Subscription Intimacy: the Rise of Pandemic sex workers

Adia Ayanna
The Comeback of Culture
3 min readApr 15, 2021

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The lack of intimacy during COVID pushed touched-deprived people into the arms of Pornography and Camming’s lovechild: OnlyFans.

The online subscription service created a new form of intimacy that Pornography lacked, as creators interacted directly with their lonely subscribers. With the mirage of fast money and trendy celebrities on board, it’s no wonder that women under 25 were reeled in.

However, the newbies falling into sex work mid-COVID would soon realize the money and notietry are temporary with significant backlash.

Whitney Ken experienced it firsthand.

“One of my favorite Instagramers posted her link and I thought it was a sign. I watched all the YouTube videos about OnlyFans, so I felt like I was prepared,” Ken explains.

It’s no surprise that from the success stories covered, OnlyFans appears to be a fun, stress-free zone. Unfortunately, the glitzy influencers with designer shoes and wild profits unknowingly created unrealistic expectations that Dr. Funmilayo Rachal, a Young Adult psychiatrist, sees a darker side to.

“Everyone wants to be like Kim Kardashian. Onlyfans gives this false hope that they can be rich and notable as a sex worker,” Rachal says. Like Kim Kardashian who created an empire after a leaked sex tape, OnlyFans offered the possibility to not just survive a Pandemic, but inch closer to fame.

Streaming cash flow doesn’t reach everyone, nor will it reap millions of followers. While OnlyFans has been on the map for a few years, it has the possibility of meeting the same end other popular sex-based sites had. This not only makes the new sex workers vulnerable to a possible end of their Pandemic side-hustle, but it creates a desperation that Christian Sexologist, Brittany Broaddus, sees with ex-porn actresses.

“They created whatever they could to get what they needed, but that money ended up not being sustainable,” Broaddus states. Like a lot of influencers, Broaddus uses the Pandemic as a way to bring attention to her business and moral values, especially when plenty of her clients suffer from a rise of Pornography addictions during lockdown.

“They’re all desensitized to the money without realizing they rely on monetary rewards to feel good about what they’re doing,” Broaddus continues.

To Whitney Ken, temporary dissatisfaction was worthwhile when she was apart of one of the top money-making hustles of the pandemic. Horror stories of evicted students going hungry make her act irrationally and think in the present.

Not the future consequences.

Rachal rules impulsivity as another factor that usually backfires. “When you’re a woman under 25 needing money to survive during a global Pandemic, you’re mentally not checking all the boxes,” Rachal says. “There also runs a risk of worsening self-objectification and impacting future jobs.”

The naivety that temporary sex-workers bring particularly aggravate the pioneers of OnlyFans. Experienced sex workers find themselves sharing the platform with “shortcomers” who idolize the success stories. In the words of Monroe D, a Cam Girl who discovered OnlyFans three years ago, “shortcomers” get a rude awakening.

“The issue is their motivation is purely money. Nothing wrong with it, everyone loves money, but when you’re a literal sex worker posting your body on the internet, you can’t throw it away. You’re branded,” D explains. The imaginary scarlet letter that gets embroidered on most sex workers is what makes the rise of temporary OnlyFans creators particularly alarming.

The driving force of virtual intimacy has always relied on exploitation and the hope of escaping financial hardships. The added mixture of an shaky future left companies profiting from the desperation of girls who barely started their lives.

Whitney Ken managed to move back with her parents in their tiny mobile home in Alabama. Even though her Onlyfans career ended, she still worries about life in the real world.

“You never know who saw it. That’s what stresses me. If anyone asked me why I say don’t, it’s the guilt, not really the pictures.”

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