NY Times: Live Cams Business Blooming

Lila Gray

NEW YORK — The New York Times’ recent piece “Intimacy on the Web, With a Crowd” paints the live cam business as a booming market resistant to online piracy, offering a personal glimpse into the daily grind of one full-time model, as well as commentary from adult entertainment industry insiders.    

After a short introduction to cam model Lacey (AKA Miss Lollipop), the article’s focal subject, reporter Matt Richtel sums up the jist of the cam biz as “a kind of digital-era peep show, [that] has been around for a few years, but as the technology has become better and cheaper, the concept of camming is proving well more than passing: it has created a money-making opportunity in a pornography business eroded by the distribution of free sexual content on the Internet.”

This appraisal is echoed by several industry honchos wielding stats to back them up: LiveJasmin Executive Consultant Douglas Richter, Vivid CEO Steven Hirsch and Alec Helmy, publisher of XBIZ.

“Camming is driving the adult industry,” Helmy says in the article.

Not-so-coincidentally, live cam platform LiveJasmin is ranked by Internet traffic tracker Alexa as the 80th most popular site in the U.S. and the 103rd most popular in the world; Compete.com estimates that it has around 25 million unique visitors a month. Richter explains that customers can buy “tips” in bundles (200 for $19.99) and then distribute them to the models anonymously for special requests and personal attention.  

“This payment structure, and the fact that the models can work in a safe place, slyly inverts the traditional power dynamic in the sex trade,” the author interprets, adding that cam models enjoy greater freedom in this new system, virtual security issues notwithstanding.

The article depicts Lacey as a sex worker with a sharp entrepreneurial edge. The 25-year-old keeps her paddles (to spank herself) and other sex toys well organized, handles her own lighting and even calculates metrics for her cam shows with the help of her hired assistant, Mr. Lewis.

Mr. Lewis found that one of her shows in which she applied oil in her backyard garnered 48,795 tokens (about $2,439), while a “maids and room service” brought in around $534.85. The duo “look at what other models are doing, explore new trends, try to measure what works and doesn’t” to maximize their profits and keep an edge on their competition.

While there are potentially unsavory pitfalls to camming — namely, harassment, public exposure or over-attached fans — and Lacey has experienced all three — there seems to be a removed comfort in the digital distance between performer and anonymous viewers.

Lacey approaches camming with the vigor any upstart cultivating their career; her boyfriend, who approves of her work, explained that he was mainly annoyed by her “round-the-clock entrepreneurship” and inability to "turn off the brand."