A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing director/co-writer Daniel AM Rosenberg and creator/co-writer Ethan Cole of the award-winning 10-episode web series – Cam_Girlfriend which recently garnered a Best Comedy nod at Seoul Webfest. Supported by Chaturbate and Canada’s Independent Production Fund, the first thing I noticed was wow, the filmmakers actually had the courage and vision to cast a real cam model instead of some actress trying to be one.
That gave me even more warm fuzzies for a show that already has so much going for it – great production value, writing, humor, heart and now authenticity. I was curious about how LaBeau got hooked up with the project and am happy to say she’s agreed to give us the scoop on her journey and what it’s been like going from camming in real life to camming in pretend life.
Enjoy a little peek backstage with Lily LaBeau!
How did you get your start in the cam modeling business?
First, thank you so much for allowing me to do this interview! Really happy to have this opportunity to share about my life as a sex worker and the journey of making Cam_Girlfriend. Now, where should I begin? I started my adult career in 2009 performing solely in porn movies and at the time camming seemed like a foreign world. But the porn industry can be feast or famine and what camming offered was a way to make money on my own, fully independent of studios or directors, and that was attractive, it gave me security.
During certain chaotic or stressful times in my life I felt comforted by the fact that no matter what, I could go on cam for 1-3 hours and make at the very least $100. When you’re making $1000+ per day in porn movies that can seem like little, but eventually I realized most people work on average for $100-$200 per day and they work 8 hours to make that.
It’s a privilege to be able to work less and make the same from the comfort of my own home, and to give my own sense of personality, style, and sexuality to what I do.
You develop relationships with fans, and it becomes like a strange, but no less loving, second family. I’m so thankful for all the people who watch my cam shows, come online to keep me company, and share these very intimate and sexy moments together. There are few jobs that compare and there’s no shame in wanting a job that gives you freedom, independence, and community, that’s why I love camming.
How were you chosen to play the lead in the web series?
It’s funny because I wasn’t chosen at first. We spent over a year communicating with the team and while I was never promised the role I always thought, who better to play this part than me?
They auditioned many actresses and sent me the videos to watch, and none seemed to embody Chloe Cables. It came down to the wire and finally they decided to let me audition by Skype in front of the production. I was so nervous! I remember my whole body was shaking because I didn’t want to mess it up. As you can probably imagine, I was crushed, and a little angry when they told me after my audition that I didn’t get the part. I remember talking to my roommate and feeling disbelief after all those hours, the time, the energy I put into it for free, that I wouldn’t be the lead.
Channeling my feelings, I wrote an email. I said look guys, you have an opportunity right now to work with an internationally recognized performer who is respected in her industry, has amassed a huge fan base, and who knows first-hand what this business is all about. I implored them to not be like other companies who take our stories and cut us out from the final project, for them to be different, and more importantly to be brave. It’s risky business in the mainstream world to hire a sex worker because you can jeopardize sponsorships and advertisers. But as you can see, the email worked, and the rest is history! It was only a few weeks later that I was in Toronto meeting the team in person and preparing to shoot the first scene.
What did you love about the project that made you want to do it?
I was contacted by Ethan Cole, the creator of Cam_Girlfriend early on before they filmed the pilot. He told me that my persona, Lily LaBeau, was his inspiration for the character Chloe Cables. Unfortunately, I was unable to fly to Toronto to shoot the pilot episode and wasn’t sure what would become of it, but a few months later he sent the completed first episode that they would use to try and get a grant from the Canadian government, and it was hilarious!
My first reaction was wow, finally a project about my industry that isn’t looking to portray us as victims, in need of saving, or as simply objects. What an amazing opportunity to show the good the bad and the funny that comes with being a sex worker! I’ve had many production companies try to create movies or series around our industry but to me they always seemed dark, or dramatic, or like a warning. I loved that this felt fresh, joyful, funny and decided to help in any way I could. Which translated to hundreds of hours talking with Ethan, sharing my stories, my heartbreaks, my fears, my hopes.
I wanted to give him everything I could from my experience so he could create something amazing for sex workers, something that had soul.
You also consulted on the piece. What were some of the myths you had to dispel or topics you suggested that needed to be covered?
One thing I wanted to make clear was that the fans are the most important. Without them there is no business and we needed to make sure to portray them in a positive light. It was also my job to verify if something could actually happen in real life. There were a lot of ideas that were really funny but just so far from realistic that they didn’t make the cut. Of course, it’s a comedy series so we did stretch the truth a bit, like having strangers appear on cam. In reality you would need to have them submit IDs and get approval from Chaturbate, but who’s to say Chloe didn’t do that? I think we did a great job because everything you see on the show, technically, could happen although most likely never would because it’s so outrageous!
Did you find acting to be a challenge? What are the similarities and differences between that and camming?
Acting has been a part of my life since I can remember. I received an award for best actress for a movie I did, Wasteland, with my co-star Lily Carter, and I always preferred scenes that had a script and character because I find it so enjoyable to embody new characters.
The challenge for Cam_Girlfriend was first, I didn’t know I had the part until a few weeks before shooting so I didn’t meet my co-star Dave Keystone until a couple of days before the first take. The other challenge was that we were only given scenarios, the entire series was improvised! I showed up to set the first day, they put me into hair and makeup, then told me this is the scene, we need you to at least say these certain things, OK ready, go.
After the first few takes, I was told that Dan, the director, breathed a sigh of relief and said something along the lines of, thank god, she can act! That felt really great. But I still wish I had more time to prepare, to rehearse, and to build the character. It really felt like being thrown in the lion’s den. But hey, I’m a pro right?
Camming has a lot of improvisation as well, but there is no set goal. You go with the flow and see what the energy in the room is that day, and each show can be different. But that’s the fun of it! It’s a dance between you and the people in your room. With camming, sometimes the best plan is no plan!
I understand they are gearing up for a second season. Are they currently looking for cam models to be in the series? How could a model get involved if so, are there are auditions?
Yes! We are preparing for season 2! We’ve been working since March to develop this next season. Unfortunately for me they decided to remove my character from the show and I’m only consulting. Fight as I may to save Chloe, she will not be in the second season. But what I hope and have suggested to production is to have as many sex workers in the series as possible! How amazing would that be? What other mainstream project has ever used people from the industry on a grand scale like that? It would be revolutionary!
But to be honest, I have no say in the outcome, I just give my advice and they take it or leave it.
What I can suggest to those who wish to get involved is to tweet @CammingLife on Twitter or Instagram because that’s the channel who will release the new season.
Send your audition video, why you think you’d be amazing in this second season, and maybe it can show them that there are some incredible actors in the adult industry with amazingly loyal fans who combined have millions of people eager and ready to watch anything they appear in!
This series is for YOU sex worker/cam model, so why shouldn’t you be in it?
Tell us a funny story from set.
One thing that struck me deeply was the care and comradery I felt on set between the crew and talent. They expressed to me how unusual but wonderful it was to work on something like this and the ambiance between everyone on set was beyond amazing.
A funny story I can share was the result of a miscommunication but after I tell you, go back and rewatch the episodes and see if you notice. Ok, so before we started shooting, I asked the director what do you envision for the character Chloe Cables? I was told, whatever you think, and for me I saw Chloe as this energetic, bubbly, full of enthusiasm woman making her mark in the camming world. I remembered when I first started how excited I was every day to go to work, how fun everything was, so for Chloe, I channeled myself from those early years in my career.
I went to my hairdresser, spent hundreds to get my hair dyed the most beautiful platinum blonde with a smart cut and bangs. I loved it! However, they did not! On the first day I showed up, the production pulled out some cheap dollar store temporary hair color and told me I needed to put this in so that my blonde hair would show up better on camera. I thought to myself, if blonde hair doesn’t show up on camera the entire porn industry would be out of business. But wanting to make a good first impression I complied. Oh my god you guys, my hair turned this ugly piss yellow. It was awful. We actually had to reshoot some scenes because it was so bad. They never made me put that shit in again and thankfully, it did wash out, but if you look at certain episodes you can see the ones that were shot on the first day because the color is so different. It turns out they were a little upset I changed my hair from a more natural look to platinum blonde without asking first, but in the end, I know we all agreed that platinum was better than piss yellow!
What did you find most challenging about working on the series?
At 17 I started my professional career by moving to NYC to pursue modeling and shortly thereafter came back to my home in Arizona, turned 18, and began my porn career. This is and has been my job for over a decade and something I really love to do. I love being in front of the camera, I love creating and collaborating, and I love to work on exciting projects! I think the most challenging thing was the all the unknowns.
Sometimes I would think, can I really trust mainstream people? Do they have my best interest and that of my community at heart or is this another exploitative attempt to make money from the backs of sex workers? I was very nervous how the final product would look, if it would represent cam models, fans and the industry well. I have a lot more faith in them now, and although I have zero control of this next season, I know that they have the right intention, they see us as full, multidimensional humans. Plus, they’ve worked with cam models for a few years now on the YouTube channel CammingLife, so they aren’t just talking the talk, they’re walking the walk.
I’m very protective of my industry, I want to uplift and inspire, for us to laugh together, not to be laughed at, but I know they will do a great job and I’m as curious as you to see the results of the next season!
What has it been like being the star of a series and what doors has it opened for you?
Compared to the porn industry working on a mainstream set is so chill, they really made my comfort and dignity a high priority. On a porn set I don’t mind walking around naked in front of the crew or whoever, but on this set, I was almost surprised how respectful and caring they were. I never had to be in an undressed state for any length of time, someone was always there with a robe or when I was in scantily clad outfits, and when they had to mic me, they were so courteous and always explaining what they were doing so I felt safe and had body autonomy.
That was really cool, and I wish more adult sets could operate like that. But the biggest door this series opened was the amazing relationship I have with Chaturbate, who is a sponsor of the show. I cam exclusively for them now and I love the way their site is set up. They have apps for your cams shows, and everything is so user friendly, even for someone as technologically challenged as me! And also, I really value to be able to give interviews like this, because any opportunity to humanize and destigmatize the sex industry feels amazing.
One step at a time maybe together we will create a world more tolerant, educated, and understanding of sex workers and the very real job and service they provide. No shame in our game!
Where do you see your career five years from now?
Currently I’m living in Switzerland! Thanks to my amazing fans and of course camming, I was able to save enough to pay for and attend a French school here for one year! It’s always been a life goal of mine to live in another country for a year and learn a new language. I feel so thankful to have achieved this major life milestone! I still run my OnlyFans and am developing a new site which I can’t give many details about yet, but I’m very passionate about and excited for its launch!
I’d also love to meet someone, get married, have kids, a permaculture farm, host women’s retreats for sex workers, maybe write a book or two, basically live the hippie dream. If you know me, you know I’m kinda obsessed with this scientist Dr. Joe Dispenza who has devoted his career to teaching manifesting through meditation and I am currently using his specific tools to create the life of my dreams.
Although things are pretty amazing right now (thanks Joe)! I think that when you feel worthy of great things you can dream as big as you want so I’m not sure of the specifics, but I know in five years I’m going to be happy, in love with life, surrounded by a caring community, being of service to the world, and living a life of purpose beyond that which I ever thought possible. Life is so good I’m soaking it up day by day and not too worried about the future. Which feels great!!
Check out Cam_Girfriend HERE.
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota, where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names). Email Alyssa via firstname.lastname@example.org.