The term “camgirl” (also called a cam girl, cam-girl, webcam girl, or webcam, webchat or chat model) refers to a woman who poses (and may do other things) in front of a webcam, often for money. A Camboy is a male who does the same.
Some of you may remember that story arc in Desparate Housewives, when Susan did housework in lingerie in order to earn money to pay for her rent (her new landlady ran a webcam girl ring). In this storyline, Susan was being a Camgirl.
Wikipedia (that fount of semi-accurate information) describes Camgirl this way: “Camgirl (Cam-girl, chat model, or cam-whore) is an Internet term for women who are featured on webcams. The word is used for women who earn money by broadcasting, entertaining, and performing on webcams either from homes or studios.”
While all camgirls model in front of a webcam in exchange for something, it is not always for money. As Business Insider points out, some cam models post wishlists, and model in exchange for gifts from their wishlists, which can even include boob jobs. Other webcam models just do it for the attention.
Still, as the New York Times points out, webcam modelling is at very least a hundreds-of-millions of dollars industry, and likely a billion dollar industry.
And while, as in any such industry, there are webcam girl sites out there trading the equivalent of cyber-sex for money, and which may be driven by or managed by crime rings, there are also legitimate sites out there, such as those where the proprietress is working for herself, and even some that do not feature x-rated activities.
In fact, according to the site O Camgirl, there are all sorts of reasons that someone may choose to make being a camgirl either their full-time job, or a side job, including that it allows one to be self-employed, self-managed, and self-motivated, and that it allows one “time to pursue your real passions and spend your energy in more meaningful ways.” Plus, says O Camgirl’s publisher, Cat, it’s a great way to gain confidence and self-esteem.
Still, cautions Cat, it’s not a quick fix for making money fast, it can take a while to start making money, and anything you do in front of the camera can end up posted anywhere on the Internet – and the Internet has a long memory.
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Plus, O Camgirl points out, some people (i.e. customers) are just plain creepy.