‘I Feel Used’: OnlyFans Made Millions Off Sex Workers’ Labor, Then Hung Them Out To Dry

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At the peak of the pandemic, Jessica, a 33-year-old single mom residing within the suburbs of Chicago, felt like she was drowning. Her ex was paying diminished youngster help on account of the disaster, which left her struggling to cowl her hire for the two-bedroom condominium she shared together with her three youngsters.

Her revenue as a mortgage processor wasn’t sufficient, and he or she knew that her scenario wasn’t sustainable. So she determined to strive promoting nude movies of herself on OnlyFans, a subscription platform that had soared to fame lately as a web based market for home made NSFW content material. It was a scary step to take, however with exhausting work, it paid off.

“It literally doubled my income,” mentioned Jessica, who’s recognized solely by her first identify to guard her household’s privateness. “Now I’m able to provide for my children without begging for help.”

Even with OnlyFans claiming 20% of her earnings, because it does for all creators, Jessica was capable of begin paying off her money owed and saving up for a greater life. She set a purpose to purchase a home inside two years — one thing that had beforehand felt fully out of attain. But on Thursday afternoon, the longer term she’d began constructing for her household was abruptly thrown into jeopardy.

News broke that OnlyFans can be banning “sexually explicit conduct” in a matter of weeks. The announcement brought about mass panic and uncertainty amongst intercourse staff who’d come to depend on the platform for a residing — the very group whose labor helped it explode right into a billion-dollar enterprise. OnlyFans expects to internet $1.2 billion this yr and $2.5 billion in 2022, which might partially money out majority proprietor Leo Radivinsky, Axios reports.

Many staff, like Jessica, had discovered a lifeline in OnlyFans at a time of desperation, solely to have it abruptly ripped away as the corporate reportedly attempts to court sex-weary investors. (OnlyFans says the adjustments are required to “to comply with the requests of [its] banking partners and payout providers,” and declined to offer extra element.)

“I’m freaking out,” mentioned Jessica, who now worries that she’ll have to tug her youngsters out of day care and can not have the ability to save up for a home. “I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’m going to do moving forward, especially with such short notice.”

She and different intercourse staff really feel betrayed and discarded by OnlyFans, which for years has been virtually completely related to express content material. It was based in 2016 by CEO Tim Stokely, a British entrepreneur referred to as the 38-year-old “king of homemade porn” who beforehand ran two different grownup efficiency websites. Two years later, Radvinsky, proprietor of the camgirl web site MyFreeCams, acquired 75% possession of OnlyFans’ mother or father firm, Fenix International Limited.

Sex staff constructed this web site. They’ve made a ton of cash off us simply to kick us off.
Tori, a 28-year-old OnlyFans creator from Nashville

OnlyFans instructed HuffPost that it’s going to permit creators to proceed sharing “content containing nudity as long as it is consistent with our Acceptable Use Policy,” however declined to reply questions on what sorts of nude content material wouldn’t be thought-about “sexually explicit” and due to this fact prohibited. The firm additionally claimed that it will “actively support and guide our creators through this change in content guidelines,” however declined to reply how, precisely, it will do this.

The Adult Performance Artists Guild, a union representing OnlyFans creators and different intercourse staff, issued a press release Thursday slamming OnlyFans’ forthcoming coverage change and “the financial despair and destruction this will cause our community.” 

“Most content creators on OnlyFans are comprised of adult performers who make their entire living off of the platform,” the Guild continued. “Workers in our industry have families to care for, and this change will push many into potential homelessness.” 

Tori, a newly single mom of two residing in Nashville, Tennessee, began promoting grownup content material on OnlyFans final October to complement her revenue as a monetary analyst and get her by way of the vacations. She’d been residing paycheck to paycheck, and the cash helped her afford childcare when her youngsters’ college shut down because of COVID-19. In February, when she was identified with cervical most cancers, she got here to depend on OnlyFans to offset the price of chemotherapy.

“I probably would have put myself in some severe debt refinancing and using credit cards” with out OnlyFans, mentioned Tori, 28, who can also be recognized by solely her first identify. “It has made a huge, huge difference.”

Tori awoke to a number of texts and Twitter DMs on Thursday alerting her to the information that “sexually explicit conduct” would not be allowed on OnlyFans as of Oct. 1. She was each surprised and offended.

“Sex workers built this website. They’ve made a ton of money off us just to kick us off,” she mentioned. “I feel used. And I feel for the people who, unlike me, don’t have a full-time job — who solely rely on OnlyFans. This is a slap in the face.”

As she scrambles to plan her subsequent transfer, Tori wonders what different intercourse work-friendly platforms she might flip to. There are few on the market, like MyFans, however build up a subscriber base on OnlyFans took numerous effort and time, and he or she worries that not all of her subscribers will migrate to a brand new web site together with her. Reaching new folks requires promotion on mainstream social media platforms resembling Twitter, which, Tori mentioned, is usually a deeply disheartening expertise because of on-line critics who attempt to disgrace and humiliate intercourse staff.

“The sex work community is very, very resilient,” mentioned Jane Lucier, a 23-year-old Canadian who earns six figures per thirty days on OnlyFans. Her extraordinary success on the platform has enabled her to offer again to her group by donating cash to intercourse work advocacy teams, however she is aware of many others who use OnlyFans are far much less lucky.

“It was already a very tough year for sex workers,” mentioned Lucier, who’s recognized by her display screen identify. “Now they’re more vulnerable because OnlyFans was a safe place for them.”

Sex staff, a extremely marginalized group with no U.S. labor protections, are used to being deplatformed and beginning over from scratch. Companies resembling Tumblr and Patreon have additionally cracked down on NSFW content material, and most mainstream social networks have strict guidelines towards nudity. To many intercourse staff, OnlyFans was a haven that made it potential to do their jobs safely and securely from the consolation of their properties.

I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’m going to do transferring ahead.
Jessica, a 33-year-old OnlyFans creator from Chicago

For Jordan Bundy, a 29-year-old OnlyFans creator in San Jose, the platform is her solely supply of revenue. She misplaced her job as a gross sales consultant at a skincare model over the pandemic. OnlyFans stored her afloat and even helped her develop a monetary security internet.

“I was finally ahead of rent and not behind it,” she mentioned. “I felt like I could breathe for once in my life.”

But her expertise utilizing OnlyFans has been irritating, too. People have stolen nude content material from her web page and reposted it to Reddit and even a separate OnlyFans account that was impersonating her, Bundy mentioned. To her dismay, she added, OnlyFans did little to assist when she reported the abuse. She’s not stunned that the corporate is now turning its again on its major consumer base.

“Everybody associates OnlyFans with sex work,” she mentioned. “They used the sex work community to grow to where they are now.” 

Meanwhile, as OnlyFans makes an attempt to rebrand right into a puritanical model of itself to draw outdoors funding, Jessica from Chicago is stressing about how she’s going to pay her payments as soon as her financial savings run out.

“We all know what OnlyFans is for,” she mentioned. “They should be proud of the fact that they’re basically a fucking porn site and that they allow all of these people to take control of their lives and financial futures, and try to find a way to make this work for us.”