Bella Thorne apologized to sex workers who criticized her decision to join OnlyFans, which many content creators feared could negatively impact their revenue streams and further stigmatize the work they do.
“Remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it that’s what I was trying to do, to help bring more faces to the site to create more revenue for content creators on the site,” Thorne wrote in a series of tweets Saturday, August 29th. “I wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas, and in trying to do this I hurt you.”
OnlyFans is a subscription platform that allows creators to sell content directly to fans, and since arriving in 2016 has primarily been used by sex workers. Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States in March, it’s seen an enormous spike in signups, with Beyoncé name-checking it on the “Savage” remix and celebrities like Cardi B and Black Chyna joining it as well. Last week, Thorne revealed that she was joining the platform, too, and immediately set a record, becoming the first creator to make more than $1 million in 24 hours, and then topping $2 million by the end of the week.
On social media, however, many sex workers who rely on OnlyFans expressed their discontent. Many worried that the mainstreaming of the platform would oversaturate the market and further marginalize sex workers who rely on it. (As Rolling Stone previously reported, many sex workers on OnlyFans have raised concerns that the platform is slowly pushing them out, a claim that OnlyFans has denied.) Additionally, after Thorne’s first-week windfall, OnlyFans implemented changes to how much content creators could be paid per post and in tips, which many suggested was tied to Thorne’s success; OnlyFans said the changes were “not based on any one user.”
Many sex workers also pointed to Thorne’s comments to the Los Angeles Times that she’d joined OnlyFans to research a role in a new film directed by Sean Baker. Baker went on to deny that he was working on any such project, saying that he and Thorne had only discussed a possible collaboration down the road, and that he “advised her team to consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this as to NOT hurt the sex work industry.”
In her apology Thorne emphasized that she never intended to cause any harm to sex workers who rely on OnlyFans, and said her decision to join — like the adult film she directed for Pornhub last year — came from a desire “to help with the stigma behind sex.”
She continued: “I am a mainstream face and when you have a voice, a platform, you try to use [yours] in helping others and advocate for something bigger than yourself. Again in this process I hurt you and for that I’m truly sorry.”
Thorne also said that she was meeting with OnlyFans to discuss the new policy changes, saying, “This is fucked up and I’m sorry.” She asked those on the platform to “comment any ideas or concerns you want brought up,” and added, “and send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys.”
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