Influencers, Celebrities And Sex Work
Written: Sep 2020 -PSR
Influencers are generally considered to be anyone who has amassed enough of a following, that they can leverage to make branding or sponsorship deals with companies, or create their own business.
With the semi-recent advent of being able to directly sell and distribute your own porn, some influencers who realised that a good portion of their fanbase follows them because of their sex appeal, have capitalised on that.
In realising that they can have an extra revenue stream, some of these influencers used platforms like Patreon to only post slightly risque/not fully explicit content, stuff that could be considered to be more artistic- as a way of maintaining a safe public image and to keep working with commercial/vanilla companies.
Others, went straight to the explicit side. A few years back, when Premium Snaps first became popular they gravitated towards that, then with the recent surge in popularity of OnlyFans (and the lockdown), a lot of influencers and celebrities jumped on that bandwagon.
Lena The Plug did a similar thing- even resulting in her, a non traditional pornstar, being nominated for a Pornhub award. I remember first seeing Lena working and appearing on the Snapchat for Arsenic TV (a vanilla media company), to her then being around certain influencers and media personalities, gaining some viral recognition before becoming a Premium Snap seller and Camgirl.
If you have a desire to go into online sex work and have a certain look or appeal, building an audience as a vanilla model first is probably the smartest way to go about it. Due to most platforms having guidelines regarding adult content, a lot of models who tried to build followers while already being in the adult word often find themselves getting shadow banned or having their accounts terminated. (Though as sex work is slowly becoming more normalised, this is changing. Certain adult stars are now getting verified on some social media platforms)
There’s also another type of way to do financially well from independent smut peddling, straight out the gate- become a famous pornstar! The influencers and celebrities of the adult content making world are pornstars. They gained a huge following and fanbase, largely from working with the big powerhouses of porn. People like Riley Reed, Lana Rhoades have millions of followers and because selling your content is far easier than it was years ago, they are finally able to truly cash in off their fame.
In a reverse way some of the more famous pornstars are also online influencers- making brand deals, selling products and promoting companies, just like their vanilla counterparts. Some, like Rhoades for example have also become Youtubers, with vlogging type videos that have millions of views.
Sometimes, when browsing through various Twitter threads, I see a small section of indie models complaining about famous pornstars’ successes on platforms like FanCentro or OnlyFans, citing that they have an unfair advantage because of their popularity. I always feel that if you have a legitimate passion for what you do, provide great content as well as market said content properly, you’ll gain fans and buyers.
Most of the featured reviews on this site have been of independent models as I much prefer ‘amateur’ style content in general and I’m sure there are others who think similarly- so there’s enough niches for all to make money, dependant on your mindset.
The majority of models welcome or don’t seem to mind that porn stars co-exist on the same platforms, as they obviously know that they're legitimate sex workers too. I’m sure that they also realise that those stars bring considerable traffic to the platform, which can benefit them too. But, I'm not sure that these sentiments seem to be universally shared when it comes to vanilla influencers who enter the adult space also.
By now everyone is familiar with the controversy surrounding Bella Thorne and the outcry that came from people using OnlyFans.
I’m not overly familiar with Ms Thorne, I remember seeing a headline of her doing something with Pornhub, a while back; As soon as there was talk of her joining OnlyFans, (I again saw some disgruntled models complaining about her entering the space) I assumed that Bella would only be providing titillating pictures and videos and doubted she would release anything explicit, at least not initially. So I was kind of surprised to hear of people paying the amount that they supposedly paid for her pay-to-view content. Then the screenshot of the supposedly real interaction between Bella and a buyer emerged and I saw the alleged lying that she told the guy, to get that sale and understood why the content buying community would be pissed.
The only wrong that I saw from the incident, was not that she was a celebrity coming into sex work but that she sold content under false pretences. Like I mentioned, I watched a few influencers start turning to selling sexy content at the beginning of lockdown. They would use the OnlyFans name and brand recognition to entice people to come to their profile but would leave clear statements on there, that it would only be provocative or implied nudity and nothing too graphic. Which is obviously the correct and ethical thing to do.
The scamming or false advertising has been something that most people who buy XXX content hate and are wary of. It's something that has happened well before Bella Thorne and by those purporting to be sex workers. Those incidents should get the same vitriol and anger from legitimate adult content creators because it puts off potential buyers and gives justification to those that refuse to pay for content. The truly toxic among the 'creators' have even tried to use the climate of women empowerment as a way of dismissing guys' complaints when they've been scammed, trying to justify the behaviour as something empowering- or that fellow workers are above being criticised or held accountable.
One of the reasons ps-reviews.com was created a few years ago was to prevent buyers from being caught out by lazy models or scammers. Legitimate models and performers have always supported the site because they are proud of their content and the work that they do and want to show it off to potential buyers.
As it turned out, the outcry was short lived as the claims of pay changes only affected workers in certain countries. When that correction came out (see here), there was crickets or at least not the same amount of noise that arose when the original story emerged and they thought they were affected.
I believe that these changes were going to happen anyway. I don't think that Onlyfans' business model could continue that way and was probably something they only wanted to initially introduce, as a way to gain a large amount of models (plus, issues with tax might have sped up the change). A company needs to retain a certain amount of funds to be able to issue refunds if necessary, so that’s why most if not all adult platforms have a longer waiting time for models to get paid. I touched on the possible reasons why this super average platform was so successful, a little while back, and it was because of these type of strategies that they used, early on.
They have a track record of it, another tactic they used to gain users was through incentivised signups. But I think it was earlier this year when OnlyFans made a change to their affiliate program. Initially, a creator would get commission for life from the person they signed up but they later reneged on that and informed creators that it would now only be for a year.
Which makes me believe they were always going to implement these new changes at some point anyway, first trialling it in the countries where it’s currently being implemented before making it the standard for all. I’m sure they realised, they would probably get a bunch of people moaning but, ultimately, they would still use and promote the platform, like creators did with the changes to the affiliate program. Once you have a healthy amount of creators that use and depend on your platform, creators would have to accept the changes... or go to another platform with less traffic and recognition… and most won’t.
Bella’s actions may have accelerated their decision and was possibly used as a smokescreen to divert most of the backlash towards them. But all users who scam or post content that requires refunds to be issued share the blame too, because like I said, it has been going on long before she joined the platform.