A web cam performer known as SophieX recently agreed to write about her experience in the industry under the condition that we not use her real name. This is her story.
That's me on the screen.
The cock and the hand belong to a man with an extreme belly fetish, which is why only my stomach is exposed. He's paying me $50 an hour to show my belly, caress it, and slowly lift my shirt up and down. $75 to do the same after I just ate. I liked him because he was easy, and would pay up without hassle.
I started camming during a state of burnout. It was a combination of some sane reasons (easy money, working from home, etc.) and some not so sane ones — the desire to attain control, my fucked up drive to delve into dark things, and perhaps as a way to exercise my hyper sexuality. Desensitization has always been one of my favorite pasttimes; this was not my first foray into sex work. Webcamming, however, is a whole different animal.
The operation was run out of a sleazy, though surprisingly clean, little studio somewhere deep in the San Fernando Valley. Porn imagery covered the walls from floor to ceiling. The employees were dudes in various states of arrested development, like teenage masturbation addicts recently kicked out of their mothers’ basements. All the while, shamelessly naked little 18-plus year old girls were camming out in the open.
Before they allow you to perform at home, you have to do your first two sessions in the studio. The staffers encouraged me to perform in front of them — the private rooms were just “a false sense of security,” they explained — after all, they did have full free access to all cam shows. But I knew these guys got off on seeing it live, watching the girls break their original threshold, so I wanted to piss them off. I stayed in my booth. They had no choice but to remain “professional,” hiding their anger behind blank faces.
While I worked, I could hear the girl in the booth next to mine. I tried to be sexy and focused, ignoring her cheesy moans, and yes, farts, because that’s what her client wanted. Somehow, even though I spent the shift resisting laugher at the sounds emanating from next door, I developed a clientele of 200 viewers on that first day, and walked out with $400 in just three hours.
I got through my first two days easy enough and was allowed to switch to working at home, swearing to myself I would never go back to that depressing K hole in the valley. I knew it would sink its depraved claws into my psyche if I hung out there too often. Still, those first couple days were exciting. A bunch of dudes paying money to watch your exhibitionist self get off is very hot at first.
Once I hit my rhythm, however, I kept wondering, “Why isn't this hitting me harder?” A zillion strangers watching for hours. Some of the more popular sites, like the one I was on, employed a seemingly infinite amount of women all over the world. About half my clients were returning, but the other half were always new men. There were few couples and even fewer women. The endless traffic of faceless males became monotonous.
You might be wondering, at this point, if I regretted it, or felt embarrassed about it. It was truly a dirty little secret that I told no one. Part of me wanted one of my friends to stumble into my room, while another part of me felt shameful that at 27, I was still unhappy enough to search for such lulls.
As the hours piled up, I developed a useless (though entertaining) skill — deciphering what men want sexually. More often than not, most would beat around the bush by mentioning just the opposite of what they were actually into. For example: “Hey, I bet you like guys with really big dicks right?” Naturally, in the beginning, you want to say no for the sake of winning the popular vote, but then you learn what they really want is for you to talk about how much you love big dicks, and hate small dicks, because they are S.M.P (small penis humiliation) fetishists. They want their “little dicks” to be exposed, degraded, and mocked.
Another example, of the more extreme variety: “Wouldn't it be gross if you saw a guy suck his own dick??” The correct answer is of course, “I would love it if you sucked your dick for me — it would really turn me on.” It ends up being pretty darn entertaining, especially when you make them swallow.
Next page: How I Finally Had Enough
One day, I was at home working when all of a sudden my internet unexpectedly dropped. I was in the middle of a show, and by this point, I lived a half-turned-on/half brain-dead existence. A young and attractive cable/internet boy arrived at my door. He was in one room of my apartment fixing the router, and I was in the trying to log into the wireless. Once I was able to, I told my viewers that there was a hot internet guy in the other room and hit the “Gold Show” button. A Gold Show occurs when you list something (anything) that you are willing to do for a certain amount of money. You then get bidders willing to pay up to see it. I titled the show “Should I Seduce The Cable Guy?” and set the amount for $500 bucks. Almost instantly, I got a bidder for $600.
The Gold Show started and the Internet boy came in to my room to tell me he was finished. My heart was racing with so much extreme adrenaline I could have orgasmed right there. I told him, “You know, I actually do webcam and would love to fuck around with you while streaming, would you be down?” He stared at me, then crept over to me like some kind of slow-motion porn. I began to blow him, then he fingered me until I came, and I collected my $600.
After he left, I thought, “Was that my first porn?” Indeed, shortly after the show, the agency called. “Any chance you'd give porn a try?”
I lived in a shitty apartment in Echo Park. The wiring was so old that even after fucking the cable guy the Internet dropped again a week later. By this point, I had quit my stupid server job and was camming full time. I had to call the agency and ask if I could work in their office for the day. “Whatever,” I thought to myself. “I'll throw them their stupid fucking cookie this time…”
I arrived in the deep hot valley and stepped into their office. One of the seven horny dwarves who worked there, the nice one (I thought of him as “Bashful Horny”), was the only one there and he knew not to get stupid with me. He set up my private room without hassle or “suggesting” I do it in the open.
My shows up to that point were limited to clitoral masturbation, dirty talk, finger banging, small penis humiliation, showers, pissing, and a one-time shit. No sex toys, no real fucking (besides the cable guy). But that day, I couldn't get in the mood. Horny men behind computer screens are surprisingly perceptive — my mood always had a major impact on how the customers talked to me, no matter how hard I tried to fake it.
After a couple of painful hours of trying to satisfy frustrated customers, I stepped out to use the restroom. Grumpy Horny Dwarf had returned from lunch, and stopped me in the hallway. He had been watching my shows.
“Can I make a suggestion?” he said.
“No.” I said.
“You might enjoy yourself more if you use one of these.” He held up a box of used sex toys, mostly vibrating dildos.
I shuffled through the box and bitchily respond,“Do you ever clean these?”
“Oh look,” he pointed to one with the small rip on the side, “This one has herpes.”
I was disgusted, then filled the urge to delve deeper into the darkness. I took an 8-incher into my room.
Seven hours later I left the studio in a daze. I had pretty much been getting fucked for seven hours, was crazy sore, and felt numbed and drained. This time was different than the others, I had done a number to myself for the sake of entertainment.
It's insane how deeply captivated the viewers were. It's almost like they knew that I was going to feel this way, like I'd been virtually fucked by the mind of the viewers.
I felt cornered. Sure, I came a couple of times, but that was in the first two hours, the following five hours was all for them. That day I couldn't justify the money I'd made to do what I did. It felt like two very different things that no longer satisfied each other, an unfair trade-off.
That day, my hypersexual drive burned out which, I suspect, is what I'd been looking for the whole time. I was done. Men checking me out in public no longer felt like a confidence boost. My vanity had been destroyed from seeing myself day after day on the screen.
A travel opportunity came up at just the right time, and I told myself I was off camming. My profile is still up, but I haven’t logged back on in two years.
I got what I needed. The dwarves will never get enough. They never contacted me wondering where I went. They let me drift away, just another body in a sea of online sex.
Public Spectacle, L.A. Weekly's arts & culture blog, on Facebook and Twitter: