The largely unregulated nature of the amateur online pornography industry came to light after two events organized by creators ended in allegations of harassment and assault. Now, many adult content creators say, the burgeoning world of amateur porn needs to change to ensure its creators’ safety.
The allegations have stood out in what has become a thriving — and increasingly complex — industry built primarily on OnlyFans, a subscription platform started in 2016 that has since jump-started an entrepreneurial movement among adult content creators. Creators, as they are known in the industry, can easily earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year often by conceiving, starring in, producing and even distributing their own videos. Unlike traditional adult performers who are hired by studios, creators can end up doing everything needed for a particular scene, like lighting and filming.
Sex workers who use online platforms like OnlyFans have more control over their content than if they were employed by a traditional porn production company — but that also means working without the norms, rules and practices of that industry. Though OnlyFans requires both creators and fans, users who subscribe to creators, to agree to its terms of service, the site does not monitor off-platform behavior. Creators don’t always adhere to regular testing for sexually transmitted infections or to legal agreements that traditional porn production companies facilitate, which some OnlyFans creators want to make standard.
In late September, a dozen OnlyFans creators rented an Airbnb in Washington for a collaborative trip dubbed “Origami Camp” to perform and help film explicit scenes together. In late October, another group of 16 creators rented a mansion in Florida for a similar Halloween-themed event they called “Haunted Creme House.”
In videos posted on social media, the creators portrayed the trips as a tight-knit friend group getaway. Throughout the events, they posted behind-the-scenes videos on TikTok to promote their collaborations, from cuddling after sex to posing in coordinated group costumes.
Creators from both events have since spoken out about alleged harassment and sexual assault by other creators that took place during the trips. Some in the industry say the dispute indicates a widespread lack of safety protocols and understanding of consent in amateur pornography like OnlyFans collaborations.
“[In] one video on TikTok that blew up about consent, every comment was like, ‘Well there’s so much drama going on right now.’ None of this is drama.”
onlyfans creator kendoll
“[In] one video on TikTok that blew up about consent, every comment was like, ‘Well there’s so much drama going on right now,’” said Kendoll, the stage name of a creator who attended “Origami Camp.” “None of this is drama.”
“These are actual issues that need to be addressed,” Kendoll, who asked to be identified by his stage name for his own safety, said. “Because apparently something’s not clicking in people’s heads.”
Two creator getaway trips ended with allegations
NBC News reached out to 18 creators who publicly shared content from these collaboration events. Only eight responded, asking to be identified by their stage names.
In late October, "Origami Camp" resurfaced on TikTok after several OnlyFans creators made allegations against creator Tyler Rusher, known online as Auntie Tyler Thanos.
On Twitter, some creators alleged that Rusher wasn’t invited, but asked to come. Others alleged that Rusher was invited to work in production, but not to film with other people. Some who made allegations also said Rusher tried to watch them film intimate scenes during the trip despite repeatedly being asked to leave and did not ask other performers for permission to touch them when they filmed a group sex scene.
In a series of TikTok videos responding to the allegations, Rusher revealed the legal names of several creators who publicly use stage names, which is considered irresponsible in sex work circles since it jeopardizes safety. Performers who are parents are particularly careful of obscuring their legal names to protect their children.
Rusher, whose pronouns are they/them, also addressed the allegations on their Instagram story in October, before setting their account to private.
“Everyone went to be in an orgy, yet you felt ‘violated,’” they wrote.
Rusher denied the allegations in an interview with NBC News and said they were directly invited by the event organizers. They added that they didn’t feel comfortable at the house as a Black person in a predominantly white town and said they didn’t feel welcomed by the other creators.
“I am not an assaulter, a Peeping Tom or creep of any sort,” Rusher said. “Being a victim of assault, I would never want to put someone in harm’s way.”
Rusher added that few scenes were planned ahead of time, and since there weren’t enough rooms for people to film in, other creators filmed in Rusher’s room. They said the event was poorly planned, and they never received the photos or videos other creators took of them during the trip.
"I never saw anyone film a scene. ... I was kicked out of my room a lot when I was there because people were filming in my room."
onlyfans creator tyler rusher
“I never saw anyone film a scene. ... I was kicked out of my room a lot when I was there because people were filming in my room,” Rusher continued. “So I was either sitting in a chair alone or I was outside by myself. People really didn’t include me a lot.”
They denied allegations that they watched the creators filming through a window and said that while smoking a cigarette outside, they jokingly waved at them while everyone was still clothed but did not look through once filming began. Rusher added that they did not “get in there” during the group sex scene because they didn’t feel welcome, and the only time they touched someone else without explicit verbal consent was to move their hair out of their face.
Rusher said they regret revealing the creators’ legal names but wished the dispute was handled offline.
“I would never want to violate anyone’s consent, because I completely understand the meaning of it. If you feel as though I violated your consent, I would have preferred you come to me and we can have a conversation,” Rusher said. “I would like to apologize to you and understand where I went wrong. Blasting me on the internet is not the way.”
About a month after the Washington trip, another group of OnlyFans creators met in Florida for a weeklong Halloween collaboration.
The group did not have any issues with Rusher, who also attended the event, but some raised concerns about another attendee who allegedly submitted invalid STI results before the trip.
Days after the event wrapped, creator Blair Winters tweeted that another attendee had unprotected sex with a “stranger” between submitting their negative STI test results and filming explicit videos with Winters. Other creators who attended the event confirmed to NBC News that the individual had sent texts about having unprotected sex before filming.
It “completely invalidates” the results, Winters told NBC News. She said she had unprotected sex with the other attendee “all week” under the guise that they both had negative STI panels before filming together. She described the deception as sexual assault.
Laws regarding assault vary state to state. In some, failing to disclose an STI before unprotected sex or knowingly transmitting one is a criminal offense. There is little precedent in litigating cases like this, in which one party provides the other with outdated STI results.
Regardless of legality, Winters said she felt violated because she didn’t consent to have sex with someone who may have been exposed to an STI.
Some performers working for traditional adult studios have said in recent years that they opt to use condoms and other physical barrier methods during intercourse in their personal life to minimize the risk of transmission between testing. Performer Stoya, for example, told The New York Times in 2012 that she uses condoms in her personal relationships because shutting down a set if she contracted an infection would be “unprofessional.”
Regardless of legality, Winters said she felt violated because she didn’t consent to have sex with someone who may have been exposed to an STI. She said the other person has yet to provide her with their previous partner’s STI results and described the aftermath of the event as “such a scary situation and something that could have been easily prevented.”
“It’s not just drama because it affects every single person involved,” Winters said. “It affects us going forward making new content. How are we going to know that other people aren’t lying about STD results?”
"How are we going to know that other people aren’t lying about STD results?"
onlyfans creator blair winters
The creator Winters accused of assault has not publicly responded to Winters’ allegation and did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment. NBC News chose not to name this person because they haven’t responded to the allegation.
OnlyFans did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment or to follow-up requests.
Filing the right paperwork
Corey Silverstein, an attorney who has practiced adult entertainment law since 2006 and whose firm represents OnlyFans, said the porn industry has seen a “massive shift” in the way productions operate, especially with the rise of platforms like OnlyFans. Historically, he said, a production company would hire the actors.
“The talent would show up for the shoot, and the talent would be paid,” Silverstein said. “And that was the end of it.”
Erotic film director and producer Erika Lust, who runs studio Lust Cinema and ongoing film project XConfessions, said platforms like OnlyFans allow performers more control than if they worked for a studio.
“Adult creators can build their brand and engage with fans following their own rules,” Lust said. “Most of all, these platforms empowered adult creators to be less dependent on the industry and generate their own additional revenue streams.”
But that ability comes with the responsibility of running a legitimate business while also performing.
“You have now a bunch of people who for a while were labeled as talent or performers, are now being business entrepreneurs and social media influencers,” Silverstein said, urging them to sign proper legal agreements.
“The fact is that relationships are great up until the point that they’re not. Who gets to own the content? Who is actually the copyright holder? Who gets to put the work out there?”
adult entertainment lawyer corey silverstein
“The fact is that relationships are great up until the point that they’re not,” Silverstein continued. “Who gets to own the content? Who is actually the copyright holder? Who gets to put the work out there? These are all things that if you were shooting with someone else, you have to have worked out before you shoot.”
Kendoll said he considers those agreements under the umbrella of consent when working with other creators. He said many may think consent involves “just doing a sexual act,” but consent extends to agreeing on pricing and posting content.
Following the allegations after the Washington and Florida collaborations, several creators decided not to post their content out of discomfort. Smaller creators, however, may not be able to take the financial hit.
After the Washington event, a creator with a larger following offered to compensate smaller creators who didn’t feel comfortable posting videos filmed during the trip. Winters said she’s “privileged enough” to not need to post the videos from the Florida trip, but the creators with fewer paying subscribers “need to make their money back for what they spent” on plane tickets, costumes and the rental house.
This is why creators need to sign agreements on what to do with content before filming it, Silverstein said.
Prioritizing sexual health
Many in the industry say platforms like OnlyFans, which says it has 130 million users and 2 million creators, are forging the path for creators to have more control over their content. But creators say that also means they have to better ensure safety and consent themselves, rather than have a third party enforcing it.
On traditional adult film sets, performers are required to undergo regular STI testing. And although many OnlyFans creators voluntarily test for STIs before collaborations, Kendoll said there’s no guarantee that the test results are legitimate.
“There’s a certain panel of tests that you have to go through for mainstream stuff,” Kendoll said. “So [for] OnlyFans, there’s none of that regulation to work with people.”
Kendoll said he’s paid for his collaborators’ STI testing if the other creator had a smaller following and couldn’t afford it. But he also noted that many clinics offer free STI testing, but sexual health just isn’t prioritized as much as it should be.
Ivy Vernalis didn’t attend the Washington or Florida events but frequently collaborates with other creators. She said regular STI testing “should be standard practice” even for civilians, a term used in sex work circles to refer to people who don’t do sex work.
"Civilian people do not get tested enough."
onlyfans creator ivy vernalis
“Civilian people do not get tested enough,” Vernalis said. Even if an OnlyFans creator is tested regularly, if they have sex with a civilian who doesn’t receive tests after each new partner, it puts everyone the creator works with at risk.
Despite the extra precautions, Winters is wary of collaborations.
“It’s definitely very hard to trust people,” Winters said of her experience working with other creators since. “Now I have to wonder, ‘Can I trust that they’re giving me clean results?’”
Ensuring consent during collaborations
Handling consent during filming itself is less clear-cut than distributing content and requiring STI panels.
To ensure safety on set, Lust’s crew includes an intimacy coordinator to advocate for the actors’ needs. To protect the performers’ privacy, only the people operating cameras and sound equipment stay on set during sex scenes. Lust, her assistant director and the intimacy coordinator watch from another room. The rest of the crew stays outside.
“The fact that performers work with explicit sex doesn’t mean that they are there to do a live show for anyone anytime,” Lust added. “They are working and should have the right to do so in the way they see best fit.”
Amateur creators filming each other, instead of a professional crew “aware of the inherent complexities of sex work,” have to enforce privacy themselves and be their own intimacy advocates.
Both Kendoll and Vernalis said experienced sex workers should use their platforms to guide new sex workers, even if it disrupts the fantasy of their public image. Establishing an industry standard starts with education, Kendoll said. In addition to explicit content, he also makes informational posts about consent and sexual health on OnlyFans. Lust’s online publication, Lust Zine, covers the adult filmmaking industry and provides resources about sex education and consent. She recommended that OnlyFans creators read her Performer's Bill of Rights to understand consent before, during and after filming.
Sex work is a “sensitive business,” Vernalis added, but collaboration extends beyond the physical as creators are usually open to sharing resources.
“It is something you kind of have to learn on your own, like there’s no training course or anything,” Vernalis continued. “We protect our own ... [but] there’s a sharp learning curve for this kind of work.”