How Toronto’s Queer Sex Workers Are Making Ends Meet During The Pandemic
Dale Kuda, Jonny Twofour and Jeremy Feist talk to IN about how Toronto sex workers have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic…
To date, the coronavirus has infected over 3,000,000 individuals and has claimed over 214,300 lives. Beyond its impact on our physical and mental health, entire industries are suffering and having to rapidly adjust to this new way of life. Of these industries, one in particular has proven particularly resilient: adult entertainment.
With social distancing mandates enforced and sex workers around the globe being denied COVID-19 relief funds, the industry have been forced to exist only online, where many have sought solace on sites like OnlyFans and Just For Fans.
According to GQ, OnlyFans has experienced a whopping 75% growth month over month since the pandemic, proving the internet is the central––and perhaps only––hub for our hedonistic pursuits. All across the web, people are getting off at virtual orgies, cutting a rug at digital circuit parties, and our social accounts have become parched. (I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen more b-holes in the “close friends” tabs than ever before.)
“I’ve completely stopped escorting and stopped filming with other sex workers for the time being,” Dale Kuda, a 32-year-old adult performer and escort in Toronto, shares with IN. Before the pandemic, Kuda had filmed enough footage to sustain him for a couple months, but admits that time is running out. As a result, he’s been filming more solo content, and has gotten creative with sex toys.
“I’m ramping up my personal social media content as well,” he shares. “I’m breaking into other avenues and have been working on an exciting project, designing my own line of jock straps. I’ve found that the lack of access to the gym has really brought down my sex drive and desire to film as much adult content.”
Jonny Twofour, 30, has responded similarly in isolation, using this time to focus on his music. Prior to the pandemic, Twofour, who began filming adult content to fund his songwriting, filmed the debut music video for his single, “Push Came To Your Shove,” across 13 cities worldwide. “Since my return to Toronto, I’ve finalized the music video, finished the artwork for the album, and started preparations for the next music video and the album release,” he says.
Without a co-star, Twofour is limited to filming solo content, though he has gotten creative and filmed with another entertainer over webcam. To avoid getting stale, Twofour has created “cumpilation videos” to highlight his past works and entice subscribers to revisit some of his favorite content. “I’m certainly starting to run out of ideas,” he admits. “I’m trying to find more ways to create some duo content in a responsible way and I’ve ordered a sex machine to give my fans something to watch.”
For Jeremy Feist, a 29-year-old sex worker with a decade’s experience, time in isolation has brought about a revelation of sorts. Specifically, he’s found the pandemic has reframed how audiences view entertainment-based labor.
“Before lockdown, there was this idea that entertainment is a frivolous thing that we don’t actually need––and if you worked in adult entertainment, you were just the lowest of the low,” he says. “Which was always weird, because if that were true then people wouldn’t spend so much time and energy trying to pirate it off tube sites.”
Now in isolation, he’s noticed people are beginning to understand that we have an intrinsic need for stimulus; that people need to be entertained and sexually fulfilled. As such, audiences are beginning to pay for this oft-stolen media.
Kuda’s witnesseda 30% increase in fan page subscriptions during the pandemic. “I’ve found a lot more people are subscribing and private messaging for attention on social media,” he shares. “It’s not only about subscribing anymore, people are seeking and craving sexual attention in a socially responsible way.”
Feist has noticed a similar increase, noting regular engagement with subscribers helps make them and himself feel less alone. “I talk to them, they talk to me, and in turn I’m more equipped to give them the content that they specifically ask for,” he says. “I’ve been posting every day and offering 50% off to subscribers. I know half-off a DIY porn site isn’t much, but it’s something I can do to make things easier on people.”
Feist wants his fan sites to be a worry-free respite in these turbulent times. In addition to his sexual content, he entertains and enlightens subscribers with various tutorials on hobbies ranging from rope bondage and clothing design, to baking and sewing.
“Parasocial relationships are just sort of a built-in feature of fans sites, there’s no way around it, but at least you can use that to encourage your audience to try out a new hobby, try some self-betterment, or otherwise just engage in a way that makes this feel a little less confusing and terrifying,” he says.
The pandemic sucks, on this we can all agree. But if there is anything positive to be gleaned, it’s that that sex workers are getting the credit they deserve. Being ordered inside with no physical contact imparts the importance of their work and its value. So while the world is an uncertain place and that thought is absolutely terrifying, at least we have sex workers to get us through, and get us off.