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“I remember putting our username into Google and seeing a picture of my balls and my bum and I’m thinking to myself, holy fuck – I’m on Google like that,” says Callum Cox, now unfazed. “It was like a punch in the stomach.”
Discovering a saucy photo of yourself on the Internet may not seem like an unusual experience for a porn star, but webcammers Callum and partner Cole Connor do not fit the ‘typical’ description of adult entertainers. These 20-somethings, who live in Dundee with their sausage dog, began live streaming on a webcamming platform called Chaturbate just two weeks after getting together. They have been camming full-time for almost four years and have become some of the biggest names in the UK adult entertainment scene, with over 300k Twitter followers and more than 82,000 on Chaturbate.
The popularity of homemade porn content boomed during lockdown, with OnlyFans growing its revenue by 553% and user numbers expanding by over 100 million in 2020. American model Blac Chyna was the highest-earning OnlyFans creator in 2021, taking home an estimated £15m every month. With figures like this, it’s less surprising that couples like Callum and Cole are choosing sex work over more traditional career paths. There is clearly an appetite for sexual content made by real people, as opposed to staged studio-produced pornography – and there is a lot of money to be made.
The pair first met when Cole came to have drinks at the bar Callum was working at in Dundee, and it wasn’t long before they became a couple. They confess that since the first night they spent together four years ago, they have barely been apart. In the Christmas period of 2017 Callum lost his bar job, which led him to consider alternate career paths. “Porn is something that I’d looked into, it just always enticed me. We knew people that did it so it just came up in conversation. That’s when [Cole] informed me about webcamming.” The idea of making money from home seemed almost too good to be true. “The moment the conversation was over, I just wouldn’t stop talking about it,” Callum said.
It was clear that the couple had mutual feelings towards pursuing sex work, and after much discussion, they settled on Chaturbate as the perfect platform. Couples across the world use Chaturbate to livestream themselves having sex, as the site is intended to provide uncensored access to pornography and allows for live streaming and donations. This provides Callum and Cole with an interactive environment where they can chat with their fans in real-time. “The first time that we streamed live, [Cole] didn’t want to sit down in the chair so he made me sit down by myself. I clicked live and my heart was in my mouth,” Callum explains. But before long, viewers began joining the stream and the couple launched what would later become their full-time careers.
While Callum and Cole are live, viewers can donate tokens to request certain sexual acts with 100 tokens worth around £7. The more racy the act, the more tokens it costs. For 90 tokens, the pair will lick each other’s nipples, or for 280 tokens (just under £20) they will ‘hard face fuck’. Through several years of regular streaming, collecting tokens, and building a loyal audience, the pair now make almost £200k a year from the comfort of their home.
Factors like this mean that sex work is often perceived as easy, or money for nothing. These are assumptions that Callum and Cole fight against. “Something that frustrates me is when people say ‘get a real job’. I’m still doing everything that I would do in another job. You don’t realise until you start camming, but it is actually a business,” Callum says.
As with any job, there are some parts which are more enjoyable than others. “A lot of people keen to speak to us want to know what the worst parts [of sex work] are, but for me it’s the expectation that you put on yourself. That can be harder than anything.”
An often overlooked aspect of the porn industry is the mental toll it can take on performers. The couple post new sex content on their Twitter every single day, and webcam several times a week, meaning there is never a day off. When Callum and Cole face difficult periods, they can elect to take a few days off from camming. However, unlike ‘regular’ jobs, there is no such thing as paid time off. This leads to increased pressure, mentally and financially, to continue to work despite personal challenges.
Cole explains that when they don’t go online, he can experience bouts of anxiety. “You don’t have someone above you telling you what to do, so it can be hard to motivate yourself when you’re doing everything from home,” he says. “You feel like everyone is waiting on you and it’s just a horrible feeling.”
However, the couple acknowledge that they are in a much better position than many other sex workers. Throughout the pandemic, while others in their field lost significant amounts of work, the nature of camming meant they had a steady income and could turn to each other for support.
Callum and Cole are now ambassadors for a charity called Pineapple Support, which offers de-stigmatised mental health care for workers in the adult entertainment industry who may not have anyone to turn to. Their transparency with each other not only helps them mentally when it comes to their work, but also in maintaining a healthy romantic relationship. “I am so thankful to have a partner [to do the work with],” Cole says.
In order to nurture their relationship outside of work, the couple are conscious to make time for each other’s individual needs, as well as their business goals. “We work together, live together, eat together, sleep together. We do that little bit more than everyone else. There are times when we will argue, but thank fuck we’re both really open people and good at communicating. We’re both coming from the same place and willing to talk things over,” Callum says.
The couple are very conscious to also have this transparency with their viewership, and never promote a false image of their relationship online. They believe a large part of their success is down to how the genuine nature of their relationship translates on-screen. “We have had a lot of positive feedback, with people saying that they’d like to find a love like we’ve got for each other,” Cole says. “Our fans have grown with us on our journey; they’ve seen us fall in love, in essence.”
The support of their community is also a key motivating factor. “We never expected people to connect to our work in such a way, but then it becomes a bit more meaningful than just streaming sex online. You’re almost a positive example for how people can be.”
The encouraging reception from supporters proves to Callum and Cole that the porn industry is changing, and with time they believe it will become a lot less stigmatised. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed that has changed the adult industry is OnlyFans. It has created a platform for people to feel safe and confident in creating their own sex work. It gives the power back to the creator,” Callum says.
The couple post on OnlyFans and PornHub alongside Chaturbate and Twitter, all of which allow them to have full control of their content. Unlike studio porn, there is no editing or forced performances when creators work for themselves. This is not only better for the performers, but also presents a much more realistic image of sex for viewers.
The pair have no plans leave the adult entertainment industry, but they do hope to be able to use their platform to support a community of sex workers, particularly in Scotland where adult entertainers are scarce.
For those new to the industry, a picture of your bum and balls on Google images may be quite terrifying, but Callum and Cole want to show people that sex work offers much more than this.
“Now when you Google us you see pictures of us at red carpet events,” Cole says. Having been nominated for a series of industry awards throughout their career, the couple explain that accolades such as these help them to feel validated in their line of work, and prove that the industry is now being taken more seriously.
For Callum and Cole, sex work is a business as valid as any other. Meeting each other gave them the push to pursue something they had both been interested in.
“I had finally met someone that was open to conversations and open about themselves,” Callum says. “With sex work, I learn about myself by learning about somebody else at the same time.”
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