"As a man, it felt quite weird at the start"
With the rise and success of subscription-based services like OnlyFans, more British Asians are becoming sex workers to reap the rewards.
Although sites like OnlyFans, Patreon and Fansly aren’t dedicated to sexual content, the primary use of these platforms is exactly that.
Social media influencers, celebrities and even sports stars have joined these services and have made millions doing so.
The ability for followers and fans to see “exclusive” material from their favourite personalities is very alluring. But, anyone can join these sites and be just as successful.
What comes with these sites is no secret. Many people have been outspoken about how much they earn off platforms like OnlyFans.
Anthony Allen, an OnlyFans Creator Expert, states:
“On average a novice OnlyFans creator makes around $150 (£130) per month.
“But, according to EarthWeb, top creators make on average $100,000 (£86,446) per month.”
Due to the growth and popularity of these services, more people are entering the sex industry itself, whether it’s porn, glamour modelling, or exotic dancing.
And, because of the advantages sites like Fansly have brought to the sex industry, more British Asians are choosing it as their career.
Whilst the financial earnings are quite attractive, is this the only reason that British Asians are becoming sex workers?
It’s obvious that this kind of job is highly problematic in South Asian culture but it hasn’t stopped the influx of South Asians in the UK.
We spoke to some individuals about their experiences and grounds for entering this industry.
Obviously, the biggest reason why the majority of people become sex workers is because of financial opportunity.
Creators can rake in thousands doing different types of sex work. This is especially important in the UK given the cost of living crisis and inflation.
The state of the economy has forced more people toward other means of income.
Given the flexibility that sex work can have, a lot of British Asians find it easier to manage than an office or retail job. Kiran Bains*, a 23-year-old OnlyFans creator highlighted this:
“I make my own schedule, pick my own days and if there are times I don’t want to log on, then I don’t.
“I’m not as popular or well-known on OnlyFans as other celebs or influencers but I still make a comfortable earning.
“It’s even better being at university because I don’t need to deal with my family interfering with the material I make.
“So, I can remain consistent and the more consistent you are, the more you earn because your followers don’t lose interest.”
Lilly Kaur, a 38-year-old dancer from Birmingham also revealed her experiences:
“I’ve been a stripper for over 10 years and at the start, the money wasn’t good at all.”
“But, recently with sex work becoming normalised and more money getting pumped into the industry, we’re finally seeing the reward.
“It’s kind of like working in a bar. During the week, you’re getting some regulars and can make a few quid. Then on the weekend, you can take up to £3000 in one night.
“Now, imagine that happening every weekend and what it totals up to each year.”
Whilst making loads of money is a good thing to live freely, other British Asians have entered the industry temporarily in order to pay bills and support their family.
However, because of the stigma put on sex workers in South Asian culture, it’s still hard to admit this is happening, and makes it harder for those in difficult circumstances to do their work comfortably.
Reha Kapoor*, a 31-year-old from Manchester looked into becoming an escort in December 2022 to help her pay for rising energy costs.
Whilst this was an unconventional route, given her 9-5 job, she reveals she had no other option:
“I tried looking for other jobs, but none made sense and I didn’t have time to interview for any given my schedule now.
“I know it’s quite extreme turning to sex work when there are other options but when you’re in desperate times, you have to do it.
“Bills are high, salaries are being cut, groceries are costing more and I couldn’t survive just off my 9-5. That’s how bad things are.
“I have only had a couple of jobs as an escort and I only do it on the weekends. I’ve made over £800 each time and the best thing is, I don’t have to be nude or have sex.
“It’s more high-end than that and it makes me feel better about doing it.”
These reports show just how lucrative the sex industry has become, no matter the reason one enters it.
It’s the biggest reason why many people have become sex workers and it’s clear to see that it’s the same for British Asians.
Generally across the UK, people of all genders have been urged to be more sexually confident.
Although the taboo is being removed from doing what you want with your body, regardless of the consequences, the stigma still remains in South Asian households.
However, the acceptance, acknowledgment and promotion of sex work have given people the freedom to explore themselves sexually and feel confident in doing so.
This empowerment is why a lot of British Asians have become sex workers.
The industry is a platform for a lot of these individuals to learn about themselves and flaunt their body in whatever way they choose.
This can bring heaps of self-love as told by Jas Gilly*, a pharmacist from Luton:
“I was raised in a strict household, did the usual thing of going down the medicine route and straight into a high-paying job.
“But, not speaking about anything sex-related or being exposed to it when I was growing up meant I was socially awkward.
“I didn’t have any knowledge of sexuality – in a personal sense.
“Medically, I’m well aware of things. But feeling emotions, passion, and intimacy eluded me.
“I was a virgin throughout my life until mid-2022, a couple of months after I entered the sex industry.
“I joined Fansly, where you can share content, meet other creators and talk.
“As a man, it felt quite weird at the start and I wasn’t sure what to do but over time, you get used to the platform and community.
“It let me explore myself and my fantasies without getting any judgment.”
“And, people who follow you or watch your videos, appreciate your body and it makes you feel good about yourself.
“It motivates you to not only be more open about your turn-ons or fetishes but makes you more confident in real life when interacting with people.”
Ria Khan*, a trans student from Nottingham adds her viewpoint on this:
“Being trans is hard enough. Being a British Asian trans person is even tougher. You have to fight your own battles and you’ll be lucky if your own family supports you.
“So, the sex industry was a place for me to feel empowered and strong. It allowed me to meet people in the exact situation I’m in.
“I can also interact with followers who are sexually attracted to me, even though I’m still transitioning.
“So, yes the money is good, the attention is good but not many people think you can love yourself more being a sex worker and that is exactly how it’s made me feel.”
Lastly, Harpreet Sithi, a 20-year-old from Birmingham adds:
“I’ve never loved my body because I’m quite a big girl.
“There are a lot of sex workers who are like me and don’t get much attention in other parts of the industry.
“But online, you receive so much praise and love for how you look. It lets me know that I’m enough and has actually fixed the insecurities I once had.”
There’s no denying that the sex industry has brought a great deal of self-belief in British Asians. Some workers have used platforms to explore sexual desires and body confidence.
It comes as quite a surprise as the overwhelming opinion sometimes is that sex workers are only in the industry for money. But, this shows that’s not entirely the case.
Social Media Presence
Empowerment and financial opportunity are considered “morally” right reasons to join the sex industry.
However, some people do get into the business to only build up their online profile.
In the technology age, having a huge social media presence or following can bring further opportunities such as brand deals, exposure and sponsorships.
This kind of popularity is more important to Gen Z rather than any other demographic. And, this is equally as significant for younger British Asians becoming sex workers.
21-year-old Nia from Longbridge states:
“As soon as I went onto OnlyFans, I got so many followers on Instagram and I went from 1000 to 5000 in a few days.
“I then started getting messages from companies to promote their products and getting things sent to me to try out.
“It was crazy but then I realised that being a big social media person is the easiest route to thousands and even millions of pounds.
“I also get invited to exclusive events and it motivated me to keep on posting content. I’ve also thought about going into porn.
“Being sexual is not dirty, it can be beautiful and enlightening. But, South Asians don’t want to have that discussion because their mindsets are still backward.”
Hasan Mahmud, a 19-year-old from Coventry also told us his opinion:
“My mate introduced me to the sex industry ’cause she’s a dancer.
“I’ve gone into erotic modelling so posing semi-nude or nude for magazines, campaigns etc.”
“After doing it for a few months, I got so many people messaging me online and commenting on how I looked – in a good way.
“It’s weird cause when I first started to model and reach out to brands, they didn’t reply.
“But, as soon as I gained some fans, I’m currently at 11,000, those same brands started to message me. It’s so sick!
“Getting popular or famous online is actually one of the main reasons I wanted to model. I wanted to be seen and not going to lie, I wanted people to know who I was.”
It seems the idea of being well-known is very much at the back of some British Asians’ minds when becoming sex workers.
However, as previously mentioned, the main two explanations are because of the financial opportunity and empowering nature it can have.
But, regardless of why British Asian people enter the sex industry, it’s not accepted as a career or hobby in the culture.
Although, this could change in the future as sexual exploration gets normalised.
Overall, it’s very interesting to hear why British Asians are becoming sex workers and there are some refreshing insights into their choices.