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intimacy on the web, with a crowd

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Wow that article was long but good. 

"The cam business, a kind of digital-era peep show, has been around for a few years, but as the technology has become better and cheaper, the concept of camming is proving well more than passing: it has created a money-making opportunity in a pornography business eroded by the distribution of free sexual content on the Internet."

Alex spends hundreds to thousands each month on Lacey. He bought her things — a scarf, hat, coat, sex toys — and cleared out her Amazon wish list. He sent her a computer. They communicated daily by phone, usually by text. Finally, last year, he met her in person over breakfast at a pornography conference in New Jersey. Alex, who was interviewed by phone, said, “It was like meeting someone I’ve known for a long time.”

Lacey describes their relationship somewhat differently. It’s business, but also, she said, it’s “complicated, a friendship.”

Models like Lacey think of themselves as digital geishas, therapists, consorts, virtual performance artists. Unlike traditional pornography, or even old-school peep shows, the cam medium titillates with the promise of virtual friendship.

“They’re defining a new kind of intimacy,” said Viviana Zelizer, a Princeton sociologist and author of “The Purchase of Intimacy,” about the interplay between economics and relationships. It’s not traditional sex work, not a relationship, but “something in between.”

I guess this is legal? What a strangely 21st century construction.

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