Subscription Intimacy: Amateurism, Authenticity and Emotional Labour in Direct-to-Consumer Gay Pornography


  • Daniel Laurin University of Toronto



As pornography studios deal with declining profits and performers work to survive on decreasing scene rates, direct-to-consumer platforms such as OnlyFans are being hailed by some as saviours of the industry. Exemplifying the promises of the current gig economy, these platforms claim to offer supplemental income and autonomy and have been praised by journalists as addressing market demand for intimacy in a mainstream pornographic landscape largely devoid of it. But these platforms can also be seen as another example of the emotional labour that is increasingly required of porn performers. This includes performers depicting “authentic” desire in their videos, participating in on-camera interviews, and engaging with fans across multiple social media networks with differing regulations around nudity that can be challenging for adult performers to navigate. This article situates these direct-to-consumer platforms within the larger history of gay porn production, amateur video, and discourses of authenticity, and considers the possibilities of monetizing new forms of emotional labour, or what I refer to as “subscription intimacy.”

Keywords: gay pornography, authenticity, amateur pornography, emotional labour, social media.

Author Biography

Daniel Laurin, University of Toronto

PhD Candidate at the Cinema Studies Institue, member of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Sexual Diversity Studies