What It's Like to Be a Cam Girl From a Cam Girl

Adult performer Reed Amber says she learned sexual confidence by working in porn—but got a crash-course in human psychology by webcamming. Below is Reed Amber’s take on her experience webcamming:

Illustration by Erin Aniker

Illustration by Erin Aniker

I’ve always been in the porn industry, specifically in porn production. A friend told me about webcamming, I thought I'd give it a try, so I signed up to a site called AdultWork. I definitely expected the worst. I thought it would be a bunch of guys harassing me, but it wasn't like that. It was more like the old MSN [Messenger] times when someone would add you on a chatroom that you didn't know, and you'd have that awkward "hey, how are you" conversation.

I came up with a pseudonym, made a profile, made a description, and uploaded some selfies. There's two types of webcamming—group and private. In group, multiple people can see you, but it's at a cheaper rate per minute, as you keep your clothes on. Basically, the aim of a group webcam is to entice people to pay for a one-on-one session. The one-on-one sessions are more explicit, and you charge more per minute.

I'd earn around $5.40 in group per minute, and $8.13 per minute in private. When you're in group, you're just trying to keep people online as long as possible. You'd get a real mix of people talking to you, from people who liked the fact I looked really young, to people who were into my straight fringe.

For me, it was very much about trying to figure out a personality. I'd play a sweet, innocent role, and then lure them in. When they found out how fucked-up and kinky I was, they'd be like, "Wow, I want to talk to you for hours!" Then I'd think, You fool, I'm raking it in.

I'll try almost anything once. I did water sports, which involves urine, but it is hard to pee on command, especially if you're not into it. I began doing the more extreme stuff because I got bored of people saying, "Hey baby, tell me what turns you on." I wanted stuff that was crazy and interesting and specific. Tell me to get in a bathtub full of baked beans! I love that.

Being in the porn industry has helped me develop the confidence to be who I am, sex-wise. I would say that the majority of guys who would chat to me were really sweet and respectful. Most of the time, you're trying to be yourself, but also a fake version of yourself. You're trying to be the person you want to be. That's how you keep someone on webcam. And in the back of your mind you're always thinking, The longer I keep them on, the more money I have. On a slow day I'd make $203 a day, and on a good day $812. You take home 60 percent of that, and the rest the platform takes as a cut. It could be psychologically hard, because the money varied a lot from day to day.

You might have dead periods where you're sitting waiting for someone to come in your group. It may be because no-one is online but it can sometimes play a big part in how you see yourself. And when you're webcamming, you're not really leaving the house. You're staying in your bedroom, at home, and you can get four walls syndrome really badly; it’s good to take breaks and get out of the house for a bit if you can.

Reed Amber

Reed Amber

Some clients stick with you. There was one guy who was a nurse, and he was spending so much money on me. He'd come online most days. There was this other customer who was really into being teased. I'd hold a dildo and stroke it very slowly with feathers or paintbrushes. He'd sit there for hours, watching me. Webcamming is about understanding psychology. This guy obviously enjoyed being submissive.

The people who wanted an online relationship were the hardest to deal with, because often they were just lonely. They wanted to chat about your day and what you were doing. I never lied, though. I was always honest about what I was doing. Some girls pretend they don't have a boyfriend, but I never did. Having to make conversation can be difficult, whereas the sex stuff itself is exhausting in a different way—it's more physical. Webcamming is like any other job: some days it's good, other days it's boring and exhausting. I really enjoyed webcamming, mostly because I love role play.

I met so many people webcamming, and I learned to understand how different everybody is. It's an intellectually stimulating job. It made me think a lot. Webcamming taught me not to judge anyone on what they're into, no matter how unusual or weird it may be. Everyone has a different kink. It doesn't matter if I don't particularly like it—who am I to judge? I learned how to judge other peoples's fantasies, and respond to them.

Webcamming has definitely shaped my own fantasies and fetishes, and made me realize what I enjoy and don't enjoy. For example, I prefer to be dominant on screen because in my personal life I'm a submissive. It was too real for me, being submissive on screen. It was what turned me on in my actual life. Whereas being dominant when camming helped me separate my personal and professional life.