DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Watching the camera showing it live online, Angel (not his real name) gently runs his fingers through his hair before letting it fall freely over his shoulders.
Then, lightly, almost imperceptibly, as if it were part of the whole movement itself, his hand traces the outline of her breasts as it casually traces her body.
As a transgender camera performer at one of the US-based online cybersex sites, Angel sought to master his work, almost to the level of an art; spending hours putting on makeup that transforms her raw Asian features into those of a dreamy-eyed seductress and mastering the perfect blend of on-screen light to soften her facial features.
She performs other subtle body movements designed to tickle and entice her customers into a private online chat.
But what he found in online cybersex can only describe it with horror and shock. “The longer you stay, the more shocking the things they want you to do,” he said.
“Sometimes they ask you to eat your poop; Sometimes, it’s your pee, “he said.
He said he did it but with the help of a trick.
Angel is one of a growing number of gays, women and transgenders attracted to the world of cybersex by their need for cash and easy money.
Money for tuition
Failing to do well as a BS nursing student at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), Angel decided to drop out of school temporarily. He worked for two years in a telecommunications company but quit his job because he wanted to finish college.
In 2011, Angel returned to the AdDU as a management student.
“At the time, my parents couldn’t afford to support me because they were sending my little sister to a nursing school, so I had to find ways to earn tuition money,” she said.
It was then that he learned that most of his friends who worked in cybersex dens in Manila were returning home to Davao to create their own online services.
He decided to learn how to play.
Laptop on loan
Using the money he borrowed from his mother and a laptop he borrowed from a friend, he created an internet connection and registered his account on the LiveJasmin site online.
“They are very strict about passports,” Angel said.
“After submitting your passport online and completing all the required forms, a Mastercard will be sent to you directly from New York.”
His MasterCard account is where he receives his pay.
On its screen, the LiveJasmin site features nude and half-naked women, gay and transgender women, in various poses and forms, with links to categories such as “mature woman”.
These are divided into blondes and brunettes, “hot flirt”, “the fetish”, “the couple”, “boy for girl”, “gay” and “transgender”.
Other links lead to the most popular performer and even newbies.
Each performer is paid based on how often or how long they manage to lure their client to enter a private chat mode.
Although online cybersex has earned a reputation as a profitable business around the world, the pay an artist like Angel receives from work is far from profitable.
Rate for beginners
Each beginner is paid an introductory fee of $ 1 per minute, of which 70 percent, or up to 70 cents, goes to the site online. This means that each beginner is only paid 30 cents net for every minute of their time online.
For Angel, whose pay has increased from the beginner rate to $ 2 per minute before his sophomore year, that means a $ 1.40 online cybersex site fee for every minute he spends with a customer, with just one net of 60 cents a minute that goes to her.
The performer’s share of the online site can increase up to 50 percent, and even up to 70 percent, in favor of the performer, but this only happens among top-selling performers, or those whose sales can reach $ 1,000 for each. 15 days — a performance, Angel said, is so difficult to achieve and can only be performed at the expense of one’s offline life.
According to Angel, the length of time a customer stays with her in a private chat room can range from three minutes to an hour, which means she has to do different kinds of tricks to make her customer stay longer.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Although payment is sent via the performer’s MasterCard every 15 days, it is only made if the performer reaches the net fee of $ 100 (or a gross of $ 300, counting the online site fee).
If the artist fails to reach the $ 100 net sales quota in 15 days, the balance is added to his or her services until the required $ 100 net sales quota is reached for the payment to be released in another 15 days.
For Angel, who re-enrolled in school after enrolling on the site, that was enough to pay her tuition.
Tuition fees at the AddU amounted to between P900 and P1,000 per unit in the 2013-2014 school year.
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