One of the effects of COVID-19 on the sex industry seems to be that more sex workers are turning to cam sites and similar internet outlets to make ends meet. Sure there have always been sex workers who moonlight. There is even a webcam site dedicated to Asian bargirls that has been around for years. But I am talking about a newer and more noticeable trend here.
On the one hand there is a general trend towards women making money with their bodies over the internet all around the world. The rise of massive sites like FanCentro and OnlyFans started long before COVID-19 was even discovered. But there can be little doubt that the global shutdown occasioned by the novel coronavirus helped push things along. In May 2020, the CEO of OnlyFans said the site was adding 7000-8000 new models and 200,000 new end users per day. That represented an increase of 50 percent from April. This kind of thing is now so common and widespread that pop singers mention it in their lyrics. To top it off the former child star Bella Thorne recently announced that she has made $2 million USD in her first week on OnlyFans. We’ve come a long way.
OnlyFans and ManyVids and FanCentro, Oh My!
This sort of thing isn’t limited to OnlyFans of course. ManyVids is another gigantic website where models upload their pictures and videos to waiting customers with cash. ManyVids is run by former cam model and stripper Bella French.
Long time readers of this website may recall that I interviewed Bella French in early 2013, before ManyVids was launched or perhaps even imagined. Years later I was paid back for my efforts when a claim was made against this site for use of a publicly available picture of the interviewee. For all I know it may have been an automated thing but in any event it was quickly rectified by removing all offending images. Of course you can still find them all with a simple Google image search if you are truly interested.
I am no stranger to this sort of thing. Just a year ago I noticed that a go go bar dancer in Bangkok had turned to making porn videos and selling them online. I contacted the person in question and asked to do an interview. She agreed and I sent along the interview questions. They then appeared fully answered in fluent English on another website. I mention this only to point out that several “real world” sex workers have been moving into the cyber realm in recent times.
Last year I published an interview with Macy Nihongo. She told the story of how she went from an office employee to adult content creator. She said she was driven by the simple economics of the situation. She also said it seemed like a better route than escorting to her.
A permanent move towards online entertainment
There can be no doubt that women are still escorting all over the world. Other sorts of adult entertainment also continues on from hostess bars in Phnom Penh to go go bars in Thailand and even the famous red light districts of the Netherlands.
Still various businesses and providers are obviously feeling the pain of a severely hindered world economy. I have heard of countless sex workers who have moved on temporarily or permanently. Some have seemingly retired. Some have gone into other mainstream businesses. And some have tried their hand at broadcasting their bodies over the internet for money.
Even a few of the bigger adult businesses seem to be getting into the game. Soon after Heaven Above in Pattaya went out of business the launch of a Heaven Above cam site was announced. They are not alone. Daisy Dream Massage in Bangkok has announced that it is working with famed cam site Live Jasmin as well.
None of this surprises me in the least. A trend towards online entertainment was starting to become visible to industry observers even prior to this pandemic. The fact that travel sometimes even within countries remains difficult or impossible only helps fuel the movement of sex workers from “in real life” to online adult entertainment. With no end in sight this trend can only grow. Even if the novel coronavirus is somehow overcome I expect that a significant number of sex workers will continue to rely on the internet to make their daily bread. That ship has already sailed.