Rise of the Sexcam Industry : The economic and social impetus of ‘camming’

Once more we return to halcyon days of College in a special blast to the past post from September 2016, where my applied English instructor gave my class an analytical writing assignment.

At the time, I had considered these topics to explore:

  • Making a living with Esports (why streaming is more profitable than winning tournaments). I should probably write this one at some point as well. 
  • Why Sexcams are more profitable than traditional pornography (amateurs and even industry veterans are turning to the sexcam market on a part-time and full-time basis. Who goes into this business, why?)
  • Why are people turning to vegetarianism and veganism?
  • Solforge, first “developed for digital” card game. It’s rise and fall (and it sure fell hard, looking back now).
  • Why did the Space Race took off?

And I went for the most ballsy topic— because what’s the point of taking College English if you couldn’t write whatever was most interesting?

Without further ado, the full transcript:

Analytical Writing Assignment- Rise of the Sexcam Industry

Justin Hsu



Teresa MacVicar

September 23rd, 2016

The American Porn Industry as a whole is worth $5 billion dollars (Richtel, para. 21) . The sex cam industry alone is worth $1 billion dollars (Richtel,  para. 21), a whopping twenty percent of the entire industry. The adult webcam segment of the porn industry is rising in popularity because it provides a wide range of benefits to content creators and consumers alike, such as financial stability, security and customer-orientation.

To the dismay of many adult film stars, the porn industry is not only declining, it is also not financially stable as moratoriums will be in effect the moment any performer is tested HIV positive, halting any filming (Breslin, para. 2). With many porn stars living paycheck to paycheck (Breslin, para. 6), they are encouraged to turn to alternate revenue streams in order to support themselves. One such alternative income source is the webcam industry (Breslin, para. 8). A  few hours shoot for a normal film might earn a model $1000 (Breslin, para. 10), but webcams can become incredibly lucrative (Bertrand, para. 1). The industry involves models performing in video chat rooms for a vast online audience (Bertrand, para. 2), many of whom will tip the model with site-specific digital currency (Bertrand, para. 6; Richtel, para. 10). One model reported that she makes $62,600 a year (Bertrand, para. 5), another says she makes up to $8000 a year (Richtel, para. 16). Many ‘camgirls’ also have a wishlist of presents they would like and their patrons are often more than willing to buy lavish and expensive gifts for their favourite performers (Bertrand para. 7). In his book Dark Net, Jamie Bartlett  “recalls finding one wishlist which included books of left-wing social criticism” (Bertrand, para. 7).

There is a great deal of security that comes with performing on a webcam as opposed to traditional sexwork like prostitution (Richtel, para. 11). One benefit is that the performer is not exposed to health risks such as sexually transmitted diseases (Breslin, para. 2)— in fact, it is not necessarily for sexual intercourse to occur at all, many camgirls perform solo (Richtel, para. 6) as they have control over what they can do (Breslin, para. 42). “For many shoots, condoms are not an option,” recalls Adahlia, a porn star who also do escort services on the side, “The director will just hire other talent willing to work without barriers.”(Breslin, para. 42). She continues, “In my escorting work, I have always felt much safer and protected because I am able to choose what kinds of safer sex practices I wish to utilize, and I don’t lose business by choosing to be safe.” (Breslin, para. 43). Although Adahlia is not speaking of webcamming specifically, she highlights the dangers and biases inherent in the porn industry. Safety also means the relative anonymity, for it is not just industry veterans who are turning to the cam business. Amateurs are also getting in on the bandwagon, to find financial alternatives for their income (Katzen, para. 16). In a strange way, the internet can be much more hospitable than real life. Anna Katzen, the pen name of a camgirl and writer with a Master’s Degree from Harvard remarked that her clients “are successful professionals in their field — whether it be law, the arts or academia.” and are rarely of the rude and disreputable sorts (Katzen, para. 22).

That is not to say that camming is without risk, a performer may come under emotional harm if they feel shame over their jobs, leading to potential drug abuse (Richtel, para. 11) or they may have their identities exposed by internet “trolls” (Bertrand, para. 10-11).

It’s not all just sex either— some men pay good tips just to watch a model read a good book and look pretty (Katzen, para. 22). Anna Katzen wrote that “some of my most popular performances entail me reading erotica, perhaps Anais Nin or the Marquis de Sade, in the buff. Oftentimes, the books are gifts from fans, who will probe me for literary analysis” (Katzen, para. 22). It appeals to all kinds of psychologies which makes the webcam industry a customer oriented market— that is, businesses that caters to the needs of the consumer by creating products most appealing to a specific demographic; often this can take the form of a private one on one show  (Richtel, para. 9). One of her patrons said, “I came for the tits, but stayed for the intellectual banter.” (Katzen, para. 22).

Viviana Zelizer, a sociologist stated that the webcam industry is “defining a new kind of intimacy”, something that is a mixture between business and relationships (Richtel, para. 66).

Perhaps people are just really lonely.


Richtel, M. (2013, September 21). Intimacy on the Web, With a Crowd. The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/technology/intimacy-on-the-web-with-a-crowd.html

Breslin, S. (2013, December 20). What Porn Stars Do When the Porn Industry Shuts Down. Forbes. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2013/12/20/what-porn-stars-do/#2334c3f9a9cc

Bertrand, N. (2014, November 18). Here’s How Webcam Models Make Money. Business Insider. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-webcam-models-make-money-2014-11

Katzen, A. (2014, February 9). From Harvard to Webcam Girl. Salon. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from http://www.salon.com/2014/02/10/from_harvard_to_webcam_girl/