Sex

Porn Conspiracy Theorists: Cam Girls Are Misusing Internet-Controlled Vibrators

If a cam girl fakes it, so what?

Lux Alptraum

Lux Alptraum

Image: Jane Paludanus/Flickr

In the early aughts, I spent a few years working as an independent cam model, performing shows on a long-defunct indie porn site as well as privately for fans. On one occasion, a particular fan happened to book me for a golden showers show—something I was more than happy to oblige, even though I'd never done it before. He sent me my payment, we set up an appointment, and I proceeded to prepare for the experience.

Everything went as expected at first. And then, when the moment of truth arrived, I discovered something unexpected: peeing on command was much, much harder than I'd thought it would be. Try as I might, I couldn't make things happen—but I couldn't exactly back out of things half way through the session.

So I did what any professional performer would do: I faked it.

I wouldn't say that I am proud of my faux golden shower; but I'm not particularly ashamed, either. My client paid for the experience of watching me orgasmically excrete urine, as far as he was aware, he had that experience. It may not have been "real," but then, neither are most of the things we see in movies.

It's important to remember that sex workers aren't actually selling access to their most intimate selves.

Recently, I wrote about the phenomenon of Chaturbate cam girls using OhMiBod vibrators to encourage tips, setting up their toys to respond to the sound generated whenever a client put tokens into their account. Shortly after the piece went up, someone tweeted a link to this piece, an overview of accusations that Chaturbate models are misrepresenting the OhMiBod's abilities as a way to scam customers out of tips.

The accusations are complicated and sometimes contradictory: some claim that OhMiBod vibrators don't actually respond to the sounds of tips; others claim that, while the vibrators work as claimed, a handful of models are leaving them in "standby" mode and faking their reactions.

As with any good conspiracy theory, there's a strange presumption that a complicated cabal might actually have risen just to encourage a slightly higher amount of tips from a few lonely gentlemen. But reading through the allegations, my main thought was: honestly, who really cares?

If the question is whether certain models of OhMiBod vibrator vibrate in response to a variety of sounds, including the sound of Chaturbate tips, the answer is undoubtedly yes. That's what these products are designed to do.

As Zander Storm, my Chaturbate cam girl connection, explained to me, "The [Club Vibe] doesn't buzz incredibly intensely, it's more of a low-to-medium strength vibrational tease, but it does work as claimed. If I put the panty vibe on a table while it is turned on, and people tip, my viewers can see and hear it buzzing. It's an easy way for me to show any doubters that my vibe is turned on and works as advertised. The product was designed to react to music, but a sound wave is a sound wave—the toy responds to tip sounds and any other sound loud enough to reach the mic. If I laugh too loudly or spank myself, the toy often responds to that."

One comment on a blog post about the Chaturbate "scam." Image: Chaturbate Model Blog

If the question, on the other hand, is whether cam girls are exaggerating or faking their reaction to the tip-generated vibrations, well, that's a more complicated question that touches on some of the fundamental aspects of sex work.

To begin with, it's important to understand this: sex workers frequently fake, or exaggerate, their responses to stimulation, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a sex worker's genuine enjoyment of an experience is more understated than a client might like, so it gets dialed up to better communicate her pleasure. Sometimes a sex worker gets asked to engage in an activity that—though she may enjoy it—doesn't quite get her off, so her reaction is exaggerated to keep the client from thinking she's not into it. Sometimes a sex worker is exhausted, or having an off day, or just isn't able to orgasm for a variety of reasons. But in the same way that other service workers have to smile even when they feel like shit, sex workers must still pull out a hot performance even when their body isn't up to it.

But if the client ultimately receives a convincing performance of pleasure, one that results in an orgasm of their own, they are, truly, getting what they paid for. So while there are undoubtedly Chaturbate models who ramp up their reactions to their OhMiBod toys for the camera, that's part and parcel of the whole sex work experience.

Though I can understand disappointment in discovering a sex worker might be fudging a few (or a number) of the details of her experience—I'd certainly be bummed to discover I'm not actually one of my hairdresser's favorite clients—it's important to remember that sex workers aren't actually selling access to their most intimate selves. They're selling sexually explicit performances. If they're able to provide an enjoyable experience for the client, they've ultimately held up their end of the bargain, and haven't "scammed" anyone at all.

A magician doesn't need to actually pull a rabbit out of a hat, just convince you that that feat has been achieved. If a cam girl's orgasm convinces you, she's effectively done her job.

And yet accusations of "fakery" and "scams" seem to run rampant—not just with regards to Chaturbate OhMiBod users, but squirting sex workers and incredibly orgasmic ones as well. Devoted porn consumers seem equally devoted to accusing their beloved performers of pulling a fast one, even when, for all intents and purposes, those same performers have done exactly what they were paid to do.

I am not in the habit of angrily accusing sex workers of fakery, so I can't say I quite comprehend the motivation, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's probably related to the shame some feel at being consumers of sex work. When a cam show's concluded, the performer walks off with money while her client is left with his dick in his hand.

It's not hard to see who's really in charge here, or how that obvious power differential might lead some men to lash out at the women they've just paid to pleasure them. If you want to take a sex worker down a peg, what better way than to accuse her of being a fraud? But convincingly faking pleasure doesn't make a sex worker a cheat. It just means she's a professional who knows how to turn in a solid performance, regardless of any obstacles.