Beyond The Cam – How Sex Workers Are Breaking Into Showbiz

It’s been nearly 15 years since Diablo Cody won the Oscar for writing the movie Juno, but for a long time she seemed to be the exception, rather than the rule, for sex workers making a name for themselves in mainstream media. With the exception of the occasional adult star like Sasha Grey making a move into Hollywood movies, it felt like there was still a real stigma attached to sex workers spreading their wings and showing their talents in other areas. It’s something that is treated as a strange and unusual occurrence, where their past experiences are explored salaciously, and their work is often judged on the basis of their history.

However, that has certainly been changing over the last few years, with greater acceptance of sex workers in all areas of media and storytelling. Performers on adult webcams (or cam girls) in particular have been leading the way, showing that their ability to create an engaging world for a paying customer in sex chat has an obvious potential to be used in other media outside of the adult world. Here are just a few of the people who’ve been blazing a trail recently.

In Movies

The world is full of people who think that their life experiences would make a great movie, but to be frank, how many of those people get to see as much of human nature as cam girls? Back in 2018, Netflix made waves when it released the horror thriller CAM, written by former cam girl Isa Mazzei. The movie is a story of fractured identity, as our cam girl heroine finds her channel taken over by a creepy doppelganger. Mazzei spoke about how important it was to her to write a movie that showed sex work from a realistic point of view, about a woman who had chosen to go into this business and treated it as a business.

Aside from its honest portrayal of the work that goes into keeping a channel afloat, it’s also a great scary movie with a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Mazzei has also turned her experiences in the industry into a non-fiction book, titled Camgirl, and wrote three episodes of 50 Stages of Fright for Quibi. 

In Comedy

Just like we all know that person who tells you they could write a movie about the people they deal with at work, we all know that person who goes on and on about how they could be a stand-up with their stories. Well, who’s got better stories than a Babestation veteran? London Hughes has been making huge waves in the US after her hilarious stand-up show To Catch A D*ck was turned into a Netflix special, produced by none other than Hollywood funny-man movie star Kevin Hart.

One of the reasons why Hughes’ comedy act has struck such a chord on both sides of the Atlantic is precisely because she is so up front about her experiences in her personal and professional life, and because she is unabashedly sex-positive in her outlook. If you didn’t think that being a Babestation presenter would be a natural steppingstone into a blockbuster comedy career, it actually makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? A lot of personality, the gift of the gab and a great sense of humour. Now, London Hughes is the first British woman with her own Netflix comedy special, four years after she debuted the set at the Edinburgh Fringe.

In Podcasting

Just because everyone and their brother has started a podcast during lockdown, doesn’t mean that they’re all worth listening to. However, podcasting has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to demystify and destigmatise sex work, and it’s hardly surprising that people with a knack for creating fantasies on adult chat can create a compelling half-hour-to-an-hour audio experience. Podcasting is, of course, very different to stand-up, but there’s definitely something similar in the best of these popular shows which blend incredible honesty, amazing anecdotes, a great sense of humour, and a desire to show people that sex work really isn’t what you think it is.

For example, A Sex Worker’s Guide To The Galaxy, created and hosted by Parker Westwood, is an attempt to bust some taboos and tell the stories of people who make a living from sex work without any of the usual hysteria or shaming that you’d find in mainstream media. It’s hardly surprising that there are so many podcasts like this, either. It’s an entirely democratic platform that allows people to speak their mind without any agendas or oversight. CamGirl Chronicles, Midnight Camgirl…and many platforms are launching their own podcasts too. If you want to know what life is really like on the other side of the screen, get those ear buds out and get listening.

2 thoughts on “Beyond The Cam – How Sex Workers Are Breaking Into Showbiz

  1. Super interesting! I didn’t know about any of these things. I’ll have to look I to them. Thanks for such an informative look at a very important topic.

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