OnlyFans is a kind of digital revolution in sex work that purports to give the power to the workers instead of the overlords. @thatfatbabe, @chloevenom, and @andywithabig🍆 tell us the truth about life inside the naked social economy. (Warning: explicit content.)
Artwork by Shawna X

Money Diaries: The (Kinda) NSFW OnlyFans Edition

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Megan, @thatfatbabe

I am a hot fat babe. That’s just facts. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

It’s taken some time to proudly declare myself a “hot fat babe.” I was on and off diets from the ages of nine to 25, and, as so many of us do, I developed an eating disorder that nobody ever took seriously. I would starve myself sick, and yet my body never got smaller. Thankfully, after seeking help, I pulled myself out of that dark place, and now I’m one of the proudest fat girls on the Internet. I’ve actually managed to make a career out of it.

Admittedly, my job is unique. I call myself an entrepreneur because I have multiple businesses. Beyond sex work, I work as a freelance social media manager for a number of different brands. I also work in politics, but I can’t say more about that. Because of my online community (I have nearly 60,000 followers on Instagram), I get paid as an influencer as well. On average, I make around $1,000 a month from these opportunities. Because I love animals so much, I have a dog-walking and pet-sitting business as well. I decided to sign up for OnlyFans last March after about 80% of my dog-sitting clients moved away because of the pandemic. My OnlyFans costs $15 for a monthly subscription and the company takes 20% of all revenue made on the site. In less than a year, I made around $40,000 on the platform. Not too shabby for a side gig.

Occasionally, somebody will say something I’m not okay with. Because I’m direct and don’t put up with that, either they leave me alone or I take apologies in cash — literally — so they’re still allowed to be in my presence.

My workday is surprisingly standard. I wake up and eat breakfast, then it’s emails, meetings, creating social content for clients, and developing brand strategies — and repeat. Work usually ends around 6:30 p.m., and then I’ll eat and do an online Pilates class. From 8 till 10, I’ll make content for OnlyFans or Instagram, text subscribers, or promote my adult work on Reddit and other sites to generate traffic. I don’t publish much graphic content on OnlyFans; I’m mostly modelling in lingerie or barely-there clothing. I make most of my money from what we call “the girlfriend experience,” where I, in essence, play a subscriber’s digital girlfriend — posting cute selfies and suggestive videos, sending flirty texts, and checking in with them like a love interest would. I also do something I call “sexy storytime,” where I record myself verbalizing things that are turning me on or recounting a sexual experience that I think they’d enjoy listening to. I think making this sort of connection is important. Especially now, during a pandemic, when we’re feeling lonelier than ever.

My subscribers are quite generous. For example, I have an Amazon wishlist with items like snacks, sex toys, lingerie, and other things I’d love to have. I’m blessed to have two or three fans who keep an eye on this list and buy me everything the same week I add them. It’s a way for fans to show their appreciation, and it feels a little more personal than money. (Though I’ll gladly take that as well.) Sometimes subscribers really surprise me. I once had a random follower who, after we chatted for a while, expressed to me that his father was ill and he needed an escape. In one day, he spent $2,500 just on chatting with me. He was hurting and wanted to be lightly dominated by a woman. That’s probably the most I’ve ever gotten from a single client in a day.

I make money from “the girlfriend experience,” where I play a subscriber’s digital girlfriend — sending cute selfies, suggestive videos, and flirty texts.

When it comes to my spending, I’d like to think I’m the perfect combination of my parents, who are polar opposites when it comes to finances. My mother spends like crazy, whereas my father, a financial consultant, is quite frugal. (Duh.) I’m very big on budgets and make sure I save 20% of my earnings each month. I’m currently saving for retirement and have aspirations of opening a brick-and-mortar business.

My taxes are more or less the same as everyone else’s. Sadly, being mostly freelance, I don’t receive many benefits, and in my line of work, we aren’t usually allotted the same reductions as more, um, "vanilla" jobs.

More important than money, I work hard to promote inclusivity and acceptance of marginalized bodies. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when you think about how many people are unhappy with their physical selves. We live in a society in which the best thing that you can possibly be is thin. So, for me — someone who specifically goes against that idea to show that beauty, passion, and sexuality are ever-evolving and contain multitudes — to be successful, both financially and emotionally, is important. I don’t apologize for the way I look. I don’t make excuses.

My OnlyFans costs $15 a month, and the company takes 20% of all revenue made on the site. In less than a year, I made around $40,000.

Because I'm a fat woman, people seem to think it’s okay to sexually or verbally assault me as if it’s a compliment, which is kind of horrifying. But whenever somebody has something negative or nasty to say about my body, I don’t put up with it. It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to start an OnlyFans — to say, "You are going to pay to make these comments. I’m not going to accept them otherwise." I decided that if you want to sexualize my body, I’ll create a place for you to do that. Occasionally, somebody will act up and say something that I’m not okay with. Because I am so direct and do not put up with that type of behaviour, they either get scared off and leave me alone or pay me as an apology so that they’re still allowed to be in my presence. I take apologies in cash — literally.

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Admittedly, perceptions are beginning to change. I’ve been an influencer for roughly four years, and things have gotten much better in the past year. Creating body-positivity programs is a huge passion of mine as well. Before the pandemic, I held an event called the "Confidence Conference," where a number of fantastic speakers presented on different topics like fat advocacy, accessibility, and how the media makes us feel worse about our bodies. Sometimes being outspoken and visible doesn’t seem like enough, so I get a lot of satisfaction from throwing these events.

Andy, @andywithabig🍆

I’m a fairly average 20-year-old guy. I like music, video games, hanging out with my cat, and smoking weed. There is something that’s not so average about me: my 🍆 is 10 inches long.

Given this unique part of my anatomy, I figured I was destined for a lucrative career in porn, and I was right. What I didn’t anticipate was all the trouble I’d encounter along the way.

My family has always been a mess. We had no money. I was raised in Section 8 housing in North Carolina and barely had enough clothes to cover my back. The few outfits I did have were filthy. So I left and moved in with some friends at 15. I had nothing going for me at the time. No money. I wasn’t interested in college. My friends and I got bored and started doing some real stupid shit. We were robbing houses, breaking into cars, selling drugs, and stealing whatever we could get our hands on.

The lifestyle eventually caught up with me, and I went to a youth prison for armed robbery when we tried robbing a drug dealer. This experience changed my life forever. There were bugs in my cell and bugs in my food. It was disgusting, and I vowed I’d never go back. But while those were some of the worst days of my life, I wouldn’t be where I am now without them, so I can’t be too mad.

I’d take pictures of myself in the Starbucks bathroom on my break and make more money in 10 seconds than I did in an hour steaming lattes.

I was 17 years old and served just over a month before my lawyer got me on house arrest, which I was on for close to a year. Although I had been expelled from school, the judge ordered the school to let me back in, and I didn’t want this opportunity to go to waste. I buried my head in my books and graduated earlier than expected. The day I got off probation, I packed my car and fled North Carolina for a new life in South Florida with the little money I’d saved working part-time at Little Caesars.

History would soon repeat itself, and eventually, I welcomed more toxic people into my life. In Florida, I asked a girl I was dating to live with me. I worked at a Starbucks at the time, but that wasn’t cutting it, so we started fooling around on Chaturbate, a live sex website where performers get paid in “tokens” (a digital currency within the website that is transferred to cash) to perform sexual acts on webcam.

I liked my job at Starbucks. But as soon as we started making money on the internet, I put the barista gig on the back burner. I’d take pictures of my 🍆 in the Starbucks bathroom on break and make more in 10 seconds than I did in an hour steaming lattes. It wasn't long before I quit Starbucks to pursue porn full-time.

But Chaturbate was taking too much money — it paid us only 60% of our earnings and kept the rest. So we’d make around $150 to $200 a day for a one- or two-hour broadcast, which really wasn’t much when split between the two of us. We wanted (and deserved) much more money than we were making, so I created a Snapchat and asked viewers to add us when we were broadcasting together. After each broadcast, we’d have at least 400 to 500 new friend requests. When they’d add me, I would send them a rate menu, which would display the prices of particular videos or images of us. Once we started doing that, we made double — about $400 or more a day. Our record was $1,700 in one day. Finally, life felt comfortable.

I’ve had offers to do studio porn, but I don’t see the need for it. Straight male talent is lucky to earn $1,000 per scene, but a guy is more likely to earn $100 to $500 before travel and testing expenses.

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Then our relationship started to crumble. We argued all the time. Working and living together is rough — we could never get a break from one another. We resented each other, so the on-screen chemistry between us was gone and filming became a chore. So I kicked her out. Then she sent all of our porn videos to my family in a text message. It was really fucked up. I still hadn’t made friends in Florida, so I was feeling really down. It felt like I’d hit rock bottom. She was the star of the production and I was the stunt 🍆. Now that I was paying rent on my own, I could barely afford to feed myself.

Around this time, I met a girl who sold pictures of her feet on Instagram. She’d cultivated a considerable following and made a lot of money. I was intrigued, so I asked questions. She confirmed it was a lucrative gig that required little effort and advised that I do the same but with my 🍆. Since I couldn’t post my 🍆 on Instagram because of their conservative terms and censorship, which many believe unfairly targets sex workers and educators, I posted an NSFW video on Twitter. The post blew up and I got over 80,000 followers in under two months. I currently have over 221,000 on Twitter and over 10,000 on Instagram.

I created an OnlyFans account and started promoting the page on Twitter. For full access to my account, subscribers pay $15 per month, and OnlyFans takes 20% as a fee. Barely a year later, I’m earning five figures a month and maintain an average of 2,000 active monthly subscribers. I would never charge more for pay-per-view content on top of the subscription price (which many creators do) because it can make you look like you’re just in it for the money and you don’t actually enjoy what you do. I keep it simple with my $15 fee and post daily. My fans like watching me whip out my 🍆 and masturbate, so I do that a lot. But for variety, I’ll post videos of me having sex with women who are also on OnlyFans to cross-promote our pages or I’ll just post nude clips of me playing video games, working out, or in the shower. Whatever comes to mind, really.

The most I’ve ever made in a month is $25,000, and I’ve had a lot of $20,000 months this past year despite the pandemic. I think I can double what I made last year. The biggest names on OnlyFans can make tens of millions in a year. Easy. These are most often women who were already established in the adult industry and joined OnlyFans early. The platform has gotten oversaturated since the pandemic began and there is a lot more competition, which makes it difficult for newcomers to make a name for themselves.

The biggest names on OnlyFans can make tens of millions in a year. Easy.

Admittedly, I don’t do much with my money except buy weed and order Uber Eats. I do live in a much nicer home now that I rent with some friends, and I recently got myself a Benz. I’ve gotten offers to do studio porn, but I don’t see the need for it. Companies say straight male talent is lucky to earn $1,000 per scene, but a guy is more likely to earn $100 to $500 before travel and testing expenses, which the performer pays for himself. I earn way more than that without leaving my bedroom.

As soon as I started getting big, people from my past and present popped up, blowing up my phone, asking for all sorts of favours and money. Like I was a celebrity or an ATM. A few of the people closest to me have even stolen from me. Despite the hurdles and hardships, my life has never been better. That being said, I don’t think I will be a sex worker forever. I just turned 20, so I’ve got a lot of time to figure that out. But it’s hard to date in this profession, and I’m a sucker for love. I want a long-term relationship one day, and I don’t think I can do that when I’m posting nude videos of myself and being objectified online.

But for now, life is good. Money and I have a fantastic relationship, and I’m making sure that I’m saving for the future. For a guy who thought he’d be flipping burgers his entire life, I think I’m doing pretty well for myself. And I owe it all to my big 🍆.

Carly, @chloevenom

I’ve been a sex worker since I was 17, which means I’ve been doing this for about 16 years. (Okay, wow! That’s crazy to say it out loud.) I absolutely love what I do, but my story is a bit of a cautionary tale. I’m always concerned about how honest I should be. It starts this way. I had a pimp during the golden age of Craigslist’s erotic services, around 2004 to 2005.

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I wasn’t old enough to be doing what I was doing, but I was an early bloomer, so no one ever questioned it. I didn’t like somebody else determining my worth, but whenever I’d express desires about leaving or working on my own, my pimp would blackmail me and threaten to dox me. He eventually followed through with his threat and posted all of my dorm information when I was in college. I’d never been more scared in my life. After some serious introspection, I decided I would not let this man dox me any more than he already had, so I told my mother that I was a sex worker and she was very supportive. She just felt terrible for what I’d been through.

My mother was in recovery my entire childhood, so we lived with my grandparents most of the time. Thankfully, she did get back on her feet, but her addiction transitioned from drugs to shopping. She’d buy pounds and pounds of elaborate costume jewellery from eBay and HSN, and seemingly overnight, she became the biggest Beatles collector I’d ever known. So even when times were good, we were still in financial straits. I can honestly say that I’ve never been financially comfortable in my life. I’m not sure if any of this has influenced my spending, but what I do know is that I’m something of a food hoarder — I always like to be fully stocked in case something happens.

Celebrity influencers just have different rules. They can charge anywhere from $20 to $50 a month, whereas others (hi, me again) cannot.

I’d like to be making more, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen. Here’s why. While I absolutely love what OnlyFans has done for sex workers, not all OnlyFans creators are treated equally. For example, some people — who have a very particular look and/or audience — can freely advertise their OnlyFans on TikTok and elsewhere, whereas others, such as myself, cannot. I wish I knew why some people can post their nipples on social media and I can’t post cleavage without it getting flagged and removed. What I will say is that some people can get away with things that others cannot. There is no reason or explanation for it. It just happens. Celebrity influencers have different rules. These same people can charge anywhere from $20 to $50 a month, whereas others (hi, me again) cannot. Often these people have massive existing platforms and will launch an OnlyFans because they know their followers will pay to see them naked. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy that people can charge high prices. But as someone who's been doing sex work for so long and has all the tools and education at my disposal, I can’t, and that feels like a slap in the face. The playing field will never be level.

Here’s my explanation for why that is. The name itself — OnlyFans — is very telling. The only way you’ll make money on the platform is if you have a large fan base already. OnlyFans doesn’t have a way for users to find creators, so unless you have an existing fan base to scoop from another platform, it’s impossible — or at least very difficult — to cultivate a following. That’s how and why the popular people on OnlyFans take advantage of newbies and less popular creators. They make you pay to advertise on their profile, becoming greedy gatekeepers on the platform. They have the audience you want, and you’re going to have to pay handsomely for that access. Scammers with large followings will charge other sex workers hundreds of dollars to advertise on their OnlyFans by posting one measly picture. We shouldn’t be gatekeeping each other. We should all be in the same boat helping each other. It drives me fucking crazy!

But OnlyFans is just a part-time job for me; the majority of my work still involves sex. My main freelancing gig is with a sex-toy company called Spectrum Boutique. I write blog posts, compile sales reports, answer emails, bring in new products, and other things of that nature. It’s a bunch of little jobs that fall under the “customer service and merchandising” umbrella. All in all, I make about $2,400 a month doing this and another $800 in social media services for other companies. I’ve been working with sex-toy retailers for years. Not long after I graduated from college, I was hired as a supervisor at a sex shop. I loved the job, especially when I got to teach workshops. I started a blog as a resource that people could visit to learn more. This would eventually lead to my profession as a sex educator. I mostly teach about sex through blogs and social media, usually Instagram and TikTok. My goal is to let everybody know that all the things they’re doing sexually — be it solo exploration through toys, discovering queerness, or sex work — are completely normal, as long as consent is involved.

I make about $100 a month through OnlyFans, though at the height of the pandemic, I was making double that. The pandemic helped people see how important our work is.

As a freelancer, I have money coming in from a whole bunch of different places, and it feels like I’m always chasing what I’m owed. For instance, there’s currently money on PornHub that I can’t access because you need at least $100 before you can cash out. PornHub operates a lot like YouTube — creators earn roughly 60 cents for every view on their videos, and they can be tipped through the site and sell locked videos via their own online store as well. My videos range anywhere from $3 to $15. I sell them on ManyVids as well since they can be accessed more organically and don’t have to be searched for. I make about $50 a month from these sales.

Similar to Pornhub, OnlyFans will only pay you out if you’ve earned at least $20. So, unless you have hundreds of people subscribing every month, you really don’t know when you’re going to get paid. I make about $100 a month through OnlyFans, though at the height of the pandemic, I was making double that. The same was true for a lot of creators. The pandemic helped people see how important our work is.

Since I have nearly 10,000 Instagram followers, I also get paid for sponsored content. I can make anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on the month. It really fluctuates. I hate camming. The last time I was on, I made 50 cents in two hours, and the only person watching said they loved me because I looked mature. So I was basically paid 50 cents to get called old. But, hey, at least the guy paid something.

I also want to make a point about ethical porn. It refers to content that is consensually made and, ideally, being paid for by the user. But even if it’s free, try to tip to show your appreciation. With unethical porn, the person may not have known that they were being filmed or may not have consented to what was taking place. If you haven’t paid for it, the content has likely been ripped from a paysite, and the people who created it aren’t getting paid for their work. It’s definitely something you should consider the next time you consume porn. I also encourage you to venture beyond the mainstream as well since there are many talented creators out there who aren’t being recognized for their work, and your support would go a long, long way.

Bobby Box is a Toronto-based journalist and sex educator. He is the sex columnist at Grindr, and his work has appeared in NewNowNext, Them., Toronto Star, Playboy, The Globe and Mail, Askmen, and many more.

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