Sex Cam Modeling: Labor, Intimacy, and Prosumer Porn

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This dissertation begins with the assumption that the porn industry has radically changed in ways we are yet to fully understand. Drawing on interviews and auto-ethnography, it attempts to offer three distinct theoretical lenses through which these changes can be observed. First, I examine what is bought and sold in cam rooms, concluding that the work of cam modeling (both on camera and behind the scenes) has many dimensions that are not captured by reductionist tropes about selling one’s body. Second, I argue that camming fits a broader pattern in online content, where clear divisions between producer and consumer begin to break down. I conclude that camming (and especially custom content/shows) can best understood as prosumer pornography (i.e., as a co-creation of model and viewer). Finally, I explore the ways in which sex cam models actively develop intimacy with clients in spite of the fact that the interactions are defined by social and spatial distance; technological mediation; asymmetry; gendered expectations; and commercial transaction.