Cam Sites Are Seeing A Spike During Quarantine, But Not Just Because People Are Horny

An influx of new viewers and performers to live adult sites does not mean business is good.

With the majority of humanity now on lockdown in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, adult cam sites, which allow viewers to watch and interact with erotic performers in real time, say they’ve seen a massive viewership spike.

Gunner Taylor of Cams.com estimates his site and most others have “seen about a 30 percent increase in traffic.” Max Bennet of Stripchat says growth has only been accelerating in recent days, as lockdowns have expanded in scale and intensity. “We can tell the difference between social distancing and stay-at-home orders” based on regional traffic patterns, he said, with the latter leading to starker traffic increases. “We can see the degree of compliance” with those measures, too.

Bennett and many other cam site operators and performers say there’s more to this boost than simple stir-crazy horniness. They also suspect that the more and longer people are cooped up inside, the higher cam site traffic will likely continue to climb. However, that may not necessarily mean a windfall for performers.

It is easy to see this traffic bump as just another byproduct of “boredom, and masturbating out of boredom,” as the cam performer Rebecca Vanguard puts it. Traditional porn sites like Pornhub have reported traffic spikes in recent weeks too, especially in areas under lockdown.

It’s also easy to write off some new adult traffic as artificially induced. Pornhub and many other sites that deal in traditional porn have been offering temporary free or discounted (premium) memberships to people affected by coronavirus. Many cam sites already allow people to watch cammers for free, in public chatrooms with hundreds or thousands of other viewers. But sites like Cams.com, CamSoda, Stripchat, and xHamsterLive have been offering free tokens, used to tip performers (often to get them to perform a desired act) or pay them to go into private chats, for people creating new accounts while under lockdown.

“Many of us are alone and starved for human attention”

Yet Alex Hawkins of xHamster argues that “many of us are alone and starved for human attention,” and therein lies the true appeal of cam sites for a big chunk of viewers. “It’s quite nice to be able to chat with someone. Even if you are not home alone, it can be quite nice to talk to someone different.” The quest for connection — especially the kind of one-sided and uncomplicated intimacy cam sites often provide — may well explain why Hawkins says that xHamster’s cam platform has seen traffic grow twice as fast as its flagship tube site.

Adult cam shows are often conceptualized as live, interactive porn, offering bespoke and reactive experiences. However cam connoisseurs and researchers have long noted that, while still adult entertainment, camming is distinct from porn because of the emphasis it puts on building relationships between viewers and performers. Sure, some sites focus primarily on nudity and live sex, and Vanguard certainly thinks most of her viewers just want to get off. Most cammers, though, say part of the secret to building large and lucrative followings is to foster a sense of intimate connection with viewers. Even people who visit cams for a quick pornographic fix often find themselves sucked into the more emotional and personal aspects of the sites.

That’s why many cammers spend as much or more time clothed and chatting with viewers as they do getting naked and performing sex acts. It’s why a number of high-earning performers only do non-nude shows. It’s also why many individuals who try to cam fail, argues performer GuiltyCaprice: They simply get naked and act sexy, ignoring the specialized emotional and communicative skill sets and labor that go into crafting a successful cam persona or show.

Taylor points out that cam sites aren’t set up to monitor how viewers interact with performers, beyond how much time they spend in a room and how many tokens they spend. So it is hard to know for sure whether the people flocking to these sites on lockdown are acting out of a sense of isolation and a search for connection, or whether they are just experimenting with new sites and erotic fixes, bopping around the internet aimlessly as many of us are wont to do when trapped at home and bored.

However, there are some indications, in both industry press materials and viewer requests made directly to performers, that the demand for cam-to-cam tools, which allow cammers to see their viewers rather than just their screen names and texts (as is the norm on most sites), has been growing in recent weeks. Some insiders take this as a sign of a thirst for connection, spurred by the isolation of lockdowns, over voyeuristic adult content consumption.

Cammers offer a unique form of connection, which may be especially appealing in times of stress and crisis

Turning to cams for a sense of connection may seem odd when we have access to a myriad of videoconferencing tools that allow us to stay close to our friends and family, or even to date, during lockdowns. Cammers note that they, as a distinct category of sex workers, offer a unique form of connection, though, which may be especially appealing in times of stress and crisis, when people want uncomplicated care and comfort.

“A relationship with a friend is reciprocal,” explains performer Jessica Starling. “You vent to your friend, and it’s expected that your friend can in turn vent to you. The intimacy a sex worker provides is one-way. It is effortless on the part of the client. They just have to pay the sex worker’s fee. The focus is on the client’s experience, the client’s wants and needs.”

“I don’t know about you,” says performer Alex Coal, “but I don’t feel like I can share all my concerns and worries with people in my personal life. You don’t want to overload your loved ones,” especially when they’re stressed, if you’re cooped up with them, or if they may themselves be a point of stress in your life. “Venting to a friend online is much more comfortable.”

A surge of scared viewers looking for undemanding and often one-sided digital contact and comfort may not be great news for cammers, many of whom Hawkins notes are living in lockdown — effectively trapped at work — and coping with stress and fear as well. Sure, Cole notes, some regulars want to check in on their favorite performers, to make sure they are okay. Many also don’t want to talk about the virus, says GuiltyCaprice. They are “looking for an escape” on cams, not to dwell in their fears. Still, performer Lauren Phillips says that a critical mass of her viewers “want to talk about the coronavirus and how it is affecting us all.”

The emotional labor of camming can be draining, and burnout and depression among cammers is common in the best of times. Funnel more anxiety and stress into a performer’s life from the external world and through their chatrooms, and emotional attrition may accelerate or amplify. That’s why Cole warns performers to be especially aware in these times “of their limits in absorbing other people’s distress, and practice self-care,” taking time off if and as they can.

Starling adds while she and other performers who make traditional porn content as well as cam have seen increased sales figures on clip and tube sites, due to discounts and sales geared toward folks stuck at home, there is good reason to doubt that growing cam viewership will translate into new income for cammers. Eyeballs, after all, do not always equal dollars in this industry.

People who are worried about their jobs and finances seem more likely to make use of the ample free content on cam sites and less likely to shell out on paid private shows or tips, GuiltyCaprice says. Lockdowns have also messed with regular viewers’ and spenders’ patterns, says performer Red_Delicious. Trapped at home with other people, and as such usually with less private time, many viewers are now logging on to cam sites for just a few minutes at a time, at irregular or odd hours. These upheavals make it harder for cammers to profit.

Bennet and Taylor actually frame their sites’ free token offers for new cam viewers as stimulus programs, trying to funnel money to cammers who may struggle with the way things are shifting, and to push consumers into spending rather than just viewing free content piecemeal. “We’ve seen from past free token offers that this is a good way to encourage spending,” explains Taylor.

Eyeballs, after all, do not always equal dollars in this industry

A few performers also worry that job insecurity caused by coronavirus lockdowns will lead to a spike in the number of people signing up to cam, potentially creating a glut of performers that may cut into existing cammers’ profits. Escorts, exotic dancers, and traditional porn performers especially have noted in recent weeks that they are losing work to the virus and are considering camming for the first time to make up for it.

(Many legal brothels and strip clubs have closed down in the name of social distancing. Those that remain open have lost clientele and workers to coronavirus fears. Most porn performers are still shooting indie and solo content, but over the past month, most major studios have shut down production in response to the pandemic. These shoots are still vital to many performers’ income or visibility, so long-term studio freezes will still hurt many performers’ bottom lines.)

Off the Record Models, a cam performer agency, says it has seen a 25 percent spike in applications for management and representation since lockdowns began, and many more inquiries about getting into camming. Stripchat has seen a 15 percent increase in new models registering on the platform since the start of the year, adds Bennet, but a nearly 300 percent increase in the number of Italian models signing up in recent days. Just behind Italy on the sign-up chart, US model registrations are up 45 percent.

“I have been avoiding camming during this pandemic,” says Starling, precisely because of the trouble that consumer austerity and a surge of new performers could pose to all performers’ profits. “I’ve heard from many of my colleagues that cam business has been really slow.”

 

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Do You Jump From One Relationship To Another? You Could Be A Serial Monogamist

“What if that’s me?”

We all have that one friend who always announces that he/she has found “the one”. Whenever they get into a new relationship, they go all in and are completely smitten. Fast forward a few months later, and things are not looking so rosy.

There are some people out there who just cannot stay single, no matter how hard they try. But, the thing is, it’s not like they’re sleeping with every person they meet either. They genuinely like commitment and stability, so they almost always end up in a “serious” relationship with whomever they meet.

Are you that friend who can’t, for the life of you, stay single? There’s a term for it–“serial monogamist”. If you want to figure out if you are a serial monogamist or not, here is a checklist of traits found in people who just can’t be alone.

1. You are unhappy when alone

This is a tell-tale sign of a serial monogamist. You dislike not being paired up. The idea of going through life without a partner by your side seems daunting and almost unthinkable. This is why as soon as one relationship ends, you are already actively looking for another partner.

It has reached a point where you don’t remember the last time you were truly single.

2. You have a string of proper exes

Most people categorize their partners into casual hookups, friends with benefits, and long-term relationships. You have just one category–long-term relationships. The number of significant exes in your life is way longer than any of your friends’ lists.

This is because you’ve given your all in every relationship you’ve been in. There’s no slacking for you. You genuinely like stability and commitment and will, therefore, spare no effort when it comes to making things work.

3. You thrive when in a relationship

When you’re paired up with someone, you’re less distracted in life. You go to work, get back home, and live your life in a relaxed and easy manner. If you’re single, you’re constantly wondering if skipping a party might dramatically decrease your chances of meeting a nice guy that you could eventually end up with.

You’re usually stressing over not having a partner, which makes you distracted, unproductive, and no fun to hang out with. You’re just better when you have a significant other in your life.

4. You overlook many red flags

You have a tendency to overlook many potential red flags in a partner. In your quest to make things work, you ignore behaviors that are considered problematic like anger management and control issues.

This is precisely why the relationship does come to an eventual end. You have no choice but to end things when you realize that even with your supreme benevolence, you can’t force something which is not working.

But then, a few months later, you’re in a new relationship. And the cycle starts all over again.

 

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Liz – Chapter 5 – Another One Down

FRIDAY

I send her a spectacular happy birthday text. It’s a Bitmoji that looks like me with balloons. (It’s an iphone thing)

She loved it.

“How cool is this?!!!! Thank you!”

SATURDAY

“Hope your having a fun birthday weekend!”

“Thank you so much. It’s a great weekend.”

MONDAY

“Welcome back! I’m free after 5 today. I have some meetings in the morning on Tuesday but should be available by the afternoon.”

“Thank you (smiley face) I should be available this evening. Let me make sure. (Later) “Tuesday looks good for me.” (happy face)

“Ok I’ll let you know when and where.”

“Will do.”

TUESDAY

“What time do you want to meet up?”

“I just got out of a meeting. I can meet at 5pm at Square 1682.”

Later….

“Hi. I am not going to be able to make that time. After 6?”

“Sure. You’re worth waiting for.”

“Awww thank you! (smiley with hands) Ok so I’m thinking 6:30. Is that okay?”

At this point I have just worked a million shifts at both sites and just got up early and took the test to be certified to be Serve Safe for the restaurant. I’m going to my dear friend’s for the 4th of July and I don’t have to be in until 5 at Mac Mart so I’m good.

“That’s perfectly fine. I’ts pouring rain outside right now so that works out well.”

A half hour passes. I’m just happy I’ve finally taken the test for Safe Serve and I don’t have to study anymore. It’s been a chore. Working both jobs and studying this huge book about how to not get people sick at your restaurant. It’s so important. Any restaurant you walk into there must be a person that is Serve Safe certified or the board of health will shut you down.

Cooking and serving food to the general public is critical. NEVER get anyone sick. That’s the central message.

I’m chilling at Square, sipping wine and editing this blog when I get this message:

“Please please please forgive me, but I just walked into the house and I am pooped. I would love to hang, but I’m sinking fast. Can we reschedule?”

I’m spent from the week and this day, so I am totally relieved I don’t have to engage another person.

“Sure! I’m really tired too. I have has a long day. I’m just going to chill at the bar for a bit until the rain stops. I have my laptop and my favorite bartender’s working.”

“Oh, that sounds perfect. Thank you for understanding.”

“No worries dear! Like I said, I’m beat as well.”

THE FOURTH OF JULY COMES AND GOES

FRIDAY

“How are you Liz? How was your 4th?

“I’m doing good. It was really fun. Yours?”

“It was amazing and fun! I normally don’t do anything but this was especially terrific. I’m happy to hear from you, Liz. Square 1682 at 5pm on Monday? Can you?

SUNDAY

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that time. I am meeting my trainer tomorrow.”

I texted her the plan on Friday. The whole weekend went by. She got back to me two days later with a no.

It’s over.

Even if she ever wants to meet up again I’m not going to do it.

I’ve been in this world of online dating for three years to write this blog and I’m pretty sure that online dating is for leftovers and losers.

Even though my life is writing a dating and relationship blog, I think I’m done with Tinder, Clover, Bumble, Match, and Coffee meets Bagel.

It’s been two years and I thank you for being on the journey with me, but there are more stories to be told.

In the real world.

Let’s change this and go forward.

I’m going to go back to the old way of dating and just try to meet some people in the real world.

Let’s see what happens.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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