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Rachel Stuart does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


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It's boom time for veterans of the cam-girl trade, but they have a warning for newbies: Don't try this at home. In a recent Rolling Stone articlea massage therapist-cum-part-time mermaid discusses her decision to delve into cam work during quarantine. Camming has never seen more coverage. Unending reports detail how many of the 22 million out-of-work Americans — forced to get creative overnight — are exploring the online sex industry. After the abrupt halt of porn production, directors are encouraging actors to pivot to solo work in self-isolation.

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For millions of newly remote workers in the United States, doing your job in this pandemic now involves looking presentable on camera, in a relatively pleasing setting at home. With bedrooms and basements doubling as offices, the line between work and life has more deeply fractured, maybe permanently. The internet speeds may be better, but the work-life blur is not that different from the camgirl era of 20 years ago, when some of the only people inviting the internet into their homes were young women with webcams, sharing still images every 30 seconds, sometimes for money.

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At the timethis was considered an unseemly thing to do, especially for a living. Yet in recent months, many more people know what the minimal viable makeup for a video chat looks like, have angled the cam away from the laundry, learned to perform their job in the frame while life goes on outside it.

Now the coronavirus is making them work like camgirls, too. The space between home and work is as minimal as the one, on the same laptop screen, separating OnlyFans from Zoom.

Op-ed: trafficking in women and girls is moving online due to covid

At the same time that OnlyFans moves closer to the mainstream, the pandemic has launched pop-up strip clubs on Instagram Live where fans customers can tip dancers via CashApp. The most reported-on one operates under the smirking purple emoji-inspired brand Demon Time.

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But is performing on cam their job now? What is real life anymore, though?

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Is this a job? Is this just how I make money?

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Am I at work now? Before Facebook a website hatched when the web was already in its second decadebefore social media generally, camgirls were some of the first people to live online. Global social media researcher Theresa M. It was also a much smaller internet.

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Once any laptop might have a webcam built in, once any mobile phone did, too, technically, anyone could be a camgirl. Now many, many more of us must go to work by cam, go to school by cam, get therapy by cam.

Being a cam girl is harder than you think

While not all of these activities demand the maintenance of a public-facing brand, they end up incorporating many of the markers of one, rewarding what works best for the cam. Tutorials advise on proper lighting without pro gear; stylists recommend simple looks.

Denial of service is what creates opportunities for third parties like OnlyFans, which can charge sex workers excluded elsewhere a premium for their services. Pandemic or not, they are, though. Before the coronavirus, nearly one-third of full-time employed workers in the U. You are using an outdated browser.

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