Memoirs of a Singaporean Cam Girl

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My name is Charlotte, I am in my early twenties this year, and I have previously worked as a sex cam model. Cam models are video performers that perform erotic acts that are streamed online in exchange for goods or money. We often see sex cam sites advertised via pop-up ads on porn sites.

The cam sex industry is no doubt a lucrative one. It allows individuals to work from the comfort of their homes, with flexible schedules, providing them the full autonomy to decide the amount and the extent of the sexual content they provide to their audience. In the event in which a member of the audience is crossing a cam model’s boundaries, they can be blocked and reported within a few clicks. The audience is charged a standard amount for every second they choose to have a private session with the cam model—these sessions can range in duration from mere seconds to hours. It is then the work of the model to try to sustain these sessions for as long as possible. The audience can also tip the models as they wish.

I chose to start as a sex cam model for the money. It presented an easy means for which I could earn a quick buck just by going online and camming after school. It provided me with financial independence that I very much enjoyed. But as time passed, I realised that I was continuing my cam modelling not only because it provided me monetary benefit, but also because, in a strange way, it was very therapeutic to me.

When I was 15, I had a traumatic sexual experience—I was with a man older and more sexually experienced than me, and what he did to me was not entirely consensual. He also constantly demeaned and insulted my body and physical appearance, only deepening my insecurity issues. This experience left my self-esteem utterly fractured, driving me to seek external validation for my body. It did not help that at this time I was also battling demons born from an eating disorder I developed since I was 13. As such, my own perception of my self-worth plunged, and my mental and physical health was at its lowest it had ever been.

But something miraculous happened when I started camming. During my sex cam sessions, there would be men who would fawn over my body and give me compliments. I started having regulars who would just pay me not for a show, but for a conversation. It was quite remarkable—me and my regulars would chat about philosophy or science , with him post-orgasm, me entirely nude on the screen. They started to tell me more about themselves, about their lives, about their stories, and at some point I became more than a cam model to them—I actually became a friend. There I was, a girl in her late teens, who thought she was unremarkable in every way, actually having the ability to talk, entertain, and arouse men who were three to four times her age. If anything, it was empowering and a validation of my intelligence, to be able to sustain and immensely enjoy the conversations I had with this diverse group of men.

This aided in my healing, and I will forever be thankful for my cam days for helping me get through that dark time. This experience healed me because it made me comfortable in my own skin, made me realise how thoroughly remarkable my body is, and it healed me because of what it was able to provide me—money, joy, friendship. If anything, my path healing post-trauma should justify that healing is an immensely individualistic process. It has somehow been normalised in this day and age that self-care is some kind of materialistic/capitalist venture—if a bath bomb and a facial package work for you, that’s really great! But I ultimately believe that the healing must be specific to the trauma. Camming, in the most serendipitous way possible, provided a targeted means to uplift me from my trauma. It made me realise that I am more that what my abuser thought of me, it made me reclaim the sexuality that I was once shameful of, that was once forcefully demanded from me. It gave me a clarity no number of self-help books could provide.

Eventually, I left camming because it began to interfere with my school work. I was spending late nights and odd hours talking to these men, mainly because they were US and UK based, and I had to cater to their time zones. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my time as a webcam model. And looking back, there isn’t an ounce of regret. I only dropped it for practical reasons, but am open to going back to it any day, if I feel the need arises.

My experience with engaging in sex camming is one that affirms that any form of sex work or sexual labour is NEVER inherently demeaning to the woman in any way. Everyone chooses to go into this trade for reasons that are ultimately personal. In my case, it aided with me processing and rising from my trauma. To dictate that what I choose to do with my body is vile and “unfeminist” is insulting to my sense of bodily autonomy, and ignorant to the obvious emotional and economic benefits conferred to me via camming. Through my sexual labour I have been able to save money for a rainy day, to grow my own confidence, to be aware of my own sexual prowess—to be comfortable in my own slutty skin. 

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Vanessa Ho

Executive Director | [email protected]

Executive Director
[email protected]

Vanessa has been full-time with Project X since 2011, and as a result, has had many opportunities to meet and connect with sex workers in Singapore and around the world. Under her leadership, the organisation has grown from a small group of volunteers to one where there are three paid staff and a team of over 60 volunteers. Correspondingly, she has increased the annual operating budget of the organization five times, and is now recognized as the leading organization that empowers and assists women in the sex industry.

Vanessa has written and spoken extensively about sex work, human trafficking, rape culture, and LGBTQ rights in Singapore. She believes that if people can speak about sex, gender and sexuality in open and in non-judgmental ways, society will become a safer place for everyone.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Masters Degree in Gender, Society and Representation from University College London.