OnlyFans Is Only For Now

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S1: I had my own weird little pandemic art camp with my roommate Bellick with boobs, and so it’s all on OnlyFans.

S2: Hi, I’m Rachel Hampton.

S3: And I’m Madison Malone Karcher. You’re listening to Icymi.

S2: Am I in case you missed it.

S3: Slate’s podcast about Internet culture. Do you have worms, Rachel?

S2: Like in like in my home. In my body.

S3: In your person?

S2: I mean, doesn’t everyone?

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S3: Only in my brain. I ask. I ask only because of the the news we’re seeing surrounding a deworm are for animals, for livestock called ivermectin, which is now flying off the shelves at about the same rate that medical professionals are screaming. Do not take this as a treatment for COVID 19. Please. It could kill you. Oh, my

S2: God. I mean, I feel like this the ivermectin craze is just fully convincing me that there would have been people who would have injected bleach if it was an option given to them. And that’s very concerning to me.

S3: The thing that has me thinking about our show, though, in relation to dewormed is that it’s very unsurprising to me that the latest in pseudoscientific Covid cures is a deworm or I don’t know if you had been getting served these on your for you page, but for a while there was this trend of people taking deworming medication, convinced, despite no medical indication to the contrary, that they had worms in their bodies that needed to be cleansed, you know, sort of like a bullshit charcoal activated. Oh, man. Blah, blah, Jate egg energy.

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S1: So I don’t get this whole

S4: deworming thing that’s going on on tick tock. Like, do we all have fucking worms? I don’t know. But we Googled it and this is a weird fucking process. So if you think you have no worms of the intestine and put some fucking tape on your asshole in Turkey.

S2: The annoying thing about these kind of tips and tricks is that gut biome help is actually very important and understudied. But the solution to that is not getting rid of nonexistent worms or killing the bacteria in your stomach that you need to survive.

S3: You don’t have worms? I don’t have worms. We all certainly have worms in our brains. But there’s nothing you can do about that. But listen to this podcast. So congrats. You’ve already found the only treatment available.

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S2: I’m pretty sure we’re giving people more worms in their brain.

S1: Shh.

S3: It’s true. We are giving people more brain worms. But today we’re actually we’re going to we’re going have some worm free convo. We’re going to talk about what the hell is going on at OnlyFans.

S2: We are performing a public service. This isn’t an actual deworming and that we are going to be explaining the back and forth of OnlyFans, banning sexually explicit content and then them not and then them doing it. And they’re definitely not now. Right.

S3: It’s been it’s been a lot of back and forth and questions. But as the subscription content platform is preparing to go to go public, continuing to build, the company announced briefly earlier in August that it would be banning the kind of content that made OnlyFans a household name, the kind of content that gets name checked by Beyonce and Meghan the Stallion remix on October 1st, OnlyFans was going to become a much different, more investor friendly platform, one free of sexually explicit content a week later, after vocal criticism from both the sex work community and OnlyFans fans. Is that

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S2: sure? Mm hmm.

S3: The company reversed its decision, which was a, let’s say, chilling and frankly too familiar reminder to the sex work community that their livelihoods are just inextricably linked to these platforms and services that facilitate them getting paid.

S2: Today, we’re going to give you on OnlyFans primar walking you through the company’s meteoric rise and name checking everyone from Beyonce to Bella Thorne, which sorry, bitch.

S3: I’m Bella Thorne.

S2: After the break, though, we’ve got Jessica Stoya, a writer, longtime sex worker and an OnlyFans content creator, to help us get into what all this really means for sex workers and the kind of historical policy decisions that have led us to this moment.

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S3: So OnlyFans is a relatively new platform. It launched in 2016, founded by a man named Tim Stokeley, who is sort of a mysterious figure. This was not his first foray into the adult entertainment adult content industry, but this is the first venture of his that really hits the money big. Previous ventures include a fetish site and a custom adult content on request website, which he launched with his dad.

S2: This is not the only family run adult content enterprise. I run into it. It really? Yeah, it seems like family business.

S3: It’s kind of wholesome in its way.

S2: It is. I love transparency.

S3: So OnlyFans is a platform that allows creators, any kind of creator. You don’t only have to be a sex worker or an adult entertainer, a camgirl, any creator to charge money per month for their content between, let’s say, five and fifty dollars. It’s an 80, 20 percentage split with the platform. And creators can also charge extra for pay per view content, which is I’m going to post a nude. It’s ten bucks to see this particular nude or this particular video, which is to say it’s a very lucrative place for a lot of people.

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S2: Yeah, the 80 20 split. When I hear I think that’s a lot of money for a platform to be taking, but if I’m not mistaken for a lot of the kind of sexual content websites, that’s a pretty low percentage taken by a platform.

S3: It is. And that was a big part of the draw to OnlyFans. The other big draw is that platforms like, say, Instagram are constantly cracking down on nudity and explicit content. So OnlyFans gave these creators a formalized model of what a lot of people in the adult industry had already been doing as like an under the table side hustle. It’s streamlined a business model that had already existed. This this is not new.

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S2: I think one of the questions that kind of comes up with OnlyFans is why not just go watch porn hub where shit’s free? And the answer is, even if you’re not paying for porn, someone’s paying for porn or someone should be getting paid to do porn. So pay for your fucking porn. But also, OnlyFans is a more personal, more intimate kind of platform. It makes sex workers more accessible or as accessible as they want to be.

S3: It’s really very personal in a way that is appealing like that. There’s a real draw there. Part of that appeal only increased during twenty twenty, you know, unsurprisingly, a year where we are all trapped at home and starved for human connection. This is also, you know, where we see. Have you ever got a cameo?

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S2: No, I haven’t. But I’ve definitely thought about it before.

S3: A cameo, in Case You Don’t Know, is another website that blew up in 2020 where you can hire a celebrity on demand for, you know, 20 to 200 dollars to record a demo video for your friend for their birthday, graduation, Brist barmitzvah, whatever

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S2: cameo was created in 2016. But like you said, it really seemed to experience a boom during the pandemic when we were all kind of starved for. Interpersonal connection and also probably watching a lot of television

S3: like Cameo OnlyFans has this big toe toe blow up, partly because we are looking to be entertained in new ways to connect with people in new ways, and also because industry shut down adult entertainment, sex, where every industry shut down in some way or another, for the most part. So in the same way that people came to this platform looking for entertainment, there was suddenly more people on it than ever before. Jessica Stoya, who we’re going to talk to in the back half of the episode, is one of those creators who came to OnlyFans as the pandemic impacted, you know, business as she’d done it for years. You know, we’re talking crazy numbers. OnlyFans was adding up to like half a million users per day at its peak in 2020. You know, grew over two hundred and fifty million dollars in revenue per month. That’s up over 500 percent from the year before

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S2: that huge flow. That is a huge blow up, especially considering I mean, adult entertainment is also one of the only recession proof economies. So for you kind of don’t expect adult entertainment to experience a financial hit as an industry. Individual performers definitely do. But for them to not only not really experience a direct hit from a bear industry perspective, but to have this huge 500 percent growth.

S3: Wait, did you did you say a bear industry perspective, Rachel?

S2: I don’t do these things on purpose.

S3: There was a there was an interview I read in Vice with Taylor Stevens, who is a 29 year old cam model who said we’re like naked online therapists. I do feel like I am an essential service. And I don’t think that’s overly dramatic in a like we describe this year, where people couldn’t be around other people. And that was really good for established sex workers, this growth on the platform, this new need. But it also meant a lot of new people flocked to OnlyFans. Not all of them totally understanding that sex work is real work, that there’s time and energy and thought that goes into doing it well and doing it safely, and that there are real people out there who depend on it for survival as their livelihood. Rachel, have you heard that there was a tick audio that was really popular last year about being an accountant? Have you heard it?

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S2: No, I haven’t.

S1: Nobody asks you questions when you say you’re an accountant. What do you do? I’m an accountant. Where do you work? At a place where accountants. Why do you like your job? Yes, I like my job. And my job is an accountant as an accountant.

S2: Wait, that’s a bob.

S3: Yeah, it hits it really hits different ups. Yeah. I feel like this is the best way to articulate David up a normalization of OnlyFans, but like the broadening of OnlyFans to becoming this like cultural behemoth. The joke here is that they’re they’re not accountants, they’re sex workers, they’re OnlyFans content creators. So Beyonce named drops OnlyFans Khateeb joins the platform is becoming broader and broader.

S2: Yeah, but there’s this kind of I don’t know, it’s say democratization, but there is maybe gentrification is perhaps the right word. This is kind of gentrification of OnlyFans. I mean, I think vyse I think they they gon OnlyFans account. And so there’s this way in which OnlyFans becomes more mainstream, which in some ways is good, in that it’s destigmatizing a platform. But on the other hand, means that I think that OnlyFans gets the idea that they can exist without the people who built the platform and created the audience.

S3: The industry. Yeah. It’s also how we end up with almost exactly a year ago, actually, Bella Thorne bumbling in and making a reported one million dollars in her first day on the platform. She’s a week later. She said that a week later, she said that no had come up to two million. Bella Thorn is a Disney Channel star turned. I don’t know Bitachon, Bella Thorne, like she’s just Bella Thorne. She was charging 20 bucks a month. She claims she’d be dividing her profits between funding her production company and making charitable donations. And she also said, I will not be doing nudity, which Khateeb also said the same thing when she joined.

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S2: I just want content. I just don’t understand celebrities joining OnlyFans to not do nudity. It’s like what other content are you really putting on this platform that isn’t accessible through like Instagram or Tic-Tac?

S3: For celebrities, I would agree, yeah, because there are definitely a lot of OnlyFans content creators. That’s another one of the really cool things about OnlyFans as opposed to a more traditional adult entertainment model is that OnlyFans creators get to set their own boundaries. They get to decide what they want to expose, what they want to do. I watched this ABC News documentary about OnlyFans. And in that Silvius age, who is an adult entertainer, you know, use the phrase grin and bear it when describing some of the work she was doing on on sets for adult films versus joining OnlyFans, where it’s you’re your own producer, you’re your own director. Sometimes you’re you’re your own cameraman. I have the ability now to say no, I know I can make just as much money sitting at home doing my own stuff than I would spending eight hours on a set working for a director who I probably don’t like. You know, you are in complete control, which is a long winded way of saying if you’re just assuming OnlyFans is like quote unquote porn, you don’t you don’t know OnlyFans know.

S2: Exactly. And it’s like when Slabach, like celebrities like Khateeb and Bella Thorne already have access to that level of agency. And so I just kind of and I’m sure a lot of sex workers feel the same, just bristle at the idea of them flocking to this platform that’s been built on the backs of sex workers. They’re just not giving what needs to be gave, you know?

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S3: Yeah. Balafon can say this was about normalizing sex work or doing research for a film that would normalize sex work. But really, it was about an outsider, just like hopping into an industry without knowing really what she was getting into. And then on top of that to say, you know, but I won’t be doing nudes, which basically saying like, but I won’t be doing that thing that all of the rest of you here are doing.

S2: But and then to do it later anyway, like what I what’s going on here

S3: is you’re asking yourself, like what is so great about OnlyFans that it needs protecting sex work case, it’s not obvious, comes with a lot of stigma. People get murdered for doing it. They get murdered while doing it. And OnlyFans, like we mentioned, is about taking back that power and taking back some of the profit that comes with that power and that powerful industry. You know, in twenty twenty two, according to an accident report, OnlyFans is projecting a gross merchandise value to twelve point five billion dollars.

S2: I mean, that’s a lot of fucking money. And it’s also the fact that OnlyFans is one of the only mainstream platforms or was one of the only major mainstream platforms that before last week actually seemed to support adult content creators. There is such a huge machine against sex workers from a policy perspective, like a national legislature perspective, down to the fact that their entire organizations that are theoretically dedicated to stopping sex trafficking and the distribution of child pornography, which is an issue, but that just makes sex work more and more dangerous because it keeps driving it to the margins, which is not good for anybody, because there’s no protection

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S3: prior to announcing these October 1st changes to the terms of service. OnlyFans had just continually touted this party line that they had always and would always support adult content creators, which, you know, turned out to be total bullshit when they announced those changes earlier this month, which formerly were that actual simulated sexual intercourse, including genital genital, oral genital, anal, genital or oral anal between persons of any sex, actual or simulated masturbation, any exhibition of the anus or genitals of any person, which is extreme or offensive or actual or simulated material depicting bodily fluids commonly secreted during sexual conduct would be banned from the platform. Sorry, I’m just thinking about like what version of showing your asshole is not considered extreme.

S2: This announcement was crazy. I mean, like I think people compared it to tumblers, sex like ban on sexual content, which is not even really a fair comparison because like, yeah, Tumblr shot itself in the foot, but there was theoretically other shit on the fucking platform. And like, yeah, there’s other show, not only OnlyFans, but. This is like if you fucking stopped serving burgers at Shake Shack, like what the fuck is the point?

S3: This decision was, according to reports, influenced by money, by would be investors and credit card companies and banking partners who apparently didn’t want to be in the sex work business, despite the fact that like the very draw of OnlyFans is the sex work business. A week after OnlyFans announces the ban on adult content, they email users that they are reversing course. The company says that the decision is based on, quote unquote, assurances from the same parties who they, you know, ostensibly were making the change for in the first place, i.e., the people with the money said, no, no, no, no, no, keep the porn, we’ll still work with you, which is great news in the immediate for the sex worker community. It means OnlyFans is staying as it was in the Savage remix. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be like that six months from now, a year from now. And that is really terrifying. When we come back from the break, we’re going to talk to Jessica Stoya about all of that, about how this impacts the industry, how anybody in the industry could have seen this coming from a mile away and what it means they’ll do next.

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S2: More on that after the break. He loves to talk. When I dance on a demon song, she might start OnlyFans, B and B stand for bands if you want to see some real ass ladies. Thank you so much for listening. If you’re new here, band, welcome. We love all of our listeners, old and new, but you might not know that we actually have two episodes a week, so you can have all the AC. Why am I content? You need and desire. If you subscribe and you can also hear episodes like last Wednesdays that was about Kony 2012 and what it actually taught us. And no, it’s not just that they you shouldn’t make a high school music class video about activism.

S3: OK, and we are back with Jessica Stoya Stoya. Hello, welcome to the show.

S1: Hi, thanks for having me.

S2: We’re so glad you could join us.

S3: I guess we should probably start at. We should start at the beginning. A very good place to start. When did you join OnlyFans?

S1: It was March 2020. It had just become obvious that I needed to close the hard goods store because it wasn’t safe to be having people go to the post office. And obviously live events weren’t going to be a thing for some number of weeks. I didn’t know at the time it was going to be a year and a half, but I was like, I got to do something. So we set up an OnlyFans page, and then my roomie, who’s a professional photographer, and I just started shooting, and that’s what we were doing to kind of keep ourselves sane during lockdown. So we put up like a new photostat every week.

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S3: I am curious, what are your DM’s look like on OnlyFans?

S1: You know, so a lot of people dmae pictures of their animals. And one day I said on Twitter, man, my OnlyFans DM’s contain a lot of animal pictures. And then people were like, oh, I saw on Twitter that you like animal pictures have more. This is my friend’s cat. This is my mom’s dog. This is my neighbor’s ferret. Actually, there weren’t any ferrets, but, you know,

S2: there’s still time

S3: to time.

S1: Yeah. Yeah. And there’s there’s one person who I’m not completely clear on their job description, but they work in mental health in a significant way. And they tell me about books that might be useful for my column. And then I get a lot of people who want to thank me for my work over the years, whether that’s my education and advice work or my other writing or my adult work. And sometimes they come right out and say, I’ve pirated a lot of stuff with you in it. So I consider that like I’m just going to sign up and let this go until my credit card expires. As a penance, which is really

S3: to atone for pirating my my adult content.

S1: Yeah. And for me, like I think that’s cute and adorable. And I’m like, great. This feels fair. Like I’m I’m fine with that. Like you grew up, right? You have some disposable income. So if you’re sitting there feeling guilty about pirating your favorite sexual entertainer’s work, just fine. Their fan page, wherever they may be, pay

S2: up that hit that recurring. Yes, that’s subscription and leave.

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S1: Leave that on Rebell.

S3: So you recently wrote this really great piece for Slate about the most recent OnlyFans saga, about their decision to ban adult content, which they have since reversed on. Could you take us through a little bit of the recent policy decisions like cultural moment that were in that definitely led to OnlyFans saying, just kidding. Starting October 1st. I don’t know what’s going to be on this platform, but not the stuff you used to get.

S1: Oh, gosh. OK, so it’s complicated and there are a lot of moving parts in December. Twenty, twenty, after literally a decade of adult content creators saying, hey, this pornhub thing with the piracy, it’s really a problem. And actual victims of assault saying, hey, a video that I did not consent to, of sex I did not consent to is on porno. Please take it down. So after literally 10 years of that, Nick Kristof of The New York Times goes the children of porn hub. And Cristoff reached out to me and I was like, you know what? Actually, over email, I will give you an interview. And he quoted the one line where I’m like, you know, Pornhub is already drastically changed the industry. I don’t remember exactly what I said. You can go look on The New York Times and

S3: I’ve heard of it.

S1: But like what he didn’t say in his piece, what he didn’t quote was like. And anything that destabilises Pornhub right now is going to be a big problem for independent working class creators. And, you know, we have we have this like long history of issues with the banking. The system we have this long history of all these, like acts of censorship and oppression and just making our lives harder. And this is the first time in my 15 year career that the media has been talking about sex workers as workers who deserve security and consistency. And that’s really amazing.

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S2: One of the things that really struck me with like the Cristoff piece and also with your piece, is that the kind of tactics or at least the statements that places come outwith are always kind of things that sex workers have been asking for in the long term, where they’re just like we’re trying to protect children or we’re just trying to have more content moderation or we’re trying to do X, Y and Z. When Mike. Sex workers have been asking for these things forever and like but they’re instituting these platforms or like these people at Christoffer, like parachuting in and like suggesting it and like the least helpful way possible.

S1: Yeah. And it’s like, you know, there there is more than one sex worker that I know of. I’m not close with any of them, but that I know of who is a trafficking survivor and a consensual sex worker. So like you could talk to these people. If you want to help us, you can talk directly to them in a nuanced way and like get some serious insight into what people who are being trafficked need and what people who are doing sex work need.

S3: Were you surprised when OnlyFans reversed their announcement after a week, six days?

S1: I was very surprised. It feels like mercury is in retrograde.

S3: It’s a good way to put it.

S2: So something that struck me about OnlyFans reversal is that the language kind of seems to have just punted the decision in all. Totally OK. Yeah, I read enough to get an accurate read where it’s just like. So this is not actually solved.

S1: No, no. And, you know, I, I would actually really love to hear a licensed psychologist take on this. But I’ve seen a lot of people in my community commenting that this is like an abusive relationship and it’s this like like goodbye. No, come back. But only like we’re not going to tell you for how long. Or like guarantee that we’ll fight for your ability to stay here. And it is really emotionally intense. And like the back and forth is very disorienting and frustrating. And their language, like in a few months to a year, there won’t be sexually explicit content allowed anymore. And then we’ll go back and forth on what sexually explicit is, you know, but they’re not they’re not going to give us a detailed list. This is going to be developed on a case by case basis. And I don’t think we can count on them to be transparent as the list of what you can and can’t do develops. So then in a couple of years, there won’t be nudity unless something significant culturally shifts and we normalize female nipples and then female nipples will be just just let me just let me have a moment of fantasy.

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S2: You mentioned earlier that you were kind of surprised by I mean, the way it’s being covered with people acknowledging and actually reporting on sex work as work. And I guess I’m curious, I kind of hate this question, so I apologize for posing and to you. But like, what can the average person who like consumes adult content but is not a sex worker do? When does that decision inevitably kind of gets punted down the road in like six months or a year? Because it kind of seems like the backlash against it by people who aren’t sex workers probably influence OnlyFans not to like go forward with it right now. And I’m curious as to whether this decision could easily just keep getting punted if people just kept getting mad every six months, which isn’t sustainable, but

S1: that it’s it’s not sustainable and it’s never happened before, because I actually know Tumblr, Tumblr, banned Adul, locked it back and then banned it again. But that wasn’t a sex work thing. That was like mostly people pushing back because they were censoring like LGBT coming out stories. So this is the first time, I believe, in recent history that sex workers have pushed back as sex workers. And one, even if it’s temporary. So what your average person can do is get involved, whether that’s a regular donation to the Free Speech Coalition or the sex workers outreach project or following a number of sex workers like Lorelei Lee and Mistress Mitis and Cinnamon Love. Who are very politically active. And the comment frequently on what’s going on in the sex industry and also what that looks like is when there are laws that are going to be bad for us, calling your senator or representative or emailing them or whatever you have to do to get your message through that as a citizen of their area. You’re against this.

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S3: Well, I feel like we should. And that was sort of sort of an upper. But just take another moment to imagine a world where no one cares about nipples. Stoya, thank you so much for joining us. This was a really wonderful conversation. I’ve enjoyed this.

S1: Yeah, no problem.

S3: Once again, that was Jessica Stoya. She is a writer, performer and pornographer, and you can find her over on Slate regularly where she writes the column, How to Do It with Rich Juzwiak. OK. That is our show. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, it’s free and the best way to make sure you never miss an episode. Our next one will be hitting your feeds on Wednesday. You can also follow us on Twitter. We are at Icey. Why am I underscore Pod, which is where you can DM us your questions, comments, concerns. Just the phrase OnlyFans with six question marks. Thank you to the people who did that and also sent us emails at ICEE. Why am I at Silicom? Who knows? You might just hear your topic on the show.

S2: I see why mine is produced by Daniel Schroeder, a supervising producer, steric John Force Wickman and Alegra Frank are editors and gay brothers, editorial director of Audio Free Online

S3: or on OnlyFans.

S2: I see why am I OnlyFans a coward?

S3: God should we get and I see why am I OnlyFans?

S2: I love how we would refuse to get a tick tock. But we’re going, you know, with.