I dropped out of uni to start a career as a sex worker on OnlyFans
Imo is 19, an ex-Newcastle student, and in the top one per cent of OnlyFans creators
Sex work is changing. With new laws for porn sites, increased social media presence, and backlash against creepy porn directors who have assaulted women on adult film sets, it’s no surprise that sites like OnlyFans and AdmireMe have sprung up, offering women control of their content and plenty of rewards.
OnlyFans sounds like the cure to porn’s misogyny problem. Creators direct and produce their own content, set their own rates and offers, and can do this all from the comfort of their own bedroom. And it appears to be a rewarding move too, with stories of sex workers financing trips to Asia, purchasing mortgages, and escaping student debt.
But is it all jet setting and Louis Vuitton purchases? Imo is 19 and was a Linguistics student at Newcastle University until she dropped out to pursue sex work on OnlyFans full time in October 2019. I speak to her the day after an alleged site leak led to hundreds of creators having their content and personal details downloaded and stolen. Just last week she purchased her first designer handbag with her earnings. It’s a job with plenty of ups and downs, it appears.
‘They really see us as less than human and deserving of absolutely zero respect or human kindness’
“The income from sex work has given me my independence, financial security, and peace of mind”, Imo told The Tab. “[It] has lifted such a weight from me, this is genuinely the happiest I have ever been.
Imo is in the top one per cent of all creators on OnlyFans, and has over 45k followers on Twitter. “It’s also given me so much more confidence in myself, my body and my ability”, she tells me.
It’s not all success though. “The people you have to deal with are pretty terrible”, she says. “Many people hate sex workers simply for existing. [There’s] thousands of tweets picking apart my appearance, my pricing, I have had countless rape and death threats. They really see us as less than human and deserving of absolutely zero respect or human kindness.”
‘Try having 10 jobs at once after having orgasms on camera all day and then tell me my job is easy money’
Imo believes that online sex work is being misrepresented in articles and on social media. “Everyone’s seen the articles saying ‘student makes £45,000 a month on OnlyFans’ and that is not the reality at all. Do not join if you think it’s a get rich quick scheme, you’re going to make £100 your first week if you’re GOOD.
“It’s such a stressful job both mentally and physically, you don’t want to start it on a whim and end up with naked photos of yourself on the internet forever if it turns out you hate it.”
“I wish people would stop thinking our job is so easy”, she continues. “They really think I just post pictures of my boobs and make money. If that was the case, it wouldn’t work, half the human population has boobs, they don’t make me special.
“We are marketers, digital analysts, account managers, photographers, set dressers, creative directors, social media strategists, accountants, customer service assistants and on top of that we have to be a porn star. Try having 10 jobs at once after having orgasms on camera all day and then tell me my job is easy money.”
‘We have no official employer, no union when things go wrong, we can’t take our boss to tribunal when our content is leaked’
I ask Imo about last night’s reported leak, which led to OnlyFans trending at number one on Twitter. She said: “The most recent leak, for me, was good for business. I’m not entirely sure how legitimate the leak was, but given that OnlyFans was trending and I’m so vocal about it, my tweets garnered a lot of traffic. Despite all the awful people telling me how vile I was for trying to sell porn, I made $500 over the course of the evening.
But despite her successes, the leak was a wake up call to the fact there’s no higher authority to go to if leaks happen. “The leak was scary more than anything”, Imo said. “It made us very aware that we are not protected as a group of workers. We have no official employer, no union when things go wrong, we can’t take our boss to tribunal when our content is leaked. My content has been leaked countless times before, and unless you pay big money for a model protection agency to sort it out for you, you’re kind of on your own. That’s the scariest thing about this leak, the amount of people desperately waiting to see the link and BEGGING for it to be sent to them.
“It made us all so completely aware of how little we are respected by some people. The same people calling us ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ were now gagging at the opportunity to see us naked. The emotional toll of that leak was greater than the financial one, and the fact that OnlyFans themselves haven’t even commented just adds insult to injury.”
For Imo, she’s made some amazing friends through sex work, as you would with any other job. “The sex worker community is a mixed bag. Some of my absolute greatest friends I have made here, and I wouldn’t have done as well without their support. But on the flipside many are out for clout. They’ll throw you under the bus to better themselves without a second thought. If you’re a kind and giving person it’s very easy to be taken advantage of, I think it’s important to hold people at arms length sometimes.”
Making an OnlyFans account is anything but an easy way out or get rich quick scheme. It’s not a decision to be made easily, but equally it’s an incredibly admirable role. These women are entrepreneurs, building empires from their own bedrooms, and being their own producers, assistants, and at times, therapists. This is the modern face of sex work, one with women at the forefront.