REPORT

Chaturbate is one of the friendliest places on the web

By Mic Wright

It’s an entire culture. A rich world of interactions that goes beyond sweaty one-handed typists demanding bewbs and pussy. The land of the cam girls – and boys – is an interesting place to be, particularly on Chaturbate, where the Tumblrisation of the consumer web is easy to spot. This is a land of amateurs-turned-pros, tattooed girls and equally-inked big-dicked boys performing on their own terms from their bedrooms, living rooms and in one entertaining case the less-visited sections of a university library.

The owner of Chaturbate, who describes himself as “happily married”, recently did a Reddit AMA which revealed a fair bit about how the cam site (where performers sign up, are verified then earn tokens which can be cashed out for real money) operates. Explaining the business relationship between CB and its performers, the owner explains:

The ones who are there to make money don’t work ‘for’ Chaturbate, they work on it. When they do work on CB although they are independent they must agree to comply with legal documentation requirements and they must agree to act ethically and legally as set forth in our terms.

That’s the big distinction between traditional porn and the Wild West, maverick world of the cam kids. The kids are doing it for themselves and, by and large, they’re alright. The shows are entertaining and often far more X-rated than even the stuff pedalled by the big porn barons who have become so obsessed with being “female friendly” that many of their videos are now boring and formulaic.

The most interesting thing about Chaturbate, however, is the community that coalesces after the wanking is done. Girls (and boys) build up solid fan bases who shower their favourite performers with gifts from Amazon Wishlists and more explicit gift registries such as LoveHoney, whose marketing manager I interviewed for the Telegraph, and Victoria’s Secret.

Where Chaturbate shares something with traditional porn is that it is the women who make the big money. Women do disproportionately better than men and the stars of the site, with audiences in the thousands, are game girls with great tattoos, astonishing tits and a willingness to push their exhibitionism to new and more daring levels. If you want value for money in your titillation, Chaturbate is the place to get it.

Kindness and community

The most interesting thing about Chaturbate, however, is the community that coalesces after the wanking is done

How do I know? Well, in the midst of researching my book on the history and future of sex and technology – tentatively titled Devices & Desires: A History of Sex and Technology – I joined and fully immersed myself in CB culture up to and including appearing on cam myself.

My fan base, such as it is, as is the case for most male performers who are reasonably endowed, has been made up of rapacious gay men who are stingy with their tips and a small following of demanding and dirty women who know exactly what they want to see.

I’ve kept my shows relatively PG and given away my tips to CB veterans as soon as I earned them.

What I’ve learned from Chaturbate is that you can create an oddly wholesome community based around sexuality and exhibitionism. The user-appointed mods – performers pick who polices the chat that scrolls next to their video – are conscientious and fair. The performers are funny, frank and fantastically rude.

There is no feeling of seediness about CB and that comes not from the mysterious company behind the site but from the community which polices an arena where performers are respected and those who don’t get in line get banned very fast.

Oddly, if you want to find ethics, community and kindness, the internet’s newest wanking palace has all three qualities in spades.