Anyone who's ever seen an OnlyFans with hundreds of subscribers has probably thought to themselves, "dang! That must be an easy way to make your money. I bet I could probably do that to pay the bills if I had to." They may have even done the math, to see just how lucrative they think online sex work can be; 100 subscribers x 9.99 per month, is cool grand each month just for posting some videos and tweeting some tweets!
But (and it's a big butt), anybody who's ever tried to actually do it has quickly encountered the mountain of challenges surrounding online work that lurks just off camera from all those money-printing fans accounts you see. From production and technical concerns (where will you film, what will you do, who will you do it with, what kind of equipment will you need, and how will you edit and deliver your final product?) to the problems with promotion (how do you stand out in a sea of 5.99/month offers, how do you get enough social media followers to convert a significant portion to paying viewers, and what do you do when Twitter or Instagram shuts your account down?), or the marketability of your particular brand or style (do you have any idea how much more difficult all of the aforementioned issues become if you're not already conventionally attractive and white?).
To imagine that simply "moving online" is the answer to everyone's problem denies or ignores a lot of the work that goes into online sex work.
But just because it can be difficult, doesn't mean it's impossible. You likely already have a Twitter or Instagram following, maybe a mailing list, and a handful of regulars who are probably missing your smiling face. You likely also have a phone with a pretty good camera (Lady Gaga just shot a whole music video on an iPhone), and a laptop, which probably both came with at least basic editing software. The tricky part – and also where sex workers shine – is creative marketing: figuring out what you're comfortable offering, and then making it your own!
I recently got to talk with Sunny Megatron, sex educator and host of the American Sex Podcast, about how sexual beings are staying in touch in COVID19 isolation, and some creative ways to make the internet work for you, instead of letting it be a hurdle to overcome.
Here's what she had to share:
Sunny! Firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me and sharing some tips for getting creative online.
Your #QuarantineLife podcast episode was a great overview of where we kind of are in this moment right now. But (as you even mentioned there), things change so fast. How are you guys (Sunny's partner Ken is her co-host on the podcast, and her business partner in crime) keeping up with the breakneck speed of changes in isolation, shelter in place, and social distancing orders?
We’re both chronic consumers of information. We have NPR playing in the background most of the time. Also to keep up with virus news I visit the coronavirus subreddit each day. Ken has a military-medical background in mass casualty & pandemic situations (who would have ever thought that knowledge would come in handy!) so he often has his nose in something scientific about COVID-19 he found on Google Scholar. When it comes to the cold hard facts, we’re probably consuming a little too much information!
For our sex ed work, we’re constantly on the lookout for anything pertaining to mental health and our emotional reactions to this crisis. Our sexual selves are so closely tied to our emotional wellbeing. What we’re all collectively feeling is what dictates what people are seeking right now, in the intimacy department. Thankfully we’re also in close communication about the effects of COVID-19 on our psyches & sex lives with our colleagues, some of whom are world-leading sexologists and therapists.
I won’t pretend that you saying “The safest sexual partner you have right now is yourself: masturbate away!” wasn’t my favorite part of this whole thing. Anybody who pays any attention to me on social media knows I’m a huge advocate for masturbation as sex (rather than a substitute for intercourse). Do you view this isolation as maybe an opportunity for folks to learn how to better play solo? Rather than just going it alone because they have no choice?
This isolation period isn't just allowing folks the space to choose self-focused behaviors, in many ways, it’s forcing us to. As a reaction to the turmoil, our nervous systems are going haywire. We’re feeling the stress not only in our minds but in our bodies too. For many of us, this may be the first time we’ve experienced profound physical reactions to stress. Our chests are tight, we’re having headaches, shallow breathing, etc. In other words, our bodies are responding in an evolutionary fight-or-flight manner like we’re being “chased by a tiger.”
As a result, we’re turning to various ways of self-soothing. For some, it’s yoga or deep breathing, others may pick up a hobby or game they can get lost in. Solo sex and intimacy are other ways to calm your body and mind.
And it isn’t about just pounding one out as quickly as possible and getting on with your day. Right now we’re seeking deeper, more vulnerable experiences with ourselves--longer self-pleasure sessions and experimenting with new sensations are the medicine we need. And with that kind of exploration, we’re going to come out on the other side of this knowing a lot more about what makes us tick sexually, as individuals.
It was surprising and exciting to hear you mention online sex classes, and the idea of doing them with a partner or buddy. For Slixa folks looking for something to do with a friend (rather than a monetized online experience for a client), would you rehash what you suggested in the podcast about Kink Academy?
Yes! When I teach sex classes I love seeing couples learn and explore together. It’s amazing how transformative to their sex life taking a simple sex class together is. To really tap into our partner’s fantasies, we need to learn to effectively talk about those fantasies and know the right tools and techniques required to bring them to life. This is a good part of what sex classes teach.
Right now, isolated in our homes, it’s a wonderful time to use technology to take sex classes together. You can employ free screen share software like TeamViewer or even Zoom to watch a recorded sex class with partners or friends you’re physically separated from. My favorite online sex school is Kink Academy. They offer nearly 2,000 classes from a few hundred of the worlds leading sex educators and BDSM instructors and cover subjects from vanilla to uber kinky. Ken and I are both Kink Academy instructors too.
According to the Slixa Blog, Slixa is working to find ways to help advertisers promote and monetize online experiences, even if they’ve never done online work in the past. Do you have any general advice for somebody who is considering dipping into online work for the first time?
Many folks think they can’t do online adult work because they aren’t young enough or they don’t have a body like a Victoria’s Secret model. When it comes to online sex work EVERYONE is sexy. There are people out there that desire a body type just like yours no matter what it is. Same goes with fetishes – if you’re into something unconventional, there most definitely is a market for it!
Secondly, the tech and business sides of online work can be intimidating for some. Where do you market yourself? What are the best sites to be on? How do you know when a potential client is wasting your time? The learning curve can be steep.
Many new online sex workers are surprised that the community can be quite welcoming and it’s relatively easy to find someone to help you out. I’d advise checking if the online platform you use has a provider/entertainer forum. That’s a great place to learn the ropes and ask questions. You can also find a pretty solid community of online providers on Twitter where people share tips and tricks. Lastly, Amberly Rothfiled’s book, “How I Made $10,000 A Month As A Phone Sex Operator,” is an amazing resource. She’s also cultivated a wonderful online community of providers helping providers.
You talked in the podcast about a lot of BDSM/Kink related things to do online, and we’ll get back to that in a minute. But what are your favourite, more vanilla online interactions that folks might try to make their own in their Distance Dating offerings?
I loved the idea of Netflix Party – would that be something you could charge for?
Sure! The only people that can join your Netflix Party are those you give the link to. So you could opt to sell tickets and only give the link to those that buy-in.
Ken and I are starting to offer virtual vanilla hangouts and Netflix parties to our Patreon subscribers, so that’s another way you can paywall your online recreational events. And you don’t have to stop at watching movies together, you can host game nights and other activities. Ken & I play games like Cards Against Humanity and Scattergories during virtual group hangouts with our patrons. There’s so much you can do using an online video chat service both vanilla and kinky. You’re only limited by your imagination!
There was a ton of smart advice about Dom/sub play in online spaces, and I loved the idea of Screen Domming someone! Will you talk a little about that portion of your show? Browser humiliation, parental controls, it was all stuff I’d never think of!
This is where I thrive! I love having total control over my submissives. The fact that I can do it at any time right from the comfort of my own home makes it all the more enjoyable. Before I go on, there is a big caveat here: this type of play should only be done with someone you trust. Depending on how deep you go, a dominant can majorly screw you over if they break your consent agreements.
With that said, I use TeamViewer to take control over my submissive's computer (again, this is all consensually). They can see the cursor move on their screen. For them, it’s thrilling knowing I’m the one in control. If they’re into humiliation I might choose to view their browser history and zero in on the porn they watch. Something unusual or embarrassing is the perfect thing to use in humiliation play. I might make them watch it with me and describe out loud all of the things they find hot about their secret spank bank material. Perhaps I’ll have them pleasure themselves on-screen to it while I watch and humiliate them further. There are so many possibilities with this type of software!
Additionally, if this is someone I have a trusting relationship with, I can go in their system as an administrator and set parental controls. I can put them in “porn chastity” and restrict their access to adult sites during certain times of the day. Or perhaps only grant them full computer access as a reward after they’ve accomplished an assigned task. I don't play this way with many people because of the level of trust required but it is one of my favorite ways to dominate virtually.
Now, in contrast to your earlier vanilla advice, what are your favourite ideas for online Dommes looking for creative ways to punish or reward subs online, while keeping things interesting and engaging?
Wheeldecide.com is a great tool for those with creative imaginations. You can design your own virtual Wheel Of Fortune style spinner and customize what each panel reads. I like to pepper the wheel with punishments and rewards and have my submissive partner spin it on screen with me. Who knows if it will land on “smack your balls 10 times” or “stroke for 2 minutes”? There are no limits as to what your wheel options can be.
The website faproulette.co has some great task-oriented games that are mainly centered around feminization and JOI (jack off instruction). Sometimes we’ll select a game from the site together and I’ll have them perform the tasks from that game on video chat for me. Other times I’ll use the games on the site for inspiration to create my own.
For longer-term chastity subs I enjoy using chastity management apps like emlalock.com. It manages key release (assuming your sub has a real-estate lockbox to keep their chastity key in) and provides tasks to make chastity more exciting. You can assign your submissive games of chance every day that will extend or shorten their time in chastity. Additionally, you can set it up to allow their interactions with other people on the app to affect how long they will be locked up. It’s highly customizable so you can set the experience to meet the exact parameters you negotiated with your submissive.
What are some general security concerns to be aware of when you’re playing online? You talk in detail in the episode about particular things, but if somebody was new to platforms like Skype or Google Drive or something, what should they be mindful about, and what are your preferred platforms for facilitating interactions?
It’s important to know that adult content is not allowed on mainstream platforms like Google or Skype even though plenty of people use these platforms for sex. As a result, if these platforms catch you breaking their TOS they will shut down your account immediately.
I strongly advise creating a separate playtime account for your naughty activities. And don’t save anything on those services that you aren’t afraid to lose. I’ve known folks that have used their default google account for adult play and when they were shut down they lost years of important emails and documents. It’s also easier to maintain your anonymity if you avoid sexting with the same email address and user names that are attached to your vanilla profiles.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about all this. How are you and Ken holding up in isolation?
Holding up the best we can! We’ve lost quite a bit of business due to the shutdown so we’re exploring ways to branch out and offer our in-person workshops online. We’re also focusing more on sex coaching and BDSM training via video chat which is exciting. Additionally, we’re spending much more time with our Patreon members on live chats and hangouts which honestly feels a lot more like recreation than work! Aside from that, we’re doing what a lot of other folks are doing right now--stocking up on toilet paper, making homemade facemasks, and starting a vegetable garden.
Oh! Hey I almost forgot. Where should folks go to find the American Sex Podcast so they can subscribe?
You can catch a new episode on American Sex Podcast every Monday morning on any podcast player or streaming service (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc). Alternatively, you can stream every episode at americansexpocast.com.
We also have a free interactive live stream video show every Wednesday night that’s focused on visual dependent sex ed. So far we’ve covered topics like electric play, g-spot stimulation, how to make pervertibles, erectile dysfunction, erotic humiliation, BDSM 101, prostate massage, and more. You can subscribe and watch at bit.ly/sunnygetvokl
The podcast episode I reference in my questions can be found here (or you can listen right now, up near the top of this post). Follow Sunny Megatron on Twitter and Instagram, and like her on Facebook.
Remember: you can track all of Slixa announcements and changes related to the COVID19 pandemic on the COVID19 tag.