Webcam sex: half a billion followers

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(Image © AdobeStock)

(Image © AdobeStock)

The pornographic sequences broadcast live on the web feature between 300,000 and 500,000 people - the vast majority of them women - for a largely male clientele of at least 500 million followers. And this interest has certainly increased during containment due to the coronavirus. In Switzerland alone, the number of hits of the term ’camgirl’ in search engines doubled three times between 29 March and 9 May. These estimates are taken from a doctoral thesis in territorial economics currently being carried out at the University of Neuchâtel.

The generalised digitisation of society has led to a profound change in the interactions between individuals, including their relationship to sexuality, which this thesis aims to better understand. Even if it remains an intimate and somewhat taboo subject, sexuality is part of social life, notes Salomé Donzallaz, a doctoral assistant at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Neuchâtel. In this research, it is particularly important to understand how sexual activities at a distance occupy different concrete and digital spaces, as well as their economic construction. What are their business models - How are remunerations and transactions carried out - All these aspects seem to me to be essential to understanding our current society as a whole, and the future changes they are preparing for’.

The production of these performances falls into two categories. On the one hand we have the so-called Premium platforms, working exclusively with professional studios, and on the other hand we have the Freemium platforms, offering shows by private individuals working from home, for example. It is estimated that there are around 5,000 platforms today dedicated to livecam, Freemium and Premium forms combined’.

The majority of Premium sites are located in Romania. This can be explained by the fact that this country has one of the best and cheapest internet networks in the world, and also because salaries are among the lowest in Europe. Some sources say that there are as many as 5000 livecam studios, which is a significant economic activity for the country. However, it is still illegal. Yet the studios have tried to be legal," says Maria Boroghina, director of the Best Studios in Bucharest, quoted in the research. Everyone knows we’re here. We want to pay taxes! But as it’s pornographic, the state doesn’t want to hear anything’, this interlocutor deplores.

For the Freemiums, on the other hand, the locations are much more fragmented. They range from Switzerland to Colombia, via the United States and England. It all depends on the hosting platform and the possibilities available online, such as the language, the distribution area and the price. It is very possible to have female performers living in Switzerland, but who avoid broadcasting their show in their country of residence or origin, for example, in order not to be recognised’, explains the assistant director.

If for livecam actors this activity generally represents only a supplementary salary, some specialised sites claim an average income of up to 35 million dollars per month. As for the motivations of the clientele, they translate into the desire to go beyond the voyeurism of an erotic scene, since the two protagonists can interact. Thus, unlike pornographic videos available for free on the Internet, the service can become exclusive, evolving in real time, according to the creativity, desires and demands on both sides of the screen.

The pornographic sequences broadcast live on the web feature between 300,000 and 500,000 people - the vast majority of them women - for a largely male clientele of at least 500 million followers. And this interest has certainly increased during containment due to the coronavirus. In Switzerland alone, the number of hits of the term ’camgirl’ in search engines doubled three times between 29 March and 9 May. These estimates are taken from a doctoral thesis in territorial economics currently being carried out at the University of Neuchâtel.

The generalised digitisation of society has led to a profound change in the interactions between individuals, including their relationship to sexuality, which this thesis aims to better understand. Even if it remains an intimate and somewhat taboo subject, sexuality is part of social life, notes Salomé Donzallaz, a doctoral assistant at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Neuchâtel. In this research, it is particularly important to understand how sexual activities at a distance occupy different concrete and digital spaces, as well as their economic construction. What are their business models - How are remunerations and transactions carried out - All these aspects seem to me to be essential to understanding our current society as a whole, and the future changes they are preparing for’.

The production of these performances falls into two categories. On the one hand we have the so-called Premium platforms, working exclusively with professional studios, and on the other hand we have the Freemium platforms, offering shows by private individuals working from home, for example. It is estimated that there are around 5,000 platforms today dedicated to livecam, Freemium and Premium forms combined’.

The majority of Premium sites are located in Romania. This can be explained by the fact that this country has one of the best and cheapest internet networks in the world, and also because salaries are among the lowest in Europe. Some sources say that there are as many as 5000 livecam studios, which is a significant economic activity for the country. However, it is still illegal. Yet the studios have tried to be legal," says Maria Boroghina, director of the Best Studios in Bucharest, quoted in the research. Everyone knows we’re here. We want to pay taxes! But as it’s pornographic, the state doesn’t want to hear anything’, this interlocutor deplores.

For the Freemiums, on the other hand, the locations are much more fragmented. They range from Switzerland to Colombia, via the United States and England. It all depends on the hosting platform and the possibilities available online, such as the language, the distribution area and the price. It is very possible to have female performers living in Switzerland, but who avoid broadcasting their show in their country of residence or origin, for example, in order not to be recognised’, explains the assistant director.

If for livecam actors this activity generally represents only a supplementary salary, some specialised sites claim an average income of up to 35 million dollars per month. As for the motivations of the clientele, they translate into the desire to go beyond the voyeurism of an erotic scene, since the two protagonists can interact. Thus, unlike pornographic videos available for free on the Internet, the service can become exclusive, evolving in real time, according to the creativity, desires and demands on both sides of the screen.

(Translation: DeepL Translator)