With pirated and amateur pornography widely available online, pornography no longer provides a consistent source of revenue for many in the adult industry. During my investigation, I met transsexual porn actors in Las Vegas, and the overwhelming majority of those interviewed stated that they now rely on a range of different revenue streams in addition to the standard porno session with a studio.
Today, being a porn star frequently entails a variety of sex professions, from selling self-produced clips to providing phone sex services, being an escort, caring for “sugar daddies” (ie, rich, usually older men), or “camming” on the internet. Previously thought to be unworthy of many porn stars’ time, utilizing escort cams from the comfort of one’s own home to broadcast oneself masturbating or having sex has emerged as a popular option.
Indeed, whereas pre-recorded porn such as DVDs, pay sites, and clips produced twice as much income than camming just 15 years ago, that ratio has now been flipped. The camming industry is expected to produce $2 billion in annual income in 2018.
The daily life of a cam performer “Camming” is similar to an online strip show in which the cam performer uses their computer’s webcam to put on a performance for everyone in their chat room. The performer usually establishes tipping goals, and the more people tip by donating tokens, the more things happen on screen.
Typically, it entails a variety of sex gadgets and, eventually, orgasms, but many of the shows get very imaginative. They may include fortune wheels and costumes, as well as “couple shows” involving partners and special appearances by other cam performers.
During the show, viewers have the opportunity to chat with the cam performer, frequently requesting sexual actions and other times simply asking them questions about their lives. There are no hard and fast rules about the length and nature of a cam show, although it often lasts between one and four hours. Many of my informants in Las Vegas filmed for two to six hours per day, multiple times per week.
Cam performers typically run sessions in intervals, timed to match with working hours in major east coast cities such as New York and Chicago: one cam show in the morning just before workplaces open, one during lunch break, and one just before employees go home to their families.
Pornography’s Changing Structure
Porn actors in the industry are often hired and compensated on a shoot-by-shoot basis. Trans women in porn typically earn between $800 and $1,200 for a sex scene involving penetration (which is slightly higher than the average cisgender performer, but lower than the highest-paid cisgender stars). The quantity of shots, on the other hand, varies greatly. A performer may be hired up to six times every month (or more in some cases), but they may not be booked at all in other months.
Camming is thriving and is here to stay.
pornstar cams have shown to be more resistant to piracy than studio pornography, owing to the intimate nature of cam presentations. “For many fans, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with their favorite porn actor,” one participant said. “That’s not something kids acquire from conventional porn.”