Launched in 2016, OnlyFans is a subscription-based service where users pay a fee to view uncensored content from sex workers and influencers. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdowns, adult entertainers have turned to the site as a viable money-making alternative. While professional sex workers, porn stars and webcam models are among those who have expanded their services through OnlyFans, other creators had little to no sex work experience prior to the lockdowns. To gain access to content, subscribers must pay a monthly subscription fee that can vary from $4.99 and up.
In April 2020, Beyoncé was featured on the widely popular remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” track, and delivered the provocative lines, “Hips TikTok when I dance/On that Demon Time, she might start an OnlyFans.” Demon Time refers to the now infamous viral strip club on Instagram. As the song went viral, OnlyFans experienced a 15 percent increase in traffic, bringing in millions of new potential registered users and subscribers. Among the influx of new users were some of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities, which has since posed a red flag to sex workers who relied on the app for income. Cardi B capitalized on the insane success of her single “WAP” by sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes content on the social media platform. In August, Bella Thorne set a new record after earning $1 million just 24 hours after joining the app. However, the actress was quickly met with ridicule after it was revealed that she scammed subscribers by claiming her photos were nude when they were not. OnlyFans then placed tighter monetary restrictions for creators, which raised questions about how sex workers could continue generating income. Bella Thorne later issued an apology in a series of tweets shortly after the backlash. Among other celebrities who created OnlyFans accounts you’ll find Safaree, Blac Chyna, Chris Brown and Jordyn Woods to name a few. In late November 2020, actor Michael B. Jordan announced his plan to join OnlyFans, but for charitable purposes. The actor explained that he plans to donate all of the proceeds to a barber shop school.