File picture: Raul Arboleda / APF.
File picture: Raul Arboleda / APF.

Sex workers move online to make living

By Amber Court Time of article published Jan 17, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Sex workers who are struggling to make a living during the Covid-19 pandemic are turning to the internet to make money as virtual sex is not only lucrative but safer.

OnlyFans, a London-based content subscription service, provides its content creators, sex workers in this case, with a website to earn money from clients who subscribe to their specific content. Although content creators can use the service to showcase their art, music or any other talents, it has become a site for adult entertainment and performance to bloom.

A Cape Town sex worker who did not want to be named uses the OnlyFans website to make a living.

“The initial start of lockdown resulted in sex workers not being able to go out and make a living. Most of the work is done at night and with the curfew, I had to find another way to generate revenue,” he said.

During the day he is a freelance creative who does styling and documents queer lives through photography, and is an advocate for sex workers’ rights.

“The work that I do is taboo in my community. Being queer, the work that I do exudes my femininity,” he said.

The 23-year-old started doing sex work to make extra money. He said he lost a job last year when his employer found out about his sex work.

“Getting a student salary is not enough and being a millennial you need more money,” he said.

His colourful online persona started when he signed up to an online escorting website called rent.men last year.

“For my first client I made R2 000 in an hour. I didn't have to do anything, I just had to sit and not do anything,” he added.

Unfortunately, someone told the company he worked for about his sex work and he was fired.

Then he started to use the OnlyFans website and entices his clientele by tweeting video teasers on Twitter.

He has been able to reach audiences beyond Cape Town. “Locally and internationally boosts my (OnlyFans) account,” he said.

His subscribers, who pay R75 a month, live in places from Cape Town to New Zealand and consist mainly of middle-aged or old white men.

“I post porn, because these are all the things that I would be doing with a client in person, but just online. People tip me and they send me requests. If it is going to give me a good buck, I will do it,” he said.

Another sex worker, who goes by the alias Lekker Hollas, said her sex work began in university, where services were traded for places to sleep and food to eat.

The 30-year-old turned to sex work again during the pandemic last year.

Hollas does education on sexual health, runs a sex podcast, advocates for destigmatising sex work and is an actor too.

“I have been involved in workshops with sexual rights initiatives such as the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition and Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat),” said Hollas.

Weekend Argus

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