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Can’t Touch This: Coronavirus Is Wreaking Havoc on Hookup Culture, Sex Work and Porn

Coronavirus is changing everything now that we can't touch.EXPAND
Coronavirus is changing everything now that we can't touch.
Roderick Pullum

Your booty call is on hold, indefinitely, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone practice social distancing. While many people are enjoying this time away from work, others are finding themselves rather ... lonely. In simpler times, time away from work meant more time for Tinder appointments, but concerns over coronavirus are keeping many people from taking any chances.

Popular dating and hookup app Tinder has issued a notice to users before they begin swiping through potential matches.

“While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the coronavirus is more important,” reads the warning, which recommends that users wash their hands frequently, carry hand sanitizer, avoid touching their faces and maintain a distance in public gatherings.

Grindr, a dating and hookup app for queer men, has also issued a notice, instructing users that if they feel sick, “listen to your body and stay home.”

Those who are still meeting up through apps are having to embrace the apocalyptic theme of 2020 for date ideas.

“I took a date to Kroger for a ‘doomsday grocery run,’" says Hinge user Dane Fuentes. "It was unique and fun. During times like this, it’s important to keep things loose with all the uncertainty and chaos going on. At the least, it’s a great story to share during a time no one will forget.”

Additionally, many service and hospitality industry workers are finding themselves without work after Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s issue an order to close restaurants and bars for at least seven days. While hookup culture is no doubt greatly affected for those who still meet organically — after a few drinks — at bars, some service industry workers say they're turning to sex work to get by. Sex workers, however, are noting that the coronavirus has affected their work as well.

Someone who is relying on sex work to get them through the next few weeks is Jane (who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity), who works in a restaurant but sells nude photographs of herself for extra money.

Jane estimates that by selling her nude photos, she makes as much money within the course of a minute as she would in three days at her restaurant job.

“I’m counting on that if my job closes,” she says.

At the time of the interview, Dallas restaurants were still operating, yet Jane had already begun doubling down on selling her photos, as she knew that if her regular customers couldn’t work, they wouldn’t be able to purchase them.

“My side hustle consists of people from different cities, including Austin, which is where my biggest buyer is working,” Jane says. “As of right now, he’s still willing to buy them and I’m still willing to sell them, but I’m afraid that he’s not going to be able to buy them since he might lose his job.”

Porn actor Kaleb DeWulf makes much of his money on OnlyFans, a paid subscription porn outlet. Due to coronavirus concerns, he has had to change his content. While many of DeWulf’s videos show him participating in group sex, he believes he may have to cut back on this.

“It is something I worry about moving forward,” DeWulf says of the virus. “If people will be afraid to do work with each other, or if a curfew or quarantine will mean potential collaborators will be unable to travel or host.”

Although DeWulf says he hasn’t seen his content take a hit, he has been able to adjust, given the orders to distance socially.

“I’m fortunate enough that my partner, who also films, is staying with me at this time,” DeWulf says, “so that we are together in case things get crazy. We have been making a lot more content together now.”

DeWulf says that he has actually seen an increase of subscribers over the last few weeks, but he's concerned that this increase may be short-lived, as people may not be able to afford a subscription to his OnlyFans page.

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“I think we will continue to [see an increase of subscribers], at least until we start to feel the impacts of the economic effects,” DeWulf says. “That’s another fear of mine, that as money gets tight, longtime subscribers will start to pull out.”

During the next few weeks, DeWulf encourages sex workers to share other sex workers’ content. He also wants other sex workers to use their platforms to spread awareness.

While he has other forms of content, DeWulf reminds his subscribers and fellow sex workers that they’re all in this together and that everyone should take the coronavirus seriously.

“Sex work began thousands of years ago as a sacred line of work,” DeWulf says. “There is more that we can do besides give our viewers material to beat off to.”

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