In every city across the country, strip clubs, lounges, bars, and concert venues are closed with no concrete reopening date in sight. But if you think deep-pocketed patrons have stopped doing walkthroughs, making club appearances, and showering money on dancers, you would be woefully mistaken. As the old adage goes, desperate times call for desperate measures, and celebs like YG, Kevin Durant, Meek Mill, Dame Lillard, and Jake Paul have simply traded bottle service and roped-off VIP sections for a new kind of after-hours spot—Demon Time: Instagram’s new network of digital strip clubs, where clout will get you in the door and cash (or, more specifically, CashApp) is still king.
With new live users coming online every night, tens of thousands of dollars being spent, Instagram still trying its best to shut the whole operation down, and no end to quarantine in-sight, we felt it was only right to give you a full breakdown of social media’s notorious new pastime.
What Is Demon Time?
If you have to ask, you’re already too late. But at its base level, Demon Time refers to late-night Instagram Live streams featuring a rotating cast of women—usually made anonymous by a ski or superhero mask—performing for hordes of thirsty viewers. Demon Time is the smiling purple devil emoji personified. Think table dances at your favorite strip club, but surrounded by streaming heart emojis and an Instagram audience in the hundreds of thousands.
Instead of throwing dollars at the camera—although, make no mistake, it has been done—Demon Time viewers are encouraged to tip dancers on CashApp, giving out-of-work strippers, who, as independent contractors, have largely been left out of unemployment benefits, an opportunity to keep making money in the midst of the ongoing crisis. While dancers are on camera, their payment info is pinned to the top of the comments section, with some women taking home upwards of $4,000 in a single night—all from the comfort of their own home.
Basically, if you’re up past 1 a.m. on a Tuesday staring at your phone in the dark while a woman twerks on IG live to YoungBoy Never Broke Again... you’re on Demon Time.
How Did Demon Time Start?
Demon Time’s success on IG Live is largely due to its promoter, Justin LaBoy. LaBoy is a former international pro basketball player turned New York nightlife professional and Instagram meme page administrator who thought up the idea the same way most quarantined social media sensations have started, at home, bored, and alone. But instead of leaving heart eyes on a model pic or sliding in DMs, LaBoy invited some of his 60,000 followers to join him on live streams with exotic dancers and poured a glass of red wine. Like that, Demon Time was born.
“We all need to be making money right now, especially if you’re what the world considers a ‘non-essential worker’ and you lost your job,” LaBoy tells Complex. “These women shouldn’t do this for FREE. The rest was history. The women who went live made nothing less than $1,000 that night, with one woman leaving with $4,000… The next time I went live, the stars started to come out and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, shit! I might have something special here.’”
How Are Performers Taking Advantage of Demon Time?
A night working at a strip club for a dancer typically means steep house fees, the price of multiple outfits, makeup, and a schedule of long, late hours. On the other hand, performing on IG Live is free, takes only a few minutes, and can often generate more cash than a whole shift of floor and pole work. Of course, in both scenarios, no level of profit is guaranteed, but for dancers stuck at home and out of work by state orders, the prospect of high-profile clientele and cash is welcome.
“Justin makes sure the girls make a substantial amount of money,” a dancer named Alexis, who said she has made $18,000 dancing on IG Live since the quarantine started, told the New York Times. “If I’m in the club, I’m there for eight hours. On Instagram Live, it’s five minutes. Five minutes compared to eight hours of work.”
If your IG handle has a blue checkmark next to it, LaBoy expects you to pay up. As soon as a celebrity enters the Demon Time chat or adds a comment, LaBoy will pressure them to pay the dancers and threaten to end the stream if they don’t oblige. Because CashApp transfers are instant, LaBoy says that he asks dancers to verify the payments before they continue their performance.
“I call them the verified demons, and the lowest you can CashApp as a verified demon is $200,” LaBoy says. “Anything lower and I block you from the show and the comments. It’s like being in the club—whoever pops the most bottles and spends the most money gets shoutouts. But the most important and fun part of the show is that the demons get paid. Without them, the show doesn’t exist.”
Outside of the money generated by tips from viewers, women featured on Demon Time livestreams say that they have been able to use the exposure to bolster their own personal brands, directing eager men not only to their CashApp tags, but to OnlyFans accounts, private Snapchats, and other money-making content sites.
Is Instagram Cool With Hosting The Digital Strip Clubs?
In the simplest terms, no. Instagram is not happy about Demon Time. Citing violations of the company’s code of conduct, IG has already shut down multiple pages used by LaBoy to host the streaming parties. Almost immediately, LaBoy responded by creating a new page for every party. The new handles were posted on Twitter before the party, leading to thousands of new followers in a matter of minutes and a packed “club” every night. After another week and a few more deleted IG pages, LaBoy stopped posting the screen names on Twitter altogether.
As LaBoy adds more barriers to entry for the Demon Time IG Lives to avoid the Instagram police, other tastemakers, celebrities, and even brick-and-mortar strip clubs launched their own peep shows. Most notably, LaBoy said that the day after his first successful Demon Time stream, Tory Lanez—who had watched LaBoy’s original streams and commented frequently—launched his own incredibly similar live show.
“One of the most active in the comments [on early live streams] was Tory Lanez. The next day, I woke up and he had stolen my ENTIRE SHOW, concept, and commentary,” LaBoy alleges. “That’s when I knew the show had blown up and I realized I was changing the entire platform that we called Instagram and just created the first virtual strip club.”
Lanez’s Quarantine Radio is almost identical to Demon Time, but with constant narration from the Canadian R&B star and an obsession with milk. Instagram also banned Lanez’s profile for broadcasting lewd content but has since reinstated his page, just in time for his new album, a clothing collaboration with Chinatown Market, and a recent appearance from Lizzo. But while the platinum crooning rapper has been able to stream his show at all hours of the day, LaBoy says he is not afforded the same social media freedoms.
“Believe it or not, many of the [Demon Time] viewers are from Europe, Asia, all over the world, so their sleeping schedules have been all fucked up trying to chase the show,” LaBoy says. “I wish I could have a set schedule and give them more consistency, but when you’re breaking IG laws, you’ve gotta come up with a formula. Not everyone can have immunity like some of these rappers.”
How Do You Get in on the Action?
Unfortunately, as quarantine draws on indefinitely and the live streams gain more attention, LaBoy has had to tighten the digital velvet ropes. Thanks to scammers posing as him soliciting cash from women and fake Demon Time pages looking for payouts, the new party pages have turned into an invite-only affair.
“Most people don’t even ask how my day is or how I’m doing,” he says. “They get straight to the point with text and calls, asking, ‘Are you going live?’ and ‘From which page?’ ‘What’s the name?’ People have been finding me on Facebook, writing to anybody that the Demon page follows, asking them for updates.”
With the newfound attention, along with the serious money-making opportunities for performers, LaBoy has started scheduling dancers in advance—“giving equal opportunity to women of all races, shapes, and sizes”—and enforcing payment policies for high-status viewers as the audience gets more restricted.
For those who can’t find the right live stream but are still longing for the days of table dances and pole tricks, you can still tune into Tory Lanez’s reinstated Quarantine Radio for similar, now IG-sanctioned entertainment, or see “virtual lap dances” on the IG stories and live streams from famed clubs like Atlanta’s Magic City.
One thing is certain—the doors may shut, but the club is never closed.