opinion

The Dangers of Camming

The Dangers of Camming

Web camming. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing; a great job that allows you to make money while expressing yourself in any way you can, be it your personality, sexuality, creativity or a combination. So many girls start in the industry young, looking to help pay their way through college or helping ends meet while they’re fresh on their own for the first time. It’s cool, it’s glamorous, there are parties, gifts, money and people who make you feel like the most beautiful, sexual creature alive — all safely behind your computer screen in the comfort of your own bedroom, living room or cam space. You work when you want to … and the more you do, the more you want to. It’s something that can consume your whole life if you aren’t careful. But the rush! The drive to do better, to rise up the ranks, to be at the top … and when you get there and achieve what you want, you’re at a point where there’s almost no better feeling. This is not the case for everyone, I’m sure, and all cases are different, but from my own experiences and those of girls I’ve known and talked to in depth over the years, it’s a majority.

One of the other great things about being a web cam model is the community your site creates, right? You get to attend parties, free of charge, network with other girls from around the world, make friends with other girls who actually understand you (I mean, Janet from your yoga class who sells real estate just doesn’t understand why you’d shake your titties for a token noise), get your photo taken like you’re a celebrity … it feels good. You have everyone around you supporting you, feeding you everything you want to hear, sharing their own experiences and it does feel like a community where you have solid friends who understand you and everything you go through. And you do make friends, you really do; with cam models and with members. The problem with the good experiences is that they make you think that nothing will ever happen and everything is just normal this way. Nothing will change and these people who “love” you would never want to hurt you — these people you talk to, build up and engage with daily, they have nothing to gain from hurting you.

You need to look out for yourself, not everyone is always going to do it for you.

That’s the lie you have heard and tell yourself, but it isn’t true.

You’ve maybe heard the phrase “it’s lonely at the top,” but it applies here heavily. I’m not saying I’m at the top, because I’m writing from my own experiences and those from other girls I’ve talked to. “The top” is subjective to anyone else around you. When you’ve placed top 100, but your friend can’t get out of the 500s, it may not seem like it, but it can breed resentment. The age-old “what am I doing wrong?” cam girl mantra or the “what does she have that I don’t” — whether you’re ranking in the top 10 or the lower thousands, there is always someone doing better than you, always someone else you’re doing better than. When money is involved, and the competition breeds resentment, all bets are off.

There are good, truly good people in this industry on the cam model and member side, people who will really stick out their neck for you and have your best interests at heart. The problem comes from discerning between someone who does care about you, and someone who cares about what you can do for them. What you can do for them can be less innocent than it sounds. Let me discuss why. I’m going to give some of my own experiences as well as experiences I know, shared by other camgirls, who I will leave nameless.

I was young and naïve when I started web camming. I wasn’t even 21 at the time and was doing it for fun alongside another job and school. I didn’t take it very serious for a long time, I just enjoyed doing it. I still do, most days. After a while, I did well enough that I quit my other job and started taking camming more seriously. I started meeting other girls, very slowly, bringing them into cam with me, getting more creative with my shows and setup, and I started gaining traction. I didn’t ever start camming thinking I’d be able to make the achievements that I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to achieve to date. Everyone was so nice to me, so helpful … so many people giving me advice and tips, coaching me along, whether it was the members I knew or the models I met. I just took it all in stride and continued on, hardly believing the luck I was having. And that’s what camming is most of the time, just luck. You catch someone’s eye and they want to spoil you. Another day you’ll do a creative show and nobody is interested. Camming is like a big roulette wheel and you never know what’s going to pay off.

The first time I realized everything wasn’t fun and games was when an air conditioner showed up in my apartment. I didn’t order it, I didn’t sign for it and it wasn’t even in a shipping box. I had been complaining online about my apartment not having A/C and how hot it had become that summer. A member, who I will leave nameless, ended up hunting down my address, and to this day I do not know how, got into my apartment and left the air conditioner. Now this gesture in general seems nice … but I also had a PO Box which everyone knew about, where things were supposed to be sent. The fact that someone would then track down exactly where I lived, come inside, all without my knowledge or consent, is terrifying. Perhaps I let something slip one day after drinking some wine online, perhaps they knew my post office box address, waited for me to come check it, then followed me home … regardless, my trust in my member base was temporarily destroyed. I’m still not at a point where I’m comfortable sharing most details about my life, something I used to be very open with — all this, from one person and their poor judgment, however kindly it had been intended.

Something that members need to understand is that despite what we portray online, we are people and we are entitled to our privacy. When someone works at McDonald’s, you don’t follow them home to find out where they live so they can cook you a burger. There needs to be separation between fantasy and reality, something that many haven’t been able to figure out, even the understanding that if you are friends, you’re not entitled to know everything about someone. I have many friends who I don’t share certain details of my life with, hell, a lot of my friends don’t even know my home address … which brings me to my next point.

Cam girls … we are an interesting breed. We are admired from the other side of a computer screen, sometimes from across the globe and sometimes from the same state. Some of our friends, even cam girls, we have never met in person, and yet we form these connections, seemingly with ease. I think it’s easy, in a digital age, to disassociate a real person from what you see of them online. We only see what someone wants us to see. When you scroll through Instagram or Twitter, you see the happy front that everyone puts out. When we are on cam, we are happy and cheerful, there to entertain, and not much (if anything) is known about what’s been happening in our personal lives off cam. It also does something else … maybe you’re that person putting on the happy face when you’re down or going through a hard time, but all you see on your feeds are happy faces, all happier than you are feeling. What we don’t realize is that nobody is actually that successful and happy all the time, and it can make us feel alone or resentful. I think the competition with Miss MFC, while with good intentions, can cause a lot of friction between girls on the site. It can change people, who aren’t necessarily bad people, but end up doing bad things.

I wanted friends who understood me and my job — I think we all do. I was too trusting, too willing to jump into bed (figuratively, but kind of literally when you think about it) with any girl who was nice to me and befriended me. I had these girls over to my personal home, allowed them to stay in my guest rooms, shared personal information like my legal name, they saw my ID numerous times, etc. These were people I trusted, people who I thought understood the dangers of our job; the stalkers, the threats, the harassment and the potential for bodily harm. Some of these girls I am still friendly with today, but there are the ones, who I will not name as I’m not here to bring shame or a fight, just awareness, who tried to thoroughly wreck my life and put me in harm’s way for money, due to either a nasty competitive streak, selfishness or jealousy.

My home address was sold to a tipper when I lived in California. This has been confirmed by the seller herself, both drunkenly online and to other cam girls. The member had my address and didn’t notify me of it, until I confronted him and he said he found it by accident on a real estate app. Both this cam model and this member were people I trusted, people I thought were my friends and had my back. It came out later that this same cam model had been showing a front to me for months, while going behind my back and saying nasty things about me to my other regular members as well as trying to start fights between me and my other model friends, feeding them lies about things I had said, according to her, which I never did. All to make me feel alone and poach a large tipper. Luckily, most of the girls she talked to knew what kind of person I am, and chose to talk to me rather than delving into her lies. Sadly, one of the people I considered my best friend, did buy into those lies, and she herself proceeded to give out my personal information and lies of her own as well. This was years ago, and the seeds planted have never stopped growing or evolving, it’s something I can’t even grow past myself when it keeps pulling me back into something I never asked for.

At this point, I’ve moved three times since my first home address was known to be sold. I’ve moved five times since that other member came into my home to leave an air conditioner, and who knows how he got that? My legal name is now being spread around the internet, my new home address in Las Vegas has been given out and I’ve been threatened that it will continue to be given out, my family has been found and harassed, lies continue to be spread … and there is nothing I can do but keep pushing forward. Right now, I’m dealing with someone who has made a Twitter account, the avatar being a picture of the front of my house. This account is calling people to DM it to receive my phone number and home address for a “big party” during AVN time. In this day and age, where doxing and cyberbullying are constantly talked about, it’s actually amazing to me how little platforms like Twitter care about the safety of adult performers. There are accounts on Twitter made by a certain individual, spreading my legal name, offering up my home address, impersonating/insulting/bullying other members who are friends of mine, etc. Yet, despite all the reporting done by myself and the other targeted persons, apparently nothing has violated their TOS. There is no verification for these accounts, it can all be done behind an anonymous account, without any repercussions for those people. So, as they continue to harass not only me and my friends, I know other girls who are in their own horrible situations and Twitter continues to offer us zero assistance. They treat us like subhumans, as if because of our jobs, we deserve to be attacked. They’ll shadowban us, act like we do not exist and allow us to continually deal with targeted harassment, cruelty and our personal information being broadcast for the world. The only thing I can do at this point is move, yet again. One of the excuses/problems that Twitter has with adult performers is that we often use a pseudonym, just as many mainstream actors/actresses do, and their excuse for not providing assistance is that our legal names on the ID verification they ask for, does not match our social media accounts. Therefore, someone abusing Twitter and impersonating a performer or a member by using their real legal name, can continue to do so, as Twitter decides that despite all the information you give them to prove who you are, they can choose to ignore the situation. Twitter and other social media platforms clearly target adult industry workers, and it becomes more obvious as time goes by.

If I could give new, or even existing cam girls any advice, it would be as follows:

1. If you plan to work with another cam model, especially one you don’t know much about, spring that extra dollar and get a hotel room for the time you plan to work together. You will make the money back camming together and selling videos. Sometimes you need to spend money to make money, and it’s better and cheaper than having to pack up and move if your home address is sold.

2. Start a business. Get incorporated. Set up an LLC, something that allows you to use business checks for your business transactions with other cam models. Personal checks are just an easy way of giving someone proof of your legal name and the ability to share it with others.

3. Be aware of members who could turn into stalkers/abusive members. These can be hard to see. Does this person make you feel guilty for things you do or talk about? Does this member demand more attention than you are giving? Does this member take up more of your time than your real-life relationships? Does this member start fights with other members or complain constantly about them to you either in private messages or offline? Does this member try to start fights between you and other members or models? Despite how much someone spends on you, you’re not making them do it, they are not entitled to you, your life, your personal information or anything more than what you offer them online. Make sure that you set boundaries with people early on.

4. If you have an Amazon wish list or fans want to send you letters and gifts, do not give them your address ... nor the address of a friend. Paying for a PO Box is cheap, easy and is a tax write off. You can put your model name on the box, for delivery, as well as your legal name for confirmation, and they are not allowed to give that information to anyone.

5. Be careful what you show. License plates, street signs, even restaurants or certain parks can all be traced and used together to find out where you live.

6. A VPN is not a bad investment, IP addresses are surprisingly easy to find, especially on cam sites if the person is willing to put in the effort. Once again, paying for a VPN is a tax write off.

7. Unplug your webcam when you have signed offline and cover the one on your laptop. This is easy to do, just a small bit of paper and tape.

8. Do not give out your real phone number to people. Buy a burner phone essentially, or use one of the many apps that are secure and available. Things like Kik messenger or, my personal favorite, Telegram. These provide all the same aspects of someone having your number, without them actually having your number.

9. If you go out for drinks with another cam girl, or are sharing a hotel, be careful with your wallet. Pay for as much as you can with cash, check into the hotel by yourself so your name isn’t shared openly, etc. At a bar or restaurant, pay for things with cash, be careful to avoid showing your cards or your ID.

10. Be careful of your computer around other cam girls or members, especially at a public setting like a convention. It can be easy to forget the log-in screen of your computer may be your real name. On top of that, a lot of personal information is in your laptop. It’s also very easy to get ahold of information from someone’s computer, especially at a convention where it’s unattended. You’d be amazed what information someone can get with five minutes alone at your laptop.

These are just some of the ways that you can protect yourself, especially when you’re first starting off as a cam girl. There are many other ways, some I’m sure I don’t even know of. Do your research, because you owe it to yourself to keep yourself safe. You need to look out for yourself, not everyone is always going to do it for you. The internet is a scary place, it may be safer than some jobs, but it is not without its risks. And those risks? They are very real. I just hope that this can be read, thought about and hopefully prepare people for what could happen and has happened to myself and many others.

Once again, there are many wonderful people in this job field, and you should immerse yourself as much as you are comfortable and enjoy it! Just remember, this is your life and it’s the only one you have, make sure to take care of it. It may sound sad, but after all these years and experiences, my motto is “trust nobody.” This doesn’t mean that you have to be a mean person, close yourself off or anything like that. It simply means to look out for yourself and be careful what you share. You never know who’s watching or listening.

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