by Rich Moreland, April 2019
Photos in this essay are credited to Kevin Sayers and Steve Nelson.
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At this year’s AVN trade show, cammers and their laptops were pervasive, demonstrating the popularity of online broadcasting. In fact, MyFreeCams sponsored this year’s adult extravaganza in a move that seemed to step over the industry’s traditional studios.
The upshot, I believe, is a pretty straight-forward question: Is camming redefining the adult business? From the interviews completed by our AINews team (which included photographer Kevin Sayers and videographer Davyana San Miguel) and posted in this blog, the answer is “maybe.”
What it is not, is “no.”
From what I can see, the adult industry is experiencing a twenty-first century revolution driven by new delivery platforms. Not surprising, by the way. Fans old enough to remember the bygone days of the video tape and its replacement, the DVD, recognize that, as always, technology is porn’s best friend, moving it culturally forward with each new innovation.
Whether the DVD will pass into porn history in the manner of the VHS tape is a matter of debate. As one director told me, commercial studios still produce them for their “hands on” collectable value. In other words, display your favorite DVDs on the library shelf for immediate reference.
What is obvious, however, is that porn’s online presence is today’s mother lode. High quality shooting with easy-to-manage advanced systems is ubiquitous for both the commercial studio and the cammer. When capturing the porn moment is technically simplified, everyone can learn the skills required to post just about anything online.
In other words, anybody can become a pornographer and suddenly every cam girl can claim a professional mantle, at least from the shooting perspective.
As for the bodies in front of the camera, the number of performers, models, or whatever you choose to call them, is expanding. There are plenty of girls available to shoot the mainstream product and thousands who cam.
What is interesting is this. Do cammers believe they are shooting porn? Do accomplished porn stars believe cammers can make it in the studio, and does that matter?
If porn stars consider themselves to be professionals because they are being paid (the most basic definition of “professional”), what do we do with cammers who are also making money in their chat rooms and with self-published vids on hosting sites like Clips4Sale and ManyVids? They may think of themselves as amateurs, but how are they not professional?
And, of course, what constitutes the status of amateur? Is it more a style of shooting than an actual performer?
Though porn veterans appear to have clear-cut views on these questions, cammers remain conflicted perhaps because whatever level of sexual stardom has been thrust upon them (or in them, for that matter) has come fast and furious, blurring the definition of how they see themselves.
The two brands of performers seem like parallel universes until one realizes that established industry stars can easily turn to camming and widen the conduit of porn’s delivery system in today’s culture.
Conversely, cammers can seek out studios should they choose that avenue and abandon any pretense to be amateurs. Though Clips4Sale is not Brazzers or Jules Jordan, does it mean amateur only?
Trouble is, a bit of tribalism creeps into the picture as can be seen in the numerous interviews from this year’s show that appear on this blog.
Is or Is Not
In the final posts from the Adult Entertainment Expo 2019, we have interviews with two cam couples. They have nuanced perspectives on where to place camming in adult entertainment and what it means to make the adult product.
Keeping that in mind, here are the questions we asked.
If it is sex on-screen, regardless of the source, is it porn? Or, if the intention is to amuse and entertain a paying–and therefore exclusive–group of followers who enter a “private” chat room, does that make it restrictive and informal enough to “not” be porn?
Or, are the two groups—cammers and porn stars by one definition, and amateurs and professionals by another—simply drifting into each other’s space to the extent that one day there will be no difference?
Perhaps. But that would require porn stars to drop their self-proclaimed exclusivity and cammers to abandon their “not me, I don’t do porn” mantra. If each begins to cross over into the realm of the other, does the whole industry benefit?
That, I believe, is AVN’s bet in expanding the trade show umbrella in the years to come.