Mankind has been entertained by the naked human form from the first crude cave drawings to now paid subscriptions sites like OnlyFans, ManyVids, and AVN stars. It’s no wonder that there has been an explosion in adult entertainment in all forms, most notably in the rise in online camming sites. Suddenly, viewing streaming pornographic videos was something that was right at the tip of your fingers. Maybe there was a very niche type of video that you never seemed to be able to find before. A quick search on any number of pornsites like PornHub, YouPorn, or RedTube could potentially bring you anywhere from a handful to thousands of related videos. You could, voyeuristically, watch from the comfort of your own home. Always the voyeur, never the participant. That all changed in 1996.
That is when conceptual artist and college student, Jennifer Ringley, began a website called ‘Jennicam’. She set up a webcam in her dorm to transmit over the web and allow viewers an increasingly intimate look at her daily life. In ‘98 she divided her site into paying and free, setting the ball rolling towards our modern subscription sites. Also in ‘98, a new site began called ‘AmandaCam’ which included multiple webcams that streamed live web shows and prerecorded ones. But AmandaCams took it one step further. They launched the ability of the viewers and subscribers to be able to chat with the performer. This gave an instant boost to the platform of camming and a more personal connection between performers and viewers. These two pioneering sites led to camming becoming a multibillion dollar industry that has over 12,000 live cam models online and hundreds of thousands viewers at any given time of the day.
The tools of the trade for any serious cam model vary depending on the type of content being produced. Many sites have the option to ‘tip’ the performer while watching a live stream and many also have shops that sell anything from private videos/photos to underwear and beyond. This is a great way for them to get supplemental income not generated by subscription fees. And because most cam models are basically independent contractors, the freedom to explore other areas is welcomed. This lends itself to creating a more personalized and entertaining experience for the both performer and viewer. This also allows the performer to choose what they want to show and not show. Not every performance is a sexual one. There are several performers who have shows of them simply sitting in varying states of undress and reading to the audience and even gamers playing with or without clothes. Anna Katzen, who has a post- graduate degree from Harvard, said during one interview about her camming work:
The men I meet online rarely fall into the category of anonymous asses who have abandoned all social etiquette, nor do they resemble the pasty, calculator-wristwatch-wearing forebears of chat rooms past. Many, in fact, are successful professionals in their field – whether it be law, the arts or academia. Some of my most popular performances entail me reading erotica, perhaps Anaïs Nin or the Marquis de Sade, in the buff. Oftentimes, the books are gifts from fans, who will probe me for literary analysis, if I don't probe myself with something else first.
She went on to say:
I have unwittingly created a powerful 'brand' for myself: the wild intellectual, the bluestocking in garters. 'I came for the tits, but stayed for the intellectual banter,' remarked one of my visitors, and another stated, 'most guys aren't looking for some airbrushed Barbie. They want real, intelligent girls – like you.'
The uptick and rapid growth of camming in recent years has also changed the adult toy industry. While it is still perfectly normal to find a performer using the tried and true toys such as vibrators, strokers, dildos, etc. the rise of the digital age has given way to more high tech toys. Bluetooth toys by companies such as WeVibe, Satisfyer, and Kiiro, to name just a few, seem to be a perfect fit for a cam model. There are toys for every gender and sexuality, and it allows the performer to give the option for certain subscription tiers to be able to control their toy from their phone or tablet. The apps associated with these types of toys are secure and allow such features as designing your own vibration pattern, controlling speed/intensity, syncing with music, and many more. This is the next step in connecting the viewer and the performer. This will bring camming even further into the hands and fingertips of people world wide.
[Pictured: Left, We-Vibe Chorus (item # 073835), Center, Satisfyer Sexy Secret (item # 887006), Right, KIIROO Esca2 (item # 069902)]
The Covid-19 Pandemic and subsequent lock-downs grew the demand for in-home, online entertainment and with it grew the demand for cam models. There are innumerable stories of professionals from every corner of the world and industries finding a new joy in becoming a cam model. Lawyers, teachers, retail workers, all of them still had mouths to feed and bills to pay and they found the ability to do so from home. Many content creators on various platforms, if willing to put the time and energy into it, were able to continue it even after things reopened. There was a concern recently when OnlyFans, under reported pressure from their banks, said they would no longer be hosting adult content on their site as of October 2021. The backlash was immediate and not long after they reversed their decision and got an agreement made with their banks. Many of the other subscription platforms and hosting sites were more than happy to take in the content creators disillusioned and orphaned by this sudden announcement and the fear that it may happen again.
So as the world continues to turn and we get back to some sense of normalcy, will camming decline and fall to the fate of many of its predecessors? I, personally, don’t think so. Like the ebb and flow of a river cutting its way through the earth to create the Grand Canyons, camming has created a lasting image on the fabric of adult entertainment, one that won’t quickly be erased. As with the rest of technology and platforms of decades passed, camming and the hosting and subscriptions sites that promote it will change with the times, growing and learning in order to continue to bring a certain type of pleasure to the world.
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Box, Bobby. "An Intimate Convo With A Webcam Model Who Makes $4,000 A Month Filming Herself." Elite Daily. 29 Dec 2016. www.elitedaily.com/dating/sex/an-intimate-convo-with-webcam-model/1734402.
Ciapponi, Giana. "Of Dildos and Degrees: Why College-Educated Women are Turning to Sex Work." Ravishly. 13 Jun 2014. www.ravishly.com/2014/06/13/college-women-sex-work-tuition.
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Song, Jason. "As L.A. Porn Industry Struggles, 'Web Camming' Becomes A New Trend." Los Angeles Times. 03 Aug 2016. www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-porn-camming-20160803-snap-story.html.