Ophelia hoists up two bags of toys at the foot of the bed, explaining each is used for a different entrance. “It isn’t always sexual,” she tells me in her French accent on Skype. “A lot of time is sensuous. A lot is talking. Each person is different. I am really interested to know each one.” Her cam is set up to frame her bed with a background decorated to match her red hair. Decked in lacy lingerie her public tease dancing emphasizes her, um, flexibility.
Most nights, all night, you can go online and join 2,000 to 3,000 others watching this striking redhead known as LittleRedBunny burlesque dance to vintage music.
Like what you see?
For $3.99 to $6.99 per minute you can buy private time in her chatroom. In there, LittleRedBunny lists among skills available: “Butt plug, Cameltoe, love ball/beads.” You can also customize, if you’re into that. In text on her webpage, she suggests telling her your fantasy: “Since my mind is way naughtier then you think and chances are that the most obscure fantasies will only make me very wet and beyond!”
Welcome to the world of cams, the hottest trend in adult entertainment. Routinely men—and sometimes women or couples—pay to spend five hours in private time with LittleRedBunny. On one recent night, with only a brief break between, she had two five-hour private sessions—the meter running by the minute. Afterwards she went back to dancing for a few hours in her free public area to make sure her many regulars could see her. She says that on a typical night on cam she can lose up to five pounds from all the work.
The mainstream porn industry is taking note. AVN, an adult industry trade publication, added an award for “Favorite Web Cam Girl” at its venerable AVN Awards earlier this year in Las Vegas. And, the new Sex Awards (currently airing on Showtime) launched late last year with a prize for “Best WebCam Girl.” LittleRedBunny won both these inaugural prizes.
Paul Fishbein, co-producer of Sex Awards (as well as the founder of AVN), says that about 100 cam girls were nominated for the prize and about 70,000-75,000 online votes were cast in the first round.
“She came out of nowhere,” Fishbein says of LittleRedBunny’s victory. “There were popular porn girls who cam part-time in there but she beat them all. I think a lot of people were surprised a full-time cam girl won. But I wasn’t surprised at all. She is always online working very hard and she was good at rallying votes on social media.” In fact, since LittleRedBunny is so often online doing cam she had never felt the need to be on Twitter before the award nominations caused her to start a social media campaign to win. Yet, the fact remains that a complete unknown has just swept up two industry prizes. Those in porn have the same question: Who is this LittleRedBunny?
As intimate as cams can be, one of the key appeals is just how much is kept private. LittleRedBunny says she is a native English speaker though she has a distinct and heavy French accent. She claims to be a proud lifetime New Yorker. But you will have to take her word on that, as she says she is too busy to meet a reporter IRL.
While her interest in privacy is partially for her own safety—cams like porn can attract disturbing customers—she admits she benefits, too, from the mysteries about her identity. When you spend hundreds of hours online competing for attention any detail that compels interest is hard to surrender “You aren’t going to write I have a French accent?” She sounds horrified. She also sounds French. “People are always trying to guess my accent so I never say.”
Growing up, LittleRedBunny says, she was always interested in sexuality. “But I never had any background in porn or stripping or any of that.” She got her start five years ago after she lost a straight job and was looking for something different. Everything about what she does on cam is self-taught.
“I knew ballet and yoga. I figured out on my own what to do. I started on a couch where I felt limited. Then I put two couches together. Then I upgraded to where I have a bed. Once I had a bed, I had a good feel to move around because yoga is a lot work on the floor.” When she started out she never studied other girls on cams. Before she went to the awards shows she never spoke to anyone about her work. “There is no one who knows what I do. I never had a conversation to share what I am going through. It is always in my own bubble.”
Meanwhile, on another site, you can watch a young lady who calls herself Aella downing a half dozen shots before getting naked to strap on an accordion. She then accompanies herself in a jig that falls somewhere between XXX and Buster Keaton while explicating her objections to feminist theory. The 22-year-old recently moved into a house in Seattle with a few other cam girls. Frequently her roommates will make cameos on her cam offering some of the appeal of reality television.
“In the past couple of years cam girls have begun to have a huge impact on the adult entertainment space,” says, Dan Miller, executive managing editor of XBIZ, another adult industry trade publication. Miller notes, “These days a lot, if not most, porn stars have started to supplement their income with some version of cam work.” And, it is not just porn stars. The major cam sites feature hundreds of women from all over the world most of whom have never done traditional porn scenes.
The basic set up is simple enough: like Skype—many cam girls sell “Skype dates”—a webcam offers real time interaction by video and voice. The appeal to customers and performers is obvious. Unlike going to a strip club, cams allow everyone to stay safely home while the action can get far more graphic. Unlike porn, camming is interactive.
Some performers, like Aella, are viewable by all and work for tips. Others like LittleRedBunny make most of their money selling private, one on one, sessions. The cam sites provide the technology, in theory, to keep juveniles away, accept credit cards to monetize the interactions, and handle marketing in exchange for taking a large percentage of whatever is collected.
“The industry is still maturing,” XBIZ’s Miller says, “There is no single standard way yet for the performers or the business side.”
No one knows for sure the size of the industry or how many performers cam. While there are a handful of major sites (including LiveJasmin and My Free Cams), there are also many smaller cam networks as well as individual operators. As for the customers, certainly many porn fans have been migrating to cams.
But particularly among the younger Internet generation users, cams seem to appeal naturally to an audience for whom porn no longer does. Aella asks the Marshall McLuhan question: “Why assume people want sex entertainment that mimics Hollywood movies?”
XBIZ’s Miller sees the profile of cams and cam girls only growing going forward. “The girls are only going to get more creative in their engagement as the culture emerges. It has not peaked or maxed out. There is room for more growth as the technology improves and the major players become more branded. This is just becoming part of the consumer consciousness.”
Though she is starting to get offers, LittleRedBunny has no interest in parlaying her newly won honors into a porn career. She is doing fine on cam. “I am so grateful to be able to do something inside my apartment that lets me have real interactions with people yet even if it is hardcore it is not direct contact.”