OnlyFans Helped Me Survive the Pandemic
When COVID-19 hit, I turned to online sex work. I didn't expect how it would change me.
It might be more interesting, more convenient even, if my entry into the world of OnlyFans and online sex work had a long and complicated backstory, but really it all started when the world began shutting down as COVID-19 quickly made its way around the world last spring. I had moved to New York only a month earlier, and suddenly I was unemployed and panicking as I tried to figure out how I’d keep myself afloat without a job. So, when my best friend started talking to me about her own recent foray into online sex work via OnlyFans, I made an account and began posting content—with only a minimum of hesitation. Of course, I had my anxieties about doing sex work so publicly, but not for the reasons you may imagine.
I Was a Natural Fit for OnlyFans
I’d already done some in-person sex work a year prior when I saw my first client, a former wrestler in his 60s who wanted to talk to me about organic farming and Burning Man. It was nerve-racking when I first showed up to our “date,” and even more nerve-racking when I had sex with him, but there was an undeniable excitement that I felt as well. It felt almost too easy, but after our first session, I never saw him again and decided to put a pause on sex work.
As a performer, my online brand had always been linked to my openness regarding my sex life and sexuality. For years I’ve tweeted about my sex life in explicit detail, posted thirst traps on my Instagram with captions about my life that have let my followers know some of the most intimate things about me, and I’ve worked to keep my online persona that of an open book. When I began doing OnlyFans it just made sense that I would be open about this new part of my life online.
What worried me was whether there was a market for me on OnlyFans. I had friends who were on it long before I started my own account, but none of them were trans. They were conventionally hot cis girls and cis gay guys, and beyond that, they were making hardcore porn with scene partners, something that I couldn’t do when I started my account during the beginning of lockdown. I knew from experience that trans women with penises often raked in money as sex workers, both in-person and online, but would anyone be interested in a trans woman with a vagina?
Still, I decided to forge ahead, inspired by the success of my own friends and convinced that even if it would be difficult at first, I’d still find some way to break through on my own—with or without making hardcore porn, with or without being a cis person and with or without any experience making online pornographic content.
Would anyone subscribe to my account? In my own misguided and insecure mind, I figured people would much rather see a cis girl make the same content on her OnlyFans, rather than spending the money on me.
I would soon be proven wrong.
Starting My Amateur Porn Career Was Challenging—at First
The first few months of making content and promoting it on social media felt frustrating and, at times, embarrassing. I thought that I would have absolutely no issue with promoting my OnlyFans on Twitter because, like I said, my brand has always been linked to my lack of inhibitions, specifically related to my sexuality. But the stigma that comes with doing any kind of sex work quickly crept into my psyche. Suddenly I found myself feeling anxious about sending that tweet telling people to subscribe to the account. I had moments of anxiety regarding the very real fear of my content possibly being leaked on the internet, and my family and friends seeing videos of me masturbating on camera, doing stripteases in my bedroom and replacing scene partners with sex toys.
On top of that, I was only averaging between 20 and 40 subscribers a month, while some of my friends were getting hundreds. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and at times I wanted to just throw in the towel. But that simply wasn’t an option. I needed to make money. I knew that if I just stuck with it, it would eventually grow into something worthwhile. (At least I hoped it would.)
The shift kind of happened overnight. I woke up one day and decided that I wasn’t going to give in to the stigma that people put on sex workers, the one that tells us that we should hide in the dark while we do our job. Over time, I have found that the more open I am, and the more that I lean into the micro-identity of being a sex worker, the better I am at my job. And that leaves me feeling empowered. The more confident I got with marketing myself on social media, the more I was able to attract subscribers and make money.
I’ve been on OnlyFans for a little over a year, and now I have over a hundred loyal subscribers. Like any job, there are days where I don’t feel like showing up, but there are even more days where I’m excited to log on, post my content and chat with the people who are also logging on to interact with me.
I Get More Than Money From Being on OnlyFans
I love my body, and I love being a sexual person, so being able to share both of those parts of myself with people who are literally paying me to access that side of me makes me feel excited and celebrated. I love knowing that there are people I don’t know who are getting pleasure out of watching my content. And an even more gratifying part of the whole experience is that many of my subscribers were following me on Twitter long before I started OnlyFans.
They’re there to see my naked body, but also because they loved my personality enough to want to see the rest of me. It’s almost humorous to say that sex work can feel wholesome, but my experience on OnlyFans really has felt that way. Helping people experience euphoria and a release during this pandemic by putting my body online has been nothing short of magical.
The hardest part of being on OnlyFans hasn’t been trying to grow my account, it’s been the process of deciding how open I want to be about my life as a sex worker, walking the fine line of claiming my power without taking up space as someone who has layers of privilege that keep me more protected than a survival, street-based sex worker or a sex worker of color.
I’ve had to accept that openly being a sex worker puts me in the line of fire of peoples’ judgments and stigmas, but as a transsexual woman I’m no stranger to that, and I’ve been able to use that as a way to lean into my life as a sex worker. At times it has felt scary being so open about the life I live and how I choose to make money, but since coming out to my family as a sex worker and feeling the love and warmth they approached me with after telling them, I’ve found it easier to do it unapologetically. After telling my grandmother during breakfast that I’m a sex worker, and her very casually validating my choice as an adult to make my money however I want, something radically shifted for me. I felt for the first time since starting sex work like I could actually take a breath.
I got on OnlyFans during the height of the pandemic as a way to keep myself afloat after losing my job. It was initially just a way to survive, but the ship has long since sailed. The world is opening back up, and as my friends go back to the jobs they had before the pandemic began, I’ve been asking myself what I want my life to look like in this new normal. I know that I don’t want to live the way I used to, working an exploitative service industry job where I was treated poorly by customers, taken advantage of by my managers and run ragged trying to keep up in an industry that chews you up and spits you out.
OnlyFans hasn’t just been a way to make money. It’s been a vehicle for me to reclaim my sexuality, a way for me to really and truly love my body and an opportunity for me to see what it’s like to run my own life and to make money on my own terms. I don’t see myself leaving OnlyFans anytime soon. In fact, I see myself doubling down on my commitment to this lifestyle where I feel empowered, safe and in charge of every aspect of my life.