Photo: Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Earlier this month, (bitch I’m) Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans. She cleared $1 million in a single day and set a record for the subscription-based social-media platform. (Social media here meaning media that might be too NSFW for it to be posted on other platforms where it would violate TOS. Though, worth noting, anybody can make an OnlyFans to post whatever they think they can get people to pay for, lewd or otherwise.) A week later, Thorne said that number had grown to $2 million, and the number of people in the sex-work community — and beyond — who were upset with her had grown right along with it. Here’s a brief summary of what went down, in a tab you can keep open no matter your line of work.
Wait, why are they mad?
Thorne joined OnlyFans and set her price at $20 per month for a subscription to her feed. Almost immediately, the blowback began. “To witness a celebrity gentrifying a platform and making obscene amounts of money without acknowledging the plight of sex workers is truly a slap in the face,” Aussie Rachel, a sex worker and OnlyFans creator, told Rolling Stone in a piece about how the rise of celebrities joining the platform spells doom for the sex workers who rely on it for income and are not, say, high-profile former Disney Channel stars with ample revenue streams at their disposal.
But wait … hasn’t Thorne worked in pornography before?
Yes, that’s true. Thorne directed Her & Him for Pornhub in 2019. (It even won an award.) But not long after joining OF, Thorne told the Los Angeles Times she’d done so as research for a film role. She’s working with director Sean Baker (Tangerine, The Florida Project), and says she’ll be dividing her profits between funding her production company and charity donations. (No specifics on how much money will be going where.) “It’s a feature we are researching as I’m living it currently,” Thorne told the Times via text. “What are the ins and outs? What does a platform like this do to its users? What’s the connective material between your life and your life inside the world of OnlyFans? … How can it change your life for the worse and the better? How far are you willing to go, and how far do you WANT to go? You can be me, or this talented girl from Montana, and OnlyFans could change your life — if you want it to, of course.”
But she’s famous already — that seems like it would skew the authenticity of her so-called research, no?
So what’s on her OnlyFans page anyway?
Well, on Twitter, Thorne said she would not be posting anything fully nude. More specifically, she said, “Nooooo I’m not doing nudity!!! .” “Her page does feature some suggestive imagery — numerous bikini photos, her eating a hot dog — but nothing explicitly graphic,” the Times also reported. “In a poll, however, she did ask her fans what type of content they’d like from her; tongue teasing, lingerie, booty, showering and twerking were among the answers.”
But I heard she charged $200 for a single nude photo?
There are tweets circulating right now that allege Thorne was selling a pay-per-view “nude” for $200. (A pay-per-view message is exactly what it sounds like: content that you share, via message, that your fans pay to view,” according to OnlyFans. Creators set their price and can choose to send them to individual followers or to all of their followers at one.) There’s a screenshot of what appears to be a chat between an OF user and Thorne, who confirms to the user the photo is “NAKED.”
Here’s another tweet from OF creator @glutengoddess that breaks down what allegedly happened. Because the reported PPV message was not, in fact, a nude, OF users requested refunds at such a rate that some creators are claiming it prompted the platform to make changes to how it pays creators. Creators in some countries will now have to wait 30 days, up from 7, to receive payouts. “Creators on OnlyFans receive 80 percent of their subscription revenue and can also receive tips from their fans,” a spokesperson for OnlyFans told Vulture in a release. OF has reportedly since placed a cap on the prices creators can charge for PPV content and on tips.
What does OnlyFans have to say?
OF told Vulture it “confirms that any changes to transaction limits are not based on any one user,” but declined to comment further on Thorne. “Transaction limits are set to help prevent overspending and to allow our users to continue to use the site safely,” a spokesperson said, noting the company was hearing feedback on the changes and “will continue to review these limits.
Right, so people were already angry with Thorne’s actions, but this sealed the deal. Even if it’s not, at least as far as OF is saying, officially her fault. Thorne, before you ask, has not made any sort of statement addressing the situation.
Update, August 31, 11:45 a.m.: Sean Baker put out a statement denying he and Thorne are working on the project she described to the Times. “Earlier this month I had a conversation with Ms. Thorne and discussed a possible collaboration in the far future that would focus on her life and the circumstances leading to her joining OnlyFans,” Baker wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “On that call, I advised her team to consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this as to not hurt the sex work industry. This has been the extent of my involvement.”
The next day, Thorne issued an apology, via Twitter, for joining OnlyFans. She wrote that she “wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas” and to “remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it.” Thorne said in joining OF she hoped she could “help bring more faces to the site to create more revenue for content creators on the site.” She did not, however, address Baker’s statement or explain the alleged project she claimed inspired her to join the platform in the first place.