2018 Qwebec Review: Performer Seminars & Events by Katy Churchill

QWEBEC Expo

Katy Churchill: My Review of 2018 QWEBEC Expo

On July 31 I headed east to Montreal, Canada to attend the 15th Qwebec Expo, the international online adult entertainment and live cams business to business convention. Although the convention has traditionally focused on attracting representatives of businesses that work in the online adult industry, this year Qwebec CEO Michael Plant came on the Webcam Startup podcast to announce that they were planning to offer a series of seminars and events aimed at webcam models and porn performers.

 

Pre-Arrival / Email Sent Out To Performers

Unfortunately, the initial email sent to performers by the organizers started things off on the wrong foot. While I appreciate that there may have been a language barrier (Qwebec staff all appeared to be much more confident and comfortable in French than in English), and that perhaps Mr Plant is not used to interacting directly with performers, the email was shockingly condescending in tone. Performers attending conventions are already likely to be among the most motivated, organized, and ambitious of performers, and a long message light on helpful information and heavy on reminders that “business=$$$” was an odd first impression to make. Additionally, like all of Qwebec’s digital and printed media, there were numerous cringe-worthy spelling mistakes.

 

Day 1

The performer seminar on the first day of the Expo was “How to Become a Long Lastin [sic] Successful Cam Model” presented by Mugur Frunzetti, the founder and CEO of Studio 20, a physical studio company that mainly operates out of Romania, though appears to be trying to franchise their model in the US and Canada. I was hoping that, with over 10,000 models churning through their studio over the years, Frunzetti would have data points to share with us about the strategies, promotional focuses, and camming activities that top models have in common. I clearly give performers more credit for intelligence than Frunzetti does, though, as his “5 steps for success” were the following:

  1. Accept and embrace camming as a career.
  2. Don’t get “drunk on money”, which means not to earn a lot of money, then stop working, spend all your money, and panic when your bank balance is $0.
  3. Know your goals.
  4. Don’t overdo it.
  5. Take care of the psychological side of the business, which he said is important because “a model drains part of the pain from customers, and will become bipolar if she does not release it properly”. You heard it here first, folks: mental illness is a result of not talking about your job with someone (ideally the staff at Studio 20, where you obviously work, because it is the only way to succeed).

In case I haven’t made it clear, I was pretty pissed about point #5. Many, many counselors refuse to see active sex workers, or tell them that any and all of their mental health struggles are due to their job, and will not stop until they leave the industry, and here is someone in the industry siding with them against the models that pay his bills. I’d love to ask him how he can sleep at night when he recruits models to a business that he believes will literally cause a serious mental illness if they don’t do it “the right way”. And no, he did not misspeak due to a language barrier; one of the audience called him on the bullshit and he doubled down on his bipolar claim.

So it was a crappy session. At this point, I was concerned that very few of the models who attended this session on Day 1 would return for more sessions on Day 2, since this wasn’t exactly the quality content we had hoped for. Was I correct? (Spoiler alert: I was.)

 

Day 2

On the second day, it was “Performer’s Day” in one of the seminar rooms, with a lineup of sessions aimed at models. I attended 3 of the 5 sessions, skipping most of the Bella French/Manyvids talk as I’d heard her on the podcast (though I did catch the end of her Q&A, which was interesting in terms of model numbers and growth on the site), and accidentally missing out on a session about consent with webcam clients because I apparently can’t tell time with a 24hr clock format.

 

“Livecams and Tech” with Jean-Claude Artonne, President of Terpon

This was the best session aimed at models/performers, and focused on the application of virtual reality (VR) technology in webcamming. It was heavily attended by both performers and affiliate program reps, as well as a few programmers. Artonne was well-versed in his subject, not just the state of the mainstream and gaming VR industries, but how cam models have embraced and used interactive sex toys in shows, and also how VR could fit into a live streaming webcam platform.

His understanding of the use of interactive toys, and the challenges of using VR technology when dealing with multiple customers in free chat/group shows, then a single customer in private shows, convinced me that (if they can get past the venture capital stage they currently seem to be in) they may really be onto something. While I personally went into the talk skeptical of the use of VR in porn (I am delightfully and rather irritatingly old-school, planning all of my writing with paper and pen, reading books instead of gaming, and shunning any sex toy more technologically advanced than a vibrator with low, medium, and high), Artonne’s enthusiasm for the potential synergies got me excited to the point of using words like “synergies”.

 

“Performing and the Law: A Quick Guide” with Maxine Lynn Barasch, lawyer from SexTechLaw

I had high hopes going into this session, as Barasch is a well-respected adult industry lawyer from New York. Unfortunately, her specialty is in intellectual property law, including sex tech patents, and giving a generic overview of the legal landscape facing performers was not really in her wheelhouse. She covered how to legally work in the US (green card or temporary work visa), but she did not in any way attempt to tie this to how performers could possibly gain either status, and was unable to answer questions about exceptional talent visas or whether attending events would qualify as performing work activities.

She briefly covered protecting yourself from the repercussions of FOSTA (don’t offer sex for sale or imply it in any way on any platform), contractor vs employee status (you’re a contractor as a sex worker, almost without exception), 2257 record-keeping (keep your identification documents from models from all shoots indefinitely), model releases, paying taxes (you need to pay taxes, is anyone unclear about this?), and landlord/tenant law (for some reason).

 

“Performer Marketing Tips & Tricks” with Dave Strauss, CEO of Arm Candy Creative

For someone so keen to name-drop the campaigns he’s worked on (Budweiser! Victoria’s Secret! Hustler Hollywood! Some of these were while he was working for a large ad agency, but let’s just throw more names around to confuse the timeline of accomplishment! Wasteland!), this seminar was distinctly underwhelming. Strauss has also recently begun performing as well, which he went to great lengths to point out made him uniquely qualified to give advice on how to market yourself.

As far as I can tell, his main tip is to engage his company, though the one individual performer he mentioned has employed him, Summer Day…well, she got her own Snapchat filter for AVN, so that’s something, right? Given that most of his advice for performers was in the “be consistent, tweet out your content, use trial and error, and proactively reach out to companies and organizations” vein, I really don’t think that this seminar was performer-focused at all.

He kept talking about companies needing marketing services, and hiring from within, which isn’t a very performer-targeted message. Additionally, as a Canadian, I found his advice for crossing the border to work in the US and attend events to be concerning, especially considering recent issues for performers at the border and that crossing the border to work in the US is actually illegal. When you are trying to build a legitimate business in a stigmatized industry, I really don’t think it helps to be openly giving advice on how to best approach law breaking. Given that the tagline of his talk was “[e]liminate the negative stigma associated with the adult entertainment industry”, tacitly encouraging illegal work was not a good look.

 

“Camgirls (sic) Are Queens!” cocktails event sponsored by Studio 20

This was not what I expected it to be. According to the schedule: “Some relaxing time where Cam people meet and exchange ideas and contacts while sipping a cocktail in a cozy atmosphere. Cams Companies representatives will address models with “Elevator Pitch” presentations about how they can make more revenues with their platform or services. This is an event ALL Models & Performers want to attend.” I did not write that. The organizers did, strange capitalization and all.

So what was the reality? 4 or 5 bottles of sparkling wine, chairs around meeting tables, a small outdoor terrace where most of us ended up sitting to avoid the conversation-killing volume of the music, and one of those rotating colored dots lamps set up on a table in the corner. Not a single “Cam Company” appeared to talk to us, so models introduced themselves to one another and milled around awkwardly, I did an interview with Ava Mir-Ausziehen for her current academic research, and when the booze ran out, everybody left. It was the saddest cocktail event I have ever seen, attended by roughly a dozen performers.

 

Overall Experience / Review of QWEBEC

I have to give Qwebec Expo credit for one fantastic feature: there were no fans. Unlike other conventions like Exxxotica and AVN, Qwebec Expo is entirely focused on the business side of the industry, and there are no events for fans. While many performers use fan events at conventions to sell merchandise and build their brand, other models are uncomfortable with that type of in-person contact, and Qwebec offers a great alternative. Although they still had late-night parties and social events, the focus was on networking with other businesses and performers in the industry, and attending educational seminars. I appreciated this feature of the Expo, because I am one of those models that aren’t well-suited to conventions with large numbers of fans in attendance.

 

Suggestions For Future Shows

If the Qwebec Expo is serious about attracting more performers to their event in the future, I would strongly suggest that they update their idea of what models can bring to the table. We want seminars and panels that talk about current trends and issues, and we don’t need to be told to get a Twitter account so we can tweet out links to our videos. Models are not bodies in front of cameras that turn off when the show ends–we’re entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to build our personal brands, advice and education from experienced industry players, and networking events where we can meet other models for potential shoots and site representatives for opportunities to collaborate.

You don’t have to remind us that “business=$$$”: if we couldn’t figure that out, we wouldn’t be smart enough to fill out your online form to attend. If, on the other hand, the Expo is primarily interested in attracting performers to use as eye candy and to round out their parties with some attractive bodies, then they’re on the right track. Well, except that both parties were allegedly complete flops…I can’t answer for that personally, since instead of attending late-night booze-fests at clubs, I was busy shooting content with a local model who was also attending the Expo. You know, doing that business thing, making that $$$, just like you told me to.

Seriously, though, the typos in everything were maddening.

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Katy Churchill
Katy Churchill 27 posts

Hi there! I’m Katy Churchill, camgirl, phone sex operator, fetish filmmaker, and DIY pornographer. I love baseball, beer, and burgers, and I have big boobs and a big butt. See what I’m saying, BB?

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