Until recently, things were tough but simple. Some women would fall prey to a pimp (sometimes even lover) and end up prostituting on the streets of big cities or in the most obscure corners of the world. Others would be recruited by traffickers and sold in the most horrible way, becoming victims of human trafficking. Today, however, the Internet and online payment instruments for pornographic materials have subtly changed how women are being exploited.

Since the beginning of time, women who decide to enter, in one way or the other, in the porn industry, have a dream. It can be aid for the family, a shinier wardrobe, jewelry, a car, a house, etc. Each of them hopes to fulfil this dream, at one point, after having sold their body enough times. Very few of these women have, however, the power to give up after achieving their dream.

The reason? Very quickly, this way of living becomes addictive. Many of the girls who end up working in video-chat are shy, even self-conscious, living with the feeling that they are ugly. This universe bombards them with compliments, coming from recruiters or entourage, as well as the paying perverts. Wearing make-up, having their hair done and being nicely dressed, the girls start seeing themselves too much, discovering themselves through the mirror-screen.

In addition to the title of ‘model’, girls are also called ‘artists’ for the simple reason that they get undressed and arouse an audience of perverts. The money gained so easily strengthen this addiction further. On the other hand, easy money is spent just as easily, very few girls managing to have much at the end of their ‘career’. Many of the ‘models’ live their lives in houses that look much worse than the video-chat room where they work in. The tens of hours spent in a bed situated in a golden cage is for many girls a form of escape from the daily reality.

At the beginning, the girls were sold the idea that they did not have to engage, during the online sessions, in any kind of explicit exposure. All they allegedly had to do was to become the virtual lover and confident whom the paying customer could open up to, anonymously. This is how most girls start their career.

In a way, this period of innocent virtual love is the adjustment and training period. Very quickly however, the girls realize it is not so easy though to lead the perverts. After all, sex is the main reason why maniacs are present online. In addition, girls who masturbate and fulfil the sickest fantasies are much better earners.

Some girls openly express their wish to go to the next level, while others hesitate, not knowing exactly how to do it or how to justify this to themselves. The unnatural relationship between the ‘model’ and the loyal customer (aka the pervert) ends up invariably the same. After a certain period, the sexual deviant has the feeling that he had fallen in love and tries to buy his ‘model’ or develop a physical relationship with her.

The video-chat platform policy discourages, and even bans, any exchange of personal information between the ‘model’ and the customer for security reasons. On the one hand, one cannot know much about a virtual customer. On the other hand, unlike the pimps that provided protection to the prostitutes of the old days, these platforms cannot protect them with anything, even if they knew who they were meeting with.

A reoccurring topic in the girls’ conversation refers to the various, say ‘weird’ experiences, with all sorts of perverts who visit them online. None of the girls I met had any kind of counselling that helped them cope with the psychological abuse they are being subject to almost every day.

There have been cases in the history of the agency where the girls were gifted phones, that had spyware applications installed on. A girl was taken by force to an apartment and sequestered there. By chance, she was able to access the kidnapper’s computer and told the agency about what had happened and where she was. This is how they were able to rescue her, with the help of the police.

For those who sell their product on the US market, changing the working hours is a major issue. Day becomes night and night becomes day. The time change pushes them ever farther from their friends or family, making them dependent on their job and, often times, their lover.

The veteran of the agency has already reached 9 years of online activity. Even though she seemed no different from a debutant, I have no way of knowing for sure what her real situation is. If we assume that she started her career at 18, she is about to retire, or she is turning to a segment drawn by gerontophilia. This, for me at least, is troublesome and makes me question the great success in the video-chat industry.

Pimps and traffickers would stimulate the ‘production means’ either with a sexual encounter or a beating. The new business model puts great value on the team. In order to make the ‘production means’ more efficient, the agencies, with the help of a team with well-defined roles, motivates them to aim as high as possible, helps them become more communicative and more attentive to details related to their physical appearance. Events and parties are organized for this purpose, focusing always on rewarding and encouraging performance.

I asked one of the representatives of the agency whether he saw this practice as a form of exploitation and abuse. His first reaction was to think about the agencies exploiting the ‘models’, by making them work extra hours. He said that the models in their studio have fixed working hours, with free time allocated, that cannot be breached. He thought for a moment at a possible financial exploitation as well. It never occurred to him that making money out of selling a woman’s or a man’s body could be a form of exploitation, as long as it is done with the agreement of the said person.

He did not, however, expect me to raise the issue of abuse. He never thought about the psychological humiliations or physical abuses that the girls stimulated to make more money subject themselves to. In the case of a porn actress or a prostitute, the number of hours worked and daily sexual contacts is limited. In the case of the video-chat ‘model’ there is a situation of continuous masturbation (with repeated ejaculation) between 10, 12 and sometimes even 24 hours, depending on how much every woman can withstand.

In this industry, recruitment is a key problem. While they cannot take women by force anymore, they financially stimulate the employees, with amounts between 300 and 500 Euro, to draw in new candidates. A great issue is the illegal studios, that do not pay taxes, and that provide the girls with an apparent bonus of 1000 Euro upon employment and a higher percentage from the earnings brought to the studio. For the studio where Diamond works, a successful business is one that has as many ‘models’ possible in Jasmine top (the online platform hosting the virtual rooms) and where every ‘model’ brings earnings of at least 5000 USD every month.

Diamond is a straightforward, cheerful working girl, determined to succeed. Just like in her real life, so is she in the chat room. Her outgoing and communicative personality helps her make the chat interactive, going as far as to generating a competition between the loyal members for the time spent with her. She even knows how to play the jealousy card, in case one of her loyal customers enters different rooms and she finds out.

During almost one year since I met her the first time, Diamond brought to the studio earnings of around 150,000 Euro. With her percentages she wants to buy an apartment. She is now living in a one-room apartment at the outskirts of Bucharest, not too pretentious, with her boyfriend, the lead singer of a small neighborhood band.

Their bedroom has only one bed, a small table where a PC sits and a dresser where she keeps some of her clothes. Diamond started in this industry in November 2016. The idea of a higher income, the flexible work hours and a bank debt of her father’s were the main reasons that made her take this step. Before this change, she was working in the sales department of Telekom.

In 2017 she became one of the top three models of the agency. During her best period, she brought earnings of 14, respectively 20 thousand Euros in a period of two consecutive weeks. The financial advantages obtained enabled her to buy herself a new wardrobe, drive a second-hand Ford Ka, but also to invest in various music equipment that her boyfriend’s band needed. In August 2008 she was able to buy a new car that she drove during her summer holiday in Bulgaria.

There are many controversies about this universe. Basically, these are just some of the questions I asked myself, when thinking about this subject. Are the ‘models’ forced to perform? No. Are the models exploited and psychologically manipulated? Yes. Are the ‘models’ subject to physical abuse? The abuse that most of them subject themselves to and that they are pushed to is hard to imagine for somebody like me. Would I be happy that my daughter started her ’model’ career? Absolutely not.

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