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By Danika Maia.

Photos by Anastasia Velicescu.

These days I can’t believe how lucky I am to wake up and go to work. I get out of bed, shower, work out, get dressed up in sexy lingerie, and then dance and flirt my heart out for adoring fans on my live webcam.

I’m a Cam Girl, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have never loved myself more, nor made more money in a shorter amount of time, than I do as a Cam Girl.

Just a little over one year ago, I quit my shitty job in digital media and branded content with zero intent of getting another job in media, and no exact plan for what I was going to do for money. I knew only that I was slowly dying inside creating thinly veiled ads for audiences who didn’t want them, brands who had zero higher purpose, and media companies that didn’t give a shit about my success. My family and friends, while supportive, thought that I was insane for leaving my “promising career” behind without a roadmap for what was next. And when they found out later that I had started camming to pay the bills? Well, of course they assumed that they had been right. It had been a bad idea to quit my job, and I was obviously in such a bad place that I needed to turn to sex work. But honestly, the joke is on them. I have never loved myself more, nor made more money in a shorter amount of time, than I do as a Cam Girl.

My career in digital media began as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college kid while studying Digital Concept Development. I was brought on as an unpaid intern—as many hot media companies require—on the premise of being cool by association. As a staff writer, I was always covering sex positive stories and events, which would later help open me up to the idea of profiting off my sexuality. I loved what I was doing, and people loved reading the edgy content that this media brand was known for, but cool as it all was, there was absolutely no money in it—for anyone. I wasn’t being paid to write about or go to these events, the photographers assigned to come with me were usually interns as well, and it was like pulling teeth to get the company to pay an artist for the right to post their images.

When my unpaid internship was up, and they literally couldn’t legally squeeze any more free time out of me, it was strongly suggested that I move over to branded content, where there was actually some money to be had. Working in branded content, we were always somehow broke with hundred-thousand dollar budgets, trying to sneak “gifts” to influencers. We’d have to make sure they knew that they “didn’t have to post but it would be awesome, and if they did post they could use these hashtags and @mycompanyislame, and don’t forget to hashtag #ad!” Basically urging the creative to make free content out of guilt, for a gift they didn’t even want and that their teen followers might buy. And to sell that product influencers are dressing exactly like I dress when I’m on my public cam, usually posing for a photo that they’re not getting paid for because the male photographer has over 100k followers, and it is “good for exposure.” This exact thing is what I believe is causing the downfall of digital media all around us—good editorial content, if it’s free for readers, doesn’t pay the inflated salaries of every thirty-something-year-old creative director dude out there. #Ads pay the bills, so more and more focus is being put on branded content, and influencers, until the meaning and creativity behind every piece has just been blasted to poop-tea smithereens. Sex sells, and because people are buying up sex content like crazy, I can now afford to pay artists to collaborate with me, and that makes them excited to create amazing work.

I’m the boss, and my success is entirely in my hands.

In many ways, I didn’t quit the digital media industry—I just left that particular job and gave myself a raise and promotion at my own company. Camming, or really any performance art in the digital age, is as much about being creative and media savvy, as it is being talented. Just like the “360 Omnipresent Campaigns” that I designed for brands at the agency, the campaign that I run for my cam persona runs across all platforms and touchpoints. I spend only about 10 to 15 hours a week actually on cam, and the rest of the work week is spent conceptualizing and producing content like POV videos and dance videos, curating and hiring freelance artists for jobs like photoshoots or editing, posting on all social media channels, and networking within the industry. I make as much in a 20 to 30 hour work week from home as I did in my full-time media job, and when I want to take a break, or go to an audition, or work on my screenplay, I don’t have to request time off from anyone. I’m the boss, and my success is entirely in my hands.

What good is having a “respectable” job title if I’m sitting around all day doing work I don’t like, eating my free chips, and waiting for happy hour?

I think the most important thing that I learned from quitting my shitty media job and becoming a Cam Girl is to detach my ego from my job title and focus on what I’m actually doing. What good is having a “respectable” job title if I’m sitting around all day doing work I don’t like, eating my free chips, and waiting for happy hour? Am I willing to risk living my ultimate truth in exchange for the respect of some random family member who only ever reaches out when there’s gossip? No, fuck that! I love being sexy, I love creating content and working with new artists, and I love making other people feel good. Camming has given me everything that my digital media job promised and more, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Danika Maia is a cam girl, actress, and writer from Northern California. She’s currently seeking a sex-positive theatrical agent in LA who believes that a woman can both masturbate and act. She’s also working on a podcast with activist and all around badass Dan Reed-Owens that will touch on these topics and many, many more. If you’re interested in chatting about anything and everything, you can email Danika at [email protected].