Skeptical Sex Workers in Michigan Look on as OnlyFans Bans Porn (and Then Unbans Porn)

Jason A. Michael

Subscription-based social media platform OnlyFans has been making headlines recently after announcing an impending ban on the adult porn content that made the platform what it is today. Though the company quickly reversed course after significant backlash from creators and subscribers alike — and after receiving assurances from its financial partners that they would continue working with the site — the OnlyFans community in Michigan remains a little shook.  

OnlyFans entertainer Dominic BluTick, who lives in Detroit, has been creating content for the site for nearly two years and estimates that it represents about 30 percent of his annual income.

"OnlyFans built its popularity and status off of people performing on the platform," he told Pride Source. "So now that they're big, they want to sell out on the community that built them. OnlyFans is one of the reasons why I can commit to my other platforms and content while making my money online. But regardless of the financial consequences, the principle that the platform isn't acknowledging is definitely disappointing and a major step back for the progress from the stigmas and struggles of sex workers."

BluTick has not yet released any sexually graphic material but said he'd like to in the future. Oakland County-based OnlyFans creator Popchampagne, meanwhile, has been on the site since the first of the year. He posts explicit photos and videos of himself and his boyfriend. 

"I think it was premature," Popchampagne said of the announcement of the ban. "I think they knew they would get banks interested. I think it was a marketing ploy."

OnlyFans puts adult entertainers, or "sex workers" as the app refers to them, in control of their own content. Subscribers are charged a monthly fee, and entertainers keep 80 percent of the profits they generate. But blaming banking institutions uncomfortable with the site's more graphic content, OnlyFans recently announced it planned to ban images and videos containing graphic sex acts starting in October. The backlash was instant, and within days OnlyFans reversed course.

"Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard," read a post on OnlyFan's Twitter feed Wednesday. "We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned Oct. 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion, and we will continue to provide a home for all creators."

Popchampagne said the recent controversy has actually been good for business: "I'm ecstatic, as it helped bump up my personal OnlyFans. I'm glad they revoked it, as it generates a nice income for me." 

Income-wise, the platform has been good to Michigan native and OnlyFans model Zaddy Tony, too. So good that after he lost his job in the restaurant industry as a result of the pandemic, Zaddy Tony's only income has been OnlyFans. He has over 3,000 subscribers paying an average of $7.99 a month, so when the announcement of the ban came out, Zaddy Tony, who now lives in Chicago, was terrified. 

"I had just gone on vacation with the idea of disconnecting myself," he said. "So, I fully fucking spiraled. I was in a festival in the middle of Pennsylvania with a bunch of queer people, a lot of whom were sex workers, and my friend, another OnlyFans person, we panicked together and had a full-ass breakdown. I cried several times. It was like my world was being ripped away from me."

In the wake of the announcement, Zaddy Tony lost over 300 subscribers. Still, he doesn't completely blame OnlyFans for the debacle. 

"The real villain in all this that people aren't paying attention to are the payment processors who are working behind closed doors," he said. "They pull out, and then you can't do any transactions on these platforms. They're being threatened by these religious groups. So I'm sure OnlyFans was receiving a fair amount of pressure, and still is. But it lost me thousands of dollars."

Zaddy Tony said he plans to stay on OnlyFans until he graduates college in March 2022.

"Until then, I'm just trying to stay afloat," he says. "What I hope for the future of all sex workers, to be honest with you, is that online porn work, and even in-person services, are realized to be things people are going to seek out and purchase regardless. So, my hope is with OnlyFans being so mainstream, it will portray sex workers as real people, and hopefully there's more job security in the future."


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