What Being a Cam Girl Taught Me About How Men Think
Illustration by Erin Aniker
My First Time is a column and podcast series exploring sexuality, gender, and kink with the wide-eyed curiosity of a virgin. We all know your "first time" is about a lot more than just popping your cherry. From experimenting with kink to just trying something new and wild, everyone experiences thousands of first times in the bedroom—that's how sex stays fun, right?
This week, we're speaking to adult performer and Come Curious sex educator Reed Amber about her experience as a cam girl. You can catch My First Time on Acast, Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
I've always been in the porn industry, specifically in porn production. A friend told me about webcamming, and I thought I'd give it a try, so I signed up to a site called AdultWork, which the majority of British adult performers use.
I definitely expected the worst. I thought it would be a bunch of guys harassing me, but it wasn't like that. It was more like the old MSN [Messenger] times when someone would add you on a chatroom that you didn't know, and you'd have that awkward "hey, how are you" conversation.
I came up with a pseudonym, made a profile, made a description, and uploaded some selfies. There's two types of webcamming—group and private. In group, multiple people can see you, but it's at a cheaper rate per minute, as you keep your clothes on. Basically, the aim of a group webcam is to entice people to pay for a one-on-one session. The one-on-one sessions are more explicit, and you charge more per minute.
I'd earn around £4 [$5.40] in group per minute, and £6 [$8.13] per minute in private. When you're in group, you're just trying to keep people online as long as possible. You'd get a real mix of people talking to you, from people who liked the fact I looked really young, to people who were into my straight fringe.
For me, it was very much about trying to figure out a personality. I'd play a sweet, innocent role, and then lure them in. When they found out how fucked-up and kinky I was, they'd be like, "Wow, I want to talk to you for hours!" Then I'd think, You fool, I'm raking it in.
I'll try almost anything once. I did water sports, which involves urine, but it is hard to pee on command, especially if you're not into it. I began doing the more extreme stuff because I got bored of people saying, "Hey baby, tell me what turns you on." I wanted stuff that was crazy and interesting and specific. Tell me to get in a bathtub full of baked beans! I love that.
Being in the porn industry has helped me develop the confidence to be who I am, sex-wise. I would say that the majority of guys who would chat to me were really sweet and respectful. Most of the time, you're trying to be yourself, but also a fake version of yourself. You're trying to be the person you want to be. That's how you keep someone on webcam. And in the back of your mind you're always thinking, The longer I keep them on, the more money I have.
On a slow day I'd make £150 [$203] a day, and on a good day £600 [$812]. You take home 60 percent of that, and the rest the platform takes as a cut. It could be psychologically hard, because the money varied a lot from day to day.
You might have dead periods where you're sitting waiting for someone to come in your group. It may be because no-one is online, but you end up blaming yourself. You think, my hair looks shit today, or I didn't put enough makeup on today, and it can play a big part in how you see yourself. And when you're webcamming, you're not really leaving the house. You're staying in your bedroom, at home, and you get four walls syndrome really badly. You can become lonely and introverted in yourself and blame yourself for stupid things.
Some clients stick with you. There was one guy who was a nurse, and he was spending so much money on me. After a while I turned around to him and said, "You clearly don't have the money for this. I think you maybe have a problem." He'd come online most days. Sometimes I'd put my rate down when we were chatting, because I worried about how much money he was spending. Just because you're taking money off someone, doesn't mean that you're not thinking about whether it is ethically right.
There was this other customer who was really into being teased. I'd hold a dildo like a replica penis, and stroke it very slowly with feathers or paintbrushes. He'd sit there for hours, watching me. Web camming is about understanding psychology. This guy obviously enjoyed being submissive. After a while the stroking got boring, though. I'd think, Come on!
The people who wanted an online relationship were the hardest to deal with, because often they were just lonely. They wanted to chat about your day and what you were doing. I never lied, though. I was always honest about what I was doing. Some girls pretend they don't have a boyfriend, but I never did. Having to make conversation can be difficult, whereas the sex stuff itself is exhausting in a different way—it's more physical.
I really enjoyed webcamming, mostly because I love role play. I used to be a drama student, so I really enjoyed putting on a character. But webcamming is like any other job: some days it's good, other days it's boring and exhausting. Webcamming can make you lazy, though. You think, why would I work in an office for eight hours when I could make the same amount of money in one hour camming? It can take over from your other ambitions and dreams.
I met so many people webcamming, and I learned to understand how different everybody is. It's an intellectually stimulating job. It made me think a lot. Webcamming taught me not to judge anyone on what they're into, no matter how unusual or weird it may be. Everyone has a different kink. It doesn't matter if I don't particularly like it—who am I to judge? I learned how to judge other peoples's fantasies, and respond to them.
Webcamming has definitely shaped my own fantasies and fetishes, and made me realize what I enjoy and don't enjoy. For example, I prefer to be dominant on screen because in my personal life I'm a submissive. It was too real for me, being submissive on screen. It was what turned me on in my actual life. Whereas being dominant when camming helped me separate my personal and professional life.
Privacy is a huge issue for lots of people who webcam, but I'm lucky because I'm very open with my family about what I do. I don't really care that people can find me online. It's only a video of me masturbating. You don't get to have the real thing!