- Demand for virtual sex services has skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic began.
- And for some people who are newly unemployed, selling nude photos and videos online has become a part of the quarantine routine.
- We spoke to three people in the sex industry, including one who makes as much as $17,000 a month posting photos online.
- View more episodes of Business Insider Weekly on Facebook.
Some sex workers are reimagining their business for a world where meeting clients in person is risky.
Even as many US states and countries have emerged from coronavirus-related, demand for virtual sex services is skyrocketing.
But for some people who are newly unemployed, selling naked photos and videos online has become a part of the quarantine routine.
One 24-year-old woman, who uses the pseudonym Harper Heart, has monetized nude photos of herself on the subscription service OnlyFans and other platforms. Users can only see Heart's profile if they pay her a monthly fee. She can also charge extra for special photos or videos she sends to them directly.
"I'm just trying to make the best out of a s—-y situation. I'm lucky to be able to do this, and make a couple of extra dollars," she told Business Insider Weekly.
Between March and April, OnlyFans saw a 75% increase in new users. There are currently 250,000 people signing up every day. The four-year-old platform has more than 50 million users, which might seem little compared to Instagram's 1 billion — but it's significant for models like Harper.
Meanwhile, business is booming for model Chanelle Greene, who used to work in bars across Los Angeles. She used a similar subscription-based platform where she posted topless and sometimes fully naked photos, and has since begun mainly using OnlyFans.
Greene said she earns "$15,000 to $17,000" a month from her online exploits.
"The pandemic has affected my business drastically because I do feel that a lot of people are spending more time at home and online. That's made a huge difference," she told Business Insider Weekly.
But figuring out the formula for what works online isn't always easy.
In Berlin, where most kinds of sex work are legal, most of Mistress Amandara's regulars aren't booking virtual sessions. She's been getting new clients through fetish websites, but she can't charge the 250 euros per hour that she does in person.
"You cannot charge the same for a real life session," Amandara said. "I can see sex workers that are close to me or my myself — I see that the incomes are drastically going down."
She says she is relying on emergency unemployment funds from the German government to pay her bills while she figures out how to build her virtual business.
"There's something about domination that is very physical," she said. "It's very about being there. It's a challenge, big challenge to do it online. I have to learn again how to work."
Back in Brooklyn, Harper is relying largely on unemployment. Her following isn't yet big enough to pay the bills. But her photo sessions have become a kind of therapy.
"I really used to not be a fan of my body," she said. "This has like, really helped me see myself differently and like, see myself in a better light."
She continued: "What are people going to say? She looked fat, she like didn't look good, she has no respect for herself. Like, people are just tell me that anyway — I'm a woman. I'm going to be criticized no matter what I do. So I might as well make a couple of dollars getting naked."
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