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Table for One? Valentine’s Day is an ‘All-Time Record’ Day for Webcam Porn

Illustration: WIRED

Illustration: WIRED

Max Willens reports:  There are several million single guys in this country, and many of them will spend Valentine’s Day online with webcam models: sex workers paid to chat — and usually a whole lot more — via the magic of the internet. Although most are women, there are a fair number of male models too. The ratio, by some estimates, is about two to one.

No matter their gender, today is a big day. Valentine’s Day is the big, heart-shaped exception to the rule that holidays are rough on the Internet porn biz. Come February 14, traffic surges, money flies, and models know they can earn thousands of dollars in mere hours.

“It is the big money-generating day,” said Natalie Star, a cam model who spent years with Webcam Modeling Agency but now works by appointment only. “If you think about it, there’s hundreds of thousands of lonely guys, they don’t have wives, they don’t have girlfriends. It’s huge, not only for the customers that know you, but for the girls who are trying to build their audiences.”

“Camming” has been around since the 1990s, but it’s only taken off in the past five years with the ubiquity of high-speed internet and webcams.

Of the world’s 10 most frequently visited porn sites, half are cam sites, according to Alexa rankings. Generally speaking, a lot of that traffic comes from straight men looking for a little quality time with a woman, but male cam models also rake in big bucks from lonely hearts—Sean Phillips, a marketing manager at one of the Internet’s oldest jobs boards, SexyJobs.com, estimates the ratio of female to male performers is about two to one. That said, none of the men contacted by WIRED wanted to be quoted.

Most of these sites are privately held and don’t disclose their revenue. But Douglas Richter, a consultant who worked for many years at the webcam site Jasmin.com, says a popular site like AFFcams can earn more than $300 million annually. Top models at the biggest sites regularly take home as much as $50,000 a month. Not everyone makes that kind of money, of course, but even women and men who aren’t stars can earn a lot of dough. Shirley Lara, who works in communications and support for the cam site Chaturbate, says customer tips of $500 to $1,000 are “typical” on Valentine’s Day.

That’s why everyone in the biz has February 14 circled on the calendars. Lily, a cam model who declined to give her last name, says Valentine’s Day and her birthday are “my all-time record days.” She’s been camming for 12 years. She charges as much as $50 per minute for private shows, and says she’s received individual tips of as much as $10,000 as recently as last month. She says customers typically go the extra mile on Valentine’s Day.

“It is that time when guys can show extra attention to the model, spoil her,” Lily says. “This is a great way for a guy to stand out, get noticed more by the girl.”

This dynamic is not lost on the cam site operators, who take a cut of every interaction, er, transaction between models and visitors. Site developers and managers know February 14 is a day to milk, and often start promotional activities several days in advance…

Read the rest…

Wired.com

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