Chatters are not necessarily better at extracting money from subscribers than a creator who manages their own inbox; in fact, they can be worse. “You should do your homework very well on who you hire,” a 29-year-old creator of OnlyFans, whose name is Sonia LeBeau, told me. She has worked with agencies in the past and has had negative experiences with them. At one point, the conversationalists hired to impersonate him did such a bad job that his most loyal subscribers realized that they were being deceived. She apologized to all her subscribers and responded to her messages again. Still, he said, agencies can provide significant benefits, especially for large accounts. Multiple chats can run simultaneously and can be recorded during consecutive shifts, making sure no messages go unanswered. Popular accounts often receive so many messages that replying to all of them would be almost impossible for one person; Unanswered messages mean money left on the table. Then there are all the other tasks required of a OnlyFans creator, such as creating content and external marketing on social media, which take time away from responding to DMs. The talks lighten the load.
Chatters also offer creators a buffer for their subscribers, which can be rude, stingy, or worse. “Are you constantly glued to your phone negotiating prices for custom videos with hundreds of lone idiots? Sounds fun!” reads a post on the Think Expansion website, promoting its services to models. Dallas believes most MostFans models with big fans have some sort of team in their corner. “It becomes overwhelming to constantly create content, promote and hold more than 20, 30 or 50 conversations a day,” he wrote.
Yet around the world, there is a large group of workers willing to hold such talks, often for lower wages than Americans make burgers. In February, I spoke on Zoom with Andre, a Manila charlater who works for a Barcelona-based OnlyFans agency called KC Incorporation. He refused to give his last name: although his job was satisfactory, he did not think his family would approve. Many Western companies rely on outsourced labor in the Philippines for customer service and data entry; prior to her current position, Andre worked at a T-Mobile call center. He now works a four-hour daily shift sending messages to subscribers of a model. When his shift ends, he logs out of the account and another chat logs in, resuming conversations where he left off.
During his time as a charlatan, Andre became intimately acquainted with the peculiarities and desires of his subscribers. Over time, he learned something like a cliché of sex work: more than sexual gratification, he said, many of the guys just want someone to talk to. Facilitating these family conversations is good for business. “Seeing that ‘Oh, this person has been texting me for a couple of weeks in a row,'” he said, “we took note of those people.” Andre said most of the big spenders he talks to seem pretty normal, though a little depressed and isolated. A small minority, he said, clearly suffer from mental health issues. He is understanding: “The world is a lonely place. And I guess these people are the loneliest.”
In fact, Andre sees a connection between his situation and that of customers. A lot of people who do jobs like yours, he said, are poor. They have “nowhere to go” and “they have nothing left to do.” They are desperate: “At the end of the day, if you have to eat, you have to do what you have to do.” The people he talks to, he said, show similar despair, albeit for different reasons. “If you’re alone, you don’t want to be left alone, then you also have to do what you have to do.” Several conversationalists in Asia I spoke to said that they were earning quite a bit of money compared to other outsourced work. But his income is minuscule compared to the benefits his work generates for agencies, which have discovered a gold mine at the intersection of globalization and Western alienation.
Whether or not it is legal is a separate issue. In November last year, two former employees of a company called Unruly Agency reported salary theft and unjustified dismissal. The agency manages OnlyFans accounts for several Gen-Z stars, including rapper Lil Pump and social media creators such as Tana Mongeau. In the complaint, first reported by Insider, the complainants said that managers were instructed to “lie, deceive and mislead fans” by writing ghostwriting messages on behalf of popular models, with the aim of getting them to pay for blocked content or tipping. . Their bosses, they say, created a system in which account managers would track the questions fans asked the models most often. Managers then asked the models to record a video answering each question, encouraging them to switch clothes between videos so that the clips look recorded on different days. Managers would send the videos to thousands of fans, each of whom would think they were getting a personalized answer to a question they had specifically asked. (Unruly denied these claims).
In the United States, fraud is often defined as a case in which an entity or individual tricks another person into gaining some value. In other words, lies alone are not actionable. One could certainly argue that a subscriber who talks to a charlater is being induced to spend money he would not do otherwise, based on false information. But you could also argue otherwise: the photos and videos that subscribers receive are genuine images of naked women, even if the perceived intimacy surrounding the sale is false. This is an online sex chat, after all, in a post-Catfish world, should anyone really expect Internet accounts to truly represent who runs them?