Muscle Giants, Zoom Orgies, and the New Erotics of Isolation

The request came with instructions. The only problem was that Roidpig, a designer of fantasies and something of a pleasure architect, wasn’t sure what a “soft or hard crush” meant. Eager to satisfy, he asked for more. “A soft crush,” Roidpig explained to me recently, “would be squeezing a fruit, such as a watermelon, with my muscles. A hard one would involve killing a small animal for him, like a lizard or mouse. Needless to say, the latter request”—to be performed live on camera—“wasn’t fulfilled.”

At 245 pounds with biceps the size of small planets, Roidpig is a popular creator on the bare-all subscription fansite JustFor.Fans, one of the many online playgrounds where adult entertainers, amateur sex workers, and influencers leverage their social media standing in more intimate and lucrative ways. Over the course of March, as internet porn consumption spiked in response to a near-global lockdown, Roidpig received a myriad of requests from admirers (though none as extreme as the crush).

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“My fans love to send me long scripts,” he said. “I could easily write a book with all the weird requests I have gotten.” In one, he was asked to wear a tutu, flats, and accessories—“the fan even sent me links so I could purchase them”—and act out a fantasy wherein an old witch turns him into a ballerina. Another fantasy, this one from a monthly subscriber, imagined him as a muscle giant, “destroying buildings and stomping entire neighborhoods,” Roidpig said. “He goes absolutely nuts with the idea that my penis would get so big it would rip out of my underwear and demolish his own house.”

He is mostly happy to fill these wide-ranging desires. (Roidpig asked that his real identity remain anonymous.) “My income basically doubled in a month and keeps going up,” he said. Life under Covid-19 has been a boom time for many of his peers too. “People are stuck at home and self-pleasure is at the top of the list for many of them,” Xavier Blanco told me.

A New York-based “try-sexual,” Blanco unbuckles gay pleasure in all formats: His videos are a medley of nipple play, kink exploration, and generally men enjoying men however they can. In one x-rated photo uploaded to OnlyFans, he referenced the strange new times. “Since it didn’t make it into my mouth does that mean #SOCIALDISTANCING?” he captioned the image, which showed a gooey white residue splashed across his chest.

In recent years, the gloss of influencerdom has reengineered the look of sex work on the internet. Popular bare-all fansites became incubators for a new frontier in adult entertainment. Accounting for an increased fixation with influencer culture, these sites benefited from the public’s private hungers by revealing influencers as they never had before. The result was a small revolution.

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Adaptation is now the name of the game for many creators, new and old. As global protocols have called for remote living, creators have had to adjust accordingly. On a recent episode of Safeword, a BDSM podcast hosted by Mistress Eva, she discussed, along with fetish photographer and writer Dirk Hopper, how their community is finding ways to embrace unforeseen limitations and “eroticize social distancing.” Added Hopper, “Now is the time to get creative, and try new stuff.” One example Eva shared included a virtual leather social, which is exactly what you think it is: a group video call that features bootblacking, self-flatulation, and leathercare, among other carnal releases.

In an industry that thrives on physical touch, video technologies are providing an alternative. Porn star Ivy Wolfe arranged a 20-minute lesbian orgy scene over “a well-known video conferencing platform,” XBIZ reported. The four women each filmed from the confines of their home. The scene was then made available for purchase on OnlyFans, which allows creators to sell personalized videos to subscribers on top of the monthly fee.

The platforms themselves are adapting as well, giving creators a bigger stake in the profit sharing. A number of video sites—including CamBae, FanCentro, and Clips4Sale—have abandoned old revenue-split agreements (the cuts range from site to site) and are granting full or nearly 100% payouts to performers. AdultNode upgraded its models to VIP status, a move that will bolster the visibility of their profiles.

Subscribers are also benefiting. SexLikeReal is providing a month of free access for all of its virtual reality scenes, and Pornhub opened its premium membership service to everyone, free of charge, until April 23. Pornhub’s performers, too, will now get full profits from their video sales, minus the processing fee. So far “the feedback from models has been very positive,” Pornhub vice president Corey Price said in an email (though he only offered a vague non-response when I asked if this policy will continue once the pandemic has ended).

One platform in particular that experienced monumental growth in March was OnlyFans, the most in-demand adult fansite. According to internal data shared with WIRED, since March 1, OnlyFans has received a 75% increase in user registrations—totaling more than 3 million new sign-ups, 60,000 of which are creators. CEO Tim Stokely said he wanted OnlyFans to “offer an income opportunity” during this unstable moment.

What all of this has generated is an extremely crowded pleasure climate online—though not everyone publishing content is a pornfluencer. Musicians and drag performers are turning to OnlyFans to perform digital gigs for subscribers, and lifestyle influencers—from wellness blogger Kimberly Craines to fitness star Nathan McCallum and gay party promoter Eliad Cohen—have recently made a home on the platform.

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