How Snapchat Premium is revolutionizing the paid world of sex
In the sprawling sex industry of Snapchat premium, adult entertainers and girls-next-door can make a killing charging followers for access to their private erotic accounts.
Porn stars, nude models and even new mothers are using Snapchat premium income to travel the world, pay for an Ivy-league education or stay at home to raise a new baby. Today, countless young women are stepping into the sex industry, because selling their bodies on social media has never been easier.
As more young women sell access to their looks, their bodies and their intimate lives, it’s impossible to know how this expansion of sex work will affect the social dynamics between men and women.
ACCIDENTAL PORN STAR
Karl Hart is a recent college grad who got inadvertently thrown into the world of Snapchat premium. After an encounter with a social media celebrity made his penis an instant superstar, he now fears Snapchat premium will entirely redefine dating and relationships — for the worse.
“From the moment I matched her on Tinder, I could tell that she was an aggressively sexual person,” Hart says about his Tinder date, who goes by the name Coralia. A quick lurk through her Instagram profile reveals enough softcore erotica to convince anyone with a weiner she’s worthwhile of some Netflix and chill.
Hart isn’t typically the one-night-stand type. He’s a serial monogamist, raised on HBO romantic comedies, who loves being in love. Coralia’s pornographic appeal brought out a different (hornier) side of Hart.
“What did you think was the likelihood that you were going to sleep with her?” Hart’s asked. His instant response: “One hundred percent.”
Contrary to nearly every Tinder encounter, Coralia was extremely receptive, answering every one of Hart’s messages immediately. She suggested they Facetime, and then invited him over to her Airbnb. Hart headed over to Coralia’s on a Wednesday night, about an hour after they first matched.
Over craft beers, Coralia opened up about her life. She’s a SuicideGirl (a nude pin-up model embraced for her alternative look) and a Snapchat premium provider (earning about $15,000 per month charging followers for exclusive access to her adult content).
“She’s being really sexually open and loosening up the more we drink,” Hart says. “She told me she does anal for breakfast.”
Within an hour or two, Hart and Coralia start hooking up. “We enter an all-night sex spiral, and somewhere in the middle, she asks if she can film us for her Snapchat,” Hart says. After a moment of thinking (with the wrong head), Hart agrees.
The two continue their sexual debauchery while the camera records. Instantly, Hart says, their encounter feels less authentic. “It’s like, you’re having a good time, but you can’t feel as good about it as you want to,” he says, “because you wonder if you’re being used for money or for sex.”
Sensing Hart’s discomfort, Coralia offered him 20 bucks for every clip they recorded. Somehow, that didn’t make him feel any less exploited.
By the end of the night, their intimate encounter had been published on Snapchat premium, and Coralia’s paying customers could enjoy her authentic amateur porn. Satisfied with a day’s work, Coralia made it clear she wasn’t interested in meeting again. “She said these encounters are more special because they’re a one-time thing,” Hart says.
To this day, Hart can’t shake the feeling that his night with Coralia was more practical than emotional. Coralia didn’t necessarily crave Hart’s intimacy — she needed it to appease her thousands of followers that demand masturbation material.
Today, Hart sees this superficial facade reflected in most young women he meets in the dating scene. With every woman’s online dating profile that advertises her Instagram, her Twitter, her Snapchat, her Patreon, her Amazon wish list or her Venmo information with salacious suggestions like, “Venmo me, see what happens,” Hart grows more mistrustful.
“It seems like almost every girl these days is trying to gain money and fame through social media,” he says. “Everyone’s a model, everyone’s a porn star. It’s like they’re looking for more of a following than a human connection.” And why wouldn’t they?
REDEFINING SEX WORK
Premium is not a distinct app or a feature explicitly designed by Snapchat — just the brainchild of the ever-enterprising sex industry.
A premium account is a regular Snapchat account, but the name is kept private, and viewers have to cough up some cash to get the name and access to the snaps. Providers typically promote their premium accounts on other social media platforms, posting teasers that are sure to give male viewers at least a half chub, and entice them to join the premium membership for the good stuff.
[Porn star Darcie Dolce’s sexiest snaps are only sent to followers of her premium account.]
Once they’ve been lured in, members pay monthly subscriptions or a lifetime fee for an intimate slice of the woman’s life — from mundane Starbucks trips and duck-face selfies, to strip teases and hardcore sex scenes. If they can foster enough of a following, providers can earn enough to retire while they’re still young and hot as hell.
Sex work, formerly limited in its definition, once meant exchanging sex for money — think pimps, streetwalkers and back alley blow jobs. But today, the endlessly expanding options for sexual interaction, from physical contact to interacting through a screen, encourage people who would ordinarily never have considered entering the sex industry to take part. Social media offers them endless potential to earn the prime paychecks of sex work, without the typical barriers to entry or sacrifices of safety.
“I’m not sure I’d be able to interact face-to-face with clients,” says Asami Hime, a SuicideGirl and a Snapchat premium provider, just like Coralia. For the past six months, Asami has used her premium earnings to pay off the student loans on her math and computer science degrees from Columbia University.
“I can post to Snapchat premium at a distance, and I think it’s nice that there’s separation,” she says. “No one can touch me without my permission.”
Hime started her nude modeling career on Patreon, a website where erotic content creators can create personalized porn for subscribers. Soon enough, her followers wanted more. They began begging Hime to create a premium Snapchat, so they could see more of her intimate day-to-day life.
“They want to see me eating breakfast, smoking a joint, or just hanging out with my cats,” she says. “And of course, they want more nude selfies and girl-next-door interactions.”
At some point, the new generation of sex workers will all come to the same conclusion: that fans are interested in more than just their bodies. They want 24/7 access to their real lives — both the innocent parts and the dirty parts.
Hart recognized this in Coralia. “One minute she’s posting something from her childhood, like the Halloween costume from when she was seven, and later in the night she’s being fisted,” he says.
NO “REAL” RELATIONSHIPS
Just as it does outside the sex industry, intimate interaction on social media begins to blur the distinction between those we do and don’t have a “real” relationship with.
Darcie Dolce, a Snapchat premium provider, wildly popular porn star, and winner of this year’s Girl/Girl Performer of the Year at the XBIZ Awards, knows it better than anyone.
“They’re fans, they watch your porn and see what you look like naked, but you don’t know them, and they’re not your actual friends,” Dolce says. “You have to keep it professional because you don’t want people to misunderstand your relationship.”
Hime tries to strike a balance between titillation and transparency. “People want the fantasy that we could possibly be together someday,” Hime says. “It’s like I’m acting, but still drawing the lines of our relationship.”
Many premium providers insist their work is a performance. They say they’re always aware of their audience and never fully reveal their real selves.
Others, however, feel their following revolves around their perceived authenticity. This is certainly the case with Tara Holenme, a Snapchat provider who uses her premium pay to be a stay-at-home mother.
[Asami Hime also has a large following on Patreon, where users pay for nude photosets.]
“If I didn’t show my followers I was a real person, I would lose money,” she says. So she shares photos of her husband and her son. She promotes her premium Snapchat on her personal social media accounts — the ones where she can be seen by old co-workers, cousins and childhood friends.
Unlike Coralia, Hime and Dolce, who have “stage names” and some degree of separation between their private lives and provider lives, Holemne doesn’t hide her true identity.
However, “I don’t have to tell anyone my real name,” she explains. “If I wanted, I could just pretend to be this character that I’ve created.”
Anonymity is a major appeal to being a Snapchat premium provider. However, Holemne gave it up in pursuit of expanding her following.
After all, the new sex workers of Snapchat have a lot to gain from shamelessly pursuing supporters. In a time when pornography is hanging by a thread, they’ve found something horny people are willing to pay for.
BETTER THAN PORNHUB
“The rest of the porn business is dead,” says Duane Hanson, owner of Adult Snap Models. Hanson calls his service a billing solution for providers, but he’s more of a Snapchat premium pimp. He promotes his company’s models, makes sure each follower doesn’t fall behind on their payments, and if someone stops paying for their membership, he makes sure they get cut (not literally). All of the women we spoke to employ a company like Adult Snap Models to manage their accounts.
Hanson has a background in erotica. Before managing successful Snapchat sex workers, he worked with a small online pornography web site, and watched the site struggle to stay alive.
“Tube sites are killing the industry,” Hanson says. “They give everything away for free to get as much traffic to their site as possible. And once someone can get it for free, it takes a lot to get them to pay.”
[Tara Holemne takes the chance to Snap some pics while her baby sleeps.]
But every member of the Snapchat premium industry — the clients, the middlemen, the providers themselves — agrees that premium has a captivating appeal over free pornography.
“With premium, it’s more personal, and people get more of what they want right at their fingertips,” Dolce says. “Someone can ask me, ‘Hey, can you hula hoop topless?’ And yeah, I can do that. A porn scene is obviously putting on a show, but a long Snapchat story seems a lot more authentic when I tell them ‘I’m eating this girl’s pussy out right now.’”
“The appeal is the person,” Hime says. “It’s the faux relationship of interacting with her, knowing her birthday, getting her gifts on Amazon, and actually seeing how you’re supporting her.”
It’s evident that men have plenty to gain from involvement with Snapchat premium. But when it comes to the women, it’s difficult to know the long-term social implications of a phenomenon so new.
EMPOWERED OR OBJECTIFIED
It’s possible that sex work’s lower barriers to entry might entice young, impressionable girls to finagle their way into a premium account. These girls could be too young and naive to know when they’re being taken advantage of, as men pay higher sums to demand dirtier snaps. It could teach them — even more than today’s culture already does — that a woman’s value is in her physical appearance.
However, there’s a thin line between self-objectification and self-empowerment. It’s possible, instead, that Snapchat premium sexually liberates women, giving them the ability to capitalize on a culture that will degrade and objectify them no matter what.
“Sure, people are going to be sexualizing your body, but people are doing that every day!” Holemne says. The way she sees it, exploiting men’s tendency to view women as sex toys is a brilliant way of gaming the system. “I’m basically stealing men’s money,” she says.
As more women in his dating circle exploit their sex appeal in pursuit of social media stardom, Hart grows tired of searching for more meaningful encounters. “I guess that’s just today’s society, a hot do-nothing girl,” he says. “I see them on Tinder and I hate them, so vapid and shallow ... but then I swipe right and think, ‘Hell yeah, let’s match.’”