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(No Spoilers) A regular from my cam room bought me this book when I was chatting about my sex worker library. A collection of books I’ve gathered over the years written by or about sex workers, sex and sexuality. I’m a fan of the movie thriller ‘Cam’ on Netflix (Also created by Mazzei) so I shot this book to the top of my reading list. I had no idea what to expect. Admittedly, memoirs are not a genre I frequent. I was worried a book like this wouldn’t keep my interest. Which is ridiculous because I devoured it in two days. Two because I forced myself to stretch it out so I could give my brain proper digestion time.
While an easy read, it may have you gasping in public because of its content. I want to point out that I have an obvious bias being IN the camming community while reading this. I remember TheOnlyUna. I was at some of the events she describes in these memoirs. I know some of the people she mentions. I will not be commenting on those specifics or my own memories from that time. Though I’d like to point out that memories can be fickle. Mazzei points this out herself and elaborates on her decision to pull strictly from memory which I respect. I’d just like to say, don’t take all the specifics in the stories to heart.
This memoir is not necessarily about being a camgirl. It’s about Mazzei. This is not to say it won’t help your curiosity for the industry. She was part of the cam scene for two years and has plenty to tell. It fulfills that craving while making you reflect on your own inner demons. It dives raw and unafraid into the bleakest and most vulnerable parts of Mazzei’s journey. Both in life and sex work. Whatever you’re expecting, it’s more.
Be ready to get real
I struggled to find empathy at some points. There were times when I felt defensive. Angry even. I reached a point where I wanted to stop reading. Like every community, cam land is not made of one type of person. I’ve always known there are models who manipulate, lie and don’t care about ethics. That doesn’t mean I was prepared to get into the head of one. Despite these feelings, it was obvious in the text how self-aware Mazzei is about these parts of herself. She also makes a point to say how the experience of camming varies from person to person. If nothing else, I hope you walk away from this book seeing how everyone’s experience is different and they’re all valid. Release the stereotypes that might plague your mind deeper than you know.
This memoir does not sugar coat. If you can’t leave your own shame at the door, be prepared for an emotional ride. I know this might seem obvious once said but some people don’t remember being a camgirl is a job. That is to say, the stories of those who do this job are wide and varied like any other. There are those in the industry with wonderful stories and those full of strife. “Camgirl” shows both sides and everything in between.
So let’s get into it… (Possible Spoilers ahead)
Mazzei had a unique life from the start. It was only natural her life as a camgirl would be just as interesting. I think what was especially refreshing about this read is how open and honest she is no matter the subject that arises. It builds a sense of trust with the reader. It made me trust that there would be a ‘lesson learned’ type of ending and I was not disappointed. From her perspective, she couldn’t have changed for the better without camming. What almost starts as a variety of disconnected stories tie together until they’re perfectly bound by this narrative. People have talked about how sex work can help heal those who seek it out. Was Mazzei trying to show us how sex work can heal the worker as well? Or at least that it has the potential to?
For me, the journey captured in Mazzei’s writing is dark and beautiful in its depth. It’s a story framed with radical vulnerability and openness. The courage required for such deep self analyzation and emotional work is remarkable to see. I put down this book with a flurry of thoughts and emotions. It made me feel empowered to live more fearlessly. It made me think about my own relationship with my work and myself. It made me a little more cautious too.
It takes all kinds
Everyone who becomes a camgirl gets to that point for a variety of reasons. Over the years and as the adult industry has grown and changed these reasons have evolved too. While it’s easy to imagine the industry in a bubble, it’s not impenetrable to the outside. We’d be making a mistake to stick to the one or two stereotypical narratives that continue to circulate and pull focus. We hear from the privileged sex workers who love their job and find endless fulfillment. We hear about those who’ve been victimized by the industry or do the job as a ‘last resort’. These sides are valid. At the same time, it’s refreshing and challenging to follow Mazzei beyond the surface that many of us (camgirls) float at out of fear of judgment.
Is it scary to expose the industry and the people within it this way? From my side it is. The stigma against sex workers continues to endanger the community and people I care for. But it’s also necessary to expand the view of those outside the industry with human-centered narratives like these. We can’t freeze up and hide further to pressure a positive opinion from society. I think in the long run stories like these are what we’ll need the most. I think we need more sex worker perspectives in all of their diverse aspects out for the world to see. If you’re at all curious about the adult industry then this memoir will not disappoint. If you’re in the industry I hope it inspires you to share your story too.