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Inside the secret life of a sex worker

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In the suburbs of Toronto, Mia Miranda was born into a family of businesspeople.

From a young age, her entrepreneur parents instilled a sense of hustle into their daughter.

As such, it was no surprise when she enrolled in business school before shifting to Vancouver to explore a life of pleasure, art and creativity.

The move allowed her to develop skills in acting, singing, dancing, piano and gymnastics.

Soon afterwards, she found work as a feature dancer at nightclubs across British Columbia, and as an astrology reader while attending the Vancouver Film School to further her career ambitions.

But her creative passions and big hopes for the future came to a grinding halt in 2020.

Mia Miranda had been in a serious car accident, which left her with a brain injury.

“Recovering from my injury is a full-time job, sometimes with managing symptoms and all the therapies I do,” she said.

Unable to work, her career took another unexpected turn when she begun making content for OnlyFans.

It didn’t take long before she found herself in the top 4 per cent of earners worldwide.

“During that time, like many of us, I did a lot of self-exploration and came to realise that the best story I can tell right now is my own,” she said.

“Sex work is how I fund my passions and has allowed me to become real passionate about activism as well.”

The subscription-based platform has 170 million registered users, or ‘fans’, around the world.

The platform also boasts over 1.5 million content creators, like Mia Miranda, who takes requests and shares her life online.

“Now that I am fighting to get back to a normal life, it needs to be a life I am obsessed with.”

MIA MIRANDA, ONLYFANS CREATOR

“I love making custom videos and indulging in their fantasies,” Miranda said.

While OnlyFans is not all about sex, leaked documents from the company’s financial information believes sex sells.

How many people are watching porn?

The porn industry saw increased growth during the pandemic. According to popular website Pornhub, the average age of visitors is 37 years old.

Sunday is the most popular day for porn-viewing, and Friday typically records a drop in viewers.

Professor Jessie Ford is a sex sociologist at Columbia University, who said viewing habits are connected to the rhythms in people’s social lives.

“People often think about sex and porn as a biologically driven realm of life, but I argue that it’s much more like other aspects of social life than people might think.”

PROFESSOR JESSIE FORD, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

“People are watching less on Friday, Saturday, Sunday because they are probably out doing other things,” she said.

Meanwhile, more viewers have become interested in transgender porn, with the category recording a 23 per cent jump in 2021.

Luna Matatas is a sex pleasure educator, who said it is time the adult entertainment industry began reflecting society.

“The trans community has been prominent in advocating for their rights and representation across the world and showing up more in mainstream media, so we’re hearing more and seeing more about trans people and trans communities,” they said.

The United States, Britain and Japan were the top three countries for porn traffic.

Dr Laurie Betito is a clinical psychologist, who believes human connection became more important as people were locked down to control to spread of Covid-19.

“Many people have experienced loneliness and isolation and may be craving love, intimacy and romance. So the next best thing to a partner it seems, are the fantasies of romance,” she said.

South American markets like Mexico and Columbia were among those, which recorded increased visitors during the height of Covid lockdowns.

However, like most industries, viewing habits change when other events take place.

For example, when the three-hour broadcast of the Eurovision Song Content took place in 2021, Pornhub’s traffic dropped throughout much of Europe. Malta and Iceland reported the biggest traffic drops by nearly one-third.

Likewise, viewers dropped by 21 per cent during Super Bowl 55.

Is sex work the best job ever?

Samantha Jones is a former equestrian and exotic dancer, who has appeared in Playboy Croatia and Hustler magazines.

She is also a top draw on OnlyFans and Streamate, where she offers online companionship through live camera performances.

“I’m actually surprised how many people are open about doing sex work. It’s best job ever, you can work one or three hours a day if you want,” she said.

As demand for intimate content soars online, so too does the interest from budding entertainers.

But Ms Jones said the industry has become a saturated market with a lot of competition.

“I find that the people who do really well really love what they do, so if they’re willing to invest the time, the money and the effort—go all out on photo shoots, invest in the outfits, choreography, mentors.”

Samantha Jones brings fantasies to life on OnlyFans.

Likewise, Mia Miranda describes herself as a ‘pleasure advocate’, who is seeking to change the stigma often linked with sex workers.

When it comes to earnings, she said there are still misconceptions around sex work being viewed through a get rich, quick scheme.

“You can make a lot of money at it, but it’s still incredibly hard work; it’s not just easy money, it’s fast money, so you’re able to make a lot of money fast, but only if you are putting in that hard work.”

Miranda supports the Canadian charity, WISH, which supports street-based sex workers’ health and safety.

A recent Australian study conducted interviews with 31 sex workers. It found the stigma surrounding their profession had a significant impact on their mental health.

The findings pointed to increased training and development for mental health practitioners, and increased funding for support services to protect sex workers.

Ms Miranda said the stigma is “starting to unravel itself,” because of how much time OnlyFans models put into their work.

Meanwhile, Samantha Jones said she has not experienced much of this negativity in her experience.

“The sex workers I feel are kind of putting this old stigma on themselves. I’m very comfortable, I show my face, I’m kind of out there. But I think the stigma is dying off… I think it’s going to help me in the end that I am a YouTuber-slash-porn star.”

“You have to really sit down and have your ‘hell no, hell yes’ list… ‘what am I going to do for this amount, what am I going to do for that amount?”

Mia Miranda still practices the piano and hopes to kickstart her creativity and songwriting ambitions.

“It’s my dream to perform my songs live and tour the world with my music.”

“I found that some traditional avenues of performance honestly didn’t really allow me to express my full self, but I found that being a sex worker.”

Mia MIRANDA, ONLYFANS CREATOR

“It’s been really incredible to get to experience that and showcase all of my talents and skills in a way that I have full control over. I get to be in control of everything, and I think that really inspires me to keep pushing through,” she said.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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