If fan site platforms like OnlyFans and Just For Fans weren’t mainstream before, they are certainly getting there now. On the most recent airing of Saturday Night Live, show guest Halsey, along with actors Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson and Ego Nwodim, put on a sketch surrounding a site parodying the genre, CamFansOnly. In the clip, Thompson, playing a laid off employee from a mailman job, has been picking up a considerable amount of cash “freelancing” for the platform.
“CamFansOnly?" Halsey says when Thompson mentions the site. "I don’t think you’re thinking about the right thing. Sir, CamFansOnly is for thirsty gays who spread their butt cheeks online for like ten bucks a month.” Ok, yes but there’s an art to it Halsey, an art!
“Yeah,” Thompson responds. “That’s the one.”
The clip goes on, with the family collectively coming to terms with the fact that Thompson, who is the father, makes money by taking photos of his butt or videos where he sits on cakes in slow motion. And all under his legal name. But when he starts talking money (“I have 10,000 plus subscribers Margaret,” Thompson says to Jones, who plays his wife in the sketch. “They each pay $10.”) the family’s acceptance comes a lot quicker.
And yes, fan sites are full of men showing their buttholes for money. Straight men and gay men — some straight men for gay men. Some of them do a lot more with their holes, some a lot less. And there’s a considerable amount of money involved too. On Friday, the New York Times published a dive into the phenomenon. In the piece, the publication details just how much top performers can make. Dannii Harwood, a cisgender woman who was one of the first performers on OnlyFans, took home over $50,000 a month in October and November. Matthew Camp, who made his name in New York City nightlife and built a cult following on Tumblr years ago, regularly made $10,000 a month in his first nine months on OnlyFans, never posting a “full penetrative sex clip.” In Out’s October issue, we found that Just For Fans had paid some of its top performers upwards of $70,000 over the span of seven months. But as an infamous clip on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange just said, “it’s not just money.”
Fan sites give these performers and creators an autonomy over their work and their bodies in ways that was previously much more difficult to come by in adult entertainment.
“That site makes me feel beautiful, and in control of my body,” Thompson says in the SNL sketch. And while the line was delivered in jest and received with laughs, there is some merit to it. These performers choose when and how they would like to film and who with. They get the full, final decision on how they are presented and while this can bring with it it other insecurities (“When I started, I was immediately hit with a lot of anxiety about posting good videos that would make my profile competitive with other people,” performer Ty Mitchell told Out in October.) it does allow performers to address those issues on their terms. On top of it all, they reap the lionshare of the profits.
The New York Times story ended with the experience of Chanel Santini, a 21-year-old trans woman who started in porn and escorting before switching to OnlyFans. On set at her first pornographic shoot a director told her she would only be able to make a living doing porn was to also be a prostitute.
“Now, I just want to run into him again,” Santini said, “So I can say, ‘Well, here I am. I’m pulling in tens of thousands of dollars every month just posting content online. I don’t have to escort anymore. I don’t have to do that. Guess you were wrong!’”