Confessions of a cam girl: What it is, and what it's definitely not
As with most sex work, webcamming doesn’t have the best reputation. It’s often seen as exploitation or a last-resort hustle to pay off debt, but Reed Amber, 26, explains how webcam models are just your average self-employed freelancers with the same amount of agency and independence as anyone else.
Model, producer and co-creator of YouTube channel ComeCurious, Reed is essentially the physical embodiment of sex positivity, which she defines as “trying to make people feel like what they’re doing and what they’re into isn’t wrong, it’s normal and it’s absolutely fine.” She’s a huge advocate for removing stigma and taboos around sex, and we caught up with her to learn more about webcamming, a line of sex work that is seldom talked about.
How did you get into webcamming?
“When I first left university, I went freelance straight away and didn’t quite realise how hard it was to get regular work. I moved in with a friend who webcammed and I was like ‘Oh that sounds like something I’d love to do!’ I already had a sex blog and I was already posting nudes of myself and I absolutely loved it, but webcamming was a bit more of a jump. There’s still this mad taboo around it, that you’re selling your body for sex, but it’s not exactly like that. You can do whatever you like on webcam. Most of the time you’re just talking and keeping people company.”
Why do you think some men, and probably women as well, prefer it to porn?
“There’s so much free porn that I feel webcamming is more of a personal one-on-one. You can go online and find any ol’ stuff, but webcamming is more personal; it’s tailored exactly to what you want and what you’re looking for. You’re not sharing it with 100 thousand other people. This is your show. Most of the time you build up a relationship, I talk to you as a friend and I respect you as a person. ‘How has your day been, what did you get from the shops, what are you cooking for dinner…’ it’s like an online relationship”
...So it’s kind of like the ‘girlfriend experience’?
“Yes, it’s very much like the girlfriend experience. But that also depends on what the webcam model is like and also what the person paying is like because everyone wants something different.”
Have you ever had say no to a request?
“I’m definitely one of the cam girls who would hardly ever say no. I’ve always wanted to try new things, but that’s not because I felt like I had to. It’s just personally what I want to do. I want to tick stuff off my list, I want to try everything once especially when it comes to sex positivity. Even if it’s something I’m not necessarily into, I’d still give it a go. If I didn’t like it, I’d be like ‘sorry, I’m not really into that.’ But there’s a lot of people that would say no to a lot of stuff.”
Are there any really common requests that you get?
“It depends on the profile that you set up because when you make a profile, you write a little bio about yourself, and my bio might be seen as a little more ‘out there’. I’m open to anything, like roleplay, so a lot of the time I get roleplay requests, more just because I find them fun no matter how unusual or bizarre they are. What excites me are uncommon and unusual requests that you wouldn’t really come across. Life’s too boring otherwise”
How do people react when you tell them what you do?
“I get a mixture of emotions. Mostly people react positively because of the way I speak about it. It’s so different if you’re really shy and timid and quiet about it. It immediately gives off this idea of ‘oh they’re not completely ok with it.’ But if anyone ever asks me, I’d be like ‘fuck yeah I webcam, I love it!’ I get to mess around at home all day and I get to be as open and as genuine to myself as I can possibly be, and there’s a lot of people who aren’t ok with that because I’m into some very unusual things myself. I don’t have to hide and pretend that I’m someone else; I can really be my true self.”
Basically you get to be your sex-positive self to your full potential…
“Exactly! That’s where I got my first taste of sex positivity. Going through my relationships and going to university I was like ‘woah, nobody thinks the way I do, I must be weird’. But being a webcam model, I realised everyone is into something different, they just feel like they can’t talk about it.”
Do you find people make assumptions about you because of your line of work?
“It’s very possible, but if they do no one has ever said it to my face. I used to be in porn production for big companies, and that was probably the only time I experienced negativity. I told a guy about what I do and he was like “I don’t agree with porn. These women are being forced to do something they don’t want to do. It’s degrading”. He did bring up some good points but I argued that it was the same as any office job. Your boss is going to fuck you over or you don’t get paid, right? It’s the same. At least with webcamming, I work for myself and I can choose how much I earned, and if nobody wanted to pay me that [amount], they wouldn’t come to me.”
Are there misconceptions about webcamming that you want to bust?
“Absolutely! Oh my good god! There are so many documentaries that really shit on webcammers, and that really angers me because I don’t really think it has anything to do with the webcamming itself. I feel it has to do with the individual, the person. A lot of people end up doing it for money, not necessarily because they enjoy it, and they’re made to feel bad about it. I totally feel the opposite. I feel like webcamming is fully me and something I wanted to do; the money was a bonus.
A lot of what we see in the media doesn’t help either. People have this idea [about] the type of person who does webcamming, where they’re either not good enough for porn or they’re too lazy to find a real job, and that’s all bullshit. Unfortunately there’s a lot of girls who do turn to webcamming for the wrong reasons, especially when it comes to money, and a lot of people feel guilty for doing it. But we sell our souls for money all the time, why not our body? Why wouldn't you have a bit of sexual fun at the same time?
Part of the misconception comes from the fact that it’s not policed. It’s a very underground industry, and there’s no governing body you can turn to, so people can be taken advantage of. It’s an online community and it’s hard to police. Anything can go wrong; people can be abusive and feel like they can go away with it, but then you can also just turn off the screen. But many women feel like they need to stay because of the money. I’ve never felt like I had to do that, but then again, it’s the same when people stay in the wrong job for so long because they’re scared of leaving and losing that financial security. It’s so close to the porn industry and a lot of the sex industry isn’t policed. If you have a problem and you go to the police about it, most of the time they’ll just say “well, you’re asking for it”, which is not acceptable. We’re freelance and self-employed. We work for ourselves and these are our decisions, and we should be respected in the same way everyone else is respected.”