Camgirl Confessions

 photo by @rbbnbl

photo by @rbbnbl

BY ANONYMOUS

A few years ago, for a few hours each night, I became a different person. She was confident, seductive, adventurous, and could be submissive or dominant – whatever you wanted, really. Her name was Lexy and she was my alter-ego come to life.

I, on the other hand, was unsure of myself, getting over a breakup, struggling to make ends meet at my underpaid internship and on not-so-great terms with my family. My student loans were coming due and I was buying groceries on my credit card. I had burned through my savings after travelling far and wide to “find myself,” and found myself in a difficult situation.

I don’t really remember how it started. Somehow I found out there was a way people would pay you to text them, anonymously, kind of like phone sex but without the talking. It was fun and I was basically already sexting random guys from Tinder so it wasn’t a big deal. At a time when I was constantly second-guessing myself, I craved the attention and the validation.

But it wasn’t much money, and there were always more expenses. For anyone familiar with Reddit, you might’ve heard of /r/sexsells. If you have a fetish, there’s a girl (or guy) out there ready to sell you anything you could desire. Dirty panties? Check. Socks? Check. Pubic hair clippings? That’s a thing. I remember looking at my laundry basket and thinking “how much could this be worth?” So I took some pictures, posted a listing and soon was sending packages to horny men in Nowhere, USA. This dirty secret was exhilarating, but it still wasn’t enough.

Curiosity got the best of me one night and I ended up lurking one of those live camming sites. I watched girls like me chat with internet strangers and undress themselves in their bedrooms as they reached their “tip goals.” How could anyone do this? I thought. What if someone recognizes them?

Somehow it stuck at the back of my mind. Not long after, I went back to the site. I learned that for every “token,” the girl made 5 cents. These girls were getting thousands of tokens. Whether it was truly out of financial strain or I was simply looking for a little adventure, Lexy was officially born.

I wasn’t brave enough to broadcast to the whole world just yet– so I started a bit smaller. I took some pictures (no face showing) and put an ad on Reddit for Skype shows. I charged $2/minute and created a Paypal account in Lexy’s name. I decided to show my face on camera (at least they have to pay to see it, I thought).

What I didn’t expect was how much I actually enjoyed it. Sure, random guys wanted to see me masturbate. But I was their fantasy. Their dream girl. I had spent much of my young life chasing guys that weren’t interested in me and for once I was the unattainable one. Or rather, Lexy was.

I quickly gained a following and my bills were getting paid. I got more serious about camming and invested in an expensive HD webcam, which paid for itself the first night I used it. I bought new toys, lingerie, and skimpy outfits. I upped my fee to $3/minute and could make in a weekend what I earned in a month at my day job.

Most guys would book 10-15 minutes, so I developed a bit of a choreographed routine. I saved my orgasms for the longer shows (otherwise it would get exhausting very quickly!) The majority of guys I interacted with were close to my age, respectful, and some were pretty cute. Not quite the stereotype you might expect.

It was an outlet for me to explore my sexuality and push my boundaries. Do I like dirty talk? (Not really). How do I feel about nipple clamps? (Never again). Can I do roleplay? (As long as it’s not about incest, rape, or underage fantasies). And perhaps most popular… Can I do JOI (Jerk Off Instructions)? (Let me just watch a Jerk Off Instruction instruction video first).

Before a night of camming, I would pump myself up and let my Lexy out. I blasted Britney Spears’ Work Bitch, did my hair and makeup, put on cute lingerie and picked an outfit that would be easy to get in and out of, over and over again.

In the mornings I would drag myself to work, trying to guess the secret kinks of the passengers on the subway.

I got to know more about my clients’ lives, and revealed more about myself. I was an escape for them, a way to wind down. I prided myself in calming the nerves of new-comers… many were shy and I would laugh with them about the absurdity of it all. As if to say, relax, we’re not doing anything wrong.

I felt empowered by the fact that I had something they wanted, that they were willing to pay me for, on my own terms and from the comfort of my own bedroom. Women are objectified every day, but when we turn the camera on ourselves and we’re the ones in charge, it can feel transformative.

Certainly the highlight of the Reddit sex work game was getting invited into a private message board of “Sexy Sellers” as we called ourselves. It was an incredibly supportive space to share ideas and experiences (and memes, and cat pics). Many of us had nobody to talk to about our work in our offline lives. We posted warnings about annoying or scammy clients, agreed on pricing schemes (for anything you could imagine), arranged collaborations, discussed payment options and how to do our taxes, as well as just random hobbies (PC building, gaming, etc). We got feedback on how to improve our listings and our online safety. It was nevercatty or competitive.

Camming was the fastest (and easiest) money I’ve ever made, and it was addictive. I went from walking across town to save on subway fares to buying whatever I wanted (mentally calculating how many minutes of camming something was worth).  Apart from the money, it was something I looked forward to. I would even skip out on social events, thinking of the opportunity cost of a lost night of work.

In my daily life I had the reputation of someone shy and studious, but Lexy increasingly began to show herself in the daylight. At times, I would have to deal with harassment, time-wasting, or otherwise disrespectful behaviour online. But the great thing about being a camgirl is you can easily block and blacklist, without wasting a moment of energy on someone not worth your time (time=money, of course). So when people tried to get the best of me in the daytime I took on the same approach, cutting contact when necessary. Under typical circumstances I might’ve been concerned with what they might think of me, not wanting to be “rude” or “impolite.”

But it wasn’t long before something I had been ignoring eventually took its toll. Apart from the occasional payment via Bitcoin or even an Amazon e-giftcard, my income mainly came through the Paypal account in Lexy’s name, which I then transferred to my real account (in my real name) connected to my personal bank account. I knew from the discussion among the Sexy Sellers that Paypal was a bad payment method for us, but not living in the US, my options were limited. Plus, certain things you just think will never happen to you… until it does.

You know those Terms of Service you’re supposed to read when you sign up for something? They mean business. Under Paypal’s “Prohibited Activities,” it states that “you may not use the Paypal service for… certain sexually oriented materials or services.” This very vague statement has been haunting the adult industry for a long time (check out this piece from the Huffington Post). After a few months of serious camming, all my Paypal accounts were frozen, including the money I had in them. I tried to protest by contacting Paypal directly, and they responded with a humiliating email in which they linked my Reddit camshow listing (nude gifs and all), as if to say you thought you could outsmart us? Look at THIS, oh- and we know your real name and your banking information. Gotcha!  FML.

Now, you might think this would have made me curl up into the fetal position and never turn on a webcam again, but Lexy wasn’t backing down. I joined Myfreecams, the live cam site that first inspired me into camming in the first place. I also signed up for CamModelDirectory, which managed my Skype activity (for a fee, but for the extra traffic and not having to deal with payments, it was worth it).

Myfreecams was a whole new level. I left my comfort zone of the 10-15 minute routine and found myself having to entertain a crowd of chatty strangers for hours at a time. As a new girl to the site, my profile was promoted on the front page and it drew a lot of traffic. I made over $1000 my first week, before the “new girl” sheen began to wear off and it became more difficult to gain followers.

CamModelDirectory was better in that sense, as I could maintain my Reddit following and I preferred the intimacy of one-on-one sessions. Before my profile went on the site, I had a great (fully-clothed) Skype call with the site’s owner. I liked having a personal connection to a ‘manager’ of sorts, who would quickly respond to any concerns. He understood my Paypal woes, since he had them to thank for most of his business.

Altogether I kept it up off-and-on for about a year. Looking back on my cam model times, I can put it into perspective. I regularly pick up new hobbies or “side hustles” and get intensely involved in them for several months, before forgetting all about it.

But this time it was harder to forget. I later found out that my sessions on Myfreecams had all been recorded and posted on another website to be downloaded and rewatched at any time. When I first discovered this, I felt violated and ashamed. But like the Paypal incident, I knew it could happen. Just not to me, I hoped.

I also knew that anyone might be able to recognize me. But I always pushed it to the back of my mind, thinking “why condemn a girl for doing some kind of sex work, if the reason you found her was because you went looking for it?” Supply and demand, people. You wanted a service, I provided it.

But I have to admit, it still haunts me. I haven’t even told those closest to me about this part of my past, lumping it in with my Tinder hookups under “details that don’t need to be discussed.” Thankfully I haven’t been outed, but the shame I carry still prevents me from applying to any jobs with an extensive background check. Eventually I was able to get my money back from Paypal (not easy when it’s under a fake name), but I’m still banned. 

Yet at the same time, I don’t regret it. Maybe if I could go back I would do things a little differently and be a bit more careful. But would I have avoided it altogether? Probably not.

Lexy wouldn’t let me.

Jessica Salgueiro