Webcam Sex Workers (Cam Girls)

Webcamming is the act of broadcasting sound and images, including sexually related content, over the internet using a camera designed for this purpose.Cam girls and cam boys are some of the terms for adults who charge money for consensual sexual performances through webcam technology.

Not all sex webcamming is consensual. In cybersex trafficking,2 sex traffickers use webcam technology to broadcast sexual performances by unwilling participants and sexual abuse of minors to customers all over the world.3  But not all sex activity broadcast by webcam is criminal activity.

There are several terms for online sex workers in the adult webcam industry who use webcams to broadcast remote sexual performances (also called adult webcamming, sex camming and camming) for financial gain: cam girls, cam boys, adult webcam performers, erotic webcam performers, erotic webcam models, and webcam models. 4 Sex cam performers do anything from talking about sex to masturbating and strip teasing and cater to heterosexual and LGBTQ customers. Erotic webcam models come in a variety of ages, sexual orientations and body variations.

The first internet webcam images broadcasted were of a coffeepot on 11/22/1993. Computer scientists at the University of Cambridge made a camera that was able to show those connected to it how much coffee there was in the coffeepot set up in another section of their department so they didn’t have to make a trip if it was empty, and in 1993 a scientist without the connection created the software to transmit the images to the internet.5

The first webcam equipment for public use sold commercially in 1994.6 The first webcamming of a person’s life, including sexual relations, is attributed to Jennifer Ringley who started “JenniCam” online in 1996 and started charging for views in 1998.7 Using webcams to have internet sex (see Cybersex (Internet Sex) Topic) is also an option some couples use when separated by distance, and is different from those who sex-cam for money.

The definition of adult sex camming, in general, is an online performance in front of a webcam that may contain sexual activities and nudity where performers may interact with patrons who watch remotely and tip in virtual tokens that can be exchanged for real money.8 Cam girls and cam boys may also put on private shows, do group shows, sell videos of performances, charge monthly subscription fees or engage in other types of performances and financial arrangements. Remote interactions may include allowing customers to sync the vibration of a performer’s sex toy to the amount of tips they give (see the Teledildonics Topic, coming soon).

Because of the potential for illegal activity, some online sex workers engaged in consensual sex camming who rely on the money for financial independence may also be limited by provisions in a law known as SESTA-FOSTA (H.R. 1865 – Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, also known as Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act – Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) that aims to crack down on sex trafficking.9 Although anyone with an internet connection, computer and compatible webcam can potentially go into business, some payment sites exclude customers for content containing sexual activity.

Some adult webcam performers turn to hosting sites (platforms) that may require more than half of the models’ profits.10 Even with these potential obstacles, there are webcam models who make a living providing consensual sexual performances to a live remote audience.

The following articles should provide more information on webcam sex workers or cam girls and cam boys.

Footnotes: 1. “Webcamming,” britannica.com, 9/25/2019; 2. “Cyber-sex trafficking: A 21st century scourge,” cnn.com, 7/18/2013; “Cybersex Trafficking,” ijm.org, 2016; “Cybersex Trafficking: Grooming & Exploitation Online,” blog.theexodusroad.com, 3/15/2019; 3. “The Role of the Internet on Sex Trafficking,” observatoryihr.org, 3/7/2019; “Uncovering The Dark World Of Trafficking In The Webcamming Industry,” fightthenewdrug.org, 4/11/2019 4. “Camming: Money, Power, and Pleasure in the Sex Work Industry,” books.google.com; tandfonline.com, 12/10/2018; “The Rise Of Average Women Turning To The Soft Sex Industry For Work,” shesaid.com 4/23/2019; and other internet sources; 5. “How the world’s first webcam made a coffee pot famous,” bbc.com, 11/22/2012; 6. “The History of the Webcam,” techwalla.com, accessed 3/17/2020; 7. “April 14, 1996: JenniCam Starts Lifecasting,” wired.com, 4/14/2010; “The 16 Greatest Moments in Web History,” pcworld.com, 10/1/2007; 8. “Camming: Money, Power, and Pleasure in the Sex Work Industry,” books.google.com;  “Cam girl reality: an enticing illusion leaves many models poor and defeated,” theguardian.com, 1/14/2020; 9. “Platforms Which Discriminate Against Sex Workers,” survivorsagainstsesta.org, accessed 3/17/2020; “Acceptable Use Policy,” paypal.com, 6/15/2018; “Webcamming: the sex work revolution that no one is willing to talk about,” theconversation.com, 12/19/2016; “Banks Have the Power to Ruin Your Sex Life,” vice.com, 8/8/2019; 10. “Platforms Which Discriminate Against Sex Workers,” survivorsagainstsesta.org, accessed 3/17/2020; “Acceptable Use Policy,” paypal.com, 6/15/2018; “First Congress Took Sex Workers’ Websites. Now It’s Coming For Their Bank Accounts.,” huffpost.com, 5/28/2018; “Anti-Sex Work Law May Be Hitting Artists Who Rely On Crowdfunding,” huffpost.com, 7/4/2018; “Behind the Scenes: The Economics of Cam Sites,” medium.com, 10/11/2017; “Highest Paying Camsites of 2019,” camgirltoolbox.com, 2/8/2019



  1. ‘Sex Tech’ Aims To Rise Above Negative Image

    “Elsewhere on the showroom floor, Gerard Escaler, chief marketing officer at Lovense, explains how a male ‘masturbator’ works. … The Hong Kong-based company offers several internet apps for use in long-distance relations—with a partner or with online erotic performers like ‘cam girls’ who sell access to live web video.”

    Julie Jammot, techxplore.com, 1/8/2020

  2. NPR’s Book Concierge: Camgirl By Isa Mazzei

    “The book offers insights into the formidable physical and emotional labor demanded of adult entertainers [cam girls], as well as the ways that power and desire are intertwined for young women – all recounted in Mazzei’s raw, surprisingly comedic voice.”

    Sascha Cohen, npr.org, 2019

  3. What I’ve Learned About Staying Safe As A Camgirl

    “First of all, all real-life personal details should be off-limits. … Make sure the camera doesn’t show outside your window, photographs or even parcels that have your details on them as this can be used to discover your address, putting your physical safety at risk.”

    Libby, futureofsex.net, 9/11/2019

  4. Nevada College Students Get Creative To Graduate Without Loan Debt

    “Parreira, who is studying gender and sex work, chose a more creative solution than a 9-to-5 job — one that ultimately led to research fodder for her doctoral degree. She turned to cam girl work. Nevada is receptive to all types of sex work as a means of paying for school, Parreira said.”

    Aleksandra Appleton, reviewjournal.com, 9/2/2019

  5. The Pleasures Of Fetishization: BBW Erotic Webcam Performers, Empowerment, And Pleasure

    “I use this analysis to push back against feminist critiques that focus only negatively on the fetishization of fat bodies in pornography. Instead, drawing from feminist porn studies, I argue that it is crucial for scholars to account for experiences of pleasure in pornography and other forms of sex work. I conclude this article with a discussion of the significant implications of this research for scholars working in a range of social science disciplines.”

    Angela Jones, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, Volume 8, 2019 – Issue 3: Fat in Theatre and Performance, Taylor & Francis Ltd, tandfonline.com, 12/10/2018

  6. Why We’ve Filed A Lawsuit Against A US Federal Law Targeting Sex Workers

    “A vaguely defined US law – the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) – raises the possibility that if you advocate online for the rights of sex workers or defend their most basic freedoms, you might be prosecuted by federal or state government, or sued by private parties. That’s why we at Human Rights Watch filed the first lawsuit against FOSTA this week, along with the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, the Internet Archive, an activist for sex workers’ rights, and a licensed massage therapist. We are proud to be represented in this effort by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.”

    Skye Wheeler, hrw.org, 6/29/2018