Caracas: Like many other young Venezuelans, Valery Lopez has found a way to survive the South American country’s crippling economic crisis: through online sexual content.
Lopez, 20, loves her body and by exposing it online she has found a way to avoid joining the exodus of five million migrants the UN says have left the country since 2015. “I was desperate to go … because I wasn’t living well … Now I want to stay in Venezuela thanks to OnlyFans,” Lopez shared.
OnlyFans began as an online platform meant for celebrities and “influencers” but has morphed into a hub for adult content. Launched in Britain in 2016, OnlyFans is a subscription service that pays 80 percent commission to its content creators. For Lopez, that was an attractive potential source of income.
“I can pay for my teeth (and) buy clothes,” she said, referring to dental work. “Who else is earning $500 or $1,000 a month right now? No one.”
Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation levels, it’s been in recession for seven years and has regular shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine. Lopez’s channel has more than 50 subscribers – mostly foreigners. Each one pays $10 a month: a figure six times the minimum salary in Venezuela, where the currency is constantly depreciating.
OnlyFans has 90 million subscribers and more than one million content creators. In April, the site’s founder Thomas Stokely told BuzzFeed that half of its content creators were producing adult material.
“It seems to be a way to generate more secure income than other more risky ways such as prostitution,” said Saraiba. “But effectively they don’t realize that once they’ve published content … they can lose control, that others can seize it.”
Brandon Mena, 20, had to put his education on hold because he couldn’t afford his private university fees any more. His income as a nightclub waiter dried up during the pandemic. “I worked in restaurants, clubs … but the pandemic hit us hard in the wallet and I had to look for other alternatives,” said the softly spoken Mena. Dressed in a pair of jeans and a grey sweater, he looked very different to the content he provides to the OnlyFans website. Unlike Lopez, though, his OnlyFans account hasn’t taken off.