Seven weeks ago, Bethany, a former Plymouth finance and human resources manager, sat nervously in her bedroom.
Dressed in black lingerie and a matching kimono, she prepared for her first call as a webcam model.
“I logged in and thought, ‘Please don’t call me,’” she says Tyla. “I was stressed about the lighting situation as it wasn’t an attractive light. I thought, ‘Right, I’m not doing this, I’m going to sign out’.
“Then a call came through and I sat and watched him for a few seconds. I thought, ‘I can’t answer it’.”
“When I finally did, someone said, ‘Hello, how are you?’ And that was it…”
Bethany, 27, has been working in adult cam sites as a webcam model (aka cam girl) five days a week since then, which she has recorded since losing her job in finance as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
Bethany, who holds a degree in business administration and financial accountancy, has worked as an analyst and accountant since graduating from university and most recently started a new position as finance and human resources manager at a hair care company on March 9th.
But just three weeks after her exciting new role, everything changed.
A week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the country’s lockdown on March 22, Bethany’s company began announcing vacations.
Although Bethany had joined the government before the cut-off date, she had not officially been added to the company’s payroll by then. She was caught in the frustrating loophole, was not eligible for vacation, and was released instead.
Bethany was unemployed and has had hiring freezes across the board due to the pandemic. Bethany became increasingly worried about money.
“I thought, ‘Right, I literally don’t get paid at all, I have no income,'” she recalls.
Bethany recalled that a friend of hers had tried cam modeling a few years ago and talked enthusiastically about the kind of money she was making.
Bethany took a leap into the unknown and signed with Off The Record Cam Model Management, a UK cam modeling agency.
“I was considering applying for a universal loan, but financially it made no sense. I would have been getting £ 70 a week at Job Seekers while I am now making £ 2,000 a week. ”
In the seven weeks since that crucial first phone call, Bethany has consistently found herself among the top five earners on Off The Record.
She currently takes 50 percent of her profits – a percentage that could climb to 65 percent over time. And if you disregard their average weekly earnings, that’s not a small amount.
“I’ve made £ 4,000 this week, so I’ve got £ 2,000 (to keep) and I’ve probably got my breasts out twice,” she admits.
“Below the waist I’ve probably done this a few times since I started. I’ll only ever show something if they run for an hour, and that’s 2.99 pounds a minute.”
While many women have the prospect of undressing in front of a stranger, Bethany “enjoyed the chance to explore and really open up” and insisted that “I am just myself in front of the camera.”
“I enjoy it. Of course there are days when you log in and… ”she falls silent. “It all depends on what kind of customers you’re attracting.”
When asked about her clientele, Bethany reveals that she “mainly attracts business people”.
Surprisingly, she reveals that “nine out of ten cases” she doesn’t have to explicitly address her calls or undress. Most of the time, their customers just want a chat.
“I had a guy who just wanted to practice his stand-up routine and wanted an honest review, another guy I just sat and talked to about road trips in a motorhome,” she says.
Bethany recalls a memorable group call with eight men that made her barely need to speak. “They all discussed what pizza they like,” she laughs. On other phone calls, she talks at length about her hobbies such as rugby, kayaking, and traveling.
“I’ve literally played with a t-shirt and hoodie before and they think it’s great,” says Bethany. “Of course you get the guys who come in and go ‘tits please’ and you go like ‘oh god …’
“I’ve kicked people out who did this before because I think that’s really rude.”
Having a job that relied on a webcam and a stable internet connection may previously have been reserved for 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 do people itch when it comes to online sex?
“Guys call me when they’re on video calls with their work and you can see them on a conference call. They’ll distract me, ”reveals Bethany.
Even more alarming, Bethany has seen an increase in “silent call” requests since the lockdown.
“Because a lot of the guys are at home with either their friends or partners, they have trouble getting online,” she explains. “Many of them will email you asking for what is called a ‘silent call’.”
She explains that instead of talking back and forth, the customer puts on headphones and is silent (“they don’t say a single word”) while the camgirl offers X-rated sweets.
This allows men to make discreet calls while their partners are at home or, as an even more desperate thought, in the same room.
Bethany only told a few friends, her sister and her partner Sarah * about her new job.
She says Sarah “could no longer support” her decision to start caming and believes they have even made a “deeper connection” since she started.
While Bethany has some slight reservations about the stigma that cam modeling brings before it starts, Bethany wants people to know that their job is more than its reputation.
“It’s not such a shoddy thing that everyone thinks it is,” she claims. “Nine times out of 10, it’s a conversation for me about what hobbies people have. I can talk about things like that all day.”
* Bethany’s friend’s name was changed upon request.