Pornography Addiction may no longer be limited to the consumers in a world of OnlyFans

If you’re under 33 years old – or a regular reader of this website – you’re well aware of OnlyFans and the tentacle-like reach it has with the young adults of the English-speaking world. If you’re over 33 years old, and don’t read this website, odds are you’ve still never heard of the site. I don’t think in all of my time paying attention to social Internet trends I’ve ever seen such a black-and-white cut-off point, including early Facebook and Snapchat. There are no shades of gray when it comes to people knowing or not knowing about OnlyFans.

In a nutshell, OnlyFans is a bulletin-board style website where a user subscribes to a content creator’s page, usually between $5 and $30 per month. Once accessed, the page features photos and videos posted by the creator. The vast, vast, vast majority of these subscriber pages belong to young women making pornography in the comfort of their own home. They can make their content as tame or racy as they want. Creators also have the option to charge additional for “exclusive” photos or videos, and to charge for exchanging messages with users. While the corporate company obviously pushes the platform as a great place for indie musicians, artists and other people who have content to sell the world, it is currently synonymous in young adult culture with pornography.

My latest book (now available on Kindle) was a look at how the first few months of the COVID-19 virus radically changed the landscape of online pornography and how it was going to be the roughest challenge to pornography addiction stats that we’ve faced. I spoke with addicts who faltered in quarantine, those who were doing well, people who were veteran and rookie cam room models on well-established websites and several therapists and professionals. There was one chapter about OnlyFans, but I read it now and am embarrassed. I have learned so much in the four months since I wrote the book as that website has continued to explode. You should still buy the book anyway.

In the book, I focused on the millions of people who were flocking to the site to suddenly see the girl or guy next door get naked online. I knew there would be a bump in consumers, and with the stay-at-home mandate of the quarantine, there would be more people experimenting with making pornography. I had no idea, and would never have guessed, just how big it was going to get.

I think the grim reality of the explosion of the site is far more prominently displayed in the numbers of producers flocking to try the make-it-yourself porn industry. A couple of different sources, mostly notably The Sun newspaper in Britain (August 2020) have quoted 50 million users (up from 8 million in July 2019) it’s the statistics involving new pornography creators that are truly shocking.

In July 2019, OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely was quoted giving that 8 million statistic. At the time he also shared there were 70,000 content creators. A couple of months earlier, in April 2019, he said that there were roughly 3,000 creators joining the site weekly. If you extrapolate that to when I’m writing this in last few days of August 2020, it means that according to his 2019 statistics, there should have been 174,000 creators by the end of that year. In 2020, up to this point, there should have been another 104,000.

By Stokely’s projections, there should currently be 288,000 content creators on OnlyFans. The Sun reported on August 20 that there were 660,000 creators worldwide (100k being British) and on August 26, Yahoo Money said there are 700,000 content creators. The numbers have been increasing at between double and triple the rates the CEO predicted…and you know he’s always going to present a rosy outlook.

I think The Sun and Yahoo Money statistics may even be under-reported. In April 2020, Stokely told Buzzfeed News that the site had 7,000 to 8,000 new creators every day (double their WEEKLY onboarding just 13 months earlier). That’s 49,000 to 56,000 people – almost exclusively woman in the 18-to-25 age group who have never made porn before – flocking to OnlyFans weekly. Can you imagine going from 3,000 to 50,000 weekly sign-ups in just 13 months?

In early May 2020, it was reported the total creator number was at 450,000. If 50,000 are joining every week on average, and the 450K number was thrown out 17 weeks before I write this, it is more than likely there have been 750,000 to 850,000 NEW content creators who have joined and we are sitting at a number of total content creators at somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 million. Even if things have slowed down since that May 2020 quote, it’s hard to believe there are under a million total content creators.

Ask somebody in their early 20s if they know about OnlyFans. They’ll laugh and probably admit they know about it. Ask if they know anybody creating content. If they say no, they’re probably hiding somebody’s secret, or they don’t know the secrets of at least one friend. I asked my 21-year-old daughter who has some of the nicest, normal friends I’ve met (although there are probably some on the fringes she hasn’t introduced) and she said she knows three girls creating content, ranging from mostly bikini photos to hardcore pornography. All of them made over $2,000 in their first month, one made over $3,000 her first weekend.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new genre of pornography – “Hey, I Know that Person! Pornography” is now a real thing. I had a guy living across the hall from me at one of my attempts at college who got very excited when a former high school friend of his was featured in one of Playboy’s college girls editions back in 1996. He was disappointed when the photo was of her in a small bikini playing frisbee with a couple of friends. This guy would have patiently waited for OnlyFans for 25 years.

So who cares? Technically, in April 2019 there was one model for every 21 users on OnlyFans. Today, there is only 1 for every 50 users. Couldn’t an argument be made that demand is not keeping up with supply? From a strict economics point-of-view, perhaps, but from a public health standpoint, I think we’re looking at a new can of worms.

We can conservatively estimate that 10 million of OnlyFans’ 50 million users have some kind of issue, if not full-blown addiction with pornography. The skewing of younger users makes me feel very confident at putting a 20% figure on this assumption based on the data about addiction rates that have been out there for years. This many addicts is a scary, scary thought. The fact that probably 95% of them never had any warnings about developing a porn addiction before it happened is downright tragic. I feel their pain and it’s a big reason that I’m out there writing books, doing podcasts and spreading the word as much as I can. But this is not about them.

There are a lot of reasons people have been giving for decades about why others shouldn’t watch pornography and while they are almost always extremely valid, I’ve yet to see one that truly works. The reality is, the consumers of pornography don’t care if the performers are using drugs to get through a scene. They don’t care if the performers are being trafficked. They don’t care about statistics regarding feminism and objectification. Porn consumption figures would have dropped over the years if these were effective arguments. The figures have gone the other way. Addicted consumption or recreational, we’re looking at more porn than ever.

These arguments are also going to receive bigger blows to their impact because of the people who are joining OnlyFans. I have no idea how many people work in what’s remaining of the real California porn industry, but I know it’s been dropping mightily over the years. If I were to guess, there’s probably a couple thousand “professional” pornographers left who are the ones stacking the shelves with DVDs at the adult bookstore. They are an endangered species is our online DIY porn world of 2020.

The stereotype of the drug-addict, dead-behind-the-eyes kind of woman with daddy issues who becomes a professional porn star is quickly being replaced by the waitress, bartender or administrative assistant who is making porn as a side hustle. We’re now in the world of the gig economy and many people have 3-4 part-time/independent contractor jobs. It gets more difficult to lament the poor women who are basically forced into porn when you’ve got thousands willingly joining the ranks who are well-adjusted normal people from middle and upper class families every day.

Aside from the pandemic, how did this happen? From talking to a few people who have OnlyFans pages to better understand, I’ve come to a simple conclusion. The under 30 group, the ones that grew up with the Internet and a level of pornography access unimagined by previous generations simply don’t have the stigma attached to nudity and/or pornography of those who didn’t come of age online.

When I was in high school, there was no sexting. We didn’t have cell phones so nude pictures weren’t circulating. We didn’t have Instagram so you didn’t know what every girl or guy looked like in their skimpy beachwear. I graduated in 1994, not 1974. I’m only 44 years old now. The evolution of pornography access and attitudes has been at warp speed.

And now, I’m hearing all of the typical “What happens when those pictures resurface?” rhetoric directed at the content creators, but I wonder if that’s going to actually matter in 20 or 30 years. If hundreds of thousands of young adults joining the ranks of the make-it-at-home porn world becomes the norm, will it even be a taboo thing that somebody can find a picture of you without clothes out there in 2040?

No, I’m not worried about the photos resurfacing. I’m worried about what we don’t know, and my biggest question of the last few months is – if pornography consumption can become an addiction, could pornography creation? Is there going to be a segment of today’s 25-year-old OnlyFans creators who are still making the stuff at 45, or 55, because they can’t stop? When somebody is told they are beautiful and are given money, it’s just a business transaction for many creators – for others, it’s affirmation. Some of the cam girls I talked to in writing my last book talked about how great the money is, but how they feel like better people now because of the ego boost it has given them. How is that not just a shot of dopamine? I’m guessing the thinking goes something like: I want to be called beautiful. The people who call be beautiful have seen all of my content. I must make more, so I do. They call me beautiful and give me $10 each. Dopamine hit.

I always say that we have been mostly reactive to pornography addiction in the interviews I give and we need to be proactive. We now have 20-25 years of data of what Internet pornography consumption can do to a population and we’re just scratching the surface of learning the fallout. We have no data on pornography creation. It’s only really a few months old as a mainstream phenomenon.

And what about those who do stop? Could they develop PTSD, disassociation, depression or other mental health issues years or decades after they’re no longer making porn? Will we have a significant percentage of future generations walking around with regret and shame for what they did? Could this be a cause of future trauma? It seems likely…but we just don’t know.

I miss interacting with real people at libraries, schools or other places that I’ve given presentations about pornography addiction, but I’m seriously wondering if I now have to start throwing the idea out there that pornography addiction could potentially extend to the creators. I offer no judgment, shame or any negative feelings to anybody who consumes or produces pornography, but have we just simply discovered the other side to the porn addiction consumer coin?

A Different Kind of Addiction We May Start to See on the Rise

When I started writing my latest book, the intention was to look at how recovering porn addicts were faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between the mandatory stay-at-home orders most people in the world faced and pornography sites offering deals to new users, I assumed it would be a difficult time for many addicts, and my research showed it to be true.

I only decided to touch upon “cam site” models because in my research, I saw porn sites reaching out, trying to recruit new models who may have been displaced from their employment because of the pandemic. It makes sense on a couple of levels from a business point of view. First, it’s mostly young, good looking men and women who lost their service jobs and second, this generation doesn’t attach the stigma and shame to pornography that generations who came before them who were not raised on the Internet have attached.

I realized that most young people who are opting to go into porn aren’t doing it for the real companies, or any of these online cam sites. They are going into business for themselves on OnlyFans. If you need a primer about OnlyFans, you can read it here.

If you’re under 30, you know about the power of OnlyFans and you likely know a few people on it. If you’re over 30, you may not have ever heard of it, and don’t realize you know people on it. The numbers are just too major.

When I started researching my book, I looked at OnlyFans web statistics in the US and across the world for February 2020. That month, OnlyFans.com was the 626th most popular site in the world. By April 2020, it was 349. For June 2020, it was 260th most popular site in the world. In the US, it almost cracked the Top 100 most popular sites.

The site went from 26.52 million visits in February 2020 to 131 million in June 2020. That kind of growth during a time of such disruption and unrest is almost unheard of in this world. There are a lot more people looking at OnlyFans than ever before according to SimilarWeb.com, which I’ve used for all my stats tracking. But that brings us to a new wrinkle I’m about to discuss. A lot of that traffic is actually the producers.

As of May 2020, OnlyFans has 24 million registered users and claims to have paid out $725 million to its 450,000 content creators.

Also in May 2020, after my book had already gone to the editing stage and I couldn’t continue writing, CEO Tim Stokely told BuzzFeed News “the site is seeing about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining every day.”

As I write this in mid-July 2020, let’s say Stokely is telling the truth and that 7,500 people became new creators each day in the last 60 days. That means that OnlyFans has doubled its content-creator base to 900,000. Even if they are only adding 3,000 people per day, and do it through the end of the year, there will be 975,000 content creators on OnlyFans by 2021. That’s a higher population than 7 states in the United States.

A couple weeks back I wrote about a conversation I had with a friend 20 years ago where I openly wondered what would happen to a generation raised on complete unencumbered access to the hardest hardcore of pornography. Well, here in 2020, we know, and the results I see are mostly negative.

I hadn’t recognized this as much when I was writing my book, but in talking to a few people who understand and use OnlyFans, I’ve learned a lot more about how the site operates since writing the book. It’s a fantastic business model for people who could never strip, model nude in front of a real photographer, have no issues sharing their bodies, or are looking for a few bucks and don’t view nudity as a problem. The models make their page as clean or as dirty as they want and post as much or as little as they want. While one subscribes, either for free or a monthly rate, the real money for the models comes when they offer “exclusive” content. There are people who will pay $25 for a photo if they know they’re the only one in the world with it. You sell 8 of those a day and you can see how it would add up. If you have no stigma toward porn and don’t care who sees you naked, you can see how this is a seductive business to get into.

In writing my book, almost every therapist pushed the “you don’t know if you’re going to regret this” angle when it comes to young adults making pornography of themselves. I have reached the conclusion that while I’m sure it will for some, I don’t think that this current generation of 18-to-30 year olds are actually going to regret this. They grew up in a very different world from those of us who are a little older, and a hugely different world than my parents…and a different planet than my now-dead grandparents.

Here’s a case in point. In my grandmother’s day, it was somewhat scandalous to be caught in a two-piece bathing suit. Now, unless you’re over 40, have a bad body, or have body issues, it’s basically expected you’ll be in a bikini. There’s also a good chance your ass will be hanging out. While those from my grandparents’ generation may have worried a picture of them in a bikini would get out, that worry disappeared over the next few generations. Even if they’ve long stopped wearing bikinis, I’m guessing there are very few women under 65 who are worried about any bikini photos that may exist in the world.

Isn’t it plausible that among a growing section of 18-to-30 year olds that there is no shame nor embarrassment in letting themselves be seen nude and/or in sexual scenarios? People say things live on the Internet forever, but if between now and 2040 there are 100 million men and women who get naked on the Internet, is it really that big a deal? I think on our current course, this is where we are headed. Our societal views toward nudity and sex will continue to grow more liberal and less critical. That’s why I don’t think the “you’ll regret this later” argument falters. I’ve got 11 tattoos. I have not spent one minute of one day being regretful for any of them, despite being warned by dozens of people. I don’t anticipate it either. I like my tattoos. I’m proud of them. They tell a lot of my story and if you think they make me dirty or trashy or the wrong kind of person, I stopped caring about the naysayers as part of my recovery.

Now, before you think I’ve turned to the pro-porn dark side, I haven’t. I’m not pro or anti-porn when it comes to telling you what to do with your life. I’m pro-education. People who are viewing pornography need to know the potential side effects and fact it could lead to addiction. I’ve been arguing this since I started this crusade.

I have a new worry though, on the porn-producing side. There are many reasons beyond just money that people use their body to make money. If we are looking at a world that has millions of people producing their own porn through OnlyFans and what I’m sure will be 101 knock-off sites, could we possibly be seeing a world where people get addicted to MAKING porn?

It’s a fine line between making porn and consuming it. There aren’t really much beyond anecdotal stories of people who have made porn out there, and usually it’s either a big studio porn star talking about how empowering it is or a former big studio porn star talking about how dreadful the whole experience was. We just don’t have any studies of longterm effects of making pornography and what that has on a large group of people.

I’m not saying that people will become addicted to making porn, but beyond the murky “you may regret this” argument that doesn’t work, is there a “we have no idea what this will do to your mental health” component that should be talked about now, before this gets out of hand? If we’d talked about how to educate about porn back in 1996, we certainly wouldn’t see the addict numbers we see today. I will always wonder if I had been taught the potential ills of pornography, how would my life have been different. Do we now need to teach 15-17 year olds, especially girls, that they should think long and hard about getting into making their own porn when they become legal adults because we just don’t know what’s going to happen?

I often cite statistics and talk about a society in 2040 or 2050 where nearly half the popular has an issue with pornography, which could theoretically happen looking at shifting statistics. What does our world look like where not only 45% of the population is addicted to looking at pornography, what happens when 15% of the population is addicted to making it?

These are questions we need to ask now and the answers have to be part of strategies we build to address the issue now, not when my yet-to-be-born grandchildren are debating the finer points of how to post pictures of their ass online.

REDDIT: Anti-Racist? Yes. Anti-Porn? Nope.

It’s nice to see corporations put their money where their mouth is, or to put their actions where their words are and in the wake of the civil unrest of the last month, many organizations seem to be making changes, both substantial and symbolic, or in the case of NASCAR banning the Confederate Flag, both.

One of the items that caught my eye was Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian stepping down from the board of his company and asking that a person of color replace him to better represent the diversity in America, and the diversity of Reddit.

For those unfamiliar with Reddit, which bills itself as “The Front Page of the Internet,” it is essentially a giant bulletin board-like forum where you can find just about any topic that interests you and participate in discussion on that topic, or simply look at pictures and videos other people post. From politics to pets, there really is something for everybody there.

I’ve not been a big “Redditor” over the years. I participated last year in the room (these individual rooms are called subreddits) that dealt with betrayal trauma for porn addicts’ partners and exercised my creative muscle in a room for roasting people, but after a few weeks with both, they seemed to fall by the wayside. Like a lot of online technology that was new to me, I just couldn’t find the long-term value with integrating it into my life. That said, I know hundreds of millions of people do enjoy the site and it does have a tremendous amount to offer, from mental health resources to help planning road trips.

With Ohanian’s bold statement (which I still wonder how much was taking advantage of the opportunity for a positive PR spin from somebody planning to leave the board anyway) Reddit has reportedly taken a serious hardline stance against racism among its users. While the site, depending on who is a moderator of a subreddit has long been criticized for randomly, arbitrarily and often hypocritically enforcing its own rules, it seems to be clamping down on racism. As a privately-owned business that is free to run things however they wish, they’ve decided that racism will not be tolerated. They are not covered by free speech in The Constitution and I respect and appreciate that fact.

I also appreciate the fact that despite having millions of users, some of whom are probably extremely questionable human beings, the site tries to make sure there aren’t things like prostitution, sex trafficking or other nefarious crimes taking place under the surface that have plagued sites like Craigslist.

However, the site does seem to not have a problem with one of society’s major ills: Pornography. There are dozens upon dozens of rooms devoted to the spread of online pornography. When I frequented the betrayal trauma room for partners of porn addicts, most lamented the irony of while they were getting support they needed from the Reddit community, it was also Reddit that was giving their partner the very pornography fix that was driving them apart.

Enjoy naked celebrities? Reddit has got you covered. There’s your typical naked celebrity page (686,000 members), but if you’re into specifics, you can find pages geared just toward female celebrity genitals (208,000), their nipples (107,000) or movies where celebrities performed an actual sex act (225,000). Prefer the younger girls? There’s “Barely Legal Teens” with 218,000 members, “Barely Legal” with 133,000 and “GoneWild18” with 427,000.

Other subreddits have such classy names as “Hold the Moan,” “Happy Embarrassed Girls,” “Incest Porn,” “Sex in Front of Others” and “Bottomless Vixens.”

And don’t worry about Reddit being racist when it comes to porn. You can enjoy, “Black Boobs,” “Ebony Nude Selfies,” “Latin Sex Girl” or “Jew Sluts” among its many other specific offerings like “Amputee Porn” and “Grandma Porn.”

I didn’t mention the membership numbers of those room because it doesn’t actually matter. You needn’t be a member to view any of it, so it’s probably safe to surmise that exponentially more people are viewing than the numbers I listed above.

One of the worst parts about the vast majority of the porn on Reddit is that with the exception of clicking a button that says you’re 18 years old, there is no security, firewall or other way to prove that its viewers are actual adults. For kids who are all over the subreddits about anime, video games or Korean pop music, it’s a couple clicks until they can see hardcore pornography, all courtesy of this “socially responsible” website.

I’m not going to take a deep dive into overall website figures because I won’t be able to break them down by room or demographic, and I don’t know if that would prove anything more.

I don’t expect Reddit to change its policy anytime soon. They know sex sells and they know as long as they keep quiet, the millions who are in their pornography rooms daily will also keep their mouths shut. Sex sells and like every other website out there, Reddit makes a lot of money on advertising. Gotta keep those eyeballs on the page, right?

I simply wanted to highlight the fact that while some sites out there are unabashedly promoting pornography, there are others that feature a ton of it (like YouTube) without calling attention to itself, and if you think kids don’t know this, you don’t remember what it’s like being a kid.

Looking for People to Interview ASAP for New Book on Pornography and the Pandemic

I was commissioned by my publisher yesterday to write a small book that dovetails the blog posts I’ve done and podcasts I’ve appeared on, talking about how porn addiction has escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it’s obviously easier to produce a book 25% the size of one of my normal ones, I have much less than 25% of my typical time to produce it. It’s more like 2%.

Like the blog posts, there is going to be a level of research in this book, although it will end with a self-help aspect.

I’m trying to get interviews with people who fit into one of the following categories. If you or anybody you know fits any of these profiles, I would like to talk to you. Everything for publication will be kept anonymous. You can email me at jshea.writer@gmail.com to participate and/or for more details.

I’m looking to interview:

  • A person in longterm recovery who has worried about relapsing during the pandemic or has felt tinges of potentially heading toward relapse, but has not relapsed.
  • I’m looking for the same person above who has actually relapsed.
  • A person in short term recovery who has worried about relapsing during the pandemic or has felt tinges of potentially heading toward relapse, but has not relapsed.
  • I’m looking for the same person above who has actually relapsed.
  • An active addict, or heavy porn user, who can talk about how their viewing habits have changed during the pandemic.
  • Someone who is worried they have crossed into obsessive or addiction territory based on their use of porn during the pandemic.
  • Someone who has seen their porn use increase, but is not too worried about it in the long run.
  • Someone who previously rarely looked at porn but is now engaging at any level.
  • A person who worked in cam rooms or some other form of Internet porn work prior to and during the pandemic.
  • A person who started working in cam rooms or some other form of Internet porn work during the pandemic.
  • Someone who launched an OnlyFans page prior to the pandemic.
  • Someone who launched an OnlyFans page during the pandemic.
  • A professional therapist who will speak to any change in use of pornography reported by their clients during the pandemic.
  • Any friend or family member of somebody whose porn use escalated during the pandemic and they are now more concerned than ever.

If any of these people describe you and you’re willing to go on the record anonymously, please drop me an email at jshea.writer@gmail.com and I’ll be back to you within hours.

Porn Addiction During the Pandemic: Meet the Newest Problem… OnlyFans

I never like to share the names of pornographic websites when I’m educating about pornography addiction. It’s because I know that active porn addicts are a piece of the audience and I don’t want to introduce them to anything that could make their situation worse. It’s only when something is so ingrained in society, like PornHub.com or Penthouse magazine, that I’m comfortable sharing details because I know I’m not turning them on to something they didn’t already know was there.

In the last three or four months, both in live presentations prior to COVID-19 and on podcasts, I have been vaguely referring to the porn site OnlyFans.com, but based on news stories that hit over the weekend about the site and the fallout of one woman posting material on it, it’s probably time to educate the world at large. If you want to read that story, check out: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/otilliasteadman/mechanic-fired-onlyfans-account-indiana

In its simplest terms, OnlyFans is a website that is not all that different than someone’s personal page on Facebook or Twitter. You can post notes, photos, videos and even livestream video. The difference is for someone to access your OnlyFans page, they have to pay a monthly subscription and it’s generally understood that the material you’ll be posting is pornography. The company can get around claiming it’s a porn site because it’s never explicitly stated, but then again, the Q-Tips package says nothing about cleaning your ears and we know where 99% of those cotton swabs go.

The explosion of OnlyFans came at the worst possible time…when millions of young adults were forced out of their jobs in service industries like restaurants or bars, or were laid off/furloughed from their jobs because, by virtue of age and experience, they were lowest on the totem pole.

I’ve already written about cam sites that have been trying to recruit new models, both male and female, to respond to the spike in popularity of online porn because of the quarantine most of the world is under. Idle hands, devil’s playthings – you know the drill. The OnlyFans business structure is different than these other, more blatant adult sites because a “model” never has to go live one-on-one or group chat with anybody. They can easily rationalize to themselves that they are not a sex worker or cam site model. I’m sure more than one person out there posted photos and/or videos taken by their partner never intended for public consumption, but who found themselves with money-making content on their phones.

This reminds me of about 20 years ago when I got into a conversation with one of the strippers hired for a friend’s bachelor party. She also worked as a middle school teacher’s aide several towns over. She explained that in her mind, being a stripper for bachelor parties gave her far more control and was far safer than if she danced in a strip club. She was able to keep a very part-time schedule, security was always with her, she picked who she wanted to work with, could always stop things and didn’t worry about her identity being found as much as if she worked in a traditional strip club.

I still believe that she simply found a way to rationalize her behavior, like I assume most OnlyFans models are rationalizing theirs. Sure, you’re not a traditional porn model and have more control over your content, but you’re still selling your body and I’ve read far too many articles or seen TV stories of women who regret doing porn after the fact, either immediately or years later. I mean really, how many of us who remember those late-night Girls Gone Wild commercials of the late 90s and early 2000s on every cable station think the girls in those commercials – may of whom probably have 15-year-old sons now – aren’t regretting their decision?

 

I first learned about OnlyFans a little more than a year ago when this New York Times story was brought to my attention: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/09/style/onlyfans-porn-stars.html

Ironically, despite being a recovering porn addict, I probably know far more about the online pornography industry now than I ever did in my addiction. If I’m going to keep up with what’s happening and make my presentations, interviews, etc., timely, I’ve got to know what the just-recently-no-longer-kids are doing. Thankfully, it’s been more than six years since I was active in my addiction, but I don’t find it difficult to stay away from the content I’m referencing. I liken it to Sam Malone owning a bar despite being a recovering alcoholic on Cheers.

Most porn fads die as quickly as they arrive or never catch on. For instance, virtual reality porn has been promised going back nearly 30 years now and it’s still not a household thing. I doubt it ever will be and until something gains legs, I don’t pay too much attention, but I’ll tell you, I haven’t seen anything grow this fast since Snapchat.

In March, the P2P video website Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, seemed to drop all of its streaming moderation rules as the pandemic hit. If you’re unfamiliar with Periscope, it’s much like Facebook live or even YouTube live. Somebody in location X is broadcasting and all you need to do is click the mouse to see what’s going down. Most of the time its somebody talking sports or doing a makeup tutorial. Periscope, which has been around for at least five years, has always been generally strong monitoring its streams for nudity and adult material.

(The conspiracy theorist in me would point out that the only social media site OnlyFans encourages people to connect to is Twitter, which again, owns Periscope. You can connect the dots.)

When that moderation seemingly disappeared from Periscope in early March, the site became more like a modern-day casting session for Caligula. People got freaky in a hurry and the amount of streamers opening OnlyFans sites and advertising them was astounding. I don’t know what caused Periscope to start monitoring its streams again, but after a few weeks, it went back to its more conservative streaming rules.

The girls and guys who were dancing around naked just put skimpy swimsuits or underwear on and are still pushing their OnlyFans sites through Periscope. OnlyFans subscription promotion is also happening on the other streaming services and a simple search for “OnlyFans” on Twitter or Instagram is popping hundreds of thousands of returns. Every day, they’re joined by more young adults who don’t mind dressing sexy to tease publicly, and if the person watching is willing to spend $9.99 a month or more, they’ll show more in a controlled private environment.

Of course, that environment only stays private as long as one of the subscribers does not make copies and distribute it for free out on the Internet. At that point, you’re no longer charging a small pool of people to see you acting out sexually. You’re letting exponentially more see it for free, in perpetuity. A PornHub.com search for the phrase “OnlyFans” results in nearly 5,000 results.

While there are stories of some models making thousands of dollars per month, I’ve yet to read this kind of anecdote from anybody who has joined recently, though. Like all economics, it’s a matter of supply and demand. It’s the early arrivers and those who already had a name in the porn world who seem to make the money. Aside from a couple of horny ex-customers, who is specifically going to drop $10 to see former small-town waiter X or waitress Y take a shower when they are just one of tens of thousands of out-of-work people who have turned to OnlyFans.

Is putting pornography of yourself out into the world worth it for $5,000 per month? $500? $50? One of the great quotes of the Buzzfeed piece I linked above is from a former porn star who says that you have to go into it knowing that everyone from your family to your best friends to your worst enemies will end up learning you did porn sooner or later.

What price is that really worth? I’m betting it’s not equal to the regret many will eventually feel.