To ban, or not to ban, that was a question this month for the popular OnlyFans website, which announced a prohibition on explicit content only to reverse itself days later.
The company said concerns by payment processors led to the initial ban, prompting an outcry by some of its adult entertainment content producers. OnlyFans backtracked, saying it had “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community” and that the ban would not go into effect.
For many sex workers, online platforms like OnlyFans provide an opportunity to make money without the risk of engaging with someone in person. The pandemic and its lockdowns fueled the OnlyFans business model, with the company reporting a 500 percent revenue increase in 2020, with net revenue expected to reach $2.5 billion next year.
Las Vegas adult entertainer Dublin told State of Nevada that working on OnlyFans allows her the freedom to set her own schedule.
“I have a son with disabilities, and so I need to be available,” she said, adding that she was attracted to OnlyFans because it has “ no upfront cost, (it’s) really easy, and left me with a lot of availability.”
Dublin said she earns a part-time income on OnlyFans, charging $20 a month to her 20 to 40 OnlyFans subscribers.
“I only do solo content — just me, sometimes out in nature when I'm hiking because I really like outdoors anyway,” she said. “Sometimes just doing daily stuff like cooking, just without clothes on.”
A UNLV professor who studies the adult entertainment industry said Dublin is an example of the “decentralization of the pornography industry” that technology has allowed.
“The internet made it possible for performers to create content and make a living without say, having to be located in a city like Los Angeles,” said Lynn Comella, a professor of gender and sexuality studies
She said this has created a generation of “porntrepreneurs,” small-business owners who create their own content and build their own brands.
“You're working from the moment you get up, often until the moment you go to bed,” Comella told State of Nevada.
She said the OnlyFans announcement it was banning adult content is typical of the difficulties that adult performers often face.
“There is a new war on porn that's going on right now. And it's different than previous wars on porn,” Comella said. “They've learned that they can go after the companies that serve adult companies” such as credit card and payment processing services.
Longtime adult performer Daisy Ducati said she thinks OnlyFans might try in the future to ban explicit content and she is keeping her options open.
“I don't really trust any of the companies; I've seen so many sites come and go,” she said. “I am focusing my energy elsewhere to prepare for possible changes in the future.”
Ducati, who has been on OnlyFans for four years, said exiting the site would deprive her of one of her biggest revenue streams.
“It was just kind of a side project for a long time, and then once the pandemic hit, it really took off,” she said. “And now it's one of my primary sources of income.”
Lynn Comella, professor of gender and sexuality studies, UNLV; Dublin, OnlyFans content producer; Daisy Ducati, OnlyFans content producer, adult entertainer
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