the fear of judgement, the topic of salary often floats around. It’s the first thing Weathers began talking about, and any quick google search will bring you immediately to articles about how much cam models actually make. A salary report curated for this year by readysetcam.com detailed the different kinds of sites available for aspiring cam models, as well as an outline of the average salaries, depending on how many hours you intend on working in the field.
The website even has a how-to guide on how to make money camming. The subject of money solidifies that it can be a “real job” — the idea behind it being “well, if I’m making a lot of money doing this, then it subverts the judgement around it.” The validity of this profession relies almost entirely on how much money you’re making, which is a completely capitalistic view and one cam artists are constantly fighting.
This is something that’s always on Weathers’ mind. “The last thing I want to do is tell everyone I’m posting nudes for money and it turns out no one wants them. If I get a following, it’ll feel like it’s more legit…it’s just getting there that’s so daunting. I don’t want to put my relationship in jeopardy and have it be for basically nothing.”
Weathers goes on to explain that her boyfriend means well, he just clams up every time she brings up the prospect of moving forward with this endeavour. “He’s not judgemental – I think he just has some pre-programmed stigma. Hell, I have it too. Sometimes I scroll on Twitter and look at someone posed in a sexy way and think to myself ‘wow she must be desperate’ then I have to take a step back and actually realize why I’m thinking that way,” Fighting internalized “whorephobia” is just as important as fighting the externalized one you have to deal with. “I read online somewhere that your initial thought when dealing with something is your learned opinion and the follow up is your actual one – I have to apply that a lot whenever I consider doing this.”
Weathers’ situation is not an uncommon one by any means. The rise in cam modelling has definitely brought out an influx of people wanting to try it and having to overcome their own stigma — as well as their partners. “All in all I guess, no matter what I do, it’s gonna be a battle and a compromise. Either he’s gonna have to be cool about a lot of stuff, or I’m going to have to abandon this idea. It’s not going to be easy, and that’s something I have to come to terms with.”
*The names and details of the subjects have been changed to protect their privacy.