H arli Lotts (not her real name) knows her audience better than just about anyone I’ve ever met in online media. In just two years, the bubbly blonde from El Paso, Texas, has gone from manager of a rent-to-own store to rising internet starlet by making personal connections with a loyal online audience. She arrived at our interview on a sweltering Friday morning in a hotel suite on the Las Vegas strip with a small entourage of two other budding social media influencers, Amber Vixx and Stefanie Joy (also not their names).
After our interview, she and her friends will probably hit the pool at a local apartment complex and do what millennials do: eat pizza and play out their lives in front of tiny, portable cameras. During our wide-ranging conversation she’ll talk confidently about the business of live streaming video, the ephemeral nature of online fame, Rashida Jones’ controversial Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted and the markup on consumer eyewear.
Lotts’ computer isn’t just her best friend — it’s her main revenue generator and her connection, not only to her fans but also to the outside world. Lotts is a social media star in the truest sense of the word. She is one of a growing number of independent, live streaming video personalities who can make thousands of dollars in just a few hours broadcasting mostly unremarkable acts for a captive internet audience. She just happens to do some of it naked.
Lotts is a cam girl, part of a booming at-home workforce made up of young women — and a few men — who are upending the adult entertainment industry and social media at the same time. Like Instagram influencers or YouTube makers, today’s webcam models need little more than a strong WiFi connection and an internet-connected camera to make a living.
Signing up for services like My Free Cams, Flirt4Free, or Chaturbate, which are essentially platforms like Facebook or Snapchat, is simple. Once you’ve filled out a web form, verified your age and agreed to the service’s terms and conditions, you can immediately start streaming to a limitless audience of viewers seeking human connection and, of course, sexual release. With the right tools and an ID that says they’re 18 or older, these 21st-century push-button celebrities don’t even have to leave their bedrooms to make a living, and they all have one woman to thank.
When Jennifer Ringley picked up a webcam at her college book store in 1996, she had no way of knowing she’d serve as the catalyst for an industry that’s been estimated to http://hookupdate.net/escort-index/columbia/ pull in more than $1 billion in revenue annually. Just two years earlier, Connectix, a small peripheral maker released the QuickCam, a digital camera that sat on top of your Apple’s Macintosh and delivered 320-x-240 black-and-white images at 15 frames per second for $100.
In a rare 2015 interview, Ringley told Gimlet Media’s Reply All podcast that she found herself at a loss for what to do with her impulse purchase and ming skills to the test. She rigged her webcam to constantly record candid stills from inside her dorm room and upload a new image every 15 minutes to her site, .
The semi-nude lives of webcam stars
Ringley wasn’t the first subject of an experiment in webcamming. That honor belonged to a coffee pot at Cambridge University, but she was the first to give the world 24-hour access to her private life via the internet. For the next seven years, Ringley streamed her daily life, uncut and uncensored for an audience of millions of strangers.