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Couple Finds Alternate Income Source—Making Over $9,000 With Racy Photos During Pandemic

PA Real Life/Collect

A couple whose income was severely reduced by the pandemic look set to exceed their pre-lockdown salaries—after earning £7,000 ($9,155) by posting racy pictures and videos of their sizzling romance on an influencer site.

With gigs banned, self-employed dancer James Thompson, 29, had no work, while his boyfriend of a year Ethan James, 24, a gym manager, was furloughed on 80 per cent of his salary—meaning their usual combined income of around £3,000 ($3,923) a month after tax plummeted.

But their panic passed when James—who has rented a flat with Ethan in Hampstead, north west London, since March—was told about the influencer site SoSpoilt by a friend and had a money-making brainwave to produce home grown adult content.

James (L) and Ethan (R) (PA Real Life/Collect)

James said:

“Ethan and I never had a problem with adult work, but it's not something we saw ourselves doing either."
"Now, though, I can see why people make a career out of it. It's very lucrative."
“There is less of a taboo about it these days, but some people are still quite judgemental. There's a stigma and people assume you don't have good values, or that you'll do anything for money."
“Actually, we're not as kinky as people think. We both have strong morals."
"We're in a happy, monogamous relationship and want to get married and one day have that house with a white-picket fence. This is just how we've survived during a very uncertain time."

Although James and Ethan have lots of friends in common, they only met last year when they ended up on the same night out, after which they chatted on Instagram and a spark ignited between them.

Then, when the tenancies on the flats they were living in ended earlier this year, they decided to move in together.

“We knew from early on that things were going well and that the relationship had a future."
“It was a complete coincidence that our tenancies ended at the same time."

James (R) and Ethan (L) (PA Real Life/Collect)

He added:

“We figured we might as well move in together—but this was all back in March, when talk of a nationwide lockdown first began, so we faced quite a panicked rush to find somewhere."

With theatre shows and gigs canceled, James saw his work fizzling out and feared he would soon earn nothing at all.

“As I'm self-employed, if I don't have a gig, I don't earn money."
“That means that some months are more fruitful than others for me, so mine and Ethan's combined salary fluctuates, but on average, we were earning about £3,000 ($3,923) a month, after tax. London rent can be expensive, so once my wage was taken out of the equation, we started to worry."

And when Ethan was furloughed from his job in March, reducing his salary by 20 per cent, the couple became increasingly anxious.

James continued:

“I did try to find another job. I applied for lots of odd jobs, but with so many industries shutting down and so many other people out of work to compete with, it was impossible."

Then, in April, the pair got chatting to a friend who had done some marketing work for SoSpoilt, a platform for influencers to earn money by creating exclusive content for their fans through subscriptions, live-streams and pay-per-minute one-to-one chats.

James (L) and Ethan (R) (PA Real Life/Collect)

Creators have full control over what and when they post and how much they charge, and can use the site to monetise anything from workout routines to makeup tutorials.

But James had a more X-rated idea in mind, saying:

“I know a few people who've done adult webcam work and so on. It can be competitive, but there is money to be made."
"I brought it up with Ethan to see what he thought. We're best friends on top of being in a relationship, so we can talk about things like that really openly."
“Neither of us said yes right away. We thought it was wise to wait and see what would happen and when we'd be likely to start earning money from our day jobs again."
"But when it became clear we'd be in lockdown for the long haul, we went for it."

James (R) and Ethan (L) (PA Real Life/Collect)

At the end of April, the couple set up their own page and began posting pictures and videos of what they were getting up to between the sheets.

James explained:

“We thought about doing live-streams, but we don't want to do too much too quickly in case our followers get bored. We get lots of lovely supportive messages."
"I think people like to be a fly on the wall to a genuinely loving couple."
"For us, creating content hasn't felt awkward. It feels like we're just filming our real life together."
“We soon learnt that people don't want anything that looks overly produced, as it can seem staged, so we set up a camera in our bedroom and let things happen naturally."

Within just six weeks, James and Ethan had already earned almost £2,000 ($2,615).

Now, they continue to upload photos and short five-to-seven-minute video clips every week and say they will carry on until they are in a more financially stable situation.

And the couple are not alone, according to James, who discovered that SoSpoilt has seen a surge of sign-ups during lockdown.

He said:

“We're not millionaires by any stretch, but we've been able to cover our rent and all our bills, with some left over, which we've saved."
“It's probably the easiest money I've ever earned and so many people do this kind of thing these days that the stigma has been removed slightly. Even some celebrities like the singer Kerry Katona, and Megan Barton-Hanson from Love Island have OnlyFans accounts."
“People who are offended it by it often aren't comfortable with themselves. It's more about them than us."

James (R) and Ethan (L) (PA Real Life/Collect)

Now, Ethan has returned to his day job at the gym, but has no regrets about his flirtation with the world of adult entertainment.

He said:

“This has saved us during lockdown. Our relationship is strong enough that this hasn't affected things."
"It's been something to do together to help us survive, I'm really thankful we did this."
“The stigma around this sort of work is vanishing, especially during quarantine. People are less judgemental at the moment, when everyone is just trying to survive."