Web cam network Flirt4Free announced an exclusive deal with Fleshlight, and the top cam models from their Viewers Choice contest winners are getting personalized molds (here, NSFW). While at first glance that seems like your usual sex toy press release, it could represent an important shift in the adult industry.

Because I’ve investigated the myth and mystery of Fleshlights before, let me contextualize and translate that for you. Fleshlights are the best selling male masturbation accessory, ever. Externally, they resemble an emergency-grade flashlight. Internally, the vast majority of Fleshlight masturbation sleeves (produced before the aforementioned announcement) are replicas of various porn stars’ parts. Their subsidiary, Fleshjacks, are exactly the same as Fleshlights, they’re just molded after guys’ parts.

Fleshlights have long since been considered a very exclusive and elite thing for performers, and over the years I’ve seen many women and men lobby alongside their fans in the hopes of getting their own. But Fleshlight hasn’t put out a new porn star product in quite a while. So if Fleshlights are high-status items and now they’re getting molded after cam models… Well, what does that mean? Are cam models becoming the new porn stars?

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(pictured: “sexy webcam” according to Getty images)

According to Natalie Star, a top cam model and model mentor in the Flirt4Free network, that’s exactly what’s happening. “I see porn stars applying to be cam models daily,” Star told me. “Our models are making more in months than porn stars have ever made in their life.”

Ummm… holy sh*t?

Web cam network Flirt4Free announced an exclusive deal with Fleshlight, and the top cam models from their Viewers Choice contest winners are getting personalized molds (here, NSFW). While at first glance that seems like your usual sex-toy press release, it could represent an important shift in the adult industry.

Because I’ve investigated the myth and mystery of Fleshlights before, let me contextualize and translate that for you. Fleshlights are the best selling male masturbation accessory, ever. Externally, they resemble an emergency-grade flashlight. Internally, the vast majority of Fleshlight masturbation sleeves (produced before the aforementioned announcement) are replicas of various porn stars’ parts. Their subsidiary, Fleshjacks, are exactly the same as Fleshlights, they’re just molded after guys’ parts.

Fleshlights have long since been considered a very exclusive and elite thing for performers, and over the years I’ve seen many women and men lobby alongside their fans in the hopes of getting their own. But Fleshlight hasn’t put out a new porn star product in quite a while. So if Fleshlights are high-status items and now they’re getting molded after cam models… Well, what does that mean? Are cam models becoming the new porn stars?

According to Natalie Star, a top cam model and model mentor in the Flirt4Free network, that’s exactly what’s happening. “I see porn stars applying to be cam models daily,” Star told me. “Our models are making more in months than porn stars have ever made in their life.”

Ummm… holy sh*t?

Flirt4Free model Jake Orion, who won the Viewer’s Choice contest for Fleshjack, started out in webcam, made a brief jump to porn, and then very quickly returned to camming. I asked Orion why. “I’ve done scene work and I prefer cam to porn because the pay is 100 times better,” he said matter-of-factly. “I make more in 90 days then most porn stars make in a year.”

Ummm… holy sh*t?!!

Here’s the thing. For various reasons related to research methods and social stigma, facts and figures in adult entertainment, including average incomes, are guesstimates at best. But for two people that seem to have relatively multi-faceted looks at certain income figures to report such a wide disparity between porn and cam, well, there must be something there.

For the past couple years, cam has been the growth area in adult entertainment (which is a subjective assessment based on what business fluctuations I, a sociologist, have noticed). Clearly, cam is capturing a shifting and/or growing consumer market. But why?

Via the magic of the interwebs and technology, I chatted with a guy named Glib, one of Star’s best customers, about the appeal – why pay someone to chat with you when your mom would totally talk to you for free? Glib let me know that pre-produced porn met a certain physical need, but cam provided a more complex social interaction. “I am more likely 2 jerk off watching porn,” he told me, “but I prefer 2 watch cams as it does stimulate me in more ways than 1” [sic].

It’s interesting to consider this Fleshlight-Flirt4Free deal as a sign o’ the times.

For years now, our culture has seemed to be getting increasingly isolated – less IRL community and more technology-media-cyber stuff. But what if it’s now less about isolation and more about different forms of community and communication, with virtual interactions that were once seen as inauthentic becoming the norm? If that’s the case, then perhaps this move is more about offering people an enhanced way to interact with someone on an increasingly normalized level.

If the stars of pre-produced porn are fantasy, then maybe cam models are a fantasy about someone you know? Just a thought.

Natalie Star 4

(pictured: Natalie Star via Natalie Star)

Reprinted from UPROXX/FilmDrunk (6/15/15).

And ICYMI, you can read all my work featured on UPROXX/FilmDrunk right –> here

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Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

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