Back in 2010, Amelia Twist was hustling in two low-paid jobs and still struggling to pay off a mountain of debt. Then she entered the professional camgirl business and now makes enough money to never return to dead-end, wage slave labour again – and she got her first orgasm out of it, too. It's not the typical story you'd associate with the porn business, but as Sean Dunne's documentary Cam Girlz proves, there's nothing typical about the webcam industry. Here, Twist talks about sex worker solidarity and why taking your clothes off on webcam is actually a lot like chilling on Skype with your buddies.
"When I was 18, I got every credit card I could. I was a very well dressed college freshman thanks to Banana Republic and Macy's. By the time I was 21, I’d racked up several thousands dollars in debt. I was working for minimum wage at Abercrombie & Fitch and part-time as a paralegal, and I could barely make the minimum payments. It was a constant source of stress and anxiety for me, but I didn't know of any way to dig myself out of it. I had a close friend at the time who’d managed to get herself into similar financial hot water and one night, we commiserated over cheap beer in a bar. After a few drinks she cautiously said 'so... I found a website... that might help us get out of debt.' She explained that she had watched and chatted with a few models on myfreecams.com about their experiences: 'You don't even have to show anything if you don't want to! Some girls just chat, and they still make money!'
I signed up later that night and never looked back. I remember that I was shocked that people would pay just to hang out with me. There was one dude who took a special interest in me right off the bat and took me private to discuss my interests, like singing. I couldn't believe it. He wanted to hear about things that some people would consider boring. And he was paying me.
But he was just one of many men who made an impression on me that (first) night. They were all kind, interested in what I had to say, and seemed to be in awe of both my body and my personality. More importantly, they were all pretty normal. It was just an easy going, non-threatening environment. I genuinely felt like I was hanging out with old friends on Skype or something. I stayed on cam until sunrise having the time of life. I signed off that morning having made more than I would in two weeks at my paralegal gig. I was hooked.
One of the funniest parts of me deciding to become a cam girl: I had never watched porn before I started making it. I had honestly, never masturbated or had an orgasm either! Both of those firsts occurred on cam, in front of an audience.
I was up front with my close friends but they shut me out almost immediately. I really had no one in my real life that I could be open with and sometimes it was really challenging. Then, in January of 2012 I attended the first Cam Girl Mansion and met fellow models for the first time. Now, some of my closest friends are fellow cam girls. It just makes more sense for all of us if we support each other. Obviously it's a competitive industry, with the number of models growing everyday, but I don't think it's directly girl-to-girl competitive. At least not for me.
I don't do a lot of 'shows' so I'm less focused on quantity and more focused on the quality of those who choose to spend their time with me. I mainly focus my energy on having a good time myself. I've recently started using Snapchat with my members and this been so fun! The majority of these guys are just font on a screen to me, so to be able to see them, or their pets or interests, really makes them seem more real. I’ve grown very close to some of the members I’ve met and they really are my friends. I can share my successes with them and they'll be happy for me. Or, if I'm struggling with something, I can come to them for advice. And that works both ways. I have a few members that have recently sought my advice on some pretty serious personal issues. I don't think I ever could have foreseen this kind of dynamic when I first started camming.
I told my mother almost immediately, and while she had her reservations, she has been very supportive. Not everyone has reacted as well, but I don't take it personally. Camming has changed my life for the better in so many ways: I have more self-confidence than I could have ever imagined, I'm more social and outgoing... I've learned so much about myself and my sexuality, which has lead to me living a more fulfilling life. If anyone can look at any one of those things and still think negatively about the porn industry, then their opinion really doesn't matter to me."
Follow Zing Tsjeng on Twitter here @misszing