Sex Workers Turn To Crypto Currency
13 June 2022
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Allie Eve Knox creates adult content.

She makes sexually provocative videos, sells subscription services on platforms like OnlyFans, performs live via webcam, and works as a findomme – short for financial dominatrix, a fetish involving dominance-submission dynamics and cash.

The Texas native is also a major advocate of cryptocurrency. 

Knox describes herself as “one of the most outspoken sex workers, particularly for crypto.” Her interest kicked off in 2014, which is when she says several vendors, including PayPalSquare Cash, and Venmo, shut down her accounts because of red flags related to sex work.

So Knox started accepting cryptocurrencies instead. Her first exchange of bitcoin for content was pretty casual. 

It started on a Skype call with a client. “I had a Coinbase account at the time, and he said, ‘Hold your QR code right to this camera here,’ and he sent it through the camera. And I got it,” she explained.

It took 15 minutes, and there were no chargebacks, no website commission fees, and no bank intermediaries to turn down the transaction – all major pluses in her industry. But the biggest attraction was having total and irreversible ownership over the money she had earned. 

“I could cash it out. I could hold it. I could watch it go up and down,” said Knox.

“It was mine.”

Knox is one of many adult workers who say that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin give them a sense of security and independence as banks, credit card companies, and payment processors tighten regulations around adult content. With crypto, there is no middleman making a judgment call on which transactions are acceptable. 

OnlyFans and the policy whiplash

Sex work is an umbrella term that includes anyone who engages in some form of erotic labor, whether virtual or in person.

“The majority of sex work in the U.S. is legal. It’s not dealt with fairly, but it’s still legal,” explained Kristen DiAngelo, an activist and Sacramento-based sex worker who has spent over four decades in the industry. “Stripping is legal…massage is legal…escorting is legal. The only thing that’s really illegal in the U.S. is the honest exchange of sexual activity for remuneration, for money.”

Some escorts – who charge anywhere from $1,700 an hour to $11,000 for a full 24 hours – now explicitly say in their ads that they prefer to be paid in bitcoin or ethereum.

The sex work industry also includes performers on the popular subscription video site OnlyFans, many of whom work exclusively online and have never seen their subscribers or fans in person. 

Allie Rae is a 37-year-old mother of three boys who says she went from making about $84,000 a year as an ICU nurse in Boston to $1.3 million, thanks to her work on OnlyFans, which has more than 130 million users.