Think You're Messaging an OnlyFans Star? You're Talking to These Guys

Meet the “Chatters”: anonymous workers hired to ghostwrite messages and build intimate relationships with none-the-wiser fans.
Illustration of an iPad with a chat app open, surrounded by banknotes, bras and high heels.
Illustration: Hunter French

“We don’t sell erections, tits or orgasms,” a representative of Wonderland Talent Agency tells VICE. “We sell smiles. That same smile you get when you finish watching Avatar for the first time, or see a beautiful sunset... You can get that feeling when you connect with another person – even online.”


Wonderland is an OnlyFans management agency: They work with creators on the platform (who primarily make adult content) to boost their profiles, connect with subscribers and ramp up their earnings. Their mission, as written on Wonderland’s Instagram, is to “maximise profits from every subscriber”. All an OnlyFans creator has to do is send the agency their content and then “go enjoy your life with the money we make you”. Another post reads: “Want a new Gucci purse? No problem.”

OnlyFans launched in 2016, but job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a wave of people looking to make a living from sex work via the platform. It is now a billion dollar business. As the site continues to boom, a cottage industry has sprang up around it: a shadow economy of management agencies like Wonderland, who post, promote and develop the brands of their creators.

But one aspect of this industry has caused considerable controversy. Many of these agencies use “chatters”: workers who manage creators' inboxes, ghostwrite their messages and build intimate relationships with subscribers, who are often led to believe that they’re speaking to the creator themselves.


Aamir Kamal set up around four months ago. Content creators, he says, can make 50 to 60 percent of their earnings through messaging: By charging subscribers to chat or reveal content, and by encouraging them to leave big tips. But for many OnlyFans creators the process is too time consuming to take on themselves. That’s where the agencies come in.

There are account managers, says Kamal, who are “assigned around 10 to 15 creators. And then beneath them, there are chatters and social media teams”. Most agencies have some full-time staff, but most chatters are outsourced. “I'm based in Pakistan right now,” he says. “I know a lot of chatters here who speak English well. We also have chatters from India and the Philippines.”

Chatters, he explains, work eight hour shifts, and are assigned the inboxes of three or four creators at a time. “In my opinion, fans don't really care about the [changing] tone of the voice,” he says. “All you need to do is send messages.” For creators too, Kamal believes it’s “a no brainer”. The company motto is quite simply: “Create content,” he says, “that's it.”

There’s clearly big bucks to be made in this world. An account manager at PLUSH, an OnlyFans agency based in Miami, says she currently manages four creators who earn up to £16,000 per month. “Personally, I earn 15–25 percent off of each creator,” the anonymous staffer says. “I love what I do. I love the connections I make, and the money isn’t too shabby either.”


But some industry insiders have revealed darker undertones. In 2021 two former staffers of Unruly Agency – which represents top content creators and is recognised as an “influencer powerhouse” – declared that their jobs required them to "intentionally lie to, dupe, and mislead fans." In a lawsuit that year, they likened the ‘chatter’ practice to “fraud”. “You’re basically a professional scammer,” one of them said in an interview with Insider. The New York Times used a different term: “e-pimping”. (Unruly has denied these claims.) Since then, a number of agencies have been called out for running what amounts to exploitation rackets, scamming subscribers and creators alike.

Nathan Johnson, 22, was one of the agency owners that stood accused in a story by Rolling Stone. At the time he ran a model management agency, NJAC LLC, which was accused of ripping off its clients. “I have been falsely attacked,” he tells VICE. “I have been criticised for being ‘a man in a woman’s industry,’ as well as faced criticism from a few previous clients who felt they didn’t make as much money as they should have while working with me.” He says he used to get “really bothered” by these accusations, but then realised the attention “actually helped my business.”


Johnson – who has since bounced back from what he describes as “the hit job” – now runs an agency called Lolly. “We currently work with 50 creators, with an average total monthly net revenue of [around] £2.5 million combined,” he says. He likens the industry to that of “record deals” in the music business: “There are going to be times when someone isn’t happy, but there’s ten more when someone is extremely happy.” The biggest issue the industry faces, in his opinion, is “a lack of social acceptance and understanding.”

Social stigma comes up a lot in conversations with those who work at OnlyFans agencies. “We’ve seen the term ‘digital pimp’ being thrown around,” says one of the founders of MGMT LUX, who spoke to VICE anonymously. “We would like to fully reject this idea.” They continue: “Unlike the work of a ‘pimp’, this is a fully symbiotic relationship, where creators have autonomy over their work hours and have influence over what they want to promote.” A lot of the stigma around OnlyFans management comes down to people “not accepting sex work as work”, they say. “This mainly affects the cis women and the LGBTQ+ community, who are often the target of nasty comments and vitriol from those who don't understand the freedom gained from their sexual liberation.”

But it also seems fair to say that some stigma stems not from issues around “sexual liberation”, but perceived deception. OnlyFans is a billion dollar industry after all, and while the “product” might look like “erections, tits or orgasms”, what is actually sold is an intimate personal relationship between creator and subscriber. Revealing this intimacy to be an illusion, agencies can be accused of “false advertising”.


What about the most maligned cog in the system though – the chatters themselves? Strangely, it’s actually quite hard to chat with the chatters. Jobs are offered and sought on OnlyFans subreddits, but no personal details are ever shared, so it’s difficult to check their veracity. Once tracked down, there are also valid reasons that chatters might be wary of messages from journalists. “I love helping out,” says Fernando, who asked to use a pseudonym, before explaining that interviews in the past have led to “uncomfortable situations”.

Fernando started out as an erotica author, and was an OnlyFans model himself for a while. “Lately, I’ve focused on chatting, because I'm very good with sales,” he says. His shifts range from four to 12 hours, and he’s been assigned as many as seven creators at any one time, “which isn't functional at all”, he says. The hardest part of the job is “definitely the emotional fatigue. I was recently burnt out because of the volume and intensity of interactions that I had on a daily basis.”

He's met some incredible people as a chatter, but deals with “awful people” too. “Men will request anything and everything; even when they're told no several times,” he says. “And when they're paying for a service, they think they have the right to not care about boundaries.” He’s made “good money” in the past – “up to £2,500 a month” – but his average is £500, and he says many chatters “make as little as £250 per month”.


Luke, who is also using a fake name, started as a chatter a year ago. He says he tries to “see what [the subscriber] likes and what attracts him, and use that in our conversation.” Sometimes this does involve a bit of cunning. “There could be one thing they want to see, but I don't have it to show,” he says, “so I pivot and ask him, ‘What if I do something else?’ to divert his attention from content I can't send him, in order to continue our conversation.”

He says he works eight to 10 hours per day and earns just over £300 per month. “Some of my friends worked for a larger agency and made up to £900,” he says. “However, I didn't join that agency because it was already crowded with workers and there was less to [go] around.” This is what really lurks behind the OnlyFans financial juggernaut: cheap, precarious labour.

Not all agencies use chatters. “We do not reply to messages on behalf of the creators,” says an anonymous account manager at Wonderland. “This has certainly lost us models who just want money without having to do anything, which is what most other agencies seem to promote.”

This statement seems to get to the knotty heart of the OnlyFans shadow economy: Everyone likes to accuse everyone else of being a scammer. More than once in my interviews, agencies turned criticisms of their practices back onto creators. “There are a lot of genuine, hardworking creators in this industry,” the Wonderland representative says. “Unfortunately, there are also a lot of scammers whose intention is to make an agency do all the work only for them to run off with the money.”

Ultimately this focus on deception and controversy, and whether it’s creators or subscribers who are being taken for a ride, hides how run-of-the-mill the whole industry really is. Because behind the alluring facade of sex, intimacy, and “easy money” is a familiar dynamic: a few people raking in millions, while others work long hours just to scrape by. And if anything is a scam, then surely it’s that.