The Pussy Economy: A cam girl talks Dungeons and Dragons, capitalism, and cash with City Paper

City Paper

Like a lot of women, we investigated sex work a few times in our more desperate years. But despite modeling nude for almost a decade,  we never made an entry into any kind of pornography or sexually related employment. It all seemed so terribly “hands-on” and dangerous. Things might have been different had we known about “camming,” or web-cam-enabled online sex work. We took SuperPunch, a cam girl who, we discovered, also contributes to City Paper, to lunch at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille to get a feel for her perspectives and life as a Baltimore comedian, online sex worker, and writer. Afterward, we experimented with “poppers” (isobutyl nitrite) to euphorically relax our anuses together while chatting about cam stuff, the pussy economy, and online sexuality. (Charlotte Benedetto)

City Paper:  What is the reaction when you tell a new person you’re a cam girl?

SuperPunch: The biggest problem people seem to have with what I do is that, and with sex work in general, is that men are the ones who made sex crazy, and now, if women cash in on that, it’s bad . . . It’s perfectly fine for women to go and have sex with whomever and get on Tinder and all that stuff, but when you add money to it . . .

CP: It’s like you’re busting the system. People don’t like that?

SP: The second I say that I do sex work, a lot of guys will try to sleep with me. And to be fair,  occasionally I do use that as sort of shorthand for “let’s bone.” Occasionally guys will think it’s shorthand for me being a prostitute and will be like “stay away, I’m not gonna have sex with you, you’ll make me pay for it.”

CP: What about women?

SP: It’s almost universally like, they’re like, “that’s awesome.”

CP: What’s the most unusual request you have?

SP: Currently . . . like once a week, I hang out on someone’s screen for like a few hours, while they play D&D with their friends and my job is to be the stand in for the naked slut or whatever?

CP: Do they roll for you and stuff? And you like have to act out what roll you get?

SP: Yeah! It’s really fun!

CP: Do they ever ask you to do really sexual things? You’re not just playing D&D, right?

SP: Yeah! No, like, I’m not playing D&D, I’m like a figurehead whore or whatever.

CP: Do you have a client that you don’t really like that you submit to anyways because you think they pay well? 

SP: When I don’t like them I block them. There are always guys on there trying to get you to show them stuff for free . . . If you can’t afford to pay me for it, sit back in free chat. I got into a bit of an altercation with a guy who kept being really insistent . . . I was like, “Dude, you’re not tipping me, shut up or I’m gonna block you” and he was like, “Haha, well you’re essentially a prostitute though!” I was like, “Yeah, and I wanna get paid!”

CP: So what are the settings: free chat, pay chat . . . ?

SP: You have free chat, then you have private chat, you have pay chat.

CP: So free chat is like, I could go and chat with you, anyone, it’s public, if you have an account, anyone can chat you.

SP: Yes.

CP: So you like a girl, and you wanna take her in a private room, so you give her a tip. Do you pay by the hour or by what she does?

SP: It depends . . . for me I charge by the minute in private chat. Some girls don’t charge private chat per minute, but they require X amounts of tipping. Mine is more flat rate. . . guys will definitely be trying to go really really fast so he won’t have to pay me . . . I wonder all the time, in a world that has Tinder, and streaming porn, what motivates people to get online to do that.

Basically, I think the real appeal of paying for it is that transactional sexual relations that also give the clients the ability to control the actions of the performers (with consent) along with the levels of intimacy in each interaction is essentially a massive life hack that is almost priceless in an age where people are paradoxically made angstier about sex positivity by its overwhelming availability.

CP: Do you take Bitcoin? Do you take cash, PayPal?

SP: I work through a website that employs like thousands of women who do the same work I do and the website itself has an interface where customers have to pay into the website . . . So,  I’m aware, of course that the site is what’s making the most money.

CP: What sort of money? 

SP: I work on a couple of websites, but, in general, my private sessions run about $1 a minute for nonpenetrative things and then $2 a minute for penetrative action, and $3 a minute if the client wants to talk to me verbally in addition to doing whatever else. If they want to get into kinkier stuff, they’ll accept the by-the-minute rate and also tip me on top of that. In free chat, I generally work a room up to the equivalent of between $10 and $20 if they want me to flash all of them, and I’ll occasionally do more publicly if someone’s willing to throw a lot more money out there. Generally, though, guys want to take me private if they’re going to spend that much money. The sites I work for take between 50-70 percent of my straight earnings, so I’m pretty clear that those people—probably dudes, if I’m being honest with myself—are really the ones profiting off of my body, but they do offer bonuses for every multiple of $500 cam models earn. 

CP: Would you agree that there has to be a fundamental shift in capitalism before we can achieve goals like egalitarian gender equality?

SP: I’m an accelerationist. I don’t actively support the worst policies [laughs]. But I mean look at what the recent incredible, unprecedented miscarriages of justice have recently done to this country . . . I think because of the country we live in, we can be completely fucked over but still be too comfortable to do anything—because of that I think the country needs more “stimulation.”

CP: Would you agree that there is a so-called pussy economy wherein there is different levels of buy-in—like as a female in society, you are the temporary owner of an attractive body which you are going to market to advance yourself?

SP: In a society where women can’t have jobs, they have to have husbands, they essentially become prostitutes for their husbands. They have to suppress any lesbian desire. You certainly can’t be asexual. I still get a lot of people confused when I’m like “I’m bisexual” . . . and I don’t know why everyone’s so shocked that suddenly a lot more people are coming out as gay-trans-bi-genderqueer, whatever . . . Is it so surprising that in the latter stages of capitalism people are finally not willing to be or suppress their identities in order to be tied to the market? If the market is actually perfect and always going to adapt, then it should adapt to that . . . I’m not being super articulate about this, though, but yeah, there’s definitely a pussy economy.

CP: Where is camming in that economy?

SP: Camming is great in that respect because it’s so low-investment, in terms of you can always turn it off, and you’re not going to end up in a dangerous situation. You can mask your IP address, you can block different, uh, regions,

CP: You can do it so you’d never be talking to someone in your own city?

SP: Yeah, exactly.

CP: Do they provide other safety measures? 

SP: Oh yeah, definitely, I mean, they always have a couple of moderators in the different chat rooms at different times. They’re really careful, you know, and they always pay on time.

CP: Men’s rights activists, I’m sure you’re familiar with them—

SP: Yeah! I got harassed a lot by guys during Gamergate.

CP: Certain men believe in an alphabetical sexual hierarchy—alphas, betas, epsilons, etc— but they also have this other option—“Delts” or whatever—which are guys who opt out of the hierarchy—

SP: But they’re hated!

CP: Well, yes, but in that belief system they have a role for men like that, but women cannot opt out of that alphabetical hierarchy.  

SP: I think in a weird way you bring up a good point . . . I’ve seen arguments from anti-porn/anti-sex-work feminists saying that women are really being more manipulated by that market than anything else, but I really feel that camming can be a form of opting out of that picture . . . It’s kind of shocking how easy it is to get people in the camming context to interact with you on your terms. Like when you’re walking down the street, it’s hard to get someone to treat you the way you want.

CP: In a private room, is it usually them being like “do this, do that,” do they wanna have some conversational time first, or is it like “most bang for the buck” ?

SP: Typically I start out by saying, like, hey, what can I do for you? Most of the time guys will have something specific in mind, but you know there’s also times guys are just like “do whatever you want.”

CP: In a way, you are caring for them, you’re meeting their needs . . . but like you always have that boundary there?

SP: Trying to get someone to pay you, while also making them feel like you “want them” besides that, that’s really tough. I haven’t quite figured it out yet . . . I’m really still dependent on guys who know the score.

CP: They want to feel like they’re getting you off more than they want to admit that you’re getting them off?

SP: Oh absolutely, yeah. I definitely do come, I come a lot, but I definitely come more from watching myself on cam, I can see them, but they’re mostly waist down, just the crotch. Some guys will actually block out their cameras because they don’t want you to see them.

CP: What would it take to remove the taboo from this activity?

SP: Talking about it. I think your statements are generalizing a lot. I don’t think that there’s a taboo about watching porn. I don’t think there’s necessarily a taboo about having a lot of sex, even though we deal with a lot of slut-shaming in our society. . . I think the real taboo is on the individual, who uses their body to monetize it . . . everything we’re sold—cosmetics, clothes whatever—exists to market sexuality back to the consumer, right? But if people just sell raw sexuality, and choose to market that, that is a problem . . . it violates the rules of the corporate game.

The reason I do what I do is to make money. I’m not trying to “dismantle capitalism” at all . . . I realize I’m feeding into it—I realize it’s like an internet corporation that really makes money off of what I do. My job can be really fucking boring just like every other job . . . It can be really fucking hard to just, like, keep that face on, all day, and not wanna do something else. 

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