On top of a picture of the Sistine Chapel, two dildos with straps on them are flopped towards each other. The woman wearing fishnets and blue nail polish goes by the name Cryptonatrix. Since late 2020, she has been selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with adult content, like this one, which is called the Sistine Chapel of Smut. But she says it went away soon after she first put this NFT up for sale on the market Rarible.
Natrix says, “They cut me off.” “It was a major letdown. I was more upset about how nobody else seemed to care… Because a lot of people want this space and decentralization to work against censorship, but I realized early on that no one cares about that unless it affects them, and very few people would actually fight for the real values of decentralization.
This can be a big problem for people on the outside, like sex workers, who don’t get much help from the public. (Rarible did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment.)
Web3 is supposed to be a new model of the internet, free from the restrictions that plagued the centralized Web2. However, censorship of sex workers still happens in this brave new world.
Allie Eve Knox, a sex worker who started selling NFTs of her work in 2020, says, “It’s still the same. They still have to follow the same rules. They’re still governed by FOSTA/SESTA, which means… they censor us, they don’t let us be on their platform, and they don’t play nice with us.” “Web3 or any other kind of technology won’t change that.”
Knox calls herself on Twitter a “vixen, goddess, cryptocutie, and findomme.” She says that major NFT marketplaces “shadow ban” (or hide) the content of sex workers in the same way that Web2 social media sites do. Also, sex workers still have to use social media sites like Instagram and Twitter to market their NFTs to a wider audience of people who buy adult content. And at the end of the day, the people who collect NFTs and praise Web3 still live in a world that puts sex workers in the background.
“So-called Web3 is really just a reflection of this bull&%$# dystopia we live in, and I can’t expect things to be different there,” says Cryptonatrix, who also goes by Natrix.
Still, some sex workers who have already sold NFTs aren’t giving up on their new source of income, even though it’s become an even smaller part of their income during the ongoing crypto bear market.
“As long as there is room for us to do our own thing, we will do our own thing,” says Natrix. “Sex workers are always the most creative people in whatever we do, whether or not anyone else wants to notice it.”
How sex worker NFTs are doing
From VCRs in the 1970s to bitcoin (BTC) in the early 2010s, sex workers and people who make adult content have always been some of the first people to use new types of technology. In the same time-honored way, many people tried out the recent NFT craze before everyone went crazy about Punks and Apes. But these days, when the economy is bad, it’s not a very popular or profitable way for sex workers to make money.
Based on what she has seen in the NFT community as a whole, Natrix thinks that less than 100 sex workers are actively minting NFTs right now. But she doesn’t use NFT platforms like TreatDAO, CumRocket, and Unique that are designed for sex workers (more on that later). Fans.
But there are only a few platforms like that, and one of the more well-known ones, NASFTY, has a website that is “under renovation,” so no one knows when or how it will come back.
On its website, TreatDAO says that it has “450+ creators,” but it doesn’t say how many of those creators are also active users. In an email to CoinDesk, a representative from CumRocket, which is still in beta, said that “8,703 buyers and 2,027 creators” have signed up to use the platform so far. SpankChain is the Web3 company for sex workers and people who make adult content that has been around the longest. About 60 models have used the platform to mint and sell their NFTs, says Knox, who works with the platform.
Maya Kendrick, who is 26 and lives in Los Angeles, used SpankChain to make her first NFTs in September 2021. She says, “It was a lot easier than I thought it would be because SpankChain took care of all the technical stuff.” Kendrick also found a way into the larger NFT world through her newly created NFTs. She says that the other project creators are “super welcoming” and “happy to have more sex workers in the space.”
Still, NFTs don’t make up much of her income. Knox is the same way.
What’s next for adult NFTs?
There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to what “adult” or “NSFW” content is and isn’t. Many people who work in the sex industry don’t like how platforms label their naked pictures as NSFW, even if they don’t look that different from a photographer’s naked pictures. The latter, on the other hand, is often categorized as art and can still be found on NFT platforms.
Web3 supporters, on the other hand, say that bigger powers shouldn’t decide what is “safe” for internet users to see, sell, and buy and what isn’t. The future of the web is all about getting rid of these gatekeepers, they say.
Creators like Kendrick think that Web3 content platforms will end up like their Web2 counterparts, like OnlyFans, which started out as a marketplace for sex workers and then threatened to kick them off the platform when it became popular. “The people who run those platforms are still trying to run them like businesses, and we are still a liability to those businesses,” she says.
There are other reasons why NFTs are not the end of the world for people who work in the sex industry. The NFTs in a collector’s wallet are visible online, and Natrix says that buyers might not want other people to see their wallets full of pornographic items.
This makes it harder for creators of adult content to follow a classic NFT success model, in which buyers of a certain collection work together to promote the project and each other’s purchases to build community and raise the value of the work they’ve all invested in. Natrix says that collectors don’t get together over sexual content.
Even though the market is in a bear market right now, the creators who talked to CoinDesk plan to keep selling NFTs. The technology gives sex workers another way to make money, and since they are in a precarious position on so many platforms in Webs 2 and 3, they can always use more ways to make money.
Kendrick says, “You go on the platforms that will take you until they won’t.” “I can see why sex workers use any platform they can find until they get kicked off.”