Since the start of the pandemic, a number of sex workers have taken a financial hit, especially those who relied on in-person interactions to earn money.
This hasn’t been the case for many on the online adult entertainment platform OnlyFans. If anything, the site is thriving, with a 75% increase month-to-month since March.
The subscription platform’s members sell exclusive content directly to fans, but subscribers can also tip performers. Since its launch in 2016, it has mostly been the domain of sex workers.
Then Beyoncé gave the site a shoutout in Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Savage’ remix, and when Beyoncé endorses something, it isn’t long before other celebrities start getting involved.
Thorne shot to fame, earning the title of the first performer to make $1 million in a single day, and $2 million within a week, by selling exclusive content for $20 (roughly R336) per month.
This is a double-edged sword, because while the addition of celebrities on the site helps to normalise sex work, it also isn’t great for the sex workers who have been using it for years and rely on it for their income.
Sex workers became particularly unhappy when Thorne told the Los Angeles Times that she had joined OnlyFans as research for a role in a film.
“The perspective she’ll gain won’t be representative of what most people experience as content creators on the platform,” says sex worker Ellamourne.
“I am certain she’ll deal with some of the same issues — fans crossing boundaries, scammers, etc. But at the end of the day she is a celebrity and wields a large amount of privilege. Unless the intent is to drive the conversation toward decriminalisation of sex work, I’ll be disappointed.”
The media’s response to Thorne’s debut on the site was largely positive, but this seems to be an inconsistent response to celebrities producing adult content.
“[When rapper Rubi Rose joined], everyone screamed ‘scam,’” says OnlyFans content creator Savannah Solo. “But Bella Thorne does it for ‘research’ and she’s a god damn entrepreneur.”
More and more people are joining the platform now, as celebrities bring it into the mainstream, but sex workers are worried that rather than removing the stigma that is often associated with sex work, it’s oversaturating the market, with some reporting a decline in earnings since the pandemic started.
The Rolling Stone article is a long read, but worth checking out, here.
You can find Bella’s OnlyFans account here.
Celebs have every right to express their sexuality in any way that they see fit, but, perhaps, they need to be a little more conscious of how their status impacts those around them.
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