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OnlyFans: Inside Look on Pay-Per-View Porn

By Kayla Lupedee 

“Looking at the income coming into my account, my first month I made about $5K,” said Ava, a 19-year-old college student from Massachusetts who requested to remain anonymous under this false name. “My second month was $20K and from then on, I’ve just continued to grow.”

After a long day of work at a coffee shop, 20-year-old Penelope (whose real name remains in anonymity), from St. Petersburg, Florida, heads home, strips her clothes in front of a camera and gets to work. OnlyFans is a platform where people subscribe and pay for nude photographs and videos of any ordinary person. This second job has changed the life of Penelope, and many more, by earning hundreds to thousands of dollars in just one week. 

“I needed rent money,” said Penelope. “Some guy just started tipping me a shit ton and ended up giving me $300 by the end of the night. When I saw that money come in, it started becoming really addicting.”

On OnlyFans, creators set their own prices for monthly subscriptions and other varied prices for specialty content. Where Penelope’s subscription rate is $11.99 per month, Ava’s is only $3.00. They both personalize their other prices based on what subscribers ask for. 

“I ended up lowering my subscription rate to $7.00 but that made me feel like anyone and everyone can just come see me,” said Penelope. “I just felt like I was worth more than $7.00, so I put it back up to $12.00.”

OnlyFans takes 20% of creators’ earnings, which most consider to be a downfall of the site. There is also a minimum amount that must be in the account before any money could be transferred, which also takes several days to see those numbers reach the creator’s bank account. 

Staci Sprout, a licensed clinical social worker, determines porn as something that is incredibly accessible, normalized, and popular in this generation. Sites like OnlyFans offer something more specific. 

“OnlyFans content creators provide a more convincing facsimile for genuine intimate connection than pre-recorded videos. On OnlyFans, users can subscribe to the creators whom they feel a special attraction to,” said Noah Church, author of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn. “They gain access to images and videos that the rest of the public does not have, and they can even pay to chat privately with the creator. They can come to feel like they have a connection with that person, but in reality, the connection is purely a monetary one, and the intimacy is just a grander illusion.”

Creators use this information to their advantage. Figuring out what is just right for their fans is the best way to keep earning those tips. 

“They think I’m doing this all for them,” said Penelope. “There becomes this sort of relationship between me and a subscriber because, in their head, I’m sending them private messages and personalized content. In reality, they don’t mean sh– to me.”

Having extra social media platforms, like TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their work is the best way for creators to gain more exposure and in turn, make more money. The recent surge of OnlyFans success from COVID-19 quarantines are also to be thanked by content creators. 

“Many people are quite literally isolated from each other and perhaps out of work or stuck working from home,” explained Church. “In such circumstances, the allure of easy pleasure is all the more tempting.”

Loneliness, according to experts, is a major reason for using porn in ways to self-medicate, as well as the fact that it is a super stimulant.

“Porn stimulates the primitive sexual response centers intensely,” said Sprout. “Most of us want to feel arousal–it feels great. Sexual pleasure is valued by porn consumers.”

Joby Lexx (real name not permitted), 28 from Arizona, started OnlyFans in July after COVID-19 left her unemployed and in search of a means of income. 

“I ran a very successful in-home childcare and due to the pandemic, I lost basically all of my childcare children,” said Lexx. “As of now, I have no regrets. It isn’t my ideal form of income, but I definitely can’t be ashamed of doing what I needed to do during this time.”

Although money is a powerful incentive, it isn’t necessarily the only great aspect of creating an OnlyFans account. The site has led many girls to a high boost in confidence and a community of life-long friendships. 

“I’ve created a community of other sex-worker friends and that really motivates me to keep going,” said Ava. “I get tons of messages every day from other girls who want to do sex work. They see me as such a big inspiration and make them feel confident. It’s another really big reason why I continue to post daily.”

Ashely Gleason, 19, also turned to OnlyFans for an attempt at earning some extra money. But, her income wasn’t the only thing she found to be the best part of creating content. 

“Believe it or not, there’s a lot of support from other girls,” said Gleason. “It’s a really nice and empowering environment when you’re around the right people. I’ve never come across someone who wasn’t willing to help out.”

For many, sex work is seen as something that is rather taboo. However, the women involved in OnlyFans see a sense of empowerment coming from their work. 

“I just figured I can kind of do whatever I want,” said Gleason. “Ultimately, nobody can really tell me what I can and can’t post or what I can and can’t do with my own body.”

However, Church sees risks in giving into the appeal of working for internet porn sites like OnlyFans. 

“If discovered, creators can lose reputation, friends, family, jobs, and future employment opportunities,” said Church. “Whether it’s right or wrong to judge these women for creating sexual content, it happens and the consequences are real.”

But, that is not really a concern for the women putting their bodies on the line. 

“Although I am risking some acceptances into certain medical programs, I honestly would sacrifice that for being able to play some role in destigmatizing sex workers,” said Ava. “I don’t want to work for a company who’s not going to hire me because of what I do with my own body outside of work.” 

Despite Ava’s lack of concern for her future plans, she still tries to conceal as much of her appearance as possible. She cakes on makeup, wears a series of different wigs, and photo-shops her pictures to hide birthmarks and moles.  

“Joby Lexx is what I like to go by,” said Lexx. “It’s my stage name for all my platforms. I like to keep my personal life very private due to the safety of my children and family.”

Penelope, likewise, stopped using her real name on her OnlyFans page after being discovered by someone from her hometown. She still applauds the women involved in sex work, hoping to encourage more confidence and “using men for their wallets.”

Starting out on OnlyFans isn’t just a breeze through money, though. Gleason experienced some criticism when her co-workers found out about her page and also had to come clean to her mother after her profile was shown to her by a friend.

“Obviously my mom wasn’t jumping for joy when she found out what I was doing,” said Gleason. “She probably looked at it as if I were rebelling a little because I had just gotten out of a relationship when I started.”

Ava was scammed by falling into working with a con-artist who now owes her over $17,000. When confronting him and demanding for the money, he turned to threats claiming he was going to send her pictures to her parents and ruin her life. 

Creators like Gleason and Penelope feel that many of their subscribers think they are entitled to taking control over what they send or post of their bodies. 

“Someone subscribed to me would DM me saying ‘I know who you are, maybe you can earn it and I’ll tell you,’” reflected Penelope. “It was kind of creepy and made me feel uncomfortable, but I just ended up blocking him.”

But sometimes these horror stories can lead to a positive outcome. Celebrities continue to share their experiences, media outlets focus on strange circumstances, and social media is a nonstop advertising service for OnlyFans as fellow content creators continue to share their tips and tricks. 

“[OnlyFans] is a case of any press being good press, as they have drawn consumers who are curious about what they can find on the platform and potential creators who are drawn to the earnings,” explained Church. 

Overall, the women creating and selling content on OnlyFans have no regrets from starting their pages. The experiences they’ve come across is just leading to lessons learned and more money in their bank account. 

“You just have to keep non stop posting on social media platforms,” said Penelope. “Eventually, you’ll just grow bigger and bigger.”

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