Wedgies and Walkaways: Inside The Kinky Rise Of OnlyFans Porn

Adam Bloodworth
·Reporter, HuffPost UK
·10-min read

I charge $100/min for three minutes minimum, and it will usually centre around me saying that they will never be with me,” says porn star Charlotte Lavish*. “Sometimes they have specific phrases they want me to say ... or their name.”

If a viewer wants to see Lavish act out a more specific scenario with sex toys, props or costumes, she makes it clear how that can happen. “If I don’t have something they want me to use, I’ll put it on my Amazon wish list and they’ll purchase it for me to use in their vid,” she says. “I am getting mostly humiliation and tease and denial requests at the moment. That doesn’t require much.”

Lavish performs on OnlyFans, the UK-based digital platform that allows content creators to earn money directly from the ‘fans’ who subscribe to their content. “Sign up to make money and interact with your fans!” reads the site’s tagline – and the media is full of stories about the crazy amounts of money some OnlyFans creators are making.

There’s the the Birmingham businessman who reportedly makes £60,000 a month without even showing his face; the former Bible studies student who was celibate for six years and now brings in £76,000 a month; not to mention the 19-year-old “naked philanthropist” who raised more than $1m for the Australian bushfire relief effort.

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It’s not all sex. Personal trainers, chefs and musicians use the service too and various high profile celebrities are signed up, offering exclusive content, which may include early-access to new music and the opportunity to join Q&As.

It was rumoured that Cardi B, for example, reportedly makes $8m a month, when an infographic showing supposed earnings of creators was shared online (then removed) by the musician Casanova. Cardi shares behind-the-scenes content rather than nudes. When she first joined OnlyFans, she got straight to the point in an Insta story explaining her content would not be X-rated.

Pornography still accounts for the majority of OnlyFans activity, however, and many of its users say the platform is democratising the medium, making porn more intimate – and kinkier – than ever before.

(Photo: Marcos Calvo via Getty Images)
(Photo: Marcos Calvo via Getty Images)

A subscription to an OnlyFans creator means users can request anything from a friendly chat to live videos of all their favourite fetishes – so long as everyone follows the rules set by the performer. “If someone tries any funny business there’s a block feature,” says creator TrashBlushRage*.

“Fetishes are completely normal and healthy, especially in the right spaces,” adds the non-binary soft-core model and cosplayer, from California. That’s to say: anything goes. “Don’t be afraid to ask your favourite performer,” they say. “If they’re a good egg, they won’t shame you.” Have they seen new kinks and fetishes developing on the platform? “There are too many to name!”

Lavish agrees. “Simple things like high heels and stockings can be a turn on for many people. It doesn’t surprise me that fans enjoy particular outfits, phrases, or just find pleasure in giving me money,” she says. “The only thing that really surprised me was the popularity of wedgies and ‘walkaways’ – but when I think about it, people stare at me when I’m walking around all the time.”

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The recent growth of OnlyFans, which launched in 2016, has been pronounced: the site saw a 75% increase in new users throughout March and April, as lockdown kept more of us inside and – frankly – in need of getting some.

Creators set their own rates and cross-promote their channels and content on other social media and site like Reddit. Marketing is crucial: it isn’t possible to discover creators on the OnlyFans homepage in the way you might imagine; the quickest way for a creator to self-promote is sharing an OnlyFans shortlink.

Potential subscribers can message creators directly, subscribe monthly and request custom content. Some even strike up connections away from porn.

Charlotte Lavish (Photo: Supplied )
Charlotte Lavish (Photo: Supplied )

No two subscribers are the same, says TrashBlushRage, who hopes the platform is making people more open-minded about our sexual proclivities. “Porn in general has such a negative view, when you give the power to the content creator, it’s a safe and consensual space for all involved.”

In the queer sphere, where kink culture is already more mainstream, OnlyFans is booming. “If you cater to a niche, you can be really successful,” says Brian Smith, from Belgium, who runs the @onlyxxxguys Twitter account linking to the best male OnlyFans accounts – gay and straight, which has more than 240,000 followers.

“I have seen all kind of kinks: from guys just showing their toes to trans people putting toys in every single hole, from daddies daily bringing home twinks to straight guys just flexing their muscles, from a guy edging all his anonymous dates to an influencer who couldn’t show all his artsy nude pictures on Instagram,” says Smith.

I have seen all kinds... from a guy edging all his anonymous dates to an influencer who couldn’t show his artsy nudes on Instagram.

There are plenty of real-life couples on the site, he adds, and a rise in straight guys with big social followings playing gay. “Guys making videos with their straight buddies, ‘pushing boundaries’,” he says. ″Most of them are Instagram influencers who are banking out their following, and get requests from fans willing to pay more for ‘gay-for-pay’ content.”

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OnlyFans has its limits: a list of banned sexual acts includes content which contains injuries, such as with blood; medical role play involving needles, injections or procedures; asphyxiation; knife play; bruises; urine and defecation. (For those who want to push the boundaries further with their kinks, Smith says newcomer site, JustFor.Fans, takes a more liberal approach to fetish and kink content, allowing content with asphyxiation and fisting roleplay, for instance).

But abide by the guidelines, and many performers will happily sing the praises of OnlyFans as a place to work – and socialise. TrashBlushRage says they enjoy interacting with “fans and friends” on the platform.

“We don’t just focus on the porn side of things,” they say. “Sure, they do have that opportunity, but I can also post my other interests, from video games to table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons.”

Trashblushrage as Red Riot from Japanese manga series Boku no Hero Academia. (Photo: Arty_Snaps)
Trashblushrage as Red Riot from Japanese manga series Boku no Hero Academia. (Photo: Arty_Snaps)

Amy*, who preferred not to give her performer name, is an OnlyFans creator who also subscribes to other porn stars on the platform – and says there is courtesy and conversation to be found.

“I never request custom videos, but I do tip them if I’m extra impressed by one of their posts,” she says. “A good subscriber isn’t always the one who tips the most. I enjoy comments on my post, thoughtful DMs, loyalty. I am in group chats on Twitter with 95% of the people I [am subscribed] to. I speak regularly with most of them and they are all so lovely.”

Another creator, James Cullen, wrote for HuffPost UK that posting on OnlyFans has boosted his confidence. “I realised that I wasn’t feeling validation from some faceless person online named user78290, I was feeling validation by myself,” he says. “I realised I was looking at my OnlyFans not as a platform to make some fast money, but as a way to accept myself.”

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Not everyone has fallen in love with OnlyFans, of course. Jason Domino is an activist and porn performer who runs the PornforPrep site, which works to destigmatise sex work and raise awareness about HIV and other STIs.

He is one of a growing number of people worried about the impact of so many people joining the platform after reading splashy headlines about how easy it is to make money – when the reality isn’t always so simple.

“Personally I am conflicted,” says Domino, who describes the process of getting popular on OnlyFans as like a pyramid scheme: seemingly straightforward but way more sales-y than at first glance. “Many performers do not make the money they hope on the platform,” he says. “When they don’t see why the other is making more than them, their self-criticism can become unhealthy – fixating on things they are already insecure or impacted by.”

CJ Official, who balances journalism with his sex work (Photo: HuffPost UK)
CJ Official, who balances journalism with his sex work (Photo: HuffPost UK)

A BBC Three documentary recently revealed a darker side to the platform – underage performers have been found selling photos and videos on OnlyFans using fake IDs. It’s a legal requirement in the UK to be 18 or over to produce porn, but in the eyes of the law, performers are liable, rather than the platform.

Domino points out that “classic porn safety protocols” are not enforceable for performers working from home – and that organisations offering support and advice such as the one he works with, UKAP (United Kingdom Adult Professionals), aren’t clearly promoted to creators (HuffPost UK has approached OnlyFans for more details on its code of conduct and safety, and will update with any response).

While headlines proclaim that OnlyFans has “put X-rated entertainment in the hands of its entertainers”, Domino fears OnlyFans may be setting unrealistic industry standards and inauthentic ideals about community and success.

“More realistic independence is not about removing the establishments, but in worker rights and unions leading the standards of those establishments,” he says, comparing the OnlyFans model to the gig economy – with its narrative of freedom, but where companies, not workers, still hold the ultimate control.

Many OnlyFans creators lead double lives, working for the platform in the evening while holding down a day job. Despite it being a lucrative way to make money that can work to an individual’s schedule, there can still be a stigma attached to the work.

TrashBlushRage and Charlotte Lavish are two of the lucky ones. Trash is quitting their office job next April to go full-time on the platform. Meanwhile, Lavish says the money is “great, but not effortless: you get what you put in.”

I want to reach the point where I can meet someone at a party or dinner and say ‘I make porn’ and have the same reaction I get when I say I’m a journalist.

But some performers who spoke to HuffPost, including CJ_Official*, a writer from London, have found employers hostile towards their OnlyFans work when it has appeared in background checks. It’s important to remember, he says, that for many people, sex work is still a means to an end, rather than a preference.

“My job had failed to pay me for almost two months due to a payroll error,” he explains. “I support my mum where possible due to her ill health, so I was struggling to come up with the money to cover my costs. A friend suggested OnlyFans and I decided to at least give it a go short-term so I could continue to get by.”

CJ has been fired from one job that found out about his OnlyFans side hustle, and another axed his contract shortly before he was to start work for fear his job would ‘put the company into disrepute’.

“It was mortifying for me, and definitely a low point in my life. I know many people would probably say “well, you’re to blame!” but I disagree,” he says.

“Monetising our bodies should never be considered shameful, and why should it have any impact on a 9-5 job? I want to reach the point in society where I can meet someone new at a party or a dinner and say ‘I make porn’ and it have the same reaction as I get when I say I’m a journalist.

“But we have a long way to go until that happens.”

*Unless otherwise stated, all names used are performer names, rather than real ones, to offer anonymity to interviewees.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.