A version of this article originally appeared on VICE Romania.
The sex cam industry is one of the few fields that continued to be profitable after the recession hit European markets in 2008. In Romania, it's a booming business: according to some estimates, the sex cam industry there is worth over $373 million USD annually. When I talked to industry insiders, they said the field is thriving for three main reasons: poverty, beautiful women who speak English, and high-speed internet. Romania is one of the poorer countries that produces models, along with Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Colombia: beautiful women driven to accept undressing on camera due to a lack of income and employment opportunities.
The clients seek the virtual company of sex cam models for a wide variety of reasons. The most obvious one is to satisfy their sexual needs or fantasies they can't access in real life. But many of them are just looking for someone to ask how their day was, offer them a shoulder on which to cry, and ease their loneliness. And somewhere in Romania inside a sex cam studio, in a themed room, you'll always find a camgirl or boy willing to satisfy those needs.
One such studio where these models work is Best Studios, a female video chat facility in Bucharest that provides 16 rooms for 70 models who work in three shifts, meaning there's always someone online 24/7. It provides the space, training, technology—computers, cameras, and lights—and props like costumes or sex toys for the models. Studio work is fairly common in the Romanian industry, especially among models who are just getting their start, as the support they provide helps novice camgirls make more money than they would if they worked from home. The models split a certain percentage of their income with the studio according to a contract. Depending on the terms, that percentage can range from 30 to 70 percent.
The male sector of the country's sex cam industry is also doing well. ABS Studio, also in Bucharest, provides a similar space for camboys. With 20 rooms and 35 male models, it's one of the more prominent male modeling studios in Romania. Much like Best Studios, it provides space and support for beginner camboys like Marshall West. "When I turned 18, I went to an interview and they hired me," West, now 21, recalls. "I was a bit scared: some friends had told me that they’ve had to do things I never imagined I’d do, and that there are certain clients who ask you to do some weird stuff. But after I started, I realized it’s not like that—I get to choose what I do and what I don’t."
I visited both studios to document the elaborate rooms that Romanian camgirls and camboys work in. Check out our exclusive photos below, and be sure to watch VICE's Red Light: Romanian Camgirls video at the bottom.
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