Jobless, Selling Nudes Online, And Still Struggling – OnlyFans Boomed During Pandemic With 1 Million+ Content Creators, But More Competition Means Less Money And The Same Risks

OnlyFans, a social media platform that allows people to sell explicit photos of themselves, has boomed during the pandemic. But competition on the site means many won’t earn much.

OnlyFans, founded in 2016 and based in Britain, has boomed in popularity during the pandemic. As of December, it had more than 90 million users and more than one million content creators, up from 120,000 in 2019. The company declined to comment for this article.

With millions of Americans unemployed, some like Ms. Benavidez and Ms. Eixenberger are turning to OnlyFans in an attempt to provide for themselves and their families. The pandemic has taken a particularly devastating toll on women and mothers, wiping out parts of the economy where women dominate: retail businesses, restaurants and health care.

“A lot of people are migrating to OnlyFans out of desperation,” said Angela Jones, an associate professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. “These are people who are worried about eating, they’re worried about keeping the lights on, they’re worried about not being evicted.”

But for every person like Ms. Benavidez, who is able to use OnlyFans as her primary source of income, there are dozens more, like Ms. Eixenberger, who hope for a windfall and end up with little more than a few hundred dollars and worries that the photos will hinder their ability to get a job in the future.

“It is already an incredibly saturated market,” Ms. Jones said of explicit content online. “The idea that people are just going to open up an OnlyFans account and start raking in the dough is really misguided.”

The most successful content creators are often models, porn stars and celebrities who already have large social media followings. They can use their other online platforms to drive followers to their OnlyFans accounts, where they offer exclusive content to those willing to pay a monthly fee — even personalized content in exchange for tips. OnlyFans takes a 20 percent cut of any pay. Some creators receive tips through mobile payment apps, which aren’t subject to that cut; Ms. Benavidez earns most of her money this way.

But many of the creators who have joined the platform out of dire financial need do not have large social media followings or any way to drum up consistent business.

Elle Morocco of West Palm Beach, Fla., was laid off from her job as an office manager in July. Her unemployment checks don’t cover her $1,600 monthly rent, utility bills and food costs, so she joined OnlyFans in November.

But Ms. Morocco, 36, had no social media presence to speak of when she joined the platform, and has had to gain subscribers one by one — by posting pictures of herself on Instagram and Twitter, and following up with people who like and comment on her posts, encouraging each one to subscribe to OnlyFans. It’s more challenging and time consuming than she expected, and less financially rewarding.

“It’s a full-time job on top of your full-time job looking for work,” she said. “Fans want to see you posting daily. You’re always churning. You’re always taking pictures to post.”

She has made just $250 on the platform so far, despite sometimes spending upward of eight hours a day creating, posting and promoting her content.

Ms. Morocco also worries that her presence on the platform will make it more difficult for her to be hired for traditional jobs in the future.

“If you’re looking for a 9 to 5, they might not hire you if they find out you have an OnlyFans,” she said. “They may not want you if they know you’re a sex worker.”

Digital sex work can give the illusion of safety and privacy — content creators can get paid without having to interact with clients in person. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks.

“Online sex work is a much more appealing alternative to many people than going on the streets or selling direct sexual services,” said Barb Brents, a professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “That said, anybody getting into this kind of work needs to be aware that there are dangers.”

Last April, a mechanic in Indiana lost her job at a Honda dealership after management learned she had an OnlyFans account. Creators can be the target of “doxxing” — a form of online harassment in which users publish private or sensitive information about someone without permission. In December, The New York Post published an article about a New York City medic who was using OnlyFans to supplement her income. The medic believed that the article, published without her consent, would damage her reputation and get her fired from her job.

Creators can also be subject to “capping,” a practice in which users take unauthorized screenshots or recordings and then share them elsewhere on the internet. OnlyFans creators have also received death and rape threats on social media.

OnlyFans content creators can face not just professional consequences but personal ones, too. Ms. Eixenberger has been keeping her account secret from her father, but knows he will find out now that she has gone public. “I don’t want to be shamed or disowned,” she said.

Source: NY Times

Why Jeremy Lin Turned Down Millions In China’s CBA To Play For Warriors’ G League Team

For years after the three-week stretch that made him an international phenomenon, Jeremy Lin went out of his way to avoid saying “Linsanity.”

The word, which he trademarked in 2012 to prevent strangers from profiting off his image, carried too much trauma. It had been coined by Knicks fans to describe their excitement for an unheralded reserve who blossomed — seemingly overnight — into a franchise hero, but it took on a less complimentary meaning when Lin failed to recapture the greatness he exhibited during those 18 days in February.

As Lin ping-ponged among six franchises in seven years before heading to China in August 2019 when no NBA team signed him in free agency, he came to view Linsanity as a painful reminder of his unfulfilled promise. His legacy was seemingly distilled to less than a month’s worth of games when he couldn’t do enough to be remembered for more.

But over the past year, therapy sessions and a memorable season in his maternal grandmother’s home country helped Lin come to terms with his place in basketball history. His recent decision to forgo a seven-figure contract in China and sign with Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, for less than the average elementary school teacher’s salary was rooted in little more than a desire to prove to himself that he still belongs in the NBA.

As one of the faces of the Chinese Basketball Association, Lin lived in a penthouse apartment in downtown Beijing, rode to practices in the backseat of a luxury sedan and often navigated throngs of autograph-seekers to reach the hotel elevator. Now, nine years removed from his last G League game, he is back in a level he remembers best for the time he and his Erie BayHawks teammates ate saltine crackers all day before a game in Portland, Maine, because the team bus had broken down during a snowstorm.

“In China, I had so much fan support and so many amazing things going on,” said Lin, who paced the Beijing Ducks last season in scoring (22.3 points per game), assists (5.6 per game) and steals (1.8 per game). “To surrender all of that and to come here, honestly, some people think I’m crazy.”

After his Ducks were beaten in the CBA’s semifinals in early August, Lin returned to his parents’ house in Palo Alto. Each morning, around 4 or 5, he awoke as questions about his future raced through his mind: Would he be comfortable finishing his career in front of adoring fans in China? Would he always have a gnawing regret that he hadn’t given the NBA another shot?

Lin had heard from his agent that NBA teams weren’t impressed by gaudy stats against inferior competition in the CBA. His quickest route back to the sport’s top level would be through the G League, from where 35 players were called up to the NBA last season.

At age 32, Lin recognizes that he can’t afford to waste time. His hope is that, after a dozen or so games with Santa Cruz at the Orlando bubble, he’ll land an NBA contract and show that he should never have had to leave the league in the first place.

That is important personal growth, but he isn’t content stopping there. Instead of returning to China, where he could revel in being one of the biggest celebrities in a basketball-crazed country of nearly 1.4 billion people, Lin figures he owes it to himself and his fans to see whether he can author another inspirational story.

Source: SF Chronicle

Elaine Chao’s White House Resignation Falls Short – Despite Her Background As An Asian-American Immigrant, Activists Say She Leaves A Legacy Of Complicity With Anti-Immigrant, Racist Policies As A Loyal Trump Official

Some Asian American community leaders say Elaine Chao’s resignation as transportation secretary after the riot at the U.S. Capitol is inadequate after years of harm to marginalized groups and the immigrant community — of which she is a part.

Chao, who officially left her role Monday, is one of the few Asian American immigrants to have ascended to such heights in government. But activists say she leaves behind a legacy of complicity with anti-immigrant, racist policies as a loyal Trump administration official.

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said that at this point, regardless of her exit, “damage has been done” to her reputation and credibility.

“Elaine Chao was complicit in creating a politics of toxicity and cynicism. Her decision can only be seen in that context,” Yoo said. “Her dissent was needed when Trump degraded, ostracized and isolated the Asian American community with his Covid-19 misinformation and outright racism or in any of the instances when Trump sought to hurt immigrants like herself.”

Chao, who said in her resignation statement that the violence at the Capitol last week had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” previously made history as the first Asian American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She hasn’t been afraid of opening up about her immigrant roots and her difficult early years in America. Chao, 67, came to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years old, speaking no English.

“I think you will understand when I say that our initial years in America were very challenging,” Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the newly naturalized citizens. “We didn’t speak English, had no family or friends here, couldn’t get used to the food nor understand the customs here.”

Her rise from her immigrant roots has made her a role model for some Asian American families. In an interview with CNN in 2017, Chao said that those from the community would show up anywhere, from public events to the airport, to greet her and that she would feel an “instant bond.” Activists say her actions have proven anything but supportive to immigrant communities.

Chao came under fire several times during Trump’s tenure for staying silent as he tried to institute hard-line immigration policies. In 2017, several Asian American organizations called on Chao to oppose Trump’s termination of the Temporary Protected Status programs for several countries, including Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Temporary Protected Status is typically given to countries where conditions prevent nationals from returning.

They also demanded that she speak out against Trump’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that year.

While the majority of so-called Dreamers hail from Latin America, about 16,000 undocumented Asian youths are protected under the act. And Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, their population tripling from 2000 to 2015. Chao, however, was mum about the subject.

She also remained silent about Trump’s public charge rule, which denies immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to need public assistance, among other controversial policies. More than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the rule had it been in effect when they applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy organization. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

But Chao possibly drew the most criticism for migrant family separation. While she did not comment on her stance, she did fire back at protesters at Georgetown University who confronted her and McConnell about the policy in 2018 and asked, “Why are you separating families?”

Chao shouted back, “Leave my husband alone,” winning praise among conservatives.

“She effectively colluded with the Trump administration in increasing the separation of our families and rescinding of the DACA program, denying access to public benefits and much more,” said Becky Belcore, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, an advocacy organization that was among the groups that previously called on Chao to speak out against the immigration crackdowns.

“Chao was in a position of power that she could have leveraged to support the most marginalized members of our community,” Belcore said. “Instead, she was often seen standing next to Trump as he signed anti-immigrant policies into law.”

Advocates also said that in a particularly damning moment, Chao, a woman of color, stood by Trump at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York City as he neglected to call out hate groups and claimed that there were “very fine people on both sides” after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

While her husband, McConnell, had been feuding with Trump at the time, Chao told reporters at the news conference that she stood “by my man — both of them.” While it’s unclear whether Chao actively supported Trump or was required to do so in the moment as a Cabinet member, John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, said he believes her inaction had consequences.

“President Trump’s statement following the events in Charlottesville were reprehensible,” Yang said. “It is clear that his remarks were building to the insurrection we saw on Wednesday, and the failure of those around him to call out his behavior emboldened him. It is irresponsible and unconscionable for a sitting president of the United States to not only condone but to incite the behavior of people who are only concerned with holding on to white supremacist power.”

Belcore said she felt that Chao, who also served in a Cabinet position as labor secretary under former President George W. Bush, did not sufficiently protect vulnerable workers, including immigrants. But Yang said he felt that Trump’s “racism and xenophobia is toxic and dangerous, at a level not seen in recent presidencies,” taking more precedence compared to the Bush administration. He said that while immigrants and people of color were “under constant attack in dangerous ways” during Trump’s tenure, Chao was in a position in which she could have stood up more for marginalized people. He said it was “disappointing that she did not do so publicly.”

Yang acknowledged that Chao’s ascendance to a Cabinet position as an Asian American, a member of a community that continues to struggle with representation in the political sphere, was an accomplishment, but he said that doesn’t mean her conduct represented the community well. He said, moreover, that as Chao painted herself as a hard-working immigrant while supporting the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, she fed into the “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” myth.

Source: NBC News

How Tomato Sauce Is Made In Italy | Regional Eats

Every summer, Isabella, her mother, Dina, and her daughter, Federica, honor the family tradition and make tomato sauce in their garden. The process is a laborious one that takes several hours, from handpicking each tomato to adding basil leaves into jars one by one. This year, the family has turned more than 200 kilos of tomatoes into sauce.

1952 Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Sells For $5.2 Million, An All-Time Record For Trading Cards

A 1952 Mickey Mantle — one of baseball cards’ holy grails — has sold for a whopping $5.2 million, setting a record for the most expensive trading card ever and nearly doubling its value since a 2018 sale.

The card is one of nine known in existence in its condition. It sold to Rob Gough, an entrepreneur and actor, who started the DOPE clothing and CBD line and whose credits include the 2018 film “Billionaire Boys Club.”

This particular card is graded as Mint 9 by PSA — the go-to grading service for cards — and sold for $2.8 million in 2018 to an unidentified buyer, who then sold it to Gough in a deal brokered by PWCC Marketplace, a leader in the trading card investment market.

“Based on our research, this is the nicest looking 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 9 in existence,” Jesse Craig, director of business development at PWCC Marketplace, said in a press release.

The sale further illustrates the trading card boom that has hit the industry in recent years, with 2020 being a particularly strong year for sports cards. Cards these days aren’t just a hobby — they’re seen as investments, in the way people play the stock market.

It’s now a playground for the rich to either invest or live out their childhood dreams.

“I’ve dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards,” Gough said in a statement. “It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards and I’ve been searching for this high graded example talking to industry experts, dealers, auction houses, friends and I’m ecstatic that I’m now the proud owner of this iconic card.”

A combination of factors led to a red-hot sports card market in 2020: ESPN’s “The Last Dance” made the market boom for Michael Jordan-specific products. The pandemic led many fans and collectors to rediscover cards. In many cases, even normal modern sports-card products were hard to come by at big-box retailers like Walmart and Target.

Source: Yahoo Sports

The Martian Diet – What Will Humans Eat On Mars? Planetary Scientist Kevin Cannon Talks About The Logistics Of Feeding A Population Of One Million On The Red Planet

What inspired you to consider feeding one million people on Mars?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects related to space resources, so using local materials on the moon or Mars to support exploration and development of space. If you think about the consumables you would need for humans, you’re looking at oxygen, water, construction material and food. And what we realized is that the food is one of the most challenging things to produce on the surface of Mars and that it’s going to take a lot of processing. In our opinion, people really weren’t thinking big enough.

How did you come up with numbers—like number of people and caloric intake—for the study?

The million people, that’s kind of an arbitrary figure based on some stuff that Elon Musk has talked about for his aspirational goals, so we just chose that as a baseline. For the specific numbers in the study, we took a lot from data on Earth. For example, we looked at how many calories the average person eats per day and then scaled that based on a person’s age and activity level. In this computer model, we actually represent a population of people, so we had a 50/50 mix of males and females and we had an age structure. Of course, children consume a lot less calories than older people. That’s all taken into account in our modeling.

How did you determine which food sources would be well-suited for life on Mars?

We looked at this in a very general way. We thought, okay, let’s start from plants, because that’s what most people assumed in the past when they thought about what people would be eating on space missions. And let’s go a little bit beyond that to some protein sources. So, we looked at what’s being done on Earth and we honed in on insect-based foods that turned out to be very efficient for Mars, as well as what’s called cellular agriculture. That’s this idea of growing meat from cells in these large bioreactors. It’s something that’s actually coming a lot sooner than people think on Earth, and it’s very well-adapted for producing food in space.

How does cellular agriculture work?

The way it works is that you take cells from an animal—you can really use any animal, but people are starting with chickens, cows, the familiar things. You extract those cells and then you basically grow them in a nutrient solution. This could be done in a big, stainless steel tank and it almost would look more like brewing beer than a traditional farm. What people are really working on now is to try to get the texture right by building up those cells in some kind of scaffold that gives you the texture of different meats. But the whole point is it’s a much more sustainable way of producing animal protein, and it’s much more ethical because it doesn’t involve raising animals in questionable conditions.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the insect protein?

In North America and in Europe, it’s not really part of our culture or diet. But if you look more broadly, I think something like 2 billion people eat insects as part of their diet on a regular basis. It turns out to be a very good source of protein and again, it’s much more sustainable. It doesn’t require a lot of land or a lot of water compared to factory farming practices. Of course, there is a little bit of a gross factor. But people can, for example, grind up crickets into flour and then put them into cookies or chips or things like that, so you can hide them and get away from just chomping down on whole insects.

What kind of fruits or vegetables would be on the menu?

If you look at what’s being done in space right now, the astronauts have a little garden where they’re able to grow things like lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. Of course, those foods are valuable for things like vitamins and the psychological benefit of being able to grow your own vegetables. But you’re not going to be able to feed a large population on those very low-calorie vegetables, so you’re really going to have to look at things like corn, wheat and soy that are dense enough in calories to support a growing population.

What kinds of technologies did you find were best suited for food production on Mars?

One of the important things is that you would want your food production to be as automated as possible because that would free up people’s time to do more important things. A lot of companies are working on that on Earth, trying to integrate robots into farming and insect production. I think the other thing that’s going to be important is genetic modification, particularly with the plant species, to find ways to improve strains of crops and make them more resilient to grow in a harsh environment on Mars. Right now, the most promising thing would be something like CRISPR, which has kind of taken over the biology world. Already, there’s been a few studies that have used CRISPR to rapidly modify the genomes of specific plant species. So, I think that in particular has the most promise for making Mars-specific strains of crops.

What are some other challenges posed by the conditions on Mars?

One thing we looked at was whether it makes sense to grow plants in greenhouses on the surface. Whenever you see an artist sketch of a Mars base, you always see greenhouses everywhere. But what we found is that you really just don’t get enough sunlight at the surface of Mars because it’s farther away from the sun. Your incident sunlight is basically what you would get in Alaska, and there’s a reason why we don’t grow corn and wheat in Alaska. They’re growing at more southern latitudes. So, it turns out that something like a greenhouse might actually not make sense on Mars. You might be better off growing the plants and producing other foods in tunnels underground, for example.

Where would the water come from?

We have a pretty good handle on where the water is on Mars. It’s mostly locked up as ice underground and it’s also found in certain minerals. For things like clays and salts, where the water is actually embedded in the mineral structure, you could heat those up and evaporate the water off. Once you extract that water, it’s pretty easy to recycle water fairly efficiently. I think on the space station, something like 97 percent of the water is recaptured and reused. It’s obviously an engineering challenge to mine that water in the first place, but then once you have a reservoir built up, you should be able to recycle it fairly efficiently in this closed ecosystem that you construct.

Based on the results of the study, would you advocate for a human settlement on Mars?

Yes, and I think if we look at what particularly SpaceX is doing, they’re already building the ships that are going to take cargo and then people to Mars. We’re already kind of set down that path, and the question is going to be: who goes? Is this going to be space agencies? Is it going to be tourists? And how is a settlement or a city going to build up? But I think it is definitely something that’s feasible in the near term.

Source: Smithsonian