Poland

Sexcamming in Poland: One Worker’s Story

You want to know what really pisses me off? All those people who would go to a feminist rally to shout “my body my choice” and afterwards preach hate against us sex workers. I do with my body what I want and no one but me can control it.

Dawid Krawczyk: Are you working today?

Patrycja (KittyTease): Yes, I am. Saturday is a working day for me.

How many hours?

It depends on what counts as work. Usually, I need two or three hours to spruce myself up – to take a shower, do my hair. I spend quite a bit of time on my makeup. Then I have to prepare my work space and throw a few pillows and soft toys onto my bed. I have to bring the computer from the living room into the bedroom. I even bought this desk on wheels, so that I won’t have to carry it around. It’s quite heavy.

And that’s not all. There are emails that need to be replied to and social media that needs updating, mainly Twitter. If you’re counting this as well, I can say that I spend my whole day working.

How long does your webcam sex show take?

A few hours, maybe about five. It mainly depends on how much I manage to earn. If I reach my goal for the day, I finish earlier. But sometimes I sit there for longer than five hours.

I’ve looked at job offers for cam girls. It seems that you just need a laptop and a camera to start earning a lot of money.

It’s actually nothing like that. I wish it was that easy; I’d be a millionaire by now. You have to invest in a few things. First of all, a computer built specifically for video chats with a high-quality camera. The regular internet connection you have at your place won’t do the job. The upload speed must be really fast. What else? Oh, lighting. I have regular lamps, nothing fancy, but I’m saving to buy something more professional, like the lamps they use on film sets.

It’s just supposed to look “amateur” and “authentic,” but there is nothing amateur about it.

And this is the equipment for so-called “amateur” porn?

It’s just supposed to look “amateur” and “authentic,” but as you can see there is nothing amateur about it; it is pure professionalism. If I were working on a cheap laptop no one would enter my chat, because there would be only glitches and lags.

Can anyone can access your chat and watch your performances?

I hardly ever work for tips [where clients pay for specific acts described in the menu, e.g. showing breasts] on the open channel. I prefer private chats much more – it’s just better money. So, if you have cash and you’re not rude you’re welcome (I ban rude assholes immediately. Fortunately it occurs really rarely). I also film videos, which you can buy online. For a few bucks you can watch me, and for a few dozen more you can order a custom made film. My clients send me emails detailing what they would like me to do, and if I’m alright with it, they pay and get the movie.

Have you always worked from home?

No, I got into the business through a sex cam studio. These places are popping up everywhere, especially here in Szczecin [Poland’s seventh largest city located near the Baltic Sea and the German border]. The one I worked for was located in an office building, where various companies rented the space. It was basically a few rooms with five cams in each, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Altogether, all shifts combined, about 50-60 girls worked there.

Did you have a contract?

I could if I wanted to. There were girls who signed contracts. But it wasn’t a good move, I can tell you that.

Why is that?

Because the contract comes with a promissory note for 10 thousand PLN. Later, when a girl wanted to leave the studio to work on her own, they threatened to sue her. I received such a letter myself, right after I left. They gave me an ultimatum: either you pay us 10 thousand PLN or you stop working as a cam girl because that’s what the contract states. I just didn’t care about it, because I never signed anything. They must have thought that I’m just a silly girl, who will be scared of their threats.

Before you left, you spent a fair amount of time working there, right?

Almost a year.

And prior to that did you have any experience in the industry?

No, not at all. I remember my first day quite clearly. The operator of the chat told me to move a bit, stand up and sit down on a chair. Well, I did what he told me to do, and then I saw other girls, how they stood up, etc., and I could tell that these movements were something else. But I learned all the skills. I watched what they were doing, and what the operator wrote on the chat because it wasn’t us who spoke with the clients, but the operator, who knew German and English perfectly. Every client was convinced that he was flirting with the girl on the other side of the screen.

I knew I could make more money on my own after I started earning more, and discovered in the studio, owners take 50% of our income.

So, why did you decide to finally leave?

I simply knew I could make more money on my own. Girls were resigning all the time but when someone stopped coming to work, it wasn’t hard to find a new one who wanted to start. At the beginning I overheard that they were earning about 5000 PLN and planned to leave. I couldn’t understand why. Then I started to earn a similar amount of money, and I understood: in the studio, the owners took 50% of our income. Now, since I started working from home, the platform I’m using gets only 30% of the money I earn. And the atmosphere in the studio was toxic, you can’t trust anyone in such a place.

When I made up my mind about resigning, I planned every detail of it. In case they figured out I wanted to leave and tried to manipulate my monthly payment, I always had my recorder turned on in the pocket. I’ve heard stories about girls who resigned and after that, they had to fight trolls on their private chats. Payment – always in cash – was paid out in the middle of every month. The money I worked for in January was supposed to be paid on 15 February. So I told myself, “all right, I’ll spend two last weeks working basically for free, just to get my money from the previous month.” Obviously, I didn’t try to be the employee of the month in February – I played Angry Birds anytime the operator wasn’t keeping an eye on me.

Patrycja, I haven’t asked you yet if you like porn.

Doing porn, or watching it?

Both.

OK, I see you want to ask me if I like my job. Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It’s a part of my everyday life, so there are these days when I don’t even want to wake up, let alone reply to emails or perform. Because, you know, it’s not like that I get incredibly turned on by my work and just can’t wait to sit in front of the camera.

Anyway, even when I watch porn, I rarely pick the alternative stuff; it doesn’t excite me so much. I mean, I like it, it’s appealing, it’s different, but for my own use, I would definitely choose mainstream porn. Ageplay turns me on, for instance, the scenes in which an adult actress plays a teen girl, and a guy is a mature man.

Mainstream? Aren’t mainstream tropes representative of sexist, misogynistic, and violent behaviours against women?

All right, but who says that? You’re trying to provoke me, right?

If sexual services remain criminalised, a lot of us won’t get a chance to work in a safe environment.

Just a bit, but I don’t take these ideas from some conservative crusaders fighting porn. A lot of feminists criticise porn from such a perspective.

Ok, but what do these feminists have to do with porn? Where does their knowledge come from? I’m a feminist myself and I prefer to listen to voices of feminists who know the industry first hand. My time is precious, so I don’t waste time on reading such bullshit. When I have some free time, though, I spend it reading articles on sex worker rights. If sexual services will remain criminalised, a lot of us won’t get a chance to work in a safe environment- that’s what feminists should care about. But if you want me to address the critical voices coming from the feminist side, I’d be happy to do it. Where should I start?

The crucial issue being raised is that mainstream porn is done by males for other males.

Have you even seen the payroll of a porn movie? I guarantee you that you’ll find both men and women there, so it’s always puzzled me as to where this stereotype comes from. I hate this looking down on mainstream porn and elevating the alternative. Why is the latter one supposed to be better?

Maybe because the mainstream allegedly reproduces patriarchal patterns – women have big breasts and guys’ penises are always hard. On the other hand, you have the alternative porn casting performers in natural shapes and acting in less brutal scenes.

Let’s break it down, bit by bit. It’s not uncommon that the same actress would act in both the mainstream and the alternative. Just google a random stage name and you’ll see that it’s true. In porn, you have breasts of all sizes, from cup sized ones to really big ones, both natural and silicone. Anyways, what’s so bad about boob jobs, I don’t get it.

This whole narrative that the mainstream is hell, unlike the alternative, because the latter shows real women, always seemed suspicious to me. So, who is playing in mainstream porn, then? Robots? They are living, real women as well. And they come in all sizes and ages. It’s probably different with men – you won’t have many guys with fat bellies, maybe that’s true.

What about this issue that narratives in porn are brutal, especially for women?

I think that some people think that women like to fuck in a vanilla way, on perfumed duvets with rose petals lying around.

On porn sites, there are these “female friendly” or “for women” tags that show basically the fantasy you’ve just described.

Of course, because it sells. You have yogurt for women, and you have yogurt for men. So why not have different porn for women and different porn for men. In my opinion, it’s not really a good thing. Why can’t women masturbate to mainstream porn, like Brazzers, for example, if that’s what turns them on?

The narrative that mainstream porn is hell is suspicious to me. Some people just have an overwhelming need to control female bodies and fantasies; even women want to control other women.

Everything we’re talking about boils down to the fact that some people have this overwhelming need to control female bodies and fantasies. And, what’s worse, there are women who can’t help controlling other women. I genuinely don’t understand how a person can go to a feminist rally to shout “my body, my choice” and then despise sex workers for doing what they want with their own bodies.

Or these women who are outraged because only men are asked to discuss feminist issues on TV shows. I’m outraged by that, by the way. But how can they see there’s something wrong with that, when they don’t have a problem with discussing sex worker rights without a single sex worker in the room? We should have a voice in the first place. But we don’t. I forgot that we are all enslaved victims. I can’t stand that. When you read stories about farmers, the question about forced labour is not a first one that comes to your mind, even though there are a lot of modern-day slaves working on tomato farms.

So, you want to say that the porn industry is problem free?

No, of course not. The biggest problem is PornHub, no doubt about that.

PornHub? What’s wrong with that?

Let me think. Basically everything? It’s like a cancer that preys on the whole industry. Some of these huge companies have their own contracts signed with PornHub, RedTube, YouPorn (it doesn’t matter which one because they’re all one big company). The actual traffic on these websites is created through amateur-made, pirated porn. At the end of the day, companies like Brazzers, who publish teasers of their movies on these websites, earn profits from those who subscribe to their paid membership, but also from all of these ads surrounding pirated porn. The biggest players always win in that business.

I’d really like people to know that when they upload pirated amateur porn on one of these tube websites, they’re basically taking the profit from hands of hardworking people like me. My ultimate fantasy is probably getting rid of PornHub, once and for all, but for now, if people understand that they should pay for porn, as they do for music, books and movies, it would be a huge step forward.

Dawid Krawczyk

Dawid Krawczyk

He conducts interviews and writes feature stories and reviews. Graduated with a degree in Philosophy and English Philology from the University of Wroclaw. He has been with Krytyka Polityczna since 2011 and is the managing editor of Political Critique magazine and its drug policy section. His articles have been published in Polish, English, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, and Italian.

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Dawid Krawczyk
He conducts interviews and writes feature stories and reviews. Graduated with a degree in Philosophy and English Philology from the University of Wroclaw. He has been with Krytyka Polityczna since 2011 and is the managing editor of Political Critique magazine and its drug policy section. His articles have been published in Polish, English, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, and Italian.