Photo credit: Susan Meiselas
MILLIONS OF CLIENTS AREN’T SUPPORTING LOCAL TALENT ANYMORE, instead they are disappearing into a void because the employees are — physically — in very short demand. Times have changed now. The age of the computer has led to many smart female, male and transgender sex workers who want stay at home now to make a living instead of going to their traditional workplace: a strip club, or on the corner. They have found an ingenious way to make even more money doing their work online.
Ex-patrons of strip clubs, who usually didn’t get touched in the first place, have all but stopped wasting their precious time traveling to-and-from the bar. Both sides of this particular sex trade have ceased spending billions of dollars a year on local babes. Out of technological advancement — performer and the paying customer have evolved to do their business conveniently at home. Most of the local clubs in my country, Canada, have already totally vanished.
Logged in to their favorite webcam site, like a chat with a random stranger on Chatroulette.com or a show-based performer on Cam4.com, anyone can easily find what they like. After watching, most people move on to their daily lives but some people spend their cash on these online performers. A lot of these customers use their real money to buy online “tokens” that are then used to “tip” the performer. Sounds harmless right? Well, that’s because it is. That’s not the issue though. These strippers, in conventional terms, will then cash in their “tips” for real money, and all that is done automatically with just a few clicks. Websites then bank a lot of money from the interest they’re getting off of transactions. In the good old days, the cash went straight into the pockets of the performer.
Online strippers are better in some ways but they will never replace the real thing. But please tell me, why the hell would anyone waste their time these days going all the way to a strip club? They’re already taking a really big chance by traveling all the way out there and then essentially being disappointed because what they’re looking for isn’t at the club — it’s something totally kinky and weird not conventionally available in the West. When I physically get into the strip club, what if I can’t see any sexy strippers.
No-one wants to waste their time. Especially these days when everyone’s time is precious. These webcam sites will never replace the real thing but the internet and modern technological advancements have re-invented the sex-workers industry. Somewhat like how the Amateur Miami Online Porn industry has re-invented the High-Quality Hollywood Porn Industry. This shift began roughly a decade ago with globalization and the invention of the Internet. Large corporations like WAL-MART killed off the local mom-and-pop shops. In this case, the internet and its “Virtual strip club” websites have killed off the conventional local strip club. These sites are really starting to pick up business these days. They’ve been around for a while now. What I’ve noticed has changed most drastically is that now instead of there being free shows, they’re now generally for-profit shows.
Younger generations have taken lead here and have noticed the advantage of this quick and relevantly easy way to make money online. A lot of amateur adult men and women are on these kinds of websites every night. They perform either solo, couple or group acts. They’re right there, in front of their computers and they are usually in the safety of their own home but sometimes they could be in weird places as well. You could even find a “retired” stripper on webcam too if you’re lucky.
Strippers have found a way to make more money online with way less hassle. They beg you the viewer to give them some money and we gladly pay it. Some of them will do pretty much anything to get it from you. The prices are quite steep! But, look at all the benefits to jacking off to virtual strippers! No traveling, no getting dressed up, no chance of potentially taking the stripper home… aka no risk of infection, no potential children, no jail time, no angry girlfriends, and most importantly of all no cash is involved.
Take a look at these 3 screenshots from Cam4.com:
Look closely at the screenshot below you’ll see “SHOT MACHINE AT GOAL” and the “GOAL” is 500 Tokens, (which is $100.) See, I don’t even know what a Shot Machine is, and I really don’t want to know but what fascinates me is that $100 is a lot of money! That’s just one girl… How much money that must be being spent is just insane.
And below we see the “menu” from her profile. She is charging 1000 Tokens, (that’s $200,) “TO BE MY HERO AND YOUR NAME IN MY WALL.” What the ??? is going on!? What are you kids up to?
If you have a menu on your online profile, I feel like a line has been crossed. I feel worse for the one who is actually paying for this and not the one that’s doing the actual stripping. Our society always tries to segregate sex workers from the “rest of us civilized workers.” The sex/stripper industry has obviously had to evolve into a way less personable but a way more accessible experience in order to keep paying the workers at the bottom of the pyramid. It is now way more risky and expensive to see someone naked online because it has become a commodity, it costs way more than strip clubs ever charged before. And spending that money is way easier, too. Even with the free online porn industry going rampant, the consequences of strippers going online in our mainstream society is big, and some people will not or just cannot help but to waste all their hard-earned money on such frivolous ridiculousness, as is something like a six dollar flash on webcam.
IF WE TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT on how industry has evolved from the 20th to the 21st centuries — especially from the 1990s until now — seeing things like pay phones, renting movies and taxicabs all on their perpetual path to disappearing forever. The economic perspective is that their functionality or their profitability will eventually render them useless. Which essentially means that everything is temporary. Everything will become obsolete once something better (and more convenient) comes around.
If you’re interested…
A really great documentary to watch about this topic is called Hot Girls Wanted –available on Netflix. It shows that girls mostly find their jobs under the “gigs” section on Craigslist.com. Miami is where most amateur stars go and Los Angeles is where they’re headed if they make it. That’s where the notorious, seasoned stars go but most of the porn stars you see on free tube sites are just one hit wonders.
You can also watch this podcast between Joe Rogan and Jon Ronson which was put up on August 8th — just a few days ago. Coincidently, Ronson made a documentary about the consequences of the whole MindGeek take over. If you just watch the first 5 minutes or so, he explains the majority of it. I think it’s such a fascinating story to listen to from a film-maker’s perspective. Ronson is concentrating on Fabian Tillman, who started the company Mansef or Manwin in 2008 — which eventually changed its name to MindGeek. As of 2013 however, Tillman has sold his stake in the company.
This article shows how one company from Canada has purchased almost all of the pornographic tube sites around the world. That one company — owned by a couple twenty-year olds from Montreal — called MindGeek has essentially created a monopoly over the entire online porn industry. Porn stars, like many other positions in different industries, do not make money how they did in the 90s. Magazines like Playboy and Hustler, and the movies that they produce, do not make much profit in a free online porn era. These days, a porn star’s career is much less about making money for the actual sex work that they’re doing, instead, it’s much more about either: using the scheme of paid then pirated videos (see below) or by putting up free videos they made on tube sites themselves, with the hopes of making a brand and eventually an income. The most fascinating part about the whole MindGeek/tube site situation is how young professional porn stars are now trapped and financially dependent on the piracy of the videos that they make for “paid” sites.
Here’s how it works: Porn stars need to get paid for gigs that they do. Amateurs usually get anywhere from five hundred to one thousand dollars per video that they do. The video they make is distributed on paid sites. People who paid for a subscription will usually end up pirating that video that they watched — putting them onto any one of the “free” tube sites that are usually owned by MindGeek, which already owns sites like PornHub, RedTube, YourPorn. The original up-and-coming star gets their name out to billions of people who are only looking for free porn on the internet. However, MindGeek, in turn, is able to make billions of dollars on the advertisements — ten cents view or so — while not having to pay the porn star any additional revenue for the whole ordeal. They are also considering to monetize a small portion of “premium” porn to make more revenue too.
Escorts have evolved too and they’re beginning to cripple the traditional prostitution game. It used to be, before the internet, that if you wanted to make money for having sex you had to leave your home to make those connections. Obviously, the work was done outside of the comfort of your own home but still, the deals with the pimp were made before hand. Still, now, many people work as prostitutes on the street without the internet. These days, sites like Craigslist.com and Backpage.com clearly do not mind if you post an ad for your “escorting” business. Of course, these people are just conventional prostitutes, selling their sex for money, but their dignity in the digital age is kept clean with the invention of a new term.
An escort used to be somebody who attended dinners or occasions with you, generally with no sex involved at all. It was paying to have someone keep you company and it’s not surprising that the term has been post-modernized into a generalization. Why would you call yourself a dirty prostitute when you can be one of those clean escorts? Maybe it’s just the younger generation and the new access to the internet which defines what kind of job that you’re doing but escorts are just hookers — they’re just sneaky about it. I know of a gay Arabic escort who does business in Dubai, Australia, and in Europe. One of his blog posts goes over the differences between escorting and prostituting. He said that being a prostitute in many countries is strictly illegal and therefore people who intend to get paid for their sex work must say that they are doing. It’s as simple as that:
A PROSTITUTE: Prostitution is just a JOB, mean to an end, JUST for money.
AN ESCORT: Escorting is a LIFESTYLE (not a job).
However we may try to bend reality; trying to make a decision to get paid to interact with people; your lifestyle is to make money having sex — you’re still a prostitute doing it for just the money. Everybody is good at sex. We’re human. Defaulting to, “oh I just like to charge people to spend time with them,” is a total crock of shit. Let’s just call them what they are. The sex industry is a major part of the economy in the US and around the entire world. It is about time we stop demonizing those who do sex work because everyone around the world watches, pays for and likes them anyway — otherwise, they wouldn’t still be in business.