Indentured servitude, money laundering, and piles of money
September 25, 2012 8:37 PM   Subscribe

If you think cam girls—those flirty naked characters that plague porn site pop-up ads—are raking in easy money, you're right. If you think cam girls are bleakly stripping online out of desperation, you're also right. Peel away the sex and pixels and money and you're left with the cloudy truth about the Internet's relationship status with these on-demand entertainers: it's complicated..
posted by latkes (30 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
SPOILER ALERT

Much as in any money-making endeavor, there are a few people at the top making insane cash, and it takes either luck or a huge amount of tedious work to get there.
posted by threeants at 8:45 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Years before the Interwebs, I read William Gibson's novel Neuromancer, where he imagines a future where people would "jack in to cyberspace".

Prescient as it was, Gibson never imagined that so many people would rather jack off in cyberspace.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:56 PM on September 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


There was just an AskMe about this.
posted by Forktine at 8:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


This seems like a business crying out for an open-source, co-op type of platform to host the shows for those people who are going to do them regardless.
posted by maxwelton at 9:05 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


maxwelton: queerporntube comes close (not cams, but diy porn)
posted by divabat at 9:06 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So does Chat Roulette, though you won't like what you see.
posted by Sleeper at 9:12 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wish that he could have written this article without detailing which girls he personally found more or less attractive and which cam girl personalities he found more or less titillating.

It made this article feel less like a piece of journalism and more like a review to aid other consumers, mixed with a personal blog entry in which he isn't super self aware about his hero complex regarding poor, victimized Romanian girls who're too naive to realize how bad they have it, because obviously he knows better than them what the situation is in Romania.

Ugh. There was some interesting information in there, but I could barely finish reading it.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:14 PM on September 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


So does Chat Roulette, though you won't like what you see.

/closes Chat Roulette window, puts on pants, weeps softly
posted by item at 9:31 PM on September 25, 2012 [35 favorites]


Prescient as it was, Gibson never imagined that so many people would rather jack off in cyberspace.
Pedantic - Molly Millions paid for her razor nails and other augmentations by being a sex puppet running a porn script. So he got it almost exactly backwards.

Give it another decade or two, and he probably got it exactly right.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:32 PM on September 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Chat Roulette suggests the inverse business model, where horny guys pay young women to watch these guys whack off.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:41 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the 21st Century and we're casually arguing about Romanian cyber-sex. Maybe good, maybe bad, but definitely the future.
posted by deanklear at 9:55 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]



/closes Chat Roulette window, puts on pants, weeps softly

I've been doing it wrong.
posted by Mojojojo at 10:11 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: That is the idea behind Stripcoin, though it hasn't really caught on very much dye to the fact it uses bitcoin.
posted by Canageek at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Much as in any money-making endeavor, there are a few people at the top making insane cash, and it takes either luck or a huge amount of tedious work to get there.

Yep. It's just like regular porn, and just like the way that regular porn has always been.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:20 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


maxwelton: "This seems like a business crying out for an open-source, co-op type of platform to host the shows for those people who are going to do them regardless."

apres moi a deluge of kickstarter puns.
posted by boo_radley at 10:31 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It made this article feel less like a piece of journalism and more like a review to aid other consumers, mixed with a personal blog entry in which he isn't super self aware about his hero complex regarding poor, victimized Romanian girls who're too naive to realize how bad they have it, because obviously he knows better than them what the situation is in Romania."

I saw that more as talking about the realities when the girls involved have some powerful incentives not to get quoted. I think they're pretty well aware of how shitty it is.
posted by klangklangston at 10:32 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm getting so good at predicting which FPPs are Gawker Media links just from the summaries, it's crazy. I thought the piece skirted a little bit of line between being kinda exploitative itself - on a far lesser scale.
posted by smoke at 10:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish that he could have written this article without detailing which girls he personally found more or less attractive and which cam girl personalities he found more or less titillating.

But you see, it's Gizmodo, so he has to include a gadget angle - if he treated the women as humans, he would have to submit it to Jezebel.
posted by gingerest at 10:38 PM on September 25, 2012 [28 favorites]


Prescient as it was, Gibson never imagined that so many people would rather jack off in cyberspace.

I dunno, omnipresent internet porn and cam girls always reminds me of the holo-porn girls that greet or bid farewell to Bobby Newmark in the crappy Sprawl apartment he shares with his mother.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:08 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Much as in any money-making endeavor, there are a few people at the top making insane cash, and it takes either luck or a huge amount of tedious work to get there.

That or criminality. "Regular porn" certainly has its sketchy side, but especially in the last two decades or so it's increasingly indistinguishable from more "legitimate" businesses, e.g., the kink.com outfit in SF.

But the guys that run these sites may well be outright crooks. It's almost hard to even describe these things as "fronts," as rather than a legitimate business used to launder money as a sort of sideline, cam sites are money laundering factories, and everybody knows it.

So the few people at "the top" aren't there because they were necessarily lucky--though the first mover advantage can't be overestimated--or because they put in the hours, but because they're laundering money for the mob.
posted by valkyryn at 1:20 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Much as in any money-making endeavor, there are a few people at the top making insane cash, and it takes either luck or a huge amount of tedious work to get there.
This is a vacuous statement. It's not at all universally true. Moreover in the particular "money-making endeavour" we are looking at here, with legalisation, regulation of working conditions and proper protections against exploitation the inequity and abuse in the industry could be vastly reduced.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 5:08 AM on September 26, 2012


ugh, the article is lousy. its devoid of stylism and the author is utterly unaware of his own biases.
the most damning is the commentary on how attractive the girls are, instead of focusing on the phenomenon we get one of those "i dipped into the dark side" trope-a-licious story.

It's the essence of the hero complex, not investigative journalism, boom boom, fuck that!
posted by xcasex at 7:32 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the few people at "the top" aren't there because they were necessarily lucky--though the first mover advantage can't be overestimated--or because they put in the hours, but because they're laundering money for the mob.

I fail to see how these things are exclusive of each other.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:14 AM on September 26, 2012


Positing that they are in fact laundering money for the mob, the findings should be reported to the mob, not exclusively to teh intarwebs.
posted by xcasex at 9:36 AM on September 26, 2012


haha *reported to the police
posted by xcasex at 9:36 AM on September 26, 2012


It made this article feel less like a piece of journalism and more like a review to aid other consumers, mixed with a personal blog entry

I know, and we've come to expect so much more professionalism from Gawk---aaaahahahahahaha, sorry, could not finish that with a straight face.
posted by mikoroshi at 9:46 AM on September 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Regulation is a requirement but not a universal solvent and neither is legalization. Legalization in Amsterdam in 2000 enabled large scale money laundering and criminal involvement in real estate, while the number of registered sex trafficking victims quadrupled between 2003 and 2011. In Germany prostitution was legalized in 2002 and this was followed by a large influx of women from the Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Lithuania, etc. making Germany one of the top sex trafficking destinations in 2006. There is also lot of resistance against the registration requirements and the idea of having the tax man come around to take his cut for "legal protection", causing many women to opt for (semi) illegal arrangements. In short, while legalization has helped curb some excesses and did raise visibility in some aspects, it has also introduced a host of new problems and has done little to improve conditions in the illegal circuit. At the end of the day it's a skeevy business and the customers like it that way, so perhaps we should be looking into schemes which penalize the customer, as Sweden is doing.
posted by deo rei at 11:24 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Swedish model has received a lot of criticism from sex workers.

What I understand of the sex workers rights movement (having quite a few friends that are involved one way or another) is that they are largely after decriminalisation (rather than legalisation or regulation) - having it be like any other work.
posted by divabat at 12:43 PM on September 26, 2012


valkyryn: So the few people at "the top" aren't there because they were necessarily lucky--though the first mover advantage can't be overestimated--or because they put in the hours, but because they're laundering money for the mob.
Citation needed.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:26 PM on September 26, 2012


but because they're laundering money for the mob.

Doesn't money laundering usually involve cash somehow? Hiding the true origin of money is easy when it's funneled through a cash-based business, like taxicabs, or restaurants, or laundries. But nobody can give a cam girl cash, so I'd think it would be a really lousy method to hide anything.
posted by Malor at 9:26 PM on September 26, 2012


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