Sex

Why This Camgirl Turned Her Porn Political

“It’s a fun way to bring a new audience into politics because they show up wanting to see my boobs and learn about a bunch of stuff.”
Image courtesy of o0Pepper0o

Cam models bring pleasure to the internet every day, but one has decided to do something a bit more unconventional with her porn: make it political. o0Pepper0o, a camgirl who lives in northern Canada, created a show specifically to talk about politics a few months ago and is now on her 40th episode.

In her latest episode, which discusses the controversial FOSTA bill in the United States, Pepper throws her bra off nonchalantly while self-critiquing her current show format.

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“I have a lot of things to talk about with this FOSTA bill—it’s kind of terrifying to me,” she says. She pulls up an article about how a furry dating website was just shut down in response to FOSTA, which is meant to address sex trafficking but critics say will lead to censorship and a less safe working environment for consensual sex workers.

“They’re saying they’re doing this to help fix the problem of sex trafficking,” Pepper says, while hitting a cream soda-flavoured vape in-between talking to cam. “But all it’s going to do is make those people pull back and do their business in even more shady environments and force people who are doing it consentingly to do it in even more shady environments. Again, stop making our lives unsafe!”

Pepper has been camming for nearly six years, but just started her show Political Porno a few months ago. She has addressed a number of issues on the show already, including net neutrality, trade deals, and gun control. She discusses Canadian politics on the show, too, such as pipelines, the First Nations water crisis, and Tim Hortons protests.

“It’s a fun way to bring a new audience into politics because they show up wanting to see my boobs and learn about a bunch of stuff,” Pepper told VICE.

VICE: Why did you decide to start your Political Porno show?
Pepper: I felt like there was a need for a political show because of Jimmy Dore, who does a show on YouTube. He’s kind of super on the left, he’s American. I was watching one of his shows, and he was talking about how there need to be more people talking out there about different opinions. We’re all being censored very heavily online, and it’s just getting worse—so if anyone feels they have something they should be saying to the world, they should find a way to say it. That was the beginning. I was kinda like, you know what, you’re right. I should just get on and do it. I already do cam shows, so I should find out a way to make that something I can do that relates to camming. So, I just kind of merged it together: I’ll do a show that’s about politics, but also porn. I already talked about politics in my regular cam shows on Chaturbate, so it was kind of easy to make a transition to an episodic show on DLive, a Steemit platform. It just fit really well.

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When did you start bringing politics into your camming?
About three years ago—really significantly before the US [presidential] election… I made the election part of my show on Chaturbate that year, like I was running for president too [laughs]. It was hilarious. I didn’t start right away doing politics with porn, only because there’s this taboo in the cam world with talking about things like religion and politics, heavy topics, because it’s hard to be sexy and keep a crowd while talking politics. That’s part of why I moved a lot of my politics over to another site, because it was kind of hard to balance that.

I’ve always really liked talking about politics. It was hard for me to not talk about it on cam. So eventually, as I got more comfortable on cam, I just got more comfortable being able to be sexual and talking about my subjects of choice—which, just happened to be political.

Does anyone ever complain about being turned off by you discussing politics?
Absolutely. That’s kind of the beauty of the cam world though, because everyone is out there for something different. The taboo comes from the fact that a lot of people don’t find talking about heavy subjects sexy. It’s hard to talk about heavy stuff while you’re fondling yourself; you forget to be sexy. So a lot of people find it a turn-off. They come to a site like Chaturbate to get off—not to think about that stuff. They don’t want to think about that stuff, so they’ll act crappy if you’re talking about it at times if they’re not wanting it. There’s lots of variety in the cam world though; you can do what you want within reason.

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"It’s harder to sell sexuality that has intelligence behind it, I suppose, just because in our society we don’t sell that ordinarily."

The other way you can do camming is to have a persona. That’s popular in the stripper world as well, where you make a persona for yourself: like, “I’m this sexy, slutty this person; but in real life, I’m this person.” A lot of camgirls do that, so guys get used to you being a certain way. They think you’re a ditzy blonde, or whatever it is you’re portraying. Then, if all of the sudden you’re talking about FOSTA on Twitter, they’re like, “What the hell? You have an opinion? That’s not why I jerk [off] to you!” It’s like objectification; some people are into that sexually. They sexually want someone who doesn’t have an opinion. It’s harder to sell sexuality that has intelligence behind it, I suppose, just because in our society we don’t sell that ordinarily. I think that has something to do with it as well, as a matter of marketing.

We’re definitely living in a really tense political climate. Given that, has your politicism changed your fanbase or how you interact with your fans?
Oh, absolutely. Most of my core fanbase is totally OK with it… I’ve definitely had haters and people who don’t like me anymore—old-school stans from the beginning who have told me they can’t watch me anymore because my opinions are so different from theirs and I make them so mad… It’s definitely been a change for me.

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You talk about Canadian politics on your show sometimes. You even had an episode about the First Nations water crisis. Can you discuss what it’s like to have an international audience to talk about these issues to, especially since some outside of Canada view this country as a utopia?
It’s awesome. It’s really nice to be able to open people’s eyes. I actually don’t like that people think Canada is a utopia, because it’s really not. People talk about running away to Canada. Like, no, we have problems too. There’s a lot of great things about Canada—great healthcare, the fact that we have healthcare at all is a big deal. But we still have so many internal problems, so it’s really nice to discuss that with a global community. I really like information-sharing and understanding of other cultures. People will come to me, ask me questions, then I get to learn about what their country thinks of us.

I lived in northern Saskatchewan for a couple of years, and when we were living there, we were living in a really small town. We had a boil water advisory, and it was the first time we had one. We looked into it to see what it was like everywhere else, and we were like, oh my god, we should count ourselves lucky we only had one for a month. There were people literally miles away on reserves who’d been on [boil water advisory] for years… It was horrible living under it for just a month. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live under it your whole life as some people have.

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Your most recent show was about FOSTA. Even though you’re Canadian and this bill is American, it could affect your life and possibly already has. Can you talk about why it’s so important for us to listen to the concerns of sex workers right now?
The problem with this bill is that it’s overreaching. It’s an umbrella bill. It doesn’t deal with it in a nuanced way… Because it’s so vague in its wording, it’s basically going to promote censorship because it will be much easier for sites to censor their users rather than picking through every single thing they post online every single day.

It’s going to affect our social media. It already is. A lot of sex workers are having issues… Some sites are prohibiting sex workers. It affects all of us. It doesn’t just affect escorts, but it makes it unsafe for escorts who were using online sites as a way to do their jobs more safely… They claim it’s going to help victims, but in reality it’s victimizing. People won’t have the same ways to vet clients online. It will translate into the rest of the sex world too, because all of these sites we rely on to talk to each other are going to start blocking us out.

My Twitter is a big hub for people finding me, and I could easily have it taken away from me—the same way Melody [Kush] had hers taken away. It’s hard. It’s hard out here, and it just makes it that much harder for people who are consensually doing sex work, and people who are doing it legally as well. Not good.

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Sex workers, in part, helped build popularity around Twitter because they have historically been present on that platform.
Yeah, that’s a common thing with a lot of social media. Snapchat is like that. I’m waiting for the day Snapchat is like, “Get lost, all you cam models!” We definitely popularized Snapchat, and now that’s becoming a big deal too. That’s usually how it works online. I’m pretty accustomed to that. If a site gets big enough, they’ll start pushing off sex workers as a standard… It’s disturbing to me because they’re not just being jerks and want to make it all kid-friendly so they can make more money, a la YouTube. It’s no longer a conscious choice… That sucks. It’s like forcing censorship.

DLive, which I use for Political Porno, is basically an off-shoot of Steemit—a blockchain platform, all open-source, decentralized. It’s a platform that is all about non-censorship. It’s basically run by a bunch of crypto-anarchists, as we like to joke about. It uses cryptocurrency.

Do you feel you’re helping to educate some people who may not be into on current events by doing your show?
Yes, I get people telling me that all the time, people from other countries. That’s the thing with Steemit, it’s a super global community. I talk to people in Nigeria, in Australia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan. The stuff they know about Canadian and American news is filtered through their media, so it’s not the same perspective. I get to learn about stuff from them too… There’s all these differences in culture; when you’re in one, you may not think about how different others are. It’s really fun to experience that, talk about it, and educate people.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You can find Pepper's 'Political Porno' show and more on her Steemit.