Verge caught up with Bella French, CEO of ManyVids to discuss how she plans to revolutionise the adult industry by getting recognition for sex workers and providing proper support and infrastructure for those online.
How did you get started in the adult industry?
I studied fashion design and went to business school. After graduating I opened two stores in my hometown of Montreal, the first when I was 21 and the second at 27. One summer morning, I arrived at my second store to find it was completely flooded—there was water everywhere. The apartments above it on the second floor had a water tank that broke during the night. I was not well insured and lost $200,000 overnight. I had to find money fast to pay my bills, and that was when I came across webcamming. I became a camgirl by pure desperation and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened in my life. While I was camming, I realized that there was very little in the way of support or infrastructure for people like me in the adult industry. So, I saw an opportunity to create a website that would make things easier for me and eventually for all online sex workers.
I became a camgirl by pure desperation and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened in my life.
When did you start to feel successful?
Still waiting for that feeling. I will consider myself successful once sex workers will be recognized as important members of our society. Once sex workers will be able to go open a business bank account under the category – Sex Work. I will feel like my team and I are achieving our vision once sex work will be legal all over the world. We have a long way to go and we are ready to this incredible journey.
To what do you attribute your success?
As mentioned at the question 2, I don’t consider myself successful. I try to do my absolute best every day and that’s it. I always wish I could do more. The reason why ManyVids has become the #1 clip site in the world is because of the very hard working MV Team. The MV Team is a group of over 150 team members that are all more experienced and smarter than me. I do my best to help guide the company into the future and communicate a strong vision and mission. With the help of the MV Team we have created a very positive, respectful, and uplifting platform. That is very important for us. We thrive on providing our MV Stars the best possible cutting-edge tools and more. What really differentiates us is how much we care about our content creators. Everything we do is to help them and give them as much as we can. We are not here to generate income, we are here to help improve people lives, to make a difference, that’s what we work on at MV day in, day out. We owe the success of this to the MV Models and the MV employees Team.
Actually, most of the most successful cam artists don’t offer sexual shows. They are beautiful, smart and interesting entertainers.
What kind of advice would you give someone starting a career in this business?
For everything related to online sex workers and professional performers within the adult industry, the number one most important rule is to always respect yourself. Listen to your heart and never be afraid of saying no. Surround yourself with positive people that truly respect you and want the best for you. If you feel that a specific opportunity is not something that matches your values, you simply pass on it. A new and better opportunity will come along in the near future. For camgirls and camboys, this principle is very true. Only offer cam shows that you want to do. It’s ok to decide not to do any sexually explicit cam performances. Actually, most of the most successful cam artists don’t offer sexual shows. They are beautiful, smart and interesting entertainers. Webcamming should be a safe space from the safety of your one home where you have the liberty to express yourself however you wish to do it. You are in control, you decide the topic of your show, you decide how long your show will last, what you will wear and so much more.
Do you see yourself working in this business in 10 years?
Yes. I envision giving back as much as I can, giving the control of MV to our MV Stars and empowering them as sex workers and successful independent entrepreneurs. Sex work will be drastically transformed in the next couple of years because of websites just like ManyVids. I want to be part of this adventure for as long as I can.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
Getting a chance to meet sex workers. Hearing their stories, understanding their lives and how we can help them. Relating to other wonderful human beings that have been true the same challenges I had to face is a magical experience. I also really like to help educate the world about who sex workers really are and that the adult industry can be a very beautiful place. Talking to journalists and getting a chance to open people’s heart to people that are so misunderstood makes me very happy. That being said, thank you so much for this interview.
The day society will recognize the importance of sex workers and they will be respected as successful independent business entrepreneurs, I will retire.
If you could do it all again would you still choose to work in the adult business?
Absolutely, becoming a camgirl is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so thankful that I had to go true a very bad experience to experience this line of work. I believe that this was my destiny and I feel for the first time ever that my life has a true meaning and purpose. I am in this industry for the long run and whatever it takes, we will get it done. The day society will recognize the importance of sex workers and they will be respected as successful independent business entrepreneurs, I will retire. I am hopeful it will happen in my lifetime.
Best and most challenging things about your job?
The Best Part: My favorite part of my job is the opportunity it gives me to be creative and come up with new ideas that help move the adult industry in the right direction. It is always exciting to be the first to do something new. ManyVids is the most inclusive platform on the web and we are extremely proud of that. I also love being able to come up with solutions to difficult problems and achieving difficult goals with the MV Team is one of my favorite things. The Most Challenging Part: Even though I love my job, at times being a CEO can be very difficult. There is no room for error and if ever I make a mistake, I have to realize it and pivot as fast as possible. I always feel very responsible for everything that happens. If something bad happens, I always blame myself. This sense of responsibility makes it very hard to disconnect. As a woman without children, this company is my baby. Like any baby, it keeps me up at night, it makes me worry constantly, and I always wish I could do better.
How much can someone make a month on average?
Top earners on MV generate between $20,000 to $30,000 USD every month. Being an online sex worker is a real job with a real legal income. Sex workers pay their taxes and are a very important part of our society. They can be very successful, and they should be recognized for their hard work and success.
Some up your career in 3 words?
Selfless. Passion. Service.