On OnlyFans, Porn Is Personal

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When the porn industry essentially shut down overnight last March, queer adult film star Michael Boston did what many in the business were doing: He joined OnlyFans. The 26-year-old went from professional studio lighting to creating, directing, and marketing his own content.

The move turned out to be quite lucrative.

“I’ve been able to buy more shoes and live comfortably in this new house I just moved into in L.A. because of my OnlyFans revenue,” says Boston. He estimates he’s made tens of thousands of dollars from the site — his large fan base gained from an illustrious studio career helped.

NSFW “fan content” websites — such as Just For Fans, Manyvids, and, of course, the juggernaut of them all, OnlyFans — have enjoyed a boom in popularity amid Covid-19. In March 2020, Mashable reported OnlyFans had 26 million registered users. By August 2020, Variety reported that the number had nearly doubled to 50 million in less than six months.

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Unlike traditional studio porn where watchers are subjected to what companies deem to be worthwhile positions, bodies, and fantasies, OnlyFans puts the power back in the hands of creators and subscribers. This new digital space allows people to explore sex work and body positivity, as well as have a more intimate, personal connection with performers. Users can cater their porn consumption to match their sexual fantasies, desires, and preferences — akin to, say, how playlists are made on popular music streaming services.

Boston says his self-shot-and-produced content shows his fans he’s a real person, not just a body on the screen.

“There are fans of mine I talk to almost daily, who boost my confidence, and I boost theirs,” Boston says. “I feel really connected to them, which is something I can’t say happens with studio porn. I can cater content to what they want and get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Plus, who doesn’t like to be told they’re sexy as fuck on a daily basis?”

Making the kind of money he makes hasn’t come without hard work: Boston is responsible for producing, editing, uploading, and marketing content. With the platform taking on average 20% of his gross earnings (a common commission rate shared by many creators on the platform), it’s vital he gets his work in front of a large audience effectively and connects with them enough that they want to pay.

“You have to kind of be a jack of all trades these days,” Boston says. “You can’t just expect your account to make money lying around on the internet.”

Boston uses sites like Pornhub to post short clips to entice new subscribers on OnlyFans. He notes Twitter is by far the most sex-positive of the major social media companies, allowing him to post and market his content without too much worry of getting flagged or removed entirely.

Fan content seems to be more diverse than studio production overall, but OnlyFans is still plagued by Eurocentric beauty standards and heteronormativity.

“The homepage on OnlyFans still seems skewed toward more straight creators, so sometimes I feel my profile gets buried in an algorithm,” Boston says.

LGBTQIA advocate, fashion designer, and Latinx adult film star Boomer Banks agrees, saying, “If you’re white, and you have a body, people will pay for you to show it off.”

Another challenge is dealing with the overshadowing celebrity culture that’s managed to flood the platform. OnlyFans is famous for featuring people like Cardi B and popular YouTubers on their homepage and explore pages, while largely ignoring the sex workers that make up the backbone of the platform. Gen Z star Bella Thorne reportedly made more than $1 million in a week, and MTV’s Tana Mongeau has previously boasted on Instagram about earning $3 million in a month. (Her most requested and expensive content? Feet pics.)

Nonetheless, lesser-known entertainers continue to join and grow their audiences on the site.

“I saw people are making money on this platform, and I saw it as an opportunity there,” Banks says. Regardless of where his adult content is posted, Banks believes strongly in “self-accountability” and boundary setting. “You have to have your own house in order to get everything else together to make a career like this not only get off the ground but have longevity. I’ve been sober for over 15 years, and having that level of self-accountability and life experience has been so important.”

JetSettingJasmine, co-founder of Royal Fetish Films, is another performer who shifted to OnlyFans during the pandemic. “We’re still on every platform you can imagine and we’ve pivoted our live shows to cam shows, while also taking advantage of digital audio services, like podcasts,” she says.

Jasmine partners with Pineapple Support, which provides sex-positive therapy to adult film workers and generally works to dismantle stigmas against sex work.

“If we can use our fingers to type out documents, our biceps to pick up trash, then we should be able to use the more intimate parts of our bodies as a means to sustain ourselves,” Jasmine says. “Some people find sex work as an alternative to dead-end jobs. It’s all about highlighting your strengths and problem-solving to navigate an ever-changing world, but doing so in a safe and legal way is crucial.”

As the pandemic forced performers to go entirely online, Jasmine helped people navigate the transition to building an OnlyFans career.

OnlyFans continues to offer content creators the ability to tailor media to fans. Jasmine says it’s been “incredibly satisfying” for entertainers to curate specific fan content or include in DMs to subscribers. (Fans can pay extra for these DMs; subscribers can also send a tip for what content they’d like to see.)

An overarching lesson I learned talking to people for this story: OnlyFans has broken down walls between adult performers and consumers of their work, supporting creators and giving fans a glimpse into the lives of people they pleasure themselves to.

I know that gets me off.

Source: thebolditalic.com

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