Inside the world’s first sex worker college
The new Centro University fills a much-needed educational gap in the industry, offering business and marketing advice to those entering the online world of adult job
“I logged in for the first time online on October 3, 2011, in an apartment with no furniture, and I vowed not to log out until I earned enough money to cover my first payment of rent, ”says sex worker MelRose Michaels. “I made over $ 7,000 in my first two weeks in the industry and had no intention of looking back.”
Michaels tells Dazed that camming has become “a step towards freedom”, and says she did so for eight years before moving to “premium social media.” Today she has an account on the webcam site FanCentro, where she offers monthly subscriptions to her private Snapchat, a direct “pay to unlock” messaging service and a subscription fan site.
Like most sex workers, Michaels has learned to succeed in the industry by connecting with the adult community and making “all the classic mistakes” (not saving for taxes, poor time management, and poor productivity. placed). But she’s moving fast by nearly a decade, and she’s determined to give young sex workers the chance to accelerate that education.
THE FIRST OFFICIAL SCHOOL OF INFLUENCERS.
CentroU is now open for registration. Immerse yourself in the comprehensive training course that will show you exactly how to successfully build an influencer career. Register now! https://t.co/oJ4L56OYLfpic.twitter.com/MAyHepZRqG
– FanCentroTribe (@FANCentroTribe) September 24, 2020
Based in Tennessee, Michaels is one of the few teachers to offer their expertise to the new college of sex workers, Centro University (CentroU). Founded last month by FanCentro, CentroU is a free online school that teaches aspiring adult influencers everything they need to know about the business side of sex work.
Comprising video series, live webinars and masterclasses, CentroU will bring together leaders from different areas of sex work, who will educate on topics such as marketing and promotion, film and video production, privacy and privacy. censorship, health and safety, contracts and the law. . The university also offers a “Success Coaches” program, which students can turn to when they have questions or need advice.
Speaking to Dazed, FanCentro vice president Kat Revenga said the idea for the university originated around two years ago, but was accelerated during the coronavirus lockdown, due to the influx of new adult models joining the site.
“It’s strange to think of an industry without a full source of education, but in the adult online industry its absence was striking” – Kat Revenga, FanCentro
“It’s strange to think of an industry without a full source of education,” Revenga says, “but in the adult online industry its absence was striking. To truly be successful as an online sex worker, you need a fairly large set of skills. People think it’s just pretty, but it’s a business – marketing, branding, photography and videography, editing, accounting, hair and makeup. You have to be able to do anything, especially now. “
Revenga says she wants CentroU to be “the educational hub of the new world of adult influencers,” explaining that “newcomers to the industry previously had to rely on learning from their peers, finding what they could. do online or use trial and error ”. She continues: “Censorship, stigma and an ever-changing digital landscape are additional challenges that have often prevented many influencers from surviving. We want to help them succeed and be safe. “
For Michaels, teaching on the course allows him to “give back to an industry that I’m really passionate about.” Her lessons will see her lead into areas she has experience in including business and marketing, modeling and content creation, as well as insights into “mistakes I made along the way.” . Michaels says the comments so far have been “really overwhelming” with sex workers saying the course has “completely changed the way they create and distribute content.”
Portland-based Tilly Toy, one of FanCentro’s most popular influencers, has already taken the CentroU course. Toy has been in the sex industry for seven years, starting as a stripper, then becoming a dominatrix, before finally joining the online industry three years ago. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning new tips and strategies,” she told Dazed. “The online porn industry is constantly changing, and so is the way buyers interact with it.”
Toy says college gave him a heightened sense of confidence, explaining that “many of the lessons I learned through trial and error were incomplete or uncertain.” She says CentroU “gives real answers and strategies,” including how to decide the optimal price for your content, which Toy says is “one of the hardest decisions to make online.” She has also incorporated the marketing strategies taught during the course into her routine and says she has already seen a boost in her subscriptions.
CentroU’s free education offering for sex workers is especially vital at a time when there are more signups to adult subscription sites than ever before. According to Insider, OnlyFans has reported a 75% monthly increase in the number of workers joining the site since the lockdown began, with an average of 200,000 users signing up each day. The IsMyGirl webcam site has also seen a similar trend, with a 50% increase in model registrations since April.
“COVID has been the tipping point for adult influencers. We’ll look back and see this as the year of the industry’s rebirth; the year the sex worker seized the means of production ”- Kat Revenga, FanCentro
“COVID has been the tipping point for adult influencers,” Revenga told Dazed. “We had the technology, we had the will. COVID was the lightning bolt that brought it all together because studios couldn’t produce, but sex workers could. You had artists who were figuring out how to produce and market. Offline sex workers suddenly went online. We’ll look back and see this as the year of the industry’s rebirth; the year the sex worker seized the means of production. “
Although many established sex workers have been forced to adapt the way they work by going online, the increasing prevalence and popularity of subscription sites – along with the pandemic – has led to an influx of non-professionals. in industry. In August, actor Bella Thorne sparked controversy after joining OnlyFans and immediately breaking her record for most money made in one day (over a million dollars). Soon after, the platform updated its trading limits, capping the models’ pay-per-session at $ 50 and maximum tips at $ 100, when previously there was no limit – a. decision that will have a significant impact on the income of creators.
“It’s a little bittersweet to see all the mainstream influencers on Instagram or YouTube flooding the sex work space, especially during the pandemic,” Michaels says. A positive point, she explains, is that it “brings more fans to the platforms that sex workers use”, but adds that “it looks like a drain on their end”.
I am so excited for this!
Calling all software and content creators who love to learn!
– Tilly Toy (@TillyToy_Tweets) October 7, 2020
“It’s frustrating,” she continues, “because sex workers like me have been working there for many years – at a time when it was not ‘trendy’ or ‘cool’ to do so – and risking relationships and opportunities in pursuit of the same money. “Michaels tells Dazed that the general feeling is that” you are welcome in the adult industry space, but if you please, be here respectfully and help the community, do not harm it ”.
Michaels goes on to discuss the intersection between the sex industry and the mainstream, referring to artists such as Riley Reid and Lena the Plug, both of whom have capitalized on their success to strike major deals with brands outside of the UK. adult world. “The barriers are being broken down right now in relation to who you are and are not allowed to do ‘after pornography’,” says Michaels, “and that breaking down the barriers means that the stigma l ‘is also.”
While sex work is still undeniably shrouded in stigma – see: unfair social media censorship – its ongoing merger with the mainstream will allow CentroU to flourish as an institution that can provide influencers, as it puts it. Michaels, “a centralized knowledge of how they can develop their empires, even in things that are not necessarily of an ‘adult’ nature.”
“Education is power in all sectors. With us, education is also safety ”- Tilly Toy, sex worker
While it’s shocking to think that adult artists – who deserve rights like all other workers – have so far been forced to train in their industry, it’s not surprising given the attitude of society with regard to sex work.
“Am I surprised that this is the first educational initiative?” Toy asks. “Unfortunately no. There was no education for me as a dancer, dominatrix, phone sex operator, or any other branch of the industry that my friends and I have explored. Education is power in all. In ours, education is also safety. Knowing the appropriate testing standards for the models you work with and whom you can turn to for help are two extremely important things. by CentroU guides you into the future and bypasses the daunting trial and error processes that most people in our industry have had to learn. ”
Revenga concludes: “An educated workforce is the future of the industry. CentroU aims to teach skills, but more importantly to teach a new generation what they deserve and how to get it. The more equity sex workers have, the more power they have over their bodies. “