Cam Sites Are Porn’s Hot Latest Focus, But They’re Really Conservative

This isn’t just because not every performer wants to act out any fantasy a viewer throws at them, or because some fantasies are too logistically expensive or complex to toss together live on a webcam.

Cam Sites Are Porn's Hot Latest Focus, But They're Really Conservative - SurgeZirc US
Cam Sites Are Porn's Hot Latest Focus, But They're Really Conservative / Photo credit: Screenshot

At its best, porn is a tool for helping people explore and enjoy their sexual fantasies. But, as the sociologist Rachel Stuart once pointed out to me, traditional porn usually only offers “a rough approximation of what you want,” because producers and performers created it to appeal to a general audience, not your specific desires.

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Cam sites, however, can allow viewers to interact with adult performers in real-time — and ideally to pay exactly the person they want to see to perform exactly their fantasies. That, Stuart and others have argued, is a big part of why they have grown so popular over the last decade. In fact, camming offers such individualized and diverse erotic potential that it’s easy to think of it as a definitively superior product, slowly eclipsing the appeal and profitability of old school porn.

Yet for all their bespoke and responsive potential, cam sites can’t cater to all of the fantasies and desires that platforms that aggregate traditional porn — such as tube sites (like Pornhub), a la carte clip sites (like Clips4Sale), and adult social media subscription sites (like OnlyFans) — serve.

This isn’t just because not every performer wants to act out any fantasy a viewer throws at them, or because some fantasies are too logistically expensive or complex to toss together live on a webcam. (Although fantasies that require elaborate prep work or sets usually are too elaborate to throw together on a live stream. A fetish producer once told me that he had to recreate Edgar Allen Poe’s pendulum to satisfy his clients’ desires.)

Every adult site has its own rules about the sexual acts and terms it will and will not host — and those rules can vary wildly from site to site on topics like sexualized choking or lactation. But, as the porn performer and content creator Sophie Ladder recently learned after reviewing and compiling numerous sites’ (often opaque) rules, cam sites consistently have the strictest content regulations of any open-sourced adult sites.

Case in point, Ladder’s research shows what every porn viewer knows: All tube sites and most clip sites host incest roleplay videos. A lot of them, given their popularity. Many just require uploaders to preface any family relation with step in their titles, tags, and descriptions. But none of the cam sites Ladder reviewed seem to allow even stepfamily incest roleplay in streams.

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This relative conservatism isn’t some massive cam site conspiracy against certain kinks. Instead, it’s a reflection of the infuriatingly murky legal framework under which porn operates in general and the unique nature and risks of live streaming as opposed to taping and distributing adult content.

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