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April 14, 2024

In a Lonely Environment, OnlyFans Creators Found Unexpected Allies In Paying Subscribers

Rae Richmond felt she understood what she was getting into when she posted pornographic content on OnlyFans. She had spent almost six months investigating the platform and its business implications. But what she faced was worse than expected.

One acquaintance from her small Southern hometown doxxed her on Facebook after learning about her OnlyFans and revealing her stage name and real name. Similar to Richmond, the creators in this story employ stage names to conceal their privacy.

After that, dozens of individuals, some of whom she’d known for decades, started denouncing her on social media and messaging her personally. She remembered being called “a whore, a sinner,” “serving Satan,” and “going to hell.”

It was “mob mentality,” Richmond said.

“They just attacked me personally,” Richmond added. “Their idea was that I couldn’t possibly have made a business decision to do this on my own, that my boyfriend must have coerced me, or he must have drugged me.”

In 2022, OnlyFans creators earned over $5.6 billion, the last time corporate data was made public. Creators often face stigma, family disapproval, and trouble making real-life friends. Some have lost employment, been banned from church, and had their children expelled from school.

“The stigma associated with sex work creates massive difficulties for sex workers,” said New School associate professor and SexTech Lab head Pani Farvid. “Workers, rather than clients, bear the brunt of the stigma associated with the sex industry and are positioned as the social or moral ‘problem.'”

Some producers feel alone and interact with their subscribers, blurring the boundary between customers and friends. “There’s a degree of human connection and relationship involved in creator-fan interaction,” OnlyFans CEO Keily Blair told the FT. “That’s what sets us apart from many other platforms.”

Despite the drawbacks, many creators think OnlyFans can make them life-changing money. Betting can be risky, and posting a few provocative photos won’t make you rich.

A millionaire gamer and OnlyFans inventor, Kaitlyn Siragusa, known online as Amouranth, said, “Many people think they can just start an OnlyFans as a nobody online.” OnlyFans needs more discovery. “You’d submit photos of yourself, and only your friends would view them—not necessarily a positive thing.”

“Then your social circle and potentially your employment situation are impacted,” she said. “You’ll make no money and have fewer options than before.”

Talking to subscribers is part of the work, but fans can become confidants.

Richmond’s OnlyFans-related friendship losses hurt. “The one girl who had been my friend since birth came to me and said that I was going to hell,” he added. BI reported that adult content creators like OnlyFans had to accept losing friends and relatives.

“We are so marginalized by society,” OnlyFans founder Elaina St James told BI. I’ve lost many pals. All my family is gone. “My job keeps my sisters away from me. We can be lonely.”

Even beyond pornographic content, producers are lonely. OnlyFans creators shoot, edit, and upload at home like other influencers and freelancers. This can lead to burnout and loneliness.

“This business can isolate,” St James added. “We work so much there isn’t much time for anything else.”

Connecting with fans helps reduce loneliness. Creators spend a lot of time chatting with fans on OnlyFans. The network is mostly recognized for subscriptions, but “microtransactions,” including bespoke content, direct messages, and tips, are popular methods of making money. The designers told BI that they spent up to eight hours a day conversing with followers in direct messages, which occasionally outearned subscriptions.

Creators messaging fans so frequently can blur the lines between work and chat with friends. In a recent interview with BI, cosplay designer Liensue called her ties with some followers “a kind of friendship” based on “the mutual trust of chatting every evening.”

“I often seek out my fans to advise me,” she said. I confess my insecurities. It feels right.” A regular conversationalist unexpectedly unsubscribed from her page, leaving creator Isla Moon feeling “abandoned.”

“Why does it feel like a breakup when they depart after building a relationship? I sobbed over a fan quitting my page. She claimed it seemed strange.”

After ten years as a conventional sex worker, Cherie DeVille stated that OnlyFans’ subscriber connections were unlike any other. After learning a faithful fan had died of cancer, she cried.

She added that compared to her past adult-content work, “OnlyFans is really different; it’s really real. “You get to know people.”

Customer, boyfriend, or both?

Amber Sweetheart is single. She speaks with four paying OnlyFans “boyfriends.” The creator talks to them for up to eight hours daily, discussing her day and more private topics for a price.

Sweetheart said direct messaging accounted for almost half of OnlyFans’ millions, and her job left her little time and inclination to connect with possible mates.

“The money and content would challenge many men. “I want to avoid trouble,” she said. “If I dated in real life, it would be hard not to be viewed as some sort of porn star, or a sex kitten or whatever.”

In a monogamous relationship, OnlyFans might be challenging, like other sex work. A 2022 research of over 200 sex workers found that their jobs negatively affected their romantic relationships. Some even hid it from their partners.

“It can be pretty tricky for women sex workers to navigate a typical committed relationship with a man,” he said.

After meeting some subscribers, Sweetheart declared she could survive without a boyfriend.

“I get some sexual interaction, I get some emotional interaction, I get some support,” they stated. “Maybe if I didn’t have that, I would be more keen to date someone in real life.”

Farvid and Marie Lippmann, an associate professor of psychology at California State University, Chico, stated that OnlyFans creator-subscriber relationships should be more studied.

“A lot of sex workers are very clear about their boundaries, and even when they’re socializing or talking to clients on social media, they see this as a form of immaterial digital labor,” he added. 

“If the intimacy happens outside of work, that’s intriguing. Only fans’ mainstreaming, which attracts varied people, may explain it. OnlyFans is more like social media, which may increase intimacy.”

Intimacy is commercially motivated. A financial transaction underpins the relationship. Creators told BI they emphasized talking to the most frequent high-spenders.

“It’s complicated and big,” Liensue added. What do I call those relationships? “Are they friends? How do you classify them? The financial aspect messes it up.”

Money makes OnlyFans ‘just so worth it.’ Despite the stigma, several creators said money kept them on OnlyFans. Work is what it is.

“This is one industry where women earn a lot more money than men and have that capacity to get a lot of economic capital under their belt,” he said. Working as a sex worker is challenging. Many of us can see why someone would or could put up with the hurdles if it’s lucrative enough.”

Isla Moon wants $100,000 a month, which justifies the job. In 2023, she earned $4 million, doubling her monthly objective. She said, “That amount is just so worth it.” OnlyFans earnings can help families pay for education and secure a better future.

“I can finally retire and improve my son’s life, possibly leaving him an inheritance.” I had none of it before OF. “After a lifetime of white-collar occupations, 56-year-old St James made over $500,000 on the platform by 2023.”

How much money justifies society’s judgment is personal. Emme Witt, an author who left OnlyFans after a few years, didn’t think the $4,000 a month outweighed the risk of adult content stigmatizing her children.

“One platform creator makes $500,000 a year. This is unbelievable. She’s done. I envy.” “That’s nice money, but I’m not jealous of her life,” Witt added. “She hoped to avoid hearing her kids say, “Oh, my friend saw your porn, mom.”

How much they earn matters for some. From 2020 to 2024, Siragusa earned nearly $57 million on the platform. “There’s a certain amount of money where people are just impressed,” remarked. “They stop thinking, 

‘Oh, you’re a slut.'” They say, ‘Good for you.”

“That money changes people’s perception,” she said.

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