Women

04.27.13

MyGirlFund: A Virtual Girlfriend—For The Right Price

A site lets lonely men pay to flirt with girl-next-door types—but does it border on porn? Caroline Linton investigates.

At first, Jenny (not her real name) was skeptical when she heard about MyGirlFund. The site told her that if she shared photos and flirted with male members via video chats—but nothing more—she would get a chunk of the site's profits.

“Why would guys want to spend money to get to know me, have fun and flirt with me?” Jenny wrote in an email. “But it only took a little while and I got addicted to it. I can tell you that MyGirlFund has been a blessing to me.”

Jenny swears by the site—she says that since she joined four years ago, she has used the money she earned to attain both her Bachelor’s Degree and her Master’s Degree and not “get some part-time job Walmart that would have barely covered the expenses of studying away from home.”

The site, which started in 2008, promises a “virtual girlfriend” to men who are willing to sign up and pay. So what does a virtual paid girlfriend do, exactly? Well, for starters, she sends photos, has live one-on-one video chats, and sends personal messages.

Think of it this way: a man is feeling lonely or lacking a relationship, and so he turns to MGF and meets a girl he can have conversations with. As MGF’s director of business development, a man who goes by Stefan, explains, conversations can be as simple as describing someone’s day. Stefan has been known to say that in terms of similar sites, MGF is much closer to Facebook than a porn site.

But make no mistake about it: MGF is not just in the business of making friends—although friends are nice to have, of course—it’s also in the adult entertainment industry. What type of interaction goes on is between the men and the women, of course, but there’s plenty of NSFW content.

“This was really built from the ground up for the girls,” said one of the site’s founders. Women join the site voluntarily, and in return, they receive a chunk—usually between 50 to 60 percent—of the profits. It’s a bit like hiring a call girl, except that everything is conducted online—and privacy is a top concern. The privacy policy on MGF is 1,000 words, and the male users are restricted from contacting the women outside of MGF’s protection. MGF collects all information that is entered into the site, including archiving and identifying the IP address of any email addresses. There are only three rules to using the site: that trying to transfer any personal information—getting in contact, for example—off the site is prohibited; paying for the site is done through PayPal, not gift cards; and men can’t contact the women for advertising or anything else.

As for pay, women set their own prices—and they can negotiate with the men they are interacting with for how much the men want to pay. Men can join the site for free, but after that, they decide how much they will pay—oh and MGF started accepting Bitcoin, so keep that tucked away if you’re an investor. All the women start out receiving 65 percent of the price they negotiate, and for every $5,000 more they earn, they get a 2.5 percent increase in the chunk of revenue received. So in other words, the more money a girl makes, the bigger chunk of the profits she receives—so girls making up to $50,000 are receiving 90 percent of the money they're bringing in. Women can also instantly cash out their money.

“A lot of girls are able to change their lives through MyGirlFund,” says Stefan. “They learn about themselves and about business.”

Business is exactly what MGF’s founders had in store when they started. Neither had a background in the adult entertainment industry; one came from the finance industry and the other from Internet security systems. Their goal was to create a site to monetize social networking. At first, they looked at creating a site for senior citizens, but instead zeroed in on adult entertainment. As indicated in their own Q&A, “free porn was propagating like crazy and interaction was one of the few things they were willing to pay for.”

One of MGF’s key elements is its promise of interactions with a “girl next door”—in fact, according to a recent internal survey of 4,500 members, 70 percent of the men said they could see themselves marrying a MGF woman. Stefan calls this a “new romantic paradigm that is emerging as our lives shift online.” Stefan stresses that so many of the relationships that develop online come from “relationships between equals.”

In that same vein of creating relationships between equals, MGF also started a Free Your Face Tumblr, similar to the phenomen of “Porn Stars Without Makeup,” where women from MGF could post photos of themselves without makeup.

Does this mean this is the future of all online relationships will be to pay for friends? Well, it’s not just money that the women receive, of course. For many, it's a way to find their own online fling as well. “We get a lot of young women from some pretty good colleges back East and in California and they might have a Tumblr, and might share grown-up texting and grown-up photos, and then they hear about MyGirlFund, which will allow them to take that even further,” Stefan says.

And according to one of the site’s users who goes by Fembot, MGF provides an outlet for her work. “I like to put together artistic and erotic videos and photos,” Fembot said via email. Through her interactions on MGF, she receives feedback on her work that she calls “invaluable."

Fembot cites the people she meets on MGF as one of the main reasons she keeps using it, and Jenny also says the community on the site is one of her key reasons for using it.

“What makes them come back for more is that they love to meet new people and are generally open-minded,” Jenny says. “We are all free to express ourselves and showcase our personality in the community. Girls get to collect funds for their everyday goals by offering time, content, and companionship, while the guys get to spend time with gorgeous ladies, get their fantasies fulfilled, be entertained, and make friends whom they get to help by contributing to their fund.”