What is ‘OnlyFans’?
As you are doubtless aware, you have opened quite a can of worms here. (NOTE: I have slightly altered the spelling in your question, to conform more closely to the actual name-brand to which I think you are referring.)
I myself have never had — or even seen — an OnlyFans account, so my report here is based purely on other forms of research. Actual OnlyFans account-holders can probably do a better job of reportage than I. Maybe we will receive some helpful input, in the comments below, from those who know more about all this.
Before going further, I hasten to say: my lack of first-hand experience using OnlyFans is not to say that I share the opinions of those who disparage sex-workers (on whom, more below), nor of those who disparage pornography per se. Porn, especially, is a highly controversial and hotly contested topic; and it deserves its own book-length study, or many of them — not just a simple Quora or Wikipedia entry. But for now I will just say that ‘pornography’ is, in itself, a complex category: there can be morally-good porn, morally-bad porn, and probably morally-neutral pornography, as well as aesthetically good or bad (or ‘meh’) porn. Those who form moral judgments on any of this should be aware that their evaluation of porn is inevitably rooted in, and shaped by, their larger worldview — including their own basic notions of what sex itself is. That, in turn, will be rooted (whether they realize this or not) in their own basic notions about the body and about human nature. It will also reflect their ideas about the nature, function, and ethics of art. (I told you this was complicated.) Some questions that will help my gentle reader orient him/herself to this debate, or nexus of debates, include:
• Are humans basically good, basically evil, or morally neutral in themselves?
• Is the human body basically good, basically evil, or morally neutral in itself?
• Am I my body? what constitutes the self, and where is it located? Is my body my ‘self’? If not wholly constitutive of ‘me,’ is my body part of me?
• Is sex an essentially good thing, an essentially evil thing, or neither? If potentially ‘good,’ in what context(s) is that possible?
• Must all sexual behavior be private? If not, in what context(s) is it appropriate and/or good for it not to be private? If not entirely private, who should be allowed to observe the sexual behavior of others, and under what circumstances?
— and so on, and on. Again: I told you this was complicated!
Those whose lives revolve less around social media may not be aware of the many Internet platforms on which video content — whether pre-recorded or live — can be displayed. There is Youtube, of course, one of the giants; in an earlier and more innocent era, there was Vine. Short video clips (if they are properly ‘sanitized’) can be displayed on Tumblr. Instagram and Snapchat allow for both still and moving images as well as text. And now there is the wildly popular (and controversial) Tiktok, which has occupied roughly the same space that Vine used to occupy. (Tiktok is ‘controversial’ because it is owned ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company founded in 2012; the controversy surrounds whether and to what extent the PRC government can/does tap into Tiktok content for the purposes of surveillance via data-harvesting. Again: material for quite another conversation, and a lengthy one.)
In 2016, a London-based company named Fenix International Ltd launched a new content-subscription service called OnlyFans. A ‘content-creator’ can quickly and fairly easily start his/her own account, upload content (typically visual images, whether still or moving) to that page, and charge viewers — the eponymous ‘fans’ — for access to it. Charges can, I believe, be made on a one-time basis, a pay-per-view basis, or a recurring monthly basis. There is also, I believe, the option of tipping the content-creator, but whether this can only occur in real time (i.e. during a live performance), or at any point (i.e. even for pre-recorded materials), I do not know.
There is no a-priori reason why a content-subscription service should be principally sexual in its content, nor for that matter principally graphic or even visual. It would be possible, for example, for Youtube to be made 100% subscription-only — restricting all Youtube videos to those who pay a subscription. Or they could conceivably create levels of subscription: a lower level for audio content only, and a higher one for audio+visual. And so on.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that OnlyFans is used not just by ‘adult entertainers’ (our somewhat tight-lipped euphemism for sex-workers), but also by professional fitness coaches, by cosplay fans, and even by celebrities in various fields, including Blac Chyna, Mikaela Spielberg, The-Dream, and Safaree Samuels and Erica Mena. That said, the subscription ‘paywall’ — what is now known in the biz as monetization, though that term also has other, older meanings — presents literally the price of entry, and affords the content-creator (incuding sex-workers) a revenue stream from their account, and perhaps some legal shelter against charges of obscenity. (The laws governing that may vary from nation to nation and, in the US, from state to state; I am not sure.)
There is, by all accounts, quite a robust (and burgeoning) ‘adult-entertainment‘ dimension to OnlyFans. The 2020 coronovirus pandemic — which has put people around the globe into various degrees of physical distancing, up to and including complete quarantine — has caused the number of people sharing ‘adult’ content on OnlyFans to rise by an estimated 42%. Poignant testimony to the fact that we humans are social animals: we need to interact, in various ways, with other humans, including sexually. For some people — pandemic or no pandemic — a ‘virtual’ or online-only experience may be their only recourse for sexual interaction with others. For others, who cannot find work (or choose not to work) outside the home, a content-subscription account (on OnlyFans or some other site) may be the best (or even their only) source of income.
Regardless of one’s responses to the ‘worldview’ questions I posed above, one thing that can be unambiguously said is this: an Internet site, including content-subscription services such as OnlyFans, certainly removes some of the dangers that may confront those who seek sexual interaction. By ‘dangers’ I mean not just the danger of physical violence, but also the danger of sexually-transmitted diseases. (At the same time, a move to the Internet may itself introduce some different types of danger, such as a potential for breach-of-privacy that could extend far beyond the moment of interaction itself. Always remember the fundamental fact: The Internet is Forever.)
Another thing: a content-subscription service such as OnlyFans undeniably grants more agency to the content-creator. This agency manifests in several regards: most simply, it affords the content-creator more freedom over what content to create, over when and where to make it available, and over how much to charge for it.
It does not, of course, omit the ‘middle[wo]man’ — namely, in sexual-transaction contexts, the ‘pimp’ or ‘madam’ or ‘procurer.’ In this case, OnlyFans itself is of course the middle[wo]man. But — unlike procurers who molest, abuse, and/or financially exploit sex-workers in more traditional (face-to-face) arrangements — an Internet platform such as OnlyFans is not only safer but arguably also more equitable. (The same may also hold true for other content-subscription sites such as justfor.fans and for sites that include some free content, such as Pornhub and Chaturbate: again, those who are more expert than I in all this can perhaps enlighten us in the comments section.)
Megan Thee Stallion (born Megan Pete) is a rapper from Texas whose career-star is rising. OnlyFans got a nod (and, reportedly, a 15% boost in traffic) when Beyoncé, who is featured in a remix of Megan’s ‘Savage,’ sang the lyrics that mention the subscription platform:
Hips tick-tock when I dance
On that demon time she might start a OnlyFans
Big B and that B stand for bands
If you wanna see some real ass baby here’s your chance
I said left cheek, right cheek
Drop it low and then swang
Texas up in this thang
Put you up on this game […]
(Note, too, the metaphoric reference to Tiktok in the first line cited here. And Demon Time in this context, according to Zachary Harris, consists of ‘late-night Instagram Live streams featuring a rotating cast of women—usually made anonymous by a ski or superhero mask—performing for hordes of thirsty viewers. Demon Time is the 😈 smiling purple demon emoji personified. Think table dances at your favorite strip club, but surrounded by streaming 💕 heart emojis and an Instagram audience in the hundreds of thousands.’)
The fact that the Queen Bey herself nods specifically to OnlyFans in these lyrics, along with sly winks at Tiktok and Instagram, is pretty good prima facie evidence that OnlyFans is the premier platform of its kind.
This is not just a complex topic: it is also a huge one. I can do no more than scrape the surface here. The simplest way for you, gentle reader, to become more expert regarding OnlyFans is probably to subscribe to it. For those who, like me, have yet to do so, there is an ever-growing cornucopia of information about OnlyFans (and other such sites) online. Whether you want to try your own hand at posting content on OnlyFans, or would simply like to know more about the whole phenomenon, here are just a few links to get you started:
OnlyFans – Wikipedia
HOW I MAKE MONEY ON ONLYFANS (TIPS & TRICKS)
HOW TO MAKE THOUSANDS USING ONLYFANS
I TRIED ONLYFANS FOR A WEEK AND MADE $_____ MUCH MONEY!!
ALL ABOUT MY ONLYFANS ACCOUNT
IS ONLYFANS DELETING SEX WORKERS’ ACCOUNTS?
Sex Workers Built OnlyFans. Now They Say They’re Getting Kicked Off
Bear in mind, too, that content-creators on one platform will regularly post notices on others: for example, an OnlyFans creator may go on Twitter or FB or Instagram to mention that s/he has added new content to h/er OnlyFans account; that s/he is currently running a special discount on the subscription cost; and so on.
Finally, bear in mind that — as I am fond of pointing out — Google is your friend! (Or, better yet, DuckDuckGo, if you prefer to protect your Internet-search history at least to some extent.) The landscape of this phenomenon is changing very rapidly indeed; and a search-engine will help you keep pace with the changes even faster than Wikipedia — or Quora. Hopefully this modest entry will, however, equip you with at least some of the search parameters you might find useful for this topic, whenever you venture onto a search-engine to explore it further.