Pictured above: Performer Brock Banks.
Any online gay can tell you that since the coronavirus has forced us into our homes, our collective thirst levels have spiked. Scantily clad or completely nude selfies overwhelm our newsfeeds, and everyone, including myself, has taken our salacious online behaviors to more public forums. Honey, we can’t quaran-tain ourselves!
Just the other day, a friend told me over Facebook that he has doubled his spending allowance on Just for Fans (JFF) because he can’t have sex with guys on apps due to social distancing. Considering I, too, have been rubbing my dick raw since isolation, I was curious if this collective behavior has had an impact on platforms like JFF and OnlyFans since the pandemic took over.
“Sales have gone up for sure, I would say around 10-15%,” Dominic Ford, founder and CEO of JFF, tells me. “Tipping is up as well, as I think fans are really making an effort to support their favorite performers. Content posts are also up, as models realize this is now an important lifeline for them.”
To offer support, JFF has reduced their minimum weekly payouts from $50 to $20. “That means that 1,200 models who would not have gotten paid this week were paid,” Ford says. “Obviously, their payouts were less than $50, but we understand that every penny helps right now, and we are doing our best to help [them] make ends meet.”
JFF has also ramped up development on some new features amidst isolation, including cams where models can perform live and earn tips. OnlyFans did not respond to our contact request. However, they did publish a guide to “creating in the time of coronavirus,” recommending models film from home, collaborate online, start fundraising campaigns, and throw sales because people are bored and hornier than usual.
Pornhub confirms this theory. Worldwide traffic on the streaming site was up 11.6% on March 17, according to Pornhub Insights. Traffic from the United States, their largest market, was up 6.4% on March 17. The biggest surge, however, was in Italy—which is under state lockdown—with 13.8%. In response, Pornhub announced they are giving users in Italy, Spain, and France free premium subscriptions throughout the month of March.
For many adult performers, fan sites like OnlyFans and JFF are their only source of income, as porn sets are closing left and right. “We ask that producers cancel all shoots through March 31, and recommend that performers immediately stop filming with partners who are not a part of their household,” the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an association that oversees an STI screening program for porn performers, said in a statement.
Even performers who have jobs outside of porn are affected. Brock Banks, a 31-year-old adult actor, also works as a freelance hairstylist and says his business “basically shut down” due to the virus. “I’m just trying my best to keep positive and focus on the viewers and fans during this time,” he says.
Since the pandemic is keeping us indoors, Banks hasn’t noticed much of an increase in payment (yet!), but he has had more time to interact with fans, saying it’s providing him a sense of community while in isolation.
Because Banks is secluded, he—and many other performers in isolation sans scene partner—is being forced to shoot solo content and, in doing that, he’s had to get more creative and personal. “I’ve been trying to show the fans a different side of myself because I have a bit more time now.”
Ford confirms that he’s seeing much more content—specifically, solo content—being produced. “They definitely have a sober understanding of how important this revenue stream will be for them for the time being,” he says.
The same goes for Diggory, an adult performer in his 30s, who also works as an escort, a revenue stream he’s since put on hold. “Needless to say, I’m going to be coming up with some very creative wanks over the next few weeks I think,” he says jokingly, before calling attention to sex workers at large. “Things could get pretty rough for a lot of sex workers in the coming months, so I think it’s important now more than ever that porn fans be mindful of where their porn is coming from and pay for it if they can.”
Porn consumer Paul, 36, understands and empathizes with the sentiment. “I want to support content creators, and if I can’t hook up safely, what better way to help us both out?” he says. “These guys are probably not going to get studio or escort work for a while, so it was the perfect time to support some models and get a little jerk-off material in the process.”
Some models, like Kenny Benjamin, 25, are finding it difficult to create content during such a hectic time. “My sex drive the last few weeks has definitely gone in waves. Some days I am crazy horny and others it’s like I never wanna have sex ever again because I am going to die of COVID-19,” he says. “I’ll definitely start making some more solo content soon once I can stop binge-eating and get out of bed!”
Of course, it isn’t just sex workers who are affected. Others, like Zaid Kirdsey, a 29-year-old artist, launched an OnlyFans to earn money while he’s stuck at home and out of work, where he plans to post art tutorials and exclusive works in progress. “I was on track to having one of my best financial months as an artist in a long time,” he says. “Now the art sales have almost come to a complete stop, which I understand because artwork is not a necessity, but it kind of sucks.”
Drag performers have also followed suit, joining fan sites and performing live on various platforms. Trixie Mattel recently streamed on Twitch to earn $3,0000 for No Kid Hungry, and Alaska Thunderfuck threw an online ball called “Quarantine in Green.” She also performed in Livestream This: A Digital Drag Show hosted by Biqtch Puddin on March 20.
— Trixie Mattel (@trixiemattel) March 18, 2020
JFF has a platform specifically for drag performers, aptly titled DragFor.Fans, where Ford has noticed significant growth. It is a welcome platform for someone like Scarlet Bobo, a Canada-based drag queen who’s taken to Instagram to make ends meet.
“Drag queens and artists are trying to make ends meet so I did my first live drag show last night with my friend and fellow queen, Ivory Towers,” she says, admitting it was a little awkward to adjust considering she couldn’t see her audience and her choreography was limited. “Performing in front of a camera on the roof of my condo was absolutely hilarious, but hey, if it entertains people even just a little and I’m making a few dollars, then why not?”
In the days since isolation, JFF has worked extra hard to launch FrontRow.Show, a platform for singers, musicians, and other performers. “Now that restaurants, theatres, bars, and clubs are closed, all of these performers are turning online to figure out how to make money,” Ford says. “We are very excited to provide a platform for them.”
During the pandemic, I’ve seen DJs spinning live on their patios, drag queens performing in their kitchens on nights they normally host at drag bars, and everyday folks like you and me trying to entertain themselves and others through online questionnaires and quizzes.
Yes, we’re all going a little stir-crazy, but in an odd way, we’ve never been closer.