Former cam girl shakes up the porn world


TBella French found herself in dire straits years ago.

The 27-year-old French Canadian had just graduated from the prestigious business school HEC Montreal, where she studied Marketing and Logistics, and decided it was time to take a big turn. She used her credit cards to the max, took out small business loans, and borrowed from her father’s line of credit. In all, French raised $ 250,000, which she used to open a clothing store with her own streetwear line. Then disaster struck.

“Basically, eight months after opening, I walked into the store and the whole place was flooded,” she recalls.

A hot water tank in the apartment above had burst, leaving the store submerged. As if that wasn’t enough, since French had only insured her up to $ 50,000, she found herself in debt by $ 200,000.

She was frantically looking for work in fashion in her native Montreal, but could not believe it. Then his best friend, Hamed Seoleghi, suggested something a little out of the picture: “He says, ‘Have you ever heard of the webcam?’ French recalls. “My friend earns around $ 5,000 a month. ”

French, who had never dabbled in sex work – and didn’t even watch porn – was appalled at the idea. “I couldn’t believe my friend would recommend me to become a camgirl,” she said. “I said to him, ‘You are crazy! I would never do that. I am much better than all these girls. These are girls who can’t do anything else ‘- basically the way people tend to judge sex workers.

Two weeks later, when her financial situation was strained to the breaking point, she created a profile on a cam site. To her surprise, she loved it. “I realized that I was so wrong to think about all the things I used to think about camgirls before I became one, because it was not the reality of being a camgirl or a sex worker at all.

“I had a hard time being comfortable naked or accepting my body, and becoming a camgirl almost forced me to become comfortable with who I am,” French explains. “I became extremely comfortable with my own sexuality, and it was incredibly stimulating. To this day, I feel so much stronger as a woman because of it. I have also become more understanding of people’s struggles and I never judge anyone because you really don’t know why they are where they are in life. There are a lot of extremely smart people in this industry and they do this job because that’s what they want to to do. They are not victims.

The money wasn’t bad either. During her first month on cam, working five days a week and up to six hours a day, she raised $ 6,000; During her last month, working seven days a week and up to twelve hours a day, she says she earned $ 42,000. “As a camgirl, if you want to stay on top and be # 1 on a website, you have to be online almost all the time. It has become completely my life, ”she says. “I didn’t go outside much anymore. I would just exercise and the camera.

French was a top rated camgirl from 2011 to 2014. She initially considered doing it for a year or two, paying off her debts and leaving the adult industry with her anonymity intact. But this plan quickly went out the window. “In the first month, someone recorded one of my shows and uploaded it to a tube site. I was devastated; I didn’t know I was being filmed, ”she says. “So tube sites don’t just hurt companies and artists and take money out of their own income, they literally hurt people’s privacy. What if you wanted to be a cam girl at 20 and now you’re 25 and want to go to law school, but now it’s a problem because people stole your content and put it in line on a tube site? ”

In the first month, someone recorded one of my shows and put it on a hit site. I was devastated; I didn’t know I was being filmed.

Most of the popular XXX tube sites are controlled by MindGeek, a Montreal-based company that controls adult content. In addition to owning Pornhub, YouPorn, RedTube, GayTube, PornMD, PornIQ and Tube8, they also operate several large-scale porn production studios such as Brazzers, Digital Playground, Reality Kings, Twistys and Wicked Pictures, thus wielding enormous power in preside over production and Distribution. Since the tube sites largely thrive on ripped content and the performers of these porn clips don’t see a dime despite the millions of views they rack up, MindGeek is playing both ways – employing adult performers. while jostling them on the back-end.

“It’s infuriating to see how there are tube sites that generate millions of stolen content,” French suggests. “It’s this really fucked up relationship that a lot of artists have with MindGeek. I understand where they come from, because they pay them to shoot videos and it helps their career, but at the same time, do you also realize that because of them you get paid three times less than what you would have before, and people not really buying a subscription to your website because they now have all of your content for free on one tube site? ”

She sighs. “I’m trying to educate my community to realize that if we all come together, we can let giant companies like MindGeek know that this shouldn’t happen again. If we boycotted all of their studios, they would have no choice but to adapt and the industry would move in the right direction.

Instead of an industry-wide boycott, French came up with the idea of ​​an adult music video site suitable for performers, one featuring original content and providing substantial residue for performers. . She called it ManyVids, and the site was officially launched in April 2014, with French as CEO, her boyfriend (and now boyfriend) Hamed Seoleghi installed as COO, and her other pal Jean-Noel Sciretta as CTO. Like MindGeek, the company is based in Montreal.

ManyVids internal magazine

Lots of Vids

“It’s basically a mix between Amazon, YouTube and Twitter, ”French explains of ManyVids. “We call our artists MVStars, and if you are an MVStar, you can create a profile on ManyVids and sell videos, physical goods, memberships, generate private fundraising campaigns, private mailing list, etc. And we also have live cameras. You will always retain the rights to your content – the content is not owned by the platform – so you can download and delete whatever you want. If you want to delete your profile, we respect that.

According to French, performers get “80% of the deal” for things like physical goods, “60% of the deal” for videos and “50% of the deal” for cameras, which are highs in the market. ‘industry. The top earners on ManyVids can generate between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 per month, says French. The website is ad-free as well, as they want “the website to be all about models”.

A 2019 media kit for ManyVids has 2.4 million members, 64 million pageviews per month, and 300,000 unique visitors per day. It bills itself as “the fastest growing music video site in the world”.

In addition to ManyVids, the site runs a blog, podcast and online magazine featuring its top models; a tube site, MVTube, where artists receive “67 cents per 1,000 views”; and MVSocial, a Twitter-like social network where sex workers are “not afraid of their accounts being closed”. They have also partnered with a number of pro-sex worker organizations including Sex Workers Outreach Project USA and Amber Rose’s SlutWalk. The company employs 120 people and is moving to larger offices to accommodate its growth.

“We try to give sex workers the tools to be successful as independent entrepreneurs without being judged,” French explains. “What was really important to me was to educate the world and make them understand that pornstars are not stupid.”

“And you know, being a camgirl is the greatest gift I’ve ever received,” she adds. “I thank God that this whole thing happened with the flood and the store and stuff.”

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