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Why Amazon Wish Lists Are So Popular With Cam Girls

A sex worker explains the particular joy of the public gift registry.

Photo: Getty Images/Cultura RF

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It’s Prime Day, and while many of us will be purchasing slightly discounted robots named “Alexa” for ourselves, plenty of others will be buying the exact brand of Himalayan salt lamp a complete stranger wants. That’s because cam girls, or women who make money video-chatting with clients, were among the first Amazon users to make use of the online giant’s thirstiest feature: the public wish list.

Way back in 2002, Mark Frauenfelder wrote about the “wishlist-compensation phenom” taking place in the cam-girl economy, with one 14-year-old Kentuckian promising to “love forever” the stranger who’d buy her an RCA AutoShot digital camcorder. The popularity of the public Amazon wish list has only grown in the 16 years since — these days, it’s not just cam girls but Twitter randos, Twitch stars, and the newly engaged who have a handy link to all the stuff they want to show up at their doorsteps.

One of them is Jamie (name changed for her privacy), a 25-year-old stripper and cam girl based in Arizona. She also recently started participating in findom (financial domination), but she says she’ll probably stop soon. “Once something becomes trendy, then everyone wants to do it, and then it gets saturated,” she says. A Skype session with her generally costs at least $100, but she also babysits and does nails on the side.

As far as the internet goes, she says she makes better (and faster) money stripping, but Amazon wish lists offer a convenience the IRL world can’t. Namely, a surprise Dyson vacuum, expensive skin care, and, in one case, catnip bubbles. In a conversation with Racked over the phone recently, Jamie explained the particular joy of the Amazon wish list, what she thinks her clients get out of it, and how to avoid getting scammed.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you first make a public Amazon wish list?

I’m guessing six years ago. I started out camming, which is how I got into the whole Amazon wish list thing because that kind of just comes with the territory. Once you make your profile, [people are] like, “Where is your Amazon wish list?”

How often do people buy you stuff from it?

The last thing I got was last week. I haven’t gotten any big things recently. I’m hoping to get more; I’ve been kind of lazy with it. But when I promote it, I get good stuff. Best thing I’ve gotten was a Dyson vacuum; that was awesome. I’d save that thing in a fire. I got that just from talking to someone for not even an hour.

Is it usually a surprise?

Sometimes there’s surprises. There’s some men, too, that will try to trick you. And they’ll mark things on your wish list as purchased, so they can get something from you and then it will never come. People try to scam you that way. It’s funny they think they’re being slick, but I always catch ’em.

I had an expensive purse on there once and someone tried to say that they got it for me. But you can go back into where your preferences are and see if it’s actually been purchased or just marked. I caught him and then he blocked me. Whatever.

How much do you think people have spent on you over the past six years?

Oh, a couple thousand for sure. Sometimes I put up really expensive stuff, but then there are people that don’t have a lot of money, so I like to put little things up too, like little planters. I like to garden, so I put pots up or just little bracelets or something, so there can be $10 ones.

My favorite thing is that you have skin care on there. That’s amazing.

That stuff’s expensive — I’m not trying to spend my own money on that!

For the gifts like that, that aren’t particularly sexy, what do you think people get out of giving them to you?

It depends on the guy. Some people like to know that their perfume, for example — if they want to buy me perfume, it’s almost like a piece of them, like: “I know what she smells like,” or, “I got that for her. I got this her this lotion, and she’s putting that on her.” They have weird little fantasies.

Is there something extra fun about receiving something that’s a thing rather than just cash?

I like it just because it’s more of a gift, I don’t know. Money, I could just go and spend that at McDonald’s. It’s not as cool, but when I get a gift, it’s just cuter and it comes in a package. It’s just cuter to me.

I’ve actually had people that have paid me cash, and they want to say, “This is a gift.” I’m like, “Not really!” I feel like actual items are gifts.

How often do you keep your list refreshed?

Sometimes I delete things that have been on there for too long, but sometimes I just leave things that other girls are like, “I love this shampoo,” or, “I love this,” and I’m like, I should put that on my list. Or anything that just seems like a guy would enjoy buying it more for me, like jewelry or bikinis. When I was dancing more often, I would have them buy me bikinis and stuff. And sometimes shoes. They’re the feet people. There are some strange guys.

Anything on there you want the most right now?

I think probably my acrylic nail kit, because I do nails on the side, but my dog ruined everything so now I have to get a whole new set, and I’m not really trying to buy it.

Are your clients really into your nails?

A lot of people like the whole scratching your arms, scratching your back. I actually had one person do a Skype session with me and I just clicked my nails on the keyboard and he was into that. I had a picture on my Twitter where I think I was holding something, and he was like, “Your nails are amazing, can I do a session?” I was like, “I guess?”

When you do get gifts, do you acknowledge the gift-giver in any way?

When I’m in the findom aspect, sometimes it’s better to ignore because then you get more, ’cause they get off on that whole, “She hates me, she’s ignoring me, I need to send her more things.” It depends on the guy. Sometimes they like that girlfriend experience and they want you to be like, “Oh, thank you so much, it’s amazing, I’m wearing it right now, blah blah blah.”

Do you have a favorite gift you’ve ever gotten?

I had one guy who I’d never spoke to, and he never acknowledged it after, but he got me catnip bubbles for my cat. So that was kind of cool.

Oh, my god. Do most guys ask you whether you’ve received the stuff?

Yeah, they get a little obsessive. Especially if it’s clothes and stuff, they’re like, “Send me a picture,” and I’m like, “No, I’m busy.”

And you’re not really obligated to acknowledge it.

No, I’m not. I don’t owe them anything. A lot them think that, but I don’t.