'I Turned To Cam Girl Work After Losing My Job In Lockdown'
Seven weeks ago, Bethany, a former finance and HR manager from Plymouth, was sat nervously in her bedroom.
Dressed in black lingerie and a matching kimono, she was getting ready to take her first call as a webcam model.
"I logged on and thought 'please no one call me'," she tells Tyla. "I was getting stressed about the lighting situation as it wasn't an attractive light. I was like 'right, I'm not doing this, I'm logging off'.
"Then a call came through and I sat and watched it for a few seconds. I thought 'I can't not answer it'."
"When I finally did, someone said 'Hi, how are you?' And that was it..."
Bethany, 27, has been working as a webcam model (aka, cam girl) five days per week ever since, something she took up since losing her job in finance as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
A business management and finance graduate, Bethany had held analyst and accountant roles since leaving university, most recently starting a new job as finance and HR manager for a haircare company on 9th March.
But just three weeks into landing her exciting new role, everything changed.
One week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country's lockdown on 22nd March, Bethany's company began announcing furloughs.
Despite joining before the government's cut-off date, Bethany hadn't officially been added to the firm's payroll by then. Caught out by the frustrating loophole, she was ineligible for furlough, so was made redundant instead.
Stuck without a job and up against hiring freezes across the board as a result of the pandemic, Bethany found herself increasingly anxious about money.
"I thought 'Right, I'm literally not being paid at all, I have no income'," she recalls.
Bethany remembered that a friend of hers had tried cam modelling a few years before, and had spoken enthusiastically about the kind of money she was making.
Taking a plunge into the unknown, Bethany signed up to Off The Record Cam Model Management, a UK-based cam model agency.
"I considered claiming Universal Credit, but financially it made no sense. I would have been given £70 a week on Job Seekers, whereas now I'm earning £2,000 a week."
In the seven weeks since that pivotal first call, Bethany has found herself consistently in Off The Record's top five earners.
Currently, she takes 50 per cent of any profits she makes - a percentage that could increase to 65 per cent over time. And going off her average weekly earnings, that's no small sum.
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"This week I made £4,000, so I got (to keep) £2,000 of that and I probably got my boobs out twice," she admits.
"Below the waist, I've probably done that a handful of times since I started. I will only ever show anything if they've been on for an hour, and that's £2.99 a minute."
While many women might balk at the prospect of stripping off in front of a stranger, Bethany has enjoyed "the chance to explore and really open up", insisting "I am completely myself on cam."
"I am enjoying it. Of course there are some days where you log on and you get..." she trails off. "It all depends on what type of client you attract."
When asked about her clientele, Bethany reveals she tends to attract "mostly businessmen".
Surprisingly, she reveals that "nine times out of 10" she doesn't have to get explicit on her calls or take any clothes off. More often than not, her clients just want a chat.
"I've had one guy come on who just wanted to practice his stand up routine and wanted an honest review, another guy I just sat and spoke to about road trips in a camper vans," she says.
Bethany remembers one memorable group call with eight men where she barely had to speak. "They were all discussing what type of pizza they liked," she laughs. In other calls, she speaks in length about her hobbies, such as rugby, kayaking and travel.
"I've literally gone on before in like a t-shirt and a hoodie and they think it's great," Bethany says. "Of course you do get the guys who come in and go 'tits please' and you're like 'oh, God...'
"I have kicked people out before who have done that because I'm like, that's really rude."
Having a job that relies on a webcam and stable internet connection might have once been the preserve of webcam models and online language teachers - but now, it's the new norm for many of us.
Has the current Zoom culture affected the industry, or rather, how people are itching their scratch when it comes to sex online?
"Guys will call me when they're sat in video calls with their work and you can see them on a conference call. They'll go 'distract me'," Bethany reveals.
More alarmingly, Bethany says she's seen an increase in requests for 'silent calls' since lockdown.
"Because a lot of the guys are either at home with their girlfriends or partners, they struggle to get online," she explains. "A lot of them will email you asking for what's called a 'silent call'."
She explains this is where, instead of a back-and-forth conversation, the client pops on a pair of headphone and remains silent ("they don't say a single word") while the cam girl offers X-rated sweet-nothings.
This means men can discreetly be on a call while their partners are in the home, or - as an even more despairing thought - the same room.
Bethany has only told a few friends, her sister and her partner Sarah*, who she lives with, about her new job.
She says Sarah "couldn't be more supportive" about her decision to start camming, and feels they've even found a "deeper connection" since she started.
Despite having some slight reservations about the stigma that cam modelling carries before starting, Bethany wants people to know there's more to her job than what its reputation holds.
"It's not this kind of seedy thing that everyone thinks it is," she asserts. "Nine times out of 10 for me it's a conversation about what hobbies people are into. I can talk all day about stuff like that."
*Bethany's girlfriend's name has been changed upon request.
Featured Image Credit: Bethany/Off The Record
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