There's a conservative estimate out there that camgirls now account for 20% of the entire porn industry – and despite working in a post-PornHub world where XXX material can be streamed for free, there's a growing number of women who earn a full-time living from webcam modelling. They're the subject of Sean Dunne's new documentary, Cam Girlz – an eye-opening look at a group of sex workers who ply their trade in a purely virtual sphere. Dazed has an exclusive premiere of the documentary, which Dunne is now raising funds to develop into a full-length feature.
Dunne isn't one to shy away from explicit subject matter. His breakout documentary, American Juggalo, featured minions and mega-fans of Insane Clown Posse as they went to their own personal Valhalla, the annual Gathering of the Juggalos. Click below for an interview with Dunne and head here to hear about how camming can change your life for the better, courtesy of Amelia Twist, one of the stars of the doc.
Dazed Digital: What initially drew you to cam girls?
Sean Dunne: I tend to be drawn to subject matter that challenges people’s conventional ways of thinking. I made a film called American Juggalo a few years back where we simply let a marginalized group of people have a voice. After that we delved into small town prescription drug abuse in my last film Oxyana. That was about as raw as it gets and it really fucked me up. I wanted my next film to focus on positivity and empowerment from an unexpected source. These are women who conceive, create, market and distribute their own content. They are changing the porn industry and they are doing it from the comfort and safety of their own homes. They are badasses and they are businesswomen. How could I resist? I want to showcase that.
DD: How did you find the girls in this doc?
Sean Dunne: The community is, rightfully, a bit guarded. It wasn’t until a cam girl named Sophia Locke reached out that we really gained access. Sophia runs an annual event called Cam Girl Mansion where 22 girls go to Las Vegas and cam together in a mansion for a week. Those girls really represented a great cross-section of the women who are passionate about this and do it for a living. We owe a lot to Sophia, she brought us into that world.
DD: Was it hard to convince them to appear in the doc?
Sean Dunne: There was absolutely hesitancy from the girls initially. Their main concern was how the cam community was going to be portrayed as it would be really easy to frame them all as victims or that I would otherwise be judgmental in my filmmaking. All we could do was be honest with them about what the project represents to us and why we are making it. Once they understood our intentions they welcomed us into their rooms and opened up to us in ways far beyond the nudity.
DD: Do you think the business is exploitative or degrading in any way?
Sean Dunne: Of course, but every profession is in some way. This is no different. Certain cam girls may be more susceptible to those things but for the most part it’s self correcting; if they don’t want to do something they don’t, if someone is being a troll they block his ass, if they’re getting ripped off by a cam site they switch sites. That being said, this film is focusing on the women who do this voluntarily, which in some countries is not always the case.
DD: What do you think is the attraction of hiring a virtual cam girl, as opposed to a real life escort or prostitute?
Sean Dunne: It’s not about just getting off for these guys, they want to get to know the girls. A prostitute or escort is fleeting, they come, you cum, that’s that and they move on. With a cam girl since the physical part is out of the question, things tend to get more emotionally complex. And that’s ultimately what these men crave when they turn to a cam girl, someone that they picked that is tailored to their needs that can potentially provide for them all the things that an hour with a prostitute in a shitty motel could never come close to.
DD: Was there anything that surprised you about the cam girl business?
Sean Dunne: The thing that shocked me more than anything is the fact that this line of work has attracted an endless stream of talented, creative, intelligent, beautiful women who are passionate about living their lives the way they want to… Yet they are still looked as “damaged” or “victims” by outsiders.
DD: Did you interview any of the cam girls' customers in the doc, and what were they like?
Sean Dunne: We didn’t think the opportunity would present itself but it did and thank god, because those interviews we’re so revealing. The guys we spoke to were normal. They aren’t perverts, they work hard and this is how they choose to spend some of their money. What fascinated me was that they likened hanging out and watching cam girls with going to a pub as opposed to a titty bar. So it’s not necessarily about sexuality as it is about camaraderie. Sometimes I feel like we’re making the documentary version of Her. It’s real as shit.